This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2016 Travels March 16

WEDNESDAY MARCH 16     TOORA

The morning was not as windy as yesterday.

Usual morning routine: I got up about 8am, walked dog, fed dog, had my breakfast, waited for John to surface. M and C appeared and sat chatting with me – and we all waited for John to get going!

Decided we’d visit Foster. This was a place we’d driven through a number of times, on the way to the Prom, but not stopped at. Took both cars – the back seat of Terios really was not big enough for dog and people, and we certainly wouldn’t expose C’s rather new vehicle to Couey.

Went to the Foster Information Centre and collected some material. Outside it was an area that highlighted the gold mining period in the area, from the 1870’s. I’d had no idea that there had been so many mines around Foster, or that they yielded so much gold. It seems to have been overshadowed by the emphasis on the Ballarat and Bendigo goldfields, in particular.

Red dots show old mine locations around Foster town

There were walks we could have done around some of the mine areas, but they seemed to cover very hilly ground and the men were not feeling up to it.

Instead, we went for a walk across to the attractive park opposite the Info Centre. This stretches along Stockyard Creek, which formed a very pretty pond in the park.

RV parking area opposite Info Centre – bad luck about the car parked in it.

We started to follow a path alongside the creek. I had Couey on the lead and she tried a couple of times to pull me towards the creek. John and C needed to rest, so went back to where there were seats, while M and I walked on a way. As we turned around and headed back, John called to me to let Couey loose, so she could run between us and get in a gallop. Says John: “It will be alright, she always comes when I call her…” She did run to him, when called, but then pulled a right hand turn and made for the pond area, totally ignoring John’s calls. She did a very athletic running jump into the pond and came up wearing water lilies and a blissful expression. We definitely have mismatch between a fast-learning dog and slow-learning master!

I hadn’t bought my camera on the walk. Pity – a shot of Couey in the pond would have been priceless.

Needed to do a good long stroll, then, along the main street, in order to get dog dry enough for the car. So we meandered along, looking at the shops. John bought a light weight sun hat, having forgotten to pack his. Ditto his toothpaste, so I got him some. There was a butcher advertising local, grass-fed meat; it looked good, so I bought some lamb fillet and some steak. The prices were reasonable, too. M and John each bought a carton of beer cans. John had planned to not drink beer on this trip, in the interests of his waist line, but now changed his mind.

Walking back from depositing the beer in the car, John noticed a man standing outside a bakery, obviously really enjoying the pastie he was devouring. There was nothing for it but for him and C to buy themselves a pastie lunch! However, apart from cakes and pastries, the bakery only offered a very limited range of pre-made sandwiches – all in white bread. The men did not want to wait around while I went to try to find a better alternative , so I settled, reluctantly, for a pack of cheese sandwiches. M doesn’t eat lunch.

I really liked Foster. Definitely possible for a return visit.

The area around Toora

We drove the few kms to Port Franklin where there was a very pleasant park area in a loop of the Franklin River. Here we sat and ate the lunches we’d bought in Foster. The men pronounced the square pasties excellent. I left most of my sandwiches – they were awful. John had bought a four pack of some foreign beer, in Foster, and we each had one of those with lunch. I didn’t like it much.

We gave Couey a ball chase run in the park, then went for a wander.

There were a number of boats moored in the small tidal river. Seemed there were still fishermen operating out of Port Franklin out into Corner Inlet.

The inlet at Port Franklin

Took a boardwalk that went out through the scrub and mangrove mud flats, thinking we might see some interesting birds.

What is that saying about repeating an action and expecting a different outcome from the last time? John insisted dog be let off the lead, saying she would stay on the boardwalk, no worries. Of course, the moment he let her loose, she did a great leap off the boardwalk, into deep mangrove mud. Guess to her it didn’t look any different to brown coloured water. She sank to her chest with a look of puzzlement at finding herself unable to swim. In other circumstances it would have been funny. Eventually she managed to plough her way back to where she could clamber back up to us, smelling horribly swampy and all over thick mud. She really had to battle to get out. John said he didn’t think she would do that. Honestly …I despair. So he got to put a very muddy, extremely smelly dog on the lead and walk with her!

The mangrove walk was not particularly interesting. The tide was out. There were few birds.

Back at the park, we tried to wash the worst of the muck off dog at a tap, getting a bit muddy ourselves, in the process. M and C watched from a safe distance. I was not happy. It is a good thing that the back seat of my car is covered with a couple of old rugs and  (mostly) waterproof seat protectors. Couldn’t do much about the swampy smell though.

Returned to Toora along back roads through pleasant farming country. There, took the steep road up the hill to Silcocks Lookout, where there were good views over the flat coastal plain, to Corner Inlet, with the hills of the Prom beyond. Could pick out Port Franklin, where we had been.

From Silcocks Lookout, across Corner Inlet to Wilsons Promontory

Counted twelve windfarm towers.

Windfarm towers on the hills

Then went on to Agnes Falls, which I had not heard of before this trip. They are “the longest single span falls in Victoria” – 59 metres high. From the car park, a track went down to viewing areas.

Going down to Agnes Falls

A little cement weir was, years ago, built across the top of the falls, as the river is part of a local water supply system.

There was a small flow going over the falls, down into a surprisingly deep gorge. It would be quite spectacular after a period of heavy rain.

Agnes Falls

Alongside the path, and the gorge itself, were blue gum trees, their smooth trunks an unusual chocolate colour.

Chocolate coloured eucalypts

As we trudged back up the path to the cars, a cheeky grey fantail kept us company, flitting through the bushes. The men found the trek back rather hard, even though it was a pretty gradual incline. They both have issues with lung damage.

