Christmas 2022 to January 23, 23
Terrell notes not italics Narda notes italic NOTE: sometimes we may almost repeat one another probably because we are always together – Narda’s though, is probably the writing that makes sense, and I sometimes use ten words to Narda’s one to say the same thing – so that is that, for example,
Getting prepared for a trip is always quite the project, for us. The older we get the more is involved. Not in actual stuff but rather being slightly paranoid of what we may forget to do to take to succeed. This time was an extra complex little world. Not only are we off in our caravan for a month but a week after we return, we are off to Malaysia, Pakistan, UK, Netherlands, Thailand for three months+. We are in our caravan for part of the time as we are a bit homeless. Our house exchange folks from Victoria and the UK/Wales are in our house in January. December 27th to February 3rd. We are OK in that we have a house exchange in Hepburn Springs, and they are at our house. Then we are camping with my wonderful son, Sacha and his partner, Georgia at Paradise Valley, Victoria for four days. From January 8th until Narda’s son’s 40th birthday on the 21st we will be wandering about looking for great camping spots which will be shared as we progress on this journey. After that we have booked into a caravan park in Adelaide – still a bit homeless, then first of February back home to zip up our bags for our overseas trip.
Finally, the caravan packed, and we are on our way to our kids for a merry Christmas. It was lovely, relaxed, exchanging gifts and having some good laughs. Maggie and Mabel liked their painting sets and got straight to creating art. We decided to share art experiences over the next months while we’re away. Stu set it all up so that we could use Messenger together and named it Art Chat.
We drove to our first overnight stop in a great free site in Bordertown. Amazing place. Lots of shady spots, trees, a lake with birds and mozzies and a spot for me to practise reversing using the mirrors. A big new challenge. Terrell borrowed 4 witches-hats from the local council workers, and we were busy for an hour or so. Not sure if I made much progress but I do need a bigger mirror and that’s the excuse I’m sticking with. 🤔
For the past few weeks, we have been getting home in our usual deep-clean state that we leave it for house exchanges and doing two packs. Our bags are packed for overseas – along with visas and all other travel documents and flights are in order. I even got my fifth covid shot (third booster) last week. Narda was unable to get it as Australia is too strict with shooting up folks. I only got it due to health. Speaking of health, what a project to get me up and out the door. One of my medications, Trulicity, had become unavailable, with a world-wide shortage. My other medications (heart, liver, diabetic, etc medications) take up their own box as I am carrying four months’ worth. Trulicity needs to be kept below four degrees. I needed six months’ worth (two for caravan and extra weeks plus overseas). I had squirreled away enough to last until a week before leaving on our caravan trip by hustling many different chemists in the Adelaide area. With one week to go I had no more left, and the pharmacist said there would not be any until next March. My doctor gave me a script for six months and I started the rounds to hustle any that were available. I had read on the internet that limit amounts were still being brought into Australia and distributed to chemists. So lucky that the day I collected six-months of my other medications from my usual place they had just had a few boxes of Truicity dropped off and they gave me three months supply (three boxes with four injectable pens, one a week) but could not give anymore. We tried several other places but with no luck or whatever it is that makes things manifest in our life. Narda has been chasing up mosquito spray without Deet but with picaridin 20%, as there is dengue fever in several places we will be in February – May and we need the best stuff. Finally, she tracked down a doctor’s surgery in Blackwood – just a 35-minute drive away. After that visit we stopped at a chemist, and they just happened to have had three boxes of Trulicity dropped off with no more expected until sometime next year. The pharmacist gave me all three. Now I had my supply for six-months. Kind of amazing.
We have had a streak of a bit of good luck lately. Last month we decided to put a reversing camera on the back of our caravan. Of course, deciding to do some major caravan fix is not ideal the week before Christmas but timing never bothers us. We bought the camera ($800) and asked if they could install it – perhaps next February was their unhelpful response. However, they said maybe an auto electrician down the road may have an opening sooner. We stomped over to the auto electrician place with caravan and car in tow and they said, surprise, surprise, they had an opening the next day. Because this is Australia and charging whatever is no object here, they did it in six-hours at $100/hour. Narda does the caravan backing up – I have always thought I would learn never quite got to that moment but now I may be interested sometime in the future. Nevertheless, Narda did get a good practice at our first caravan stop on our trip which I will finally get to now that I have thrown away the privacy tab and told everything there is to say about me.
Christmas morning – hooked up the caravan, backup camera in motion, drove to have Christmas morning with Stu/Clare/Maggie/Mabel/Ned. Ned is always especially excited to see me, I throw the ball to him, he chases it, won’t bring it back, waits for me to come and get it to throw again for him to chase and not bring back. Such an exciting game. Gosh, no selfies? Guess we are moving away from that – oh wait! Narda and I have been taking them all along the trip so far (all two days).
We made it for more than an hour – maybe closer to two hours before pulling over on the Dukes Highway, the free campground at Culburra North, which is really a pull over for trucks and the likes of us, but a bit of a ways off the highway as not to be too annoying. We were exhausted, not from driving for two hours – we’re not that old, but 1. Getting up at 4.30 am unable to sleep and began final clean of house and packing caravan 2. Hot – like 38C which is 99F. We slept maybe an hour and awoke sweating. After three and a half minutes we decided it was too hot to stay in the caravan and drove off with the air condition in our car making us feel somewhat alive again.
