Sun, 30 May 2004

Holiday: Buchan and home // at 23:59

Where?

Buchan

Sat, 29 May 2004

Holiday: Lakes Entrance to Buchan // at 23:59

[*] Still windy this morning, strong enough to make walking in the open unpleasant, and loud enough to start wearing away at the nerves. After breakfast we ventured across the lakes on the footbridge to see if the dunes were more sheltered — and nearly lost our hats in the process! Out on the water there was nothing to slow the wind!

[*] Ninety miles of beach, no shelter. Nothing to do but grit the teeth, squint the eyes, and walk as far as perseverance demanded!

Deciding over coffee that there must be somewhere in Victoria sheltered from the wind we headed inland, towards Buchan, to the caves and underground! It turned out to be a brilliant choice, away from the tourism of the coast and away from the wind, Buchan seemed almost deserted with only the sign posts pointing along the valley to the national park.

Where?

Lakes Entrance, Buchan

Fri, 28 May 2004

Holiday: Loch Sport to Lakes Entrance // at 23:59

More strangeness at the Loch Sport motel this morning as we tried to check out. Nobody around, no bell, no key-return slot, no note, nothing... We ended up driving off and leaving the room unlocked with key sitting on the table.

[*] Loch Sport is a very long stretched out town, the bakery almost at the far end had some very tasty iced buns for breakfast which we took with us into Sperm Whale Head National Park. No whales here, not even their heads, from above the peninsula looks like a sperm whale's head.

The dirt road in the park is thoroughly corrugated, it was a slow and shaky drive to the lookout tower — althought at first we couldn't find the tower, even though we were parked at “Tower Car Park”! Almost starting to believe that it had been removed, or burnt down, we set off on a walk anyway, then there it was in front of us! Quite a large woden structure despite being almost invisible from the road!

[*] There was no wind, no rain, no clouds, just a beautiful warm morning as we followed the scenic walk down through the banksias and ti-tree scrub to the lake and back in a big loop. Yet again, lots of birdlife, and huge banksia trees everywhere. Information plaques again imparted fascinating bits of knowledge — we now know that there are two types of banksias in the park — the saw banksia and the other one that I've forgotten the name of!

[*] The state of the road convinced us not to drive any further into the park, but to head back near the entrance and walk down to the Dolomite Swamp — unfortunately there was no explanation of how it came by that name — and then continue on out to Oil Bore and Pelican Point on the northern shore of the lake. A long walk, a couple of hours or so, and the skies clouded over and the wind picked up across the lake while we were out. Heading back at a faster pace we were surrounded by squeakings and creakings from the intertwinced branches of the ti-tree, almost as though the forest was talking about us!

Time to move on — two more finger bugs from the bakery for later, and two sausage rolls for now all helped to sustain us for the drive back down the beaches to Longford and then around to Sale. A coffee in Sale helped us to get over the shock of being back in a big town again.

We followed the the back roads around to Bairnsdale, then down to Meeting where we would have liked to have stayed... but the whole town seemed to have moved up-market. The caravan park has been bulldozed, the motels are all four-star and above, luxury this and exclusive that... the wind was howling, the temperature was falling, we gave up on Meetung and drove on to Lakes Entrance.

Everywhere we looked in Lakes Entrance there is accomodation, motels line the highway and most of the side streets, some with weekly rates that match what Meetung wants for the night! If only the wind had dropped it would have been a nice place to stay for a while, as it was we had a very cold and windy walk along the esplanade, past fishing boats and pleasure boats and admired the wooden sculptures that have been created “in-place” where the avenue of honour cyprus trees have had to be cut down due to old age. The stumps have been carved into various figures from Australian military history, such as Simpson and his donkey, and others I didn't recognise — balancing the wishes of the RSL to respect the avenue of honour and the reality of the 90 year old trees dying and threatening to fall across the main street!

Even with the wind we spotted more birdlife, the whole few days seems to have turned into a bird-spotting trip! A Sea Eagle cruised past up the river to roost — something I havne't seen for years — and two fat oystercatchers were running around digging worms out of the park.

Dinner was had in the Ferryman's Seafood Café — an old ferry from Paynesville that's been closed in and turned into a floating fish-shop and café-restaurant. The foods was great and the whole meal would been excellent, if only the staff hadn't been quite so intent on closing at 9:30 and whisking us out the door! Almost had to hang onto your glass to stop it being cleaned away between mouthfuls!

Not sure of our options for Friday-night entertainment in cold, windswept Lakes Entrance, we settled for a bottle of port and watching “The Great Escape” on a tiny TV in the cabin while the wind howled through the trees outside!

Where?

Loch Sport, Longford, Sale, Bairnsdale, Meetung, Lakes Entrance,

Thu, 27 May 2004

Holiday: Rawson to Loch Sport // at 23:59

Very cold overnight, neither of us wanted to be the first to get out of bed in the morning! Still, we managed to get up, hopping around frantically on the cold floor. Packed the car and tried to hand back the keys for the cabin, without success at first, since nobody seemed to be around. After walking twice around the building I managed to spot the owner wandering around inside and we could finally leave.

