Travelling Oz…To Bega via Eden

Despite how wet it was on Saturday we still managed to get out for a short walk across the bridge to the village of Genoa. Mainly just a pub, with a few houses close by. At the pub we bought some tonic water and Stephen asked to have our small water bottle filled. The 5 litre one. I had to walk back to the van to get cash for the tonic water, but I felt we owed the manager something for being kind enough to give us some drinking water.

Walking bridge over the Genoa River, Victoria

It rained most of the day and we enjoyed listening to the rain on the van. I cooked us a lentil stew type of thing with spices and canned tomato. Comfort food.

comfort food

The problem with drinking water and our toilet is that we weren’t quite prepared for the two night stopover. I could have emptied the toilet at the Cann River stop, but thought we could easily go another night. The toilet was indicating some red when we arrived at our camping spot yesterday and Stephen carried the cassette over to the dump point, which was in a rather inaccessible spot.

We stopped in Eden, just over the NSW border for shopping and lunch. It is a beautiful seaside village, with lots of bays and a beach with very strong waves. After the shopping we went to a lookout, then down to the beach for lunch.

Our destination was Bega, which has showgrounds camping with power and water for $25 per night. It also has a laundry and when I told the caretaker I wanted to do some washing he took us to a spot close to it. This was a great blessing as I tend to go backwards and forwards during washing and it was only a short journey. It had a normal domestic washing machine and dryer, good quality, and as noone else seemed to want to do washing I did two loads and got everything clean. Very satisfying.

It’s still very hilly in this part of NSW. The Princes Highway is mostly well maintained, but with some disconcerting patches at the edges which can catch you out, especially in our van with it’s less than stellar suspension. So, not only are we going up and down steep slopes, but we can’t rely on the road to be smooth. Annoying! Residents of Eden and Bega must get very fit if they walk around the town with the steep hills.

Travelling Oz…A very rainy day

Where the Snowy River meets the sea at Marlo, Victoria

After a very restful night in our motel room we woke up ready to move on. We had a campsite planned, an old abandoned caravan park, with flushing toilets, water and dump point. It also had a nice little village just over the bridge with several cafes, but we didn’t realise this until we were driving out the next day.

Cann River Caravan Park. We parked on the only slab. Some of the sites were very muddy. It was shabby, but the surrounding forest was very beautiful.

On the way there we diverged to Marlo on the coast to see the mouth of the Snowy River, only memorable for the name really, but we found a viewing place for our lunchtime and rest. We stayed near the coast to the end of that road, then back to the Princes Highway and on to the Cann River Campground.

Yesterday we made it to Mallacoota and it was easy to see why people had ended up in the sea when the bushfire came, rather than escaping. There is only one way in/out along a very windy road. Although we could see evidence of the fire and lots of regrowth in the forest it was not evident to casual visitors like us that houses and shops had been impacted. Perhaps there has been such a rush of rebuilding and refurbishing that all is back to normal. It was wet and quite windy there, and with more rain forecast we decided to leave after lunch. There is no free camping there and we didn’t feel like paying to stay only to be locked inside due to the rain.

Wet at Mallacoota. There were strong gusts of wind as well.

Instead we drove back to the Princes Highway to a tiny village called Genoa which offers a really nice camping spot, albeit with less facilities than last night’s spot. We are not sure if we have enough drinking water to stay here for another night and there is no drinking water available here. We could put out a bucket for rainwater as there is constant heavy rain at the moment.

Where to from here? Stephen researched going as far north as Wollongong so that we could have a train ride to Sydney, but rising numbers and wet conditions are something of a deterrent. So we will follow my suggestion of going across to the ACT for a visit to Canberra, then head north to Queensland from there. It is a little warmer overnight now and going to Canberra means being back to frosty weather. However, we enjoy the little city, people there are well vaccinated, and we have all we need to keep warm in the van, so it seems a good option. It’s a concern that even places around Sydney where flood waters have receded might not be suitable for visitors at this stage. Otherwise we could stay on the Princes Highway, which goes around Sydney, all the way to Brisbane.

Travelling Oz…Lakes Entrance

The name Lakes Entrance is of a place where there are many lakes very close to the shoreline. I imagine it’s quite a resort in summer. In winter there are some visitors, including us, and it’s not as warm (in contrast to the mountains) as we had hoped.

The journey here yesterday was a bit more exciting than we thought it would be. Although the general slope down from the mountains was more gentle than the climb on the other side we spent a lot of the time travelling through a gorge where the B500 was very windy and sometimes steep. It made for an interesting drive, but tiring as we kept going until about 2.00 p.m. before finding a flat spot to have lunch. By then we were very close to our destination, but did not want to arrive hungry.

First of all we checked out a hotel that offered ‘free’ camping, including power and water hookups, but it was closed on Tuesdays, sadly. So we drove to the next hotel that offered camping, only about 14 kms further. Far from free when you factor in that we had a meal at the pub, but still a quiet and safe place to spend the night. We woke up to a cold and sunny day. The meal, by the way, was excellent, but these days I often feel that the meals we buy in cafes and restaurants only provide food that is at the level of our home cooking. The desert, for example, was very much like Stephen’s winter fruit compote. Very nice, but not better than he makes.