We had wanted to see all the flooding that is in the news – heard that the Murray was going to crest on Christmas Day but though it looked as if it was higher than usual where we crossed at Murray Bridge was just looking a bit flooded. Not going to camp here.
Later on, in a few weeks, on our return to Adelaide we are doing a ‘silo-arts’ tour in northern Victoria. We passed this silo in the small town of Coonalypn (established 1909, currently 350 people).
We got to Bordertown, which is not really a border town, but not too far from the next state, Victoria, yet still not on the border, at five pm and went to Bordertown Recreation Lake. It is in between being free and not, as there is a donation box on the way out with others on wikicamps saying they left between $5 and $20. We left ten.
Onwards, after some brekkie in town. It was a sizzler today heading for 40 degrees. The car was nice and cool as we drove to Warracknabeal. We signed up for a powered site ($25, not too shabby) and turned the air con on full, together with our Woollies rotating fan. Not much effect. Still, we had an afternoon nap of sorts.
The local talk was that there was an emergency alert of a pending severe storm with lightning. Me, being the always over cautious one, moved the van from a lovely riverside shady spot to a place in the sun, not a tree nearby. I felt very responsible and virtuous. A couple of hours later, the clouds passed. A small pathetic thunder roll and it was all over. Oh well.
The weather had cooled a bit and we found (actually Terrell found) some lovely walks along the local river, which was pretty full, as these rivers are these days. Our mighty Murray has burst its banks in many places, starting with unprecedented rainfalls in the Eastern States, then with massive amounts of water, flooding many of the Murray-side towns all the way down to South Australia, which usually gets bugger all (water I mean)
Anyway, now I’m rambling. Edwin and Jeanine have their holiday home in serious threat to complete flooding. Right now, the water has flooded the first level already.
Below slideshow is not on autoplay so that you can read the stuff in the slides – good luck
A beautiful place – see our bird life clip. https://youtu.be/YaE67Xh3mVc
the birds were very loud – evening and morning.
My favourite signage so far, $187.50 for an expiation fee. Damn, I have a PhD and had to look up what an expiation fee actually was: “An expiation notice alleges that you committed an offence and sets out an expiation fee, which you can pay to expiate the offence rather than being prosecuted.” Okay, got it. Best not to swim in this lake just to avoid getting one of those expiation notices alleging stuff. Don’t wish to spend a night in the Old Bordertown Gaol (jail to Yanks).
By eight am it was already in the mid-30s (closing in on a hundred Fahrenheit so we packed and left @ 8.30.
From Bordertown we went to Dimboola, stopped in Donald for coffee, a beautiful town – some images below…
A long drive still. We stopped at Donald, beautiful old buildings. A young girl cleaning the toilet block explained to me the great rates she was earning because of a shortage of staff, as well as good penalty rates. She was very enthusiastic.
We pulled over a dusty rest stop, which included people’s toilet paper. We spread our tablecloth and had a nice lunch never-the-less. Our next stop was the lovely historic town of St Arnaud, with its beautiful old, preserved buildings along the main street.
Stopped along the highway for brekky…
I was the nominated navigator – a position I take rather seriously sometimes. However, at one particular fork in the road, I was occupied and preoccupied with fast changing narratives on Twitter, and I randomly said go left rather than go right, thrusting us on to a road that after a while became a dirt/gravel road. We bounced along it for about an hour with me not being the most popular person in the car. We have a bit of a clip of it here…https://youtu.be/aPB1hfLZFow
After redeeming myself, forgot how, though I wish I could remember as obviously I will need to later, I am sure, we stopped in St Arnund – this time just for the taking of pictures – see our slideshow below/or not.
What a beautiful village/town; We got to Warracknabeal (we both had a shot at trying to pronounce it, I think Narda came closest but how would we know?) Decided to cough up $25 to stay at the Warracknabeal Caravan Park as it was too bloody hot (past a hundred in the Fahrenheit world) to sleep in the caravan. We plugged in the AC, tried to take a nap but gave up and had a lovely evening with a pasta meal, sitting outside as the temperature dropped and read our books. I am finishing up ‘For whom the bell tolls’ by Hemingway because we are going to Spain for a month next year and I wanted to know more about their civil war. I had already read George Orwell’s (Eric Arthur Blair) account of when he fought in their civil war, Homage to Catalonia, different from Hemingway as Orwell’s is non-fiction and Hemingway’s is fiction (he was a journalist who visited during the war but as far as I know did not fight in it). It is all quite real with what is happening in the Ukraine now.
The houses here as in many of the towns in Victoria are what we would purchase if we were to move to one of these nifty little places.
See our below slideshow of this beautiful town. The singer -+ other stuff, Nick Cave was born here. There is a sign proclaiming this on the way in. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Cave Narda did not know who he was, I knew he was a popular Australian dude though not quite sure why. The issue with being so old as we are. A few weeks later Sacha caught us up on him. Sorry, he does not feature in our slideshow below. Also, I don’t think we ever pronounced it correctly. But you can try – listen here.
We got to our wonderful/beautiful house exchange in Hepburn Springs late afternoon, just in time for a nap. We popped in after our rest to the Visitor’s Centre in Daylesford and had a long chat with a guide or whatever they are called, telling us about all the various springs to visit. We went to our new home and slept for an hour then bought train tickets London to Newcastle as they are on special if bought a few months in advance. Always planning for the next trip during a current trip.
