To Infinity and Beyond (New South Wales)

Night Falls at Eden

Wednesday 24th of May

Bruthen to Eden

It was a beautiful fine morning at Bruthen when we awoke. It had rained lightly overnight, but as the sun rose the tent part of our camper dried off long before we had to pack it away for today’s drive to Eden on the southern coast of New South Wales (NSW). We had showered after our bicycle ride of yesterday so we did not need do do such again this morning, so after breakfast we began the task of packing away the camper.

We had finished packing and were leaving the caravan/camping park at Bruthen by 10.30 and briefly drove back into the town to buy a souvenir fridge magnet of the town at the town’s Tourist Information Centre; our camper is festooned with fridge magnets of places we have visited in Australia. Having got our magnet we headed out eastward from Bruthen heading first for Nowa Nowa where re rejoined the Princes Highway, the main east coast highway of Australia; we had actually left this highway a few days ago at Bairnsdale.

We were about 10 Km east of Bruthen when I happened to inquire of Linda: “Did you pack the bicycle pumps?” “What pumps?” my faithful assistant responded. “The ones I left on the tail board of the ute.” Stopped the ute and had a look on the tail board where I found one of the two pumps. An immediate retracing of steps back to Bruthen to perchance find the missing pump. Luckily it was found on the roadway just outside the caravan park, and luckily undamaged. Thus at about 10.50am did we finally depart Bruthen for Eden.

It was an easy and pleasant journey then to Nowa Nowa and on to Orbost where we briefly paused for a cup of coffee and a few biscuits for morning tea before once again setting off towards today’s destination. All the way from Bruthen to Eden the highway passes through the dense eucalypt forests of East Gippsland. One of the main businesses in the area is thus logging and saw milling, though with much of today’s concern with habitat and sustainability, the saw milling industry of East Gippsland is quite reduced from around 30 years ago.

The forests of East Gippsland are quite beautiful to drive through with very tall timbers lining the highways and huge tree ferns filling the gullies between the forested hills. Because of the hilly nature of the area, driving is not fast, one must be prepared for low overall average speeds in the area. But why speed, the countryside is stunning. For those of you interested in trees, and particularly structural timber trees; one of the main eucalypt species logged in the area is the Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus Regnans), also known as Tasmanian Oak. It is a magnificent tree with an average height of 75m, with specimens known to have reached 100m, which makes the Mountain Ash the tallest flowering plant in the world. It is also one of the strongest and most durable hardwood species. Note: Flowering plant, Californian Sequoias are not flowering plants.

The Forests of East Gippsland

Around 1pm we stopped at the small town of Cann River where we had lunch at a local cafe’. Cann River featured in one of my stories about my and a mate’s bicycle ride around Victoria a few years ago. It was from Cann River that Keith (of Inverloch) and I set off for the long and arduous climb on our bikes up into the Australian Alps. But that is another, past, story, so back to the present. From Cann River Linda took over the driving for the last 120 Km into NSW and to Eden. We finally reached our pre-booked caravan park about 8 Km short of Eden proper at around 2.30pm.

Having checked in we selected a nice grassed site for our camper and spent about an hour setting ourselves up. Now a note on our camper: Our camper sits on the tray of our ute, and it’s living quarters are a canvas tent that folds out from the camper body itself. So as with tents and such, there is much putting up of poles, and pegging out rope lines to hold the whole rigmarole together. Why do we do such a complicated thing, when say a small caravan would suffice, taking about 15 minutes to set up? We do it because we can go places no caravan, no matter how strengthened of high clearance, can get into. Linda and I have seen more remote places in Australia than anyone with a caravan can ever do.

Set-up complete, we drove the 8Km into Eden proper to visits a supermarket. NB: If we, like most people, don’t visit a supermarket at least once a week, a nervous breakdown ensues. Not really, we needed some assorted supplies for camping out for the next few days. For those of you familiar with Australian supermarkets will know the one we visited; starts with a ‘C’, ends with an ‘s’, and had ‘ole’ as the missing letters. The most current annoying thing about said supermarket is a bloody song they keep playing over their PA system. Some garbage about keeping prices down. Drives you up the bloody wall. Hell will freeze over the day Australian supermarkets have the lowest prices, or if they do, they are screwing the life out of the suppliers.