We also decided that it was time for our holiday and booked into the cheapest option. Sometimes that doesn’t work out, but in this case we have a room in a motel on the esplanade next to the lake. Curiously it has a sort of camp kitchen in the courtyard and whilst our room was getting warm we had our lunch sitting in the sunshine in kitchen.

The beach, Lakes Entrance
Selfie on the lake side
Walkway over the lake to the beach side
our room

Before checking in we did some shopping, got a new gas cylinder as our other one ran out last night, and filled up with fuel. We are all ready to go, but feel tempted to stay another night here, especially as we’ve partly moved in. I took this photo before we moved in as I knew it wouldn’t look tidy for very long.

Travelling Oz…Mount Beauty to Omeo

Our afternoon walk was around the reservoir. We can’t actually see it from the caravan park as there is a bank around it. We enjoyed the walk, though it meant that the pebble beach walk along our creek will have to wait for next time.

lake walk, with the power lines, of course

It was another beautiful, clear, frosty morning yesterday. I walked over to the cafe near the entrance to the caravan park for a coffee. We were easily able to be ready to leave by 10.00 a.m. One of the people who said we could do the Great Alpine Road over to the other side was the woman at the Visitor Centre. Her advice was to travel in the middle of the day because the ice left behind by the snow ploughs would have melted from all the vehicles travelling on the road.

Stephen had also asked the caravan park manager about the road, and advised it was doable, but the final word was from the snow chain provider in Harrietville. He had a look at our vehicle and I noticed him checking our tyres. He was also confident that we could do it. I was prepared to turn around if he had doubts. As I got out of the driver’s seat to greet him he said ‘good morning young lady’, later seeing my driver’s licence he would have realised just how much he had flattered me. I guess he just wasn’t expecting me to be the driver.

Several times as we drove slowly up long steep sweeping slopes I regretted the decision, but later in the day, when it was all over, it has left such a feeling of accomplishment that it all feels worthwhile. Plus, it was only about 150 kms all up from Mount Beauty to Omeo that it surely beats going all the way around. We were indeed coming through in the middle of the day and didn’t encounter any obvious ice, although the trick with ice is that it isn’t actually visible.

Once through the resort at the top the rest of the journey has had very few steep areas, and even those seem easy in comparison with our journey yesterday. There were lots of warning about ice on the roads so we still took the slopes cautiously, but in authomatic most of the way. We stopped for lunch at Dinner Plain (so named because the mailman used to stop there for his dinner (what we usually call lunch) on the way. So the story goes. It is also a snow resort, but less frantic than Hotham, and less snow as far as we could see.

We stopped again at a viewing point where we could see across the alps to Mt Kosciuszko. We thought of staying the night there, but it was cold and we still had to drop off our snow chains. Although it was known that we wouldn’t need them it is still a legal requirement to carry them. We were also shown how to put them on the wheels.

there it is, way off in the distance on the left. We had a sign to show us how to look for it.
at the lookout

There are two free camping spots in Omeo, one in a park near a creek and one in a field next to a hotel. We looked at both, but it was hard to find a level spot that wasn’t under trees (and the trees looked gleefully ready to drop limbs on us if we stayed under them). So the pub it is. Stephen went in to check about staying overnight. Later he went back to get us a couple of ciders. I wasn’t feeling up to being in a pub, and given we are in our fifth wave and most deadly stage of the virus, it would be risky as well.

We had a lovely peaceful night here and ran out of gas in the morning. I only put the heater on at 4.00 a.m. as I didn’t want to use too much gas and it’s also noisy when it starts up. We’ve switched on the reserve tank and will have to get a replacement today.

Today we are heading down to the Victorian coast where we have some choices of overnight places to stay. And it won’t be as cold.

Travelling Oz…everyone said we should, so we did

Travelled the B500 Great Alpine Road across Mt Hotham resort to Omeo. Some of it was like this.

And this
Arriving at Hotham Resort

Driving in manual in 2nd gear. Before we got to the snow we came up steep road with lots of bends. Thank goodness we got a bit of experience in the Grampians before coming here.

We had ideal conditions, no rain or snow. But there were some pretty savage cross winds as we got to the more exposed part of the journey.

There is more to the story, but these videos shot on Stephen’s phone give something of the flavour of the most challenging bits. Pretty hard being a passenger depending on your driver!

Travelling Oz…Mount Beauty and Falls Creek Resort

Falls Creek at the summit

On Friday morning I did some washing. Nuff said, it takes a long time to get things dry and it took all morning. We had lunch at our camping spot. Later in the afternoon we did the Gorge Walk, only about 3 kms in itself, but with going to the Visitor Centre first, then the walk, then going to the supermarket on the way home we covered quite a few kms. My phone said I did 16,000 steps and about 10kms, but that included going backwards and forwards to the laundry, so not all of it was the walk.