Arriving at 2.30 pm in Hepburn Springs was a decent effort and of course then we needed a nap. The house we are in is beautiful with lots of lovely garden. We have met our hosts Winston and Joy. They came to our house a few days before Christmas and we had a BBQ (was meant to be a gourmet but the gourmet set that we’ve had for many years decided to call it a day) Nice couple, very enjoyable conversation. After dinner we drove them to the Rydges. They left their car at our place and went on a train trip the next morning.
I slept poorly, took a pill, and woke up with a sore back. Oh well. The next night the weather cooled right down, and I slept like a log in the caravan. Always works.
After a nice nap I spent the afternoon practising my drawing.
Doesn’t really look like my grandsons, but it’s a work in progress.
We managed to score some advance purchase senior ticket holders train tickets from London to Newcastle for around $40 each.
Mineral springs are a big thing around here. We met a guy on our walk at Sailors Falls, who recommended this particular spring as the nicest. I like it. The walk was a bit hairy. There were some barriers to it which someone had pulled aside, and we (me reluctantly following Terrell) tromped up the hill. A 15-minute walk turned into an hour’s walk, with a near fall (by me) caused by grasping onto rotten wood making up a bridge at the end. Anyway. It’s over. And it was scenic. Just unpleasant.
We went over to Sailors Falls. Wanting to go for a bit of a hike we followed the trail that said it was a twenty-minute hike back to the start which sounded reasonable to us. We saw a ‘do not enter’ sign and some tape but it was all laying on the ground, no longer over the path, as I pointed out, so we (me) figured it was safe. An hour later, during which time I once again was not the most popular person in our group of two, because I kept wanting to venture further up the steep overgrown path – and she who will not be named, did not. Nevertheless, we did get to the base of the falls only to see the steps to the little bridge to leave the area were not there. Narda managed to get a hold of the bridge and pulled herself up on to it, commenting that the post she tried to use to pull herself up on was rotten and pointing out that there was a gate, which was closed, with a sign on it proclaiming something about danger and do not continue. But that was then and now is now and obviously we survived.
I even have a YouTube footage of this here. https://youtu.be/doGZhcaEkK8
“Gold was discovered in Sailors Creek in 1851 and the area underwent rapid, drastic changes. This was a time of massive growth for Victoria's cities and towns. Agriculture and forestry boomed, and thousands of people crossed the world in search of wealth on Victoria's goldfields. The surrounding hills were denuded of timber to be used for housing, heating, mining, and food production. The park's hillsides are dotted with mining relics including mineshafts and rock-retaining walls; many hidden by forest regrowth. Most of the park's creek-side walking tracks follow historic water-race channels dug by miners to deliver purchased water to work their diggings.” Wikipedia somewhere.
Hepburn Springs Reserve
“The first mineral spring found in the area was by Captain John S. Hepburn. He named this spring, near the Hepburn Pavilion, which you can visit at Hepburn Springs Reserve. It is a short walk from Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa, where you can still bathe in the precious source. Following Hepburn‘s discovery, mining commenced in the Argyle Gully Spring Creek Area, and the Soda, Sulphur and Wyuna Springs were revealed, followed later by Liberty, Golden and Argyle Mineral Springs. But the miners didn’t care for the springs, the gold fever had taken hold, and they were willing to demolish everything within their path. We owe a debt of gratitude to Swiss Italian migrants Dr Severino and Dr Rosetti who recognised the significance of these springs and rallied the support of their fellow countrymen (in the 1850s one-tenth of the population spoke Italian). As it panned out, this unity established the above-mentioned Hepburn Springs Reserve in 1865, the first of its kind in Victoria. Since this time, it has become a meeting place to ‘take in the waters’ and experience the benefits of calcium, silica, magnesium and an abundance of other minerals.” A Wikipedia cut and pasted job.
The next day Sacha came to visit (about 2 hours from his place). On his way home he picked up Georgia from the airport. We had a nice day, chatting about lots of stuff and walking to another spring.
We tried the spring water which Sacha thought was reasonable – when he visited us in upstate New York, Saratoga Springs, he tried the water then quickly spit it out as it was too eggy for him. Narda’s three sons all did the same on various visits as well as her sister Helena.
We grooved on the local California type trees.
To clarify Narda’s note – Christine was a woman Narda met whilst looking at pillows in a thrift shop, go figure…life stories swapped…Christine was searching for a bargain at the local Op Shop in Daylesford. I took the pillow which she had planned to buy, she turned around and told me this, and I told her I’d sell it for double the price. Thus started a pleasant conversation with a remarkable woman who travels everywhere, lives in a stay-caravan in Daylesford, got trapped in Kathmandu for 7 months after Covid lockdown and volunteers in Cambodia with children orphaned by Aids. Such an interesting person.
Today we spent some time at the Mills Markets. Huge! I bought some presses for Sofie and the girls.