Having endured the annoying ditty and got our requisite supplies, we did a little walk of the town, Eden is not particularly large, but is a popular holiday destination as it is on the South Pacific coast. We then returned to our caravan park. Having packed our goodies away we took a short walk down to the beach onto which the caravan park fronts. Very pretty. A semi enclosed bay overlooking Eden harbour in the distance with lovely sandy beaches, and naturally the warm waters of the South Pacific Ocean. You would be surprised at the sudden change in ocean water temperature between Victoria that faces out onto the Southern Ocean, and NSW, that faces the South Pacific. There is a distinct 5 degree change at the eastern most point of Victoria at Cape Howe, a change for the warmer.


A Cycling Day

Tuesday 23rd of May


Because today was to be a day of leisure, and by that, meaning Linda and I would be going on a long bicycle ride; to us, that is leisure. Consequently we had no reason to arise from our bed in the camper until 9am, then a leisurely breakfast of eggs on muffin, and then getting ready for our bicycle ride. Getting ready for a bicycle ride is actually quite involved as firstly our bikes had to be set up after being carried from Inverloch yesterday. I then had to add our carry bags for the necessary food for a long ride; water, muesli bars, glucose jelly beans, and some sandwiches for lunch if nothing was available at our destination. As Linda and I are quite serious long distance cyclists, we then had to dress in the appropriate lairey Lycra. Us poor serious cyclists always get rubbished for the Lycra outfits, but such outfits are designed to increase the comfort of riding, and the bright colours and patterns on our jerseys make us visible to drivers. That is why we wear Lycra outfits.

Thus finally at 11.30am we set off for today’s bicycle ride. Our destination was the small town of Nowa Nowa, and following the rail trail rather than the busy highway. A delightful overall ride through the forests of East Gippsland. The trail is undulating for the 26 Km to Nowa Nowa, but is easy riding gradients because it was once a railway. Gradients at around 3% maximum for the trains that once passed this way makes the cycling quite easy. Because railways always take a route to give easy gradients, the tail trail had long rising gradients, the longest of 9 Km before a summit is reached, but then relief as one follows a descending gradient for long distances. About six or so long climbs and similar descents brought us finally to Nowa Nowa at around 2pm.

Bruthen. The Tambo Valley

On the first ascent out of Bruthen we had lovely views out over the valley of the Tambo River, before entering the dense forested areas. The line was built from Bairnsdale to Orbost during the 1st World War, a time when the massive earth moving equipment we have at our disposal today was non existent. Thus as we cycled over massive embankments and through deep cuttings, one has to realise that these massive earth works were done with nothing but picks and shovels, ploughs, and horse drawn scrapers. The railway navies of that era were tough hard workers.

Rail Trail through the Forests

About 10 Km short of Nowa Nowa we came across one of the massive wooden viaducts constructed across deep valleys for the railway lines. This viaduct, known as the Stoney Creek Bridge is very high and long, and was designed by one of Australia’s most famous Civil Engineers and Word War 1 General, General Sir John Monash. So famous and respected is John Monash that a world renowned university in Melbourne is named after him; Monash University, and the freeway leading eastward out of Melbourne is the Monash Freeway. Unfortunately the Stoney Creek viaduct is not in good condition and is too dangerous to ride over. The cycle path, passes down beside the viaduct and over Stoney Creek.

The Stoney Creek Viaduct

As said above, we arrived at Nowa Nowa at around 2pm, and immediately saw a nearby cafe’ we could have lunch. Our packed sandwiches were toasted on return to Bruthen as a post ride snack. We took about half an hour over lunch before beginning the return ride back to Bruthen. Luckily the run down to Bruthen on the rail trail was the 9 Km climb at the start, so it was an easy and fast run back into town. Bruthen, like Cowes, has its own brewery, but unfortunately it was closed on Tuesdays, so we returned to the caravan park where we are the only residents, for a hot shower and clean ordinary clothes, before dinner.