It’s harder to get good photos on a shaded walk with lots of contrast, but it was very enjoyable. We had to cross a swing bridge over the gorge at one point, Stephen is just starting up the steps in the first photo. We had a ‘doh’ moment at the Visitors Centre when we realised that this valley has a large hydro electric plant, which is why there are so many power lines all over the place. I won’t whinge about them being in my photos!

Yesterday was our trip to the snow at Falls Creek. It turned out to be a really busy day as so many people had come for skiiing and other winter sports. We didn’t mind in a way as it was like being at a very large party where you sometimes connect with people around you. We felt cold at first, but after a hot drink and a snack (inside, with lots of other people, a major possible COVID exposure) we got our tickets and took the ski lift to the top. There, because it was sunny without a wind, cold wasn’t a problem and we enjoyed taking in the views and crunching around trying to avoid getting in the way of skiers.

We had lunch out on a terrace and were joined by a young Scottish couple who have been living in Melbourne for a few years. Before going home to Scotland they have brought a 4WD and rooftop tent to travel Australia as much as they could. We enjoyed comparing notes on travel and they suggested a ‘holiday from your holiday’ was important, sometimes taking an AirB&B or other accommodation to have a break. Of course, that was more important for them in a rooftop tent than us in our cosy van, but we still think it’s a good idea and will follow up soon. They left to go back to skiing as our lunch arrived and we were sorry to see them go.

The coach journey Falls Creek was enjoyable, especially in the last bit where we started to have snow at the side of the road. We have had a good tramp around in snow, and that may be all as especially the journey back down convinced me that we shouldn’t take the Great Alpine Road (B500) over through other skiing resorts as the roads will be steep, windy, and possibly icy. It just wouln’t be much fun. Falls Creek is over 1500 metres high and the B500 actually goes higher. I didn’t mind it at all when someone experienced was driving, but there will be coaches on the road as well as many other cars which will potentially make it quite dangerous for us in the van. Caravans are not allowed, and we would have to hire snow chains for the journey.

So, as we still want to get to the other side we have to look into finding an alternative route. It will be much longer, but considerably safer.

This morning more washing, clothing this time as last time was bed linen, etc. We still have sunshine today and there is another local walk we want to do this afternoon.

Travelling Oz…finally arrived in Mount Beauty

In Bendigo Stephen negotiated paying for our parking, finally phoning up to register. That means we can use this type of payment anywhere in Victoria. After he spent ages on his phone we discovered a little stand with a keyboard that would have allowed card payment. Oh well, the joys of arriving in a strange town where you don’t know the systems.

In Bendigo Stephen went to an Elvis exhibition and I had a coffee, then tracked down the Chinese garden. We were in the centre of the town with the information centre, parklands and art galleries.

Our time there meant that we had quite a long afternoon of driving on C roads to our overnight destination. We spent a peaceful night, again in a village recreation centre, with access to toilets and drinking water, much appreciated. We were successful in making a donation at the general store in the morning.

Yesterday was a dream drive in comparison to the last few days. We travelled about 100 kms on the Hume Freeway, then took the B500 Alpine Way to here. We stopped for lunch in Myrtleford on the way. It wasn’t until the last 20 kms that we started to have views of mountains and we stopped at a viewing point for Victoria’s highest mountain, Mt Bogong.

At the lookout for Mt Bogong

Actually, we can see it from our campsite. There is a little snow on top. When I booked our caravan park online I wasn’t given a choice of a powered site, so chose unpowered. Stephen was able to change to a powered site when we arrived. We are here for four nights so this gives us peace of mind that no matter what the weather we won’t have a power problem. We are still being careful to not run too many high draw appliances at once.

We are very close to a fast running stream, with beautiful views of the mountains. Unfortunately there are power lines in the way of ideal photos, but will do my best. It’s possible to remove them in Lightroom, but I haven’t done it for a while, so would have to learn how again, something that I may do when we get home.

We’ve booked our coach trip to Falls Creek for tomorrow (Saturday morning). It leaves at 9.00 a.m. and the depot is a short walk from here, so making an early start shouldn’t be difficult. We were lazy this morning, but justify it due to needing to rest.

The B500 is a reasonably easy drive so far, just a bit windy in parts with some ups and downs, but it basically follows the valleys. It’s good that we don’t have to drive up in the higher elevations where there is snow and ice. We also have quite good weather for the next few days. This wasn’t planned, just a matter of luck.

When we arrived in our spot we found that some people had set up for a picnic at the fire pit just behind us. They invited us to join, but we were tired and didn’t really feel like it. They said it would only be for one night as they were leaving in the morning. It was a bit noisy, but we didn’t really mind. As they had children, plus it got very cold after dark, so they left by the time we went to bed. We left the heater running overnight. I’m not sure if we quite needed it, but nice to have and a bonus of being on 230v.