Amazing Mill Markets Geelong and Daylesford Welcome to The Amazing Mill Markets. The Amazing Mill Markets are located in two locations – Geelong and Daylesford. Because the Amazing Mill Markets lease space to hundreds of different stallholders, each location has a diverse range of wares and new stallholders are always welcome. There is invariably something for everyone who visits with vintage clothes, vintage furniture, memorabilia, art, glass, jewellery, books, antiques and collectables to name a few. Be sure to keep your eyes on our news and events along with the social media accounts to stay updated with new and interesting items that arrive all the time. https://www.millmarkets.com.au/
Supporting the local event, we went to the main street which was closed to traffic. A nice atmosphere, lots of stalls, live music and people milling around. I ordered a meal of friend grated potatoes as a sort of fat pancake, with some relish and salad and a fried egg on top. Yum. We shared one serve and had nice fruity smoothies with it.
The German couple told us they had lived in the area for a long time. It was an interesting conversation. He had been in China and other interesting parts of the world, including a stint (for work) in Uruguay, which he loved.
At 8 pm the parade started. A group from the community garden dressed as veggies, a pipe band playing all the traditional bagpipe songs, then there was the huge semitrailer that just made it around the corner. All very entertaining and local. Afterward we bought a packet of drumsticks at Coles and ate them at home, together with several episodes of Irreverant (Netflix), our current favourite show.
31st December – what a year it has been. We can all say that for each year can we not? In our little world we started off the year 2022 in Washington DC with covid. We had arrived on Christmas Evening – having missed our flight in Istanbul to have arrived Christmas Eve because of the fog in Lahore, Pakistan delaying our flight by several hours. But that was then, here we were at the beginning of 2022 with covid – probably gotten on the way there in Lahore or Istanbul or from Chris when we got to DC on Christmas night, and he probably got it on the way back from Lahore days earlier. Who knows? So that was the first two weeks of 2022 – I test positive for 15 days with no symptoms and every morning we would call United and put off our flight until the next day. Finally mid-January we were on the way to Holland for three months. Then we were home in Adelaide for a bit then September & October in New Zealand, see our previous blogs, November, and December mostly in Adelaide. Left as explained above on Christmas Day for this trip. Here we are in the regional Victoria town of Daylesford New Year’s Eve. What a groovy place to be. We watched their parade and watched some wood chopping contest and had some organic free range pancake thingy dinner. BTW, this is my kind of town. This is where the hippies that dropped out of society – then went back into society to make piles of money to be able to live in Daylesford – now dropping out again to be long haired organic yoga performing new age environmentally conscious folks protesting corporate invasions into their peaceful alternative society. Most of the parade floats had to do with something about being vegan, keeping power companies at bay, blocking companies from marketing their wonderful mineral water.
We did not stay for the fireworks as it was past our bedtime – nine pm – though we persevered and stayed in town until about nine thirty. Got up as usual early next morning, being New Year’s Day and all, and went off to the next town over to share New Years Day with the locals. They had the usual New Years Day activities: wood chopping, world champion mineral water drinking contest (how fast one can drink a glass mineral water, followed by how fast one could drink a litre of mineral water – gut wrenching riveting moments), some horsing around stuff – I think they were trying to jump over some poles, and the event I came to see but didn’t because some of us, in our group of two, were tired and wanted to go home from staying up so late New Years Eve (ten PM) was the women’s gum boot tossing contest. I managed to find a photo from last year’s event in the local newspaper – its in the video above
Jan 1, 2023 New Years Day
The fastest drinker of spring water was the feature of the country show we attended in a town starting with a C. I was a little reluctant, but it was lovely, a very shady location, wood-chopping to watch and a half decent full brass band. Their rendition of the song from The Mission was really great. Lots of folks having a nice day; we pulled out our deck chairs to join them
Jan 2, 2023
Castlemaine is quite the town. There was no one about really, but it’s full of beautiful homes along the main road. It also has a railway station which we decided to check out. We met some colourful locals there and after sharing our waffles with them they gave us the ‘low down’ on Myki cards and how you can use them to your ‘best advantage’. They also told us other stuff, but it was quite difficult to understand them: local dialect or a speech impediment…not sure. Or it’s just me.
The German guy on New Year’s Eve told us that I should go to Creswick to check out the Dutch influence. So, we drove there. The folk at the information centre knew something about it but not really much, though they were very friendly and helpful. So, we drove on to Clunes, which was supposed to be a historic town featured in many movies. I have to say, it was a little disappointing, there was no-one there and certainly not much evidence of movie making. That may have to be further researched.
Monday, which was the day after New Year’s Day we went to another town. Narda was talking to some German folks at the parade event two evenings before (New Year’s Eve) who told her about a town settled by Dutch following WW2 so of course, we had to go. The town of Creswick was once a thriving gold town with 35,000 people that had depopulated when the gold ran out or low – forgot what happened to it but the town was down to a few hundred when following WW2 lots of Dutch were coming to Australia to escape war torn Europe. By 1954 there were heaps of them all over Australia. They were getting passage on ships for ten bucks or so to immigrate to Australia. Narda’s family in 1958, with her and her sister in tow were part of that group so of course Narda wanted to see this town. We read lots about it. It sounded like a cool place. The Germans said the local supermarket had lots of Dutch food. So, we went there. Quite disappointed, not because everything was closed the day after New Years but there did not seem to be any indication of the Dutch who had settled there earlier. The local supermarket had some salty drops – that was about it. They have more Dutch food in our local Aldi back in Adelaide. The next town over from Creswick, Clunes, was more interesting, from a camera angle, as it is the oldest still standing collection of 19th century houses, in Victoria, or Australia or our local galaxy; forgot where, read it somewhere on the internet. The main street was as empty as could be, I suppose no one was ready to begin 2023 here, even though it was two days after the year began. They did something historic here, forgot what, found gold, ate tofu, something. Here are some snapshots we grabbed along the way:
Jan 3 & 4
On the road again. Easy pack up really, we were out the door by a bit past 9 am. First stop: Sailors Falls for a bit more spring water.