Back down the road to Erica for breakfast, bacon and eggs and sausages and a big mug of coffee. The guy running the shop wanted to know where we were from, where we'd been, where we'd stayed and where we were going... when we told him we were heading for the Tarra-Bulga National Park he offered all sorts of helpful advice on getting there from here — advice that we promptly forgot as it seemed to be too full of handy local comments such as “when you see the whatever, turn left at the lights and first right, but not the lane, first right down the road...”

[*] The drive through North Yalourn to Traralgon was surprisingly scenic — around here we were only expecting to see power stations and open cut mines.... North Yalourn, and the road, are on a ridge along the river and high enough up to give a good view over the rest of the Gippsland region. With the power stations steaming in the morning air and the pits visible, it all looked like a vision of Dante's Inferno... or Mordor!

Leaving Traralgon without using the directions we'd been given we headed in roughly the right direction, eventually reaching a dead-end street, back-tracking a few blocks before getting onto the right road for South Traralgon. Stopped for a brief look at the power stations and enormous coal pit from the Miner's rest lookout, but the icy wind made it a very short stop.

From South Traralgon onwards there were trees again — gradually thickening ofrest as we climbed up and over Mount Tassie and down towards the Tarra-Bulga National Park. First pine plantations, then native forest, cooler and wetter the further south we went. Stopped at the National Park for a walk along the trails, Mountain Ash and Myrtle Beech forest all around us — discovering from the handy plaques that there are two kinds of tree ferns — “the smooth” and “the rough” tree fern. 200 kinds of fungi in the park, and we must have seen a fair selection! Everywhere we looked there were toadstools on the ground and funfgi on the trees.

Loud bird calls all around, trying to identify some of them we suddenly realised they were al coming from the one lyre bird! Then we spotted him, dancing away on his display mound, just off the track under the tree ferns, looking as though there should be a film crew from National Geographic standing by! I tried to get close enough for a photo and almost made it, then he folded his tail and stalked off into the underbrush.

More birdlife as we walked on to the suspension bridge, then the lyre bird reappeared as we came back towards the car park. Not bad considering prior to this we'd only ever seen one or two scuttling off into the bush! I still couldn't manage to get close enough to one to take a photo though — my attempts resulted in a few blurry shots of tree stumps and dark forest.

Spotted a Wedge-tailed eagle above the forests on the way down towards Yarram, then the road fell away down through the valleys to the coastal plain.

[*] A brief stop in Woodside to put $2.20 into the local economy — some much-needed jelly dinosaurs to snack on — then on down to Seaspray on the Ninety Mile Beach. I was curious about Seaspray, the last (and only) time I've visited was the day after my bicycle was stolen in 1990, my memories are of a drab, gray, damp and salty place — probably coloured by the mood I was in at the time!

[*] It is a very long beach! Not a soul to be seen, just a few paw prints in the sand and washed up pieces of sponge and shells. Sponges everywhere, in all kinds of sizes and shapes. Seaspray seemed much better than I remembered, still small and quiet, but not the terrible place it was in my mind!

Back in the car to head north along Ninety Mile Beach, or just inland, unfortunately the 3-4m high scrub and sand dunes alongside the road blocks the view of the beach, giving miles and miles of featureless tea-tree — much like the Coorong in South Australia, and just as uninteresting! Where we could see the lakes on the inland side there was yet more birdlife, black swans, pelicans, even a few emus in the paddocks.

Arriving in Lock Sport in the late afternoon, the kangaroos were converging on the golf course as we set about trying to find somewhere to stay....

Slightly strange people ran the Loch Sport motel — not quite Norman Bates strange — just a little strange. The place looked deserted when we arrived, the sign in the window saying “Phone ... if nobody here” was behind a security grille and so faded that we couldn't read it. We were just on the point of giving up and going somewhere else when an impressively pierced face popped out the window and showed us a room, but couldn't sign us in, “cos the wife's gone to Sale for the day.”

Down to the pub for a couple of beers, a walk around the marina in the fading evening lightand cold wind, then back for a few more beers and dinner in the bistro. A huge pub bistro that must fill up in the summer-time, tonight there were only about eight customers on three tables!

Another cold night as we went back to the motel, but nowhere near as cold as last-night at Rawson!

Where?

Rawson, Erica, Traralgon, South Traralgon, Woodside, Seaspray, Loch Sport.

Wed, 26 May 2004

Holiday: Walhalla and Rawson // at 23:59

Left Melbourne under grey skies, heading east as the clouds got darker. Rain poured down as we joked about our choice of dates for a holiday.

A quick bite to eat in Moe, fuel for the car and then up north towards Walhala, temperature falling as the road rose through the forest. Twisty bends through forest, signs on most corners warning ordinary mortals of logging trucks.

