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!