Then Terrell drove us onto the M1 (we prebooked our toll payment …$3.30 for a month!) right until we arrived at a huge service station on the other side of Melbourne, parked the van in between the monster trucks and had an afternoon nap.
Next stop Yarragon, a lovely town, for vanilla slice and lemon slice at the bakery. Hit the spot.
where we stopped, Yarragon, there was a group of old Holden enthusiasts from Tasmania parked in front. Of course, we have a photo of their cars.
We must have been this way before – like about twenty-years ago because I have photos of the Latrobe Chimneys. A coal burning non-environmentally friendly place. [Latrobe City Council will continue to standby the community after Energy Australia today announced it would close the Yallourn power station in 2028 – four years earlier than planned.] Probably good news for the environment but bad for the locals who will left out in the coal cold.
Our overnight was in Glengarry, quite a longish drive passing the huge coal burning chimneys in Latrobe Valley. We stayed behind the pub in the nice grassy spot disturbed only by more screeching cockatoos. Free camping.
It was only a short drive from there to Paradise Valley, but it was a difficult one, especially near the end with loose gravel on the road, a very steep incline, and a one-way lane. Very scary with the van. The place is beautiful, and we found a lovely spot the river just as another guy was leaving.
A typical Aussie pub – do not remember where I took this photo but here it is,
Sacha and Georgia turned up about 10 minutes later! It’s his 42nd birthday so we planned to take them out for dinner at the Hayfield Pub. It turned out to be a bit of a mistake….we waited longer than an hour for our meals, though they were very nice, and Georgia did not get hers at all (after waiting 2 hours). So, in the end, she took hers home as a takeaway. Oh well. Nice conversations and catching up.
Sacha and Georgia pitched their tent next to us –
Paradise Valley Camping – bit expensive $290 for four nights, for an unpowered site – probably our most ever for a caravan spot. Beautiful place – they can charge whatever they wish. The place was full. Had great showers but not even a camp kitchen as most places do. We paid $35 for a powered site in Melbourne a week later.
Sheep have a run of the place,
For Sacha’s birthday – 42, I think – gosh how did we get so old? It seems just a moment ago he was born in Hawaii and I was walking him on the beach. We came to Australia in June of 1981 – six months after being born. I drift, for his birthday we went out to dinner at a pub – the only place to eat in the only town nearby.
That was the Railway Pub – give it a miss. I don’t eat meat, there was no vegetarian options left so I tried their fish dish, it was awful. Just give me a piece of kale and I will float off into my finely tuned floaty consciousness.
So great having Sacha and Georgia camping with us. It is the first time we did this. It surely will be the way of the future. Other times we get to catch up with them perhaps once in a year when we stay at an Airbnb in Melbourne – go out to dinner – have not too much interaction. Camping for four days… we sit around a fire at night,
Go for walks every day, have meals together. Talk about how crazy life was with me being a single parent with Sacha and Leigh, travelling once in a RV around Australia with my father, age 87, over from New York, in 1992, our trips to New York (1985 when Sacha was two and a half and Leigh six-months old – yes I travelled via Hawaii (to see friends) and LA (visiting friends) to New York to stay with my parents, with no other adult to assist – try that sometime and tell me how easy being a single parent is) AND AGAIN in 1992 when they were at least old enough to help a bit – Sacha being eleven and Leigh nine. That time we stopped in Hawaii, LA, New York, Baltimore Maryland, Louisiana, (all those people we visited, except for Daniel in LA, have died over the years – including my parents, brother, friends, son…) then onto France then Germany then back home. A massive trip just like I do now with Narda – except then it was with two young children. It was fun though. I digress… so we had lots of conversations about those trips about my eight years of being a tofu manufacturer – Leigh being signed by the LA Dodgers as a pitcher and playing in the States for years. We don’t talk about his death – his decision to leave life a month after he turned twenty. What is there to say? We have good memories of being together – that is what we share now.
Georgia was collecting rocks/stones, all quite beautiful. She is going to polish them. Sacha had no comment. Children rode their rubber things down the river in the raids – just the right size for children. Sacha and Georgia left after three-nights, going back to their working life and Narda and I moved to a further point in the camp where there were less (like none) children for peace and quiet.
We drove to the top of the hill and to a neighbouring lake to get anything happening on our phone. A camping neighbour wondered why we would want to get internet – I said I was a Yank, following the horrible debacle of the republicans attempting to get someone to lead them. It took 15-shots at getting one awful person to lead. So glad I live in Australia.
If only we had a jet ski we could have raced across the lake…Lake Glenmaggie
Jan 5 & 6,
Starting to get into a group camping groove. We shared a meal last night, bought salads from the supermarket, I had my chicken, and we ate cookies and chocolate for dessert! Nothing at all wrong with that. After tea we sat around the campfire gasbagging. There is a decent set of toilets/showers, we are sleeping well, and go on the occasional walk. There is no Telstra or internet, which is a challenge. Yesterday I drove to the top of the hill to see if Bren and Sof had made it back. Turned out that that they had a long stay in Abu Dhabi on the way back from Egypt, but then got upgraded to business for the home stretch. Bren’s 3rd time!!!