Stopped in briefly at Thomson River station, the southern end of the Walhalla Goldfields Railway. We contemplated taking the historic train up to Walhalla, but while it would be fun in good weather, 45 minutes in a cold, draughty 100 year-old carriage didn't seem very appealing today!

[*] Walhalla is misty and cold and damp... and full of tour coaches. Three coaches of pensioners and one of school-kids — an interesting mix! We walked about reading the historic plaques and dodging the light misty rain, then decided to climb up the track to see the famous Walhalla cricket ground. In its hey-day every spare piece of flat ground in the town was taken up with mining leases, so the only available land for the cricket ground was up on the flat top of a nearby mountain, 200 metres above the town! Twenty minutes of climbing up a wet, slippery track over mud and shale found us at the top, 200m above the town and out of breath — no wonder the home team used to enjoy an advantage in the matches; they would camp up here the night before while the visitors had to climb up in order to play!

[*] No sooner had we reached the top than the rain opened up. With no shelter, no memorial plaque, not even a hollow tree to hide inside it was all a bit of a disappointment, but its somewhere I've been, something to see. We hurried back down into the valley, slipping and sliding and trying hard not to sprain an ankle!

Down in the town again the rain stopped, a coffee gave us time to dry out and some interesting chat with the owner — he'd just got back the previous night from two week's holiday — his first holiday in nine and a half years!

[*] [*] Further exploration down through the town and old cemetery to the Walhalla station, we arrived just in time to see the last train for the day head back down the valley towards Thomson River. The cemetery is far larger than the existing town — our old "Lonely Planet Victoria" gives the population as 28 — and with the rain and pine trees there are mushrooms and toadstools everywhere it has quite a melancholy atmosphere.

Birdlife too, as well as the fungi! King parrots and crimson rosellas all around, currawongs calling mournfully through the forest, there are many fat pigeons waddling around underfoot, then exploding up into flight as we near them — no idea what they are, I'll look them up in a book later!

Back up through the town as dusk was falling, time to head on to find somewhere to stay. The tourist busses have left and even more birds had appeared to scratch around on the ground — one lawn was home to half a dozen glossy blue-black birds — Satin Bower birds I guess. We were really wishing we'd brought the bird book to identify them all!

Five minutes later in the car and there was a lyrebird at the side of the road. No need for the bird identity book this time! Then just around the next corner another one ran across the road in front of us, impressive considering I think I've only ever seen four or so in the wild!

[*] Rawson caravan park seems huge, a strange place here in a tiny little town — a town that has only existed since the 1970's when it was built to house workers for the Thompson dam. I've no idea what all the visitors do here, probably trail biking and horseriding in the forests, and boating on the dams. We found a cabin, turned on he heater, then escaped back to “The Stockyard,” a bar, bistro and shop and an enormous hot fire! The temperature fell rapidly as the sun went down!

Where?

Moe, Walhalla, Rawson.

Links

[http://www.visitwalhalla.com/]
Walhalla and Mountan Rivers

Sun, 23 May 2004

untitled // at 23:59

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Sat, 22 May 2004

Off to visit Garfield! // at 23:59

[*] Garfield — not the big orange cat, the small Victorian town previously known as Cannibal Creek.

Marko and Lesley have had almost two months to settle into their new house — now it was time to visit and explore. Ten minutes on the highway out past Pakenham, Garfield is an old village on the rail line, now enjoying a resurgency as it turns into yet-another commuter suburb.

The new house was built by a stone mason and has an impressive solidity, thick slabs of stone make up all the external walls, with hundreds of opportunities for rock-climbers to make their way around the inside and outside! Oddities in construction and personal preferences in paints and layout mean that there's plenty to keep the new occupants occupied for years to come. They've already removed a wall erected by the previous occupants and returned the lounge room to its original size, and the walls as bedaubed with test samples of paints.

Dinner at the “top pub” in nearby Bunyip — the pub in Garfield only does meals on Thursday and Friday nights. I had an enormous plate of Lamb Shanks, everyone else seemed to have equally large meals. Together with a good bottle of wine we all had a great time, then it was back to the house for coffee and samples from Mark's three port barrels.

Where?

Garfield, Bunyip.

Fri, 21 May 2004

untitled // at 23:59

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Wed, 19 May 2004

Browser hassles du jour // at 23:59

All of a sudden Konqueror won't work on my PC. It just doesn't talk to the proxy any more. No idea why not. Then I tried to login to http://del.icio.us/ to enter in a few bookmarks from scraps of paper only to discover that Firefox won't let me login to that system. Today, web browsers hate me.

More On Phones / Moron Phones // at 12:00

Ride to work, stop for crossing, push button, wait, lights go orange, lights go red, my light goes green, start forwards, stop as motorist drives through red light while chatting on the phone, ride the rest of the way through intersection, proceed to work.

... and in news headlines today: Not content with the enormous number of motorists who illegally and dangerously use their mobile phones while driving, CityLink is now offering motorists an SMS service for accessing their toll accounts.

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