The deep gorge

The picnic area by the car park would be a very pleasant place to have lunch.

Retraced our route back to Toora.

From the lookout, had seen a large white building in the town and drove through the streets to see if we could find it and see what it was. Discovered that it was an old milk/butter  factory – in fact, the oldest in Victoria, that had been closed down by its previous owners. In recent times, under new owners and after a rather shaky start, it had ramped up again, producing infant milk powder for export to China. The Victorian Government had invested money in the project. Bet the businesses in town had been pleased about that.

Back to camp. Dog had an appointment with a long, cold, hosing down. Didn’t impress her one bit but she smelled too swampy to be in Bus without a good wash. Note to self – given dog’s affinity for dirty water, pack some dog shampoo in Bus before next trip!

Happy hour at Bus, followed by a light tea – just a tin of soup.

John went for a shower before bed. He didn’t bother to read the instructions about getting the hot water to run hot, that were prominently posted on the bathroom wall, so had a cold shower.


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2016 Travels March 15

TUESDAY MARCH 15     HOME TO TOORA     220kms

There did not remain much packing to do this morning. Only the last-minute fridge items, and the things like laptops and camera that we do not like to leave overnight in Bus when we are not in it. I made some wraps to take for our lunch.

John backed Bus out of onto our narrow road and then pulled into the side so we could hitch up the car. It is not the easiest place to get Bus out of. In the process, he ran the front off side along the  drainage grate at the edge of our nature strip.

Terios hitched, house closed up, dog on board – and we were away, at 10.30am.

Straight away, I noticed an unusual noise – kind of whup-whup-whup – that seemed to change as our speed changed. Then the TPMS gadget started its loud beeping noise, indicating a flat tyre on passenger side front wheel of Bus. But it was not driving like we had a problem. Had to go a couple of kms before there was a place we could park Bus on level ground, out of the way of traffic – in a park carpark area. By the time we got there, the display was indicating the driver’s side front tyre also had a problem.

The issue on the passenger side was immediately obvious – the TPMS cap monitor was gone. John thought that maybe his encounter with the grate had knocked it off. We unhitched the Terios and he drove that back home to search the street for it – those units are expensive!

While he was gone, I had a good look round Bus but could not see anything wrong that might account for the repetitive noise we’d heard. I also took dog for a good long walk. It was quite hot and she was more interested in finding water to drink, than walking.

Eventually John was back. He could not find the missing cap. Then, he noticed that the top had sheared off the driver’s side one. That had been nowhere near the grate, so he was not impressed. He put the old, standard valve caps back on the two front wheels. Then he drove Bus around the flat area, while I watched and listened to try to pick up the noise source. No use.

We discussed me taking car and dog back home and him taking Bus to Toyota or truck tyre place to try to get a fix, but then he decided to drive up the road a way, to see if he could work it out. Came back and said he thought it might be the TPMS monitors on the long inner back wheel valve extensions, flexing and hitting the wheel rim. So he replaced those with the standard caps and went for another test drive. No more noise. Whilst that was a relief, it was annoying that we had the problem at all. I did not judge it a good idea to remind John that I’d previously told him that forum advice had been to get rigid metal valve extensions on the back wheels, for TPMS!

Hitched up car and set off again, after a delay of nearly two hours.

The TPMS system was still doing readouts for the Terios’ wheels, at least, and the two outer back wheels of Bus. Need to get it all sorted when we were home again.

Took Eastlink and then the Monash freeway, and proceeded to Pakenham, KooWeeRup, Foster, to Toora. It was very windy – the worst winds we had yet encountered in Bus, so was hard work for the driver. Would have been really nasty towing a van.

The urban spread of Melbourne seems relentless, gobbling up what was farm land to the south east. Vegie growing country.  I wondered when planners would start to realize that, whilst a rapidly growing city needs houses, it also needs food – and a lot of the most productive land was going under. The same was happening to Melbourne’s south west too.

Approaching KooWeeRup, saw a sign to that town, and took that turn, though the GPS had remained silent. It looked right on my paper map, which was not all that old, but turned out to pre-date the bypass that now goes straight to the South Gippsland Highway. Wonder how long that had been there? We took the long way round, for sure.

Predictably, M and C had arrived at the Toora Caravan Park a couple of hours before us, and texted that it was windy! We knew that already. As we approached Toora, saw wind farm towers on the hills behind – that figured!

We had been allocated a drive-through en-suite site that was quite roomy. It cost us $40 a night. The en-suite was clean and a good size. I liked that there was a glass screen instead of the dreaded clingy shower curtain. But it only extended down one side, so water did splash out and wet a lot of the floor. A mop was provided!

Very nice site at Toora

The park was on a hill side, so we had some views across in the direction of the Prom. The park was very well equipped for a family holiday – heated indoor pool and spa, tennis court, jumping pillow, several BBQ areas. It was certainly a place we would be happy to stay at again.

M and C were likewise quite happy with their cabin.

After setting up, had a very late lunch, and relaxed for the little of the afternoon that was left.

John took dog for a walk across the highway and down some streets. Clearly, she was not impressed by the traffic encountered because, for the rest of the stay, she refused to go anywhere near the front gate, but would happily walk around the rest of the park. On my late afternoon walk with her, there were some rabbits grazing at the back of the park – which dog resolutely ignored. However, she made a great effort to reach a fallen pine cone, which she then carried for the rest of the walk. Strange creature.

The four of us enjoyed a pleasant happy hour at the Bus.

Our tea was pre-cooked chicken marylands. Quite enough, by themselves, after the late lunch.

Through the night could hear some noise from the wind turbines on the hill behind the park, but it was not unpleasant or intrusive.