Jan 7, 8, 9
Bit of a pack up this morning. Sacha and Georgia left, and we moved to a quieter spot near the entrance of Paradise Valley. I felt a bit crook/exhausted in the afternoon, so we took it easy.
Next morning felt much better and we headed off again. This time I was less freaked out by the steep terrain; we filled up with diesel, and then on to Sale. I had a toasted bacon and egg roll, and Terrell had a quiche in the Sale shopping centre, which was open for business on a Sunday morning (unlike Adelaide which stays closed until 11 am). Sale has changed its name to Port of Sale, with a new canal developed providing a marina, attractive gardens, and an arts complex for the town. Really nice.
Then on the road for another 80 kms or so to a lovely free beach site, amazingly provided for by the previous owner, who sold it with the condition that it remains free for campers, including access to campfires for time immortal! It’s gorgeous. Rough roads, 7 km of corrugations, but worth it. And the weather, despite the mid-summertime of year, is cool and sunny, around 20 C. Yesterday we met a camper travelling alone, who told us some of his stories. Draft dodged the Vietnam war, (no names given!!!) worked in Alaska, northern Afghanistan (back in the good times…. the seventies, when Kabul was a normal city, where folks lived happily regardless of their religion or gender). I love these random interesting encounters with folk. This is one of the things that makes travel so much fun.
I saw two places on the map that looked interesting. Firstly, Welshpool and Port Welshpool just across from Snake Island and Little Snake Island. Sounded intriguing. The first thing of note at Port Welshpool is their jetty. By golly what a sight.
The slideshow below is not autoplay so you can read the signs along the way
We watched a sea rescue – though it could have been just a practice run as they seemed to take a long time or perhaps, they were rescuing more than one person. We were too far away to see, and the zoom lens only goes to 300 mm.
We did not make it to either of the snake islands – maybe next time though we did get to Agnes Falls (see our video) https://youtu.be/B4fW7raQNRM
At 59 metres, Agnes Falls are the highest single span falls in Victoria.
A long drive today, heading for a camp in Poowong, which, after a longish drive though forest, we found no longer existed. A friendly person standing alongside the road waiting for his ex-wife, (we assumed as he had his daughter with him, he was going to deliver the daughter to her for the remainder of the holidays…but who knows.) gravely informed us that the camp was “no longer” The girls was excited about our dusty rig (I think) and asked if we were on our way around Australia. We assured her that we are indeed on our way there, but not quite.
So, upon their instruction we backtracked to a showgrounds site, who wanted $15. We parked on a flat high spot. The wind blew a treat, and during the night I saw that the awning had become quite the flopsy awning and was flapping against the van all night. We slept poorly. I changed the setting from open to close, and together we dropped the pop up, no more noise, and slept soundly (soundlessly:) until 8am.
That was that. We were in great need of a caravan park, and one more phone call (I had deceived many rejections) got us a spot at out old fav Sundowners Caravan Park, ….full of friendly residents and a few small sites. We had great showers, I washed and dried all the clothes for $8. While other parks were charging a gouging price of $60 plus, they charged us $35. We’ll be back.
Our drive into the city was a bit exciting. Despite our best efforts, we missed the turn off to down town and finished up joining the trucks over the bridge in a massive traffic jam. We were also very low on diesel. We finally got ourselves off the freeway and into a servo in Williamstown, where a very friendly local gave us instructions on how to cross back in to Melbourne CBD WITHOUT the bloody Westgate Bridge. A further bonus, Terrell spotted a car park, $14 unlimited at the Vic Markets.
Then there was our CBD adventure. I had obsessively decided I needed new walking sandals. Eccos were my dream. We found a store in central Melbourne, and I bought them. 20% off the very high list price. Nice ones. They tend to last for 5 years of continual walking…at least my last pair (Riekers from Denmark) did. And I found bathers that fit at the Myers store. Had a nice Indian meal at 4.30 pm. Combo of lunch and dinner, mango lassi to top it off.
Returning to the Vic Markets we discovered a huge festival in progress, live music, huge lines for food, that sort of thing. So, we joined the lively crowd, and on our way back to the car, bought some iced coffee at the Asian mini grocery. (no lines) Our server was from Jordan and was chatting to his mum (in Jordan) He handed the phone to me and I started chatting to her, until he told me she ‘no speaka English’. But we smiled at each other a lot.
All in all a good day. I met a woman in the laundry the next morning. She was from SA, and her and her husband had sold their house and decluttered their lives, living semi-permanently in this caravan park. She said they just loved it and were earning “heaven credits” (I do believe that was the term she used) for voluntary work as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Interesting conversation. She was lovely. I can imagine that decluttering your life, doing voluntary work and travelling will indeed be heaven.
The Queen Victoria Nigh Markets – opened on Wednesday evening throughout the summer. See our video https://youtu.be/AUfg28ZwJJM – it was fun.
I am always impressed by Melbourne. The skyline, the people…such a creative city. I can see why Sacha has lived here for the past twenty-years. Adelaide, not so much.
Jan 12, 2023
Today we have again found a wonderful free camp. This time on the shores of Lake Meredith, the biggest freshwater lake in Victoria, by all accounts. I slept a solid 8 hours. Amazing. The lake and the sunset last night were speccie, as you will see from Terrell’s fabulous photos. Long after the sun set, the colours kept deepening. The toilets here are modern and clean and you can camp here for up to 28 days for free!
Lots of reading today, nice to catch up. Right now, I’m reading Amitov Ghosh’s book “Field of Poppies”. Took a little while to get my head around the characters, of which there are many, but now I’m into this rollicking story about the opium trade and the British involvement in it in the mid-1800s. There was also much money made on slaves by the same company. Folks with difficult lives in Bengali, India were offered to be taken to a camp which would give them work, housing and food, and were thus tricked into being virtual slaves.
Lake Meredith images below
Up at 6 am and on the road at 7 am. We were going to go north but saw that it would be 39C or 102.2F so decided to go along the coast past Warrnambool. Got to Portland. We had stayed at the caravan park there about 15-years ago and liked the port town. This time we went to Sawpit Free Camping in the Mt. Clay National Forest. Amazing place. Lots of walking trails – we did the short loop to a whaler’s lookout that was used by Aboriginals for hundreds of years before we Europeans came – took over – slaughtered the locals then slaughtered the whales. We are so good.
Something I have never seen before in all our camping trips…a horse. I went over and had a good conversation with him but due to a language problem he understood me (“nice horse – good horse – do you come here often?”) but his hee heeing made no sense to me. I thought Narda, who was born in the year of the horse, could assist, but she only understands Dutch and English. The people had a foldout tent thingy attached to the horse trailer and they all seemed to live happily together. I didn’t take a photo of their set up as I am not one of those nosey people that takes photos of everything. I wish I could have a horse.
The walking trails were amazing – even did a video of them – of course, see it here https://youtu.be/2oGViFoHKus.
I had a play with Narda taking a photo – because it was getting hot, I thought I would put her into a snow scene – the sky is fake too – actually, most of the photo is. It is the new neural filter in Photoshop 2023 beta…just testing stuff. However, the other photos are true.
There had been a fire through here – one of the campers said about fifteen-years ago. Hopefully, not another while we are sleeping here deep in the forest.
For tea we enjoyed a delicious meal at the Royal Hotel in Portland. Terrell had a fettucine dish which he described as the “best ever” and I had…. surprise…a very decent chicken parmie. We discovered, on our subsequent walk around the town, a “facility centre”. A very decent block on a corner, with ample chairs, sink, hot showers, toilets, place to change a baby etc …all for free. This was offered to us as local free campers up on the hill at Sawpit Park, and to anyone in the town who needed it. I have never seen such a civilised gesture anywhere. Funded completely by the local council, cleaned regularly. A model for the rest of the world! Giving folks dignity.
The reason this place is called Sawpit is because long ago this was a log cutting place. They even had a wagon from those days and a set up to show how they cut the logs. Read the sign below to know as much as I do. One of the things we learnt from the sign, probably the only thing, is that there are free showers in Portland which we took advantage of. I think Narda will write about that. Very impressive little town.
We did a final magical walk through the forest then left. No, we were not on acid – gosh! This is not the 1960s – though I do remember a time when forest walks looked this then – go figure – now just a memory – a bit like this.
The next day, which is today, we were up at five am because the awning was banging from some unwanted wind behaviour. In the dark we took it down, didn’t get back to sleep. I have been grouchy all day because of it. Sorry about that. Anyway, we were off to downtown Portland by eight am. Took a free shower. Did some other daily duties. Discovered that the only thing opened on a Sunday morning in Portland are churches, liquor stores, and K-Mart. K-Mart was the ticket to our happiness. Nothing beats getting out of a bad mood from getting up at five am and taking down an awning than shopping. Especially with discounts. I got some groovy hot mat holders for a buck each. Nothing woke about me. Narda, as usual, found some more storage containers, because, of course, everything must live in a container. Me? I am from the school of ‘wherever something happens to be, or land is of course, where it should be’. You know those 1960s philosophies of ‘we are exactly where we are supposed to be’ and I would add, ‘so is everything around us.’
Down at the fishing dock we spoke with some fishermen who had just come in from a week at sea. I asked questions…got answers…see our two-minute video clip https://youtu.be/MMDKoAFkCvA about the true answer of whether the sea is depleted from fishing. Quite a beautiful harbour.
Believing our weather app, that it would be around 39C tomorrow we rushed off to the coast. I know I said that yesterday too but this time we were really off to the coast – The Limestone Coast. Our first port of call was the resort town of Robe. Population a bit over 2000 – plus thousands of tourists – mostly campers. We thought we were/are smarter than the average family camper, we saw them, huddled up at the expensive caravan park, barely enough room between them to open their door. Then there are the screaming holiday-possessed crazed-children running amuck. No thanks! And their dogs – barking and shitting everywhere. Teenagers groping other teenagers behind trees, parents having stress attacks. Not for us. We drove to Wrights Bay believing it would be free camping. Damn! It wasn’t. $15/person. Come on. That is just stupid. We paid. Grumbled a bit. Walked to the beautiful seaside and watched the sunset.
January 16-20, 2023
This was a long driving day, exacerbated by a wrong turn, and having to drive back into Beachport to get diesel, which required a couple of illegal u turns to get into the filling station. Oh well.
Wright Bay Caravan Park was listed as a free site. It no longer is. It’s on an isolated beach, lots of seaweed, decent toilets, no showers, no power. And it costed us $30.00. That was it. The only saving grace was the enthusiastic high school student, tearing around the park on her 3 wheeled motor bike, greeting newcomers and taking their money in a friendly way. Not an adult in sight!
So off we were the next morning. Ominous weather forecast predicted a sizzler, with temperatures reaching 40. So, we parked outside of the Robe library, ready for the aircon and the internet. It was a pleasant time. We also walked through the main street of Robe, very similar to Grey Town in New Zealand. And the weather was great. Don’t always believe the forecast.
The jetty park at Kingston SE was also listed as a free spot. And yet we were charged $20 at the parking metre which happily took our money. Again no power, just a public loo. The park was full of monster vans, and even some buses. I think we need to update our sources. A new Camps 12 would go far. Wiki Camp has been a pain to use. I guess expecting a free site on the coast in peak season is a little unrealistic.
The librarian in Kingston’s community library was also the librarian for the school. It was a nice walk there, we had a big coffee (huge) on the way, and I enjoyed chatting with the two ladies “manning” the library.
The best was yet to come. Lake Albert caravan park was lovely, right on the lake, with the best facilities we saw for the whole trip. We had heard the diabolical warnings of road closures in the area, but we drove straight to Tailem Bend, no delays, bought a sandwich and headed home. Home being Pete and Marion’s place; they kindly allowed us to park our van as our place is still occupied by exchangers.
We left this morning, January 17 – Tuesday, for the big drive to Robe, a good fifteen-minutes away. Watching closely our weather app. To be 39C by 11 am – like for us Yanks that is 100 degrees. Wow. We planned to spend the day at the library in Robe on the internet. The idea of being in an air-con for the day sounded ideal. Plus, we have had little internet for the past couple of weeks. Just some on our phone that we would hotspot to our computer, but not enough to post our wonderful video clips as seen above. Also. Narda was concerned about the predicted 60-kilometre winds that were to arrive with an afternoon storm. By noon we were bored at the library, borrowed a bunch of old movie-CDs that we can leave at our local Adelaide branch of the library, bought one with our last dollar – we rarely have cash, and we gave the rest of it away at the Wright Bay overpriced caravan park – $30 this morning. Going outside we quickly realized it would never be very hot – checked the temperature – it was 22C, and there was no wind. Where do they get their weather reports on these stupid apps anyway? We felt we had seen Robe. I.e.. We drove down the main street. Narda pointed out she went here for her honeymoon to some other guy hundreds of years ago and we went on to Kingston SE where we heard there was free camping next to the jetty. Kingston SE is half an hour away from Robe and we found a place to park, so some stupid thing about paying before driving in, didn’t pay, drove in, slept for an hour, walked to the stupid sign that said pay before entering and paid $20 which is the minimum for two nights. We only want one night. It rained the rest of the day and was about 20 degrees. Narda just finished her book and said, ‘now I have to read book two’. So, we are into the caravan for dinner. See ya tomorrow. Cheers!
We booked into the Meningie Caravan Park. I spoke with the local wildlife. Quite the good place, better than a lot. Here on Lake Albert. We needed electricity as our deep cell battery seems to be losing puff. We looked up info on deep cell battery on good ole google and discovered we were supposed to look after it, like put distilled water in it – what? Batteries need water? Then there is a list of stuff to do. Deep cell batteries are expensive like five – six hundred dollars. We have had ours for more than six years and did no maintenance on it. Apparently, they only last 6 – 7 years anyway. We have been relying on our solar panels but a cloudy day in Kingston SE put us behind, bottom line we had no power, not even enough to put on our radio or LED lights.
We were on the Princes Highway all the way from Melbourne. The word on the street was/is that the road from Meningie to Tailem Bend is/was/could be/should be, closed. Flooding from the Murray – I am sure you saw it all on the news. Been lots of water around the place past month, flooding from New South Wales, Victoria, all going into the Murray and heading into the sea. We stopped in Tailem Bend to look at the Murray and say wow wow wow. Probably difficult to ascertain from this photo but the river is at its banks, some places over – it was much lower when we went past a month ago on the way to this grand adventure, down the road to Victoria.
After a bit of a picnic, we were on our way.
We have almost three weeks more before we are off to Kuala Lumpur for a week, Lahore, Islamabad – Pakistan for three weeks, UK (Liverpool, Wales, Some other place) for a couple of months – with The Netherlands in between for ten-days, and a groovy overnight ferry from Newcastle UK to Rotterdam – then back ten-days later, with a stop in Thailand for a holiday for a week then home via Hong Kong at the end of May. I am sure we will have a blog or two about those adventures.
In the meantime, we are in Adelaide for two weeks living in our caravan because we did a house-exchange with folks in the UK who are in our house now. So, we are a bit homeless. Not totally homeless – here we are camped out in Narda’s first husband’s granny flat for a week- their son, Stu – turns 40 and there is a massive party here tonight.
For now, Victoria is just a memory in our rear-view mirror. Thanks for coming along on this trip. Without you, I would not have an audience and would be talking to myself – oh wait!!!
and today Narda got her fifth-covid injection, two + 3 boosters – I got mine last month, so we are all up to date for travel. See ya all soon.