Into East Gippsland

Monday 22nd of May


After a good nigh’s sleep at Keith and Jean’s place at Inverloch, we were out of bed, had breakfasted, and were ready to leave by 8.30am. No dogs to walk until November. Our intended destination for the day was a small town inland from the coast by about 20km in East Gippsland, Bruthen. We’d had been there some years ago and were quite impressed with the very nice little caravan/camping park on the Tambo River, one of the larger rivers in East Gippsland that rise in the Australian Alps to the north and flow down to the Southern Ocean and Bass Strait. It was also about half way to Wednesday’s destination of Eden where we have pre-booked accommodation.

As it was only about 250 Km to Bruthen, we had plenty of time to drive there at a leisurely rate taking in the scenery and towns along the way. About 3/4 of an hour out of Inverloch, the road rises up into the southern edge of the Strzelecki Ranges in Gippsland, where a beautiful view of Wilson’s Promontory can be had. Wilson’s Promontory is the southern most land mass of the Australian mainland into Bass Strait separating the mainland from Tasmania. It is a National Park with huge stretches of beautiful ocean beaches, high mountains ( By Australian standards ), and wild bush land. A very popular holiday destination in the warmer months.

Wilson’s Promontory, across Corner Inlet

From the views of the Promentory we descended to sea level at the town of Foster, which is the road gateway to the Promontory. Here we stopped for a short while to clean the ute wind screen of dead bugs before continuing onward. The drive from Inverloch to Foster is through undulating dairy country, so it is a very lush and verdant landscape and very pretty. It is a slowish drive due to the twisty nature of the roads, but a very enjoyable one.

From Foster onward the road passes along the coast where the Strzelecki Ranges to the north come down to the sea, so the road still twists and turns along the coastline, though about 8 Km inland. After a while the ranges begin to disappear and the road becomes quite flat along the coastal planes, and still top quality dairy country. The whole countryside had become quite flat by the time we reached the town of Yarram, the largest town in the immediate area. In the not too distant past the railway ran all the way to Yarram from Cranbourne, an outer south east suburb of Melbourne. But this is now closed, and much of the old permanent way is now a rail-trail. Linda and I, along with our friend Keith from Inverloch, had ridden this rail trail from Korumburra, in the western Strzelecki Ranges to Foster. It is our intention in the near future to ride the remainder of the trail to Yarram.

From Yarram onward it is a flat and straight road to Sale, the main city in East Gippsland, and home to a Royal Australian Air Force base, and the maintenance base for the Bass Strait oil rigs. There are a couple of things of interest along this stretch of road. Firstly the remains of an Omega Navigation Station about 20 Km past Yarram. The Omega Navigation system was a Cold War radio navigation and communication system for US nuclear submarines with Omega bases spread around the globe, now of course, totally replaced by GPS navigation.

The Omega Nav system used extremely low frequency radio waves that could penetrate the ocean, allowing submarines to communicate and locate position whilst submerged. It operated at audio frequencies around 10 KHz, though being radio waves, not air waves, nothing could be heard. A feature of the Omega stations was the huge transmitting towers used, they were around 1/2 Km in height, and could be seen from a along way off. Despite being a high security military/intelligence communication system, the one in Gippsland could be visited by the public, and the huge high voltage transmitting valves seen in operation. For you readers unfamiliar with high power radio transmission, valves are used on the output stages of high power transmitters due to the very high voltages involved; around 20 000 volts. The whole place was quite open to the public. On passing the site of the Omega station today, all that remains is the transmitter building that now serves as a storage shed for a local farm. A nice solid brick barn. The huge antenna is long gone.

The second thing of interest was an old fashioned Swing Bridge across the Latrobe River, about 10 Km south of Sale that was built in the 1880’s. OK, so a swing bridge may not be to most people’s interest, but what is of interest to me about this bridge is two things, firstly it is being fully restored to operation, though not to carry vehicular traffic. And secondly, it was designed by a Victorian government engineer; John Granger. So you rightly ask: “Who was John Granger?” John Granger was the father of Percy Granger, the world famous Australian composer of the early 20th century. You may have heard the lyrical song ‘An English Country Garden’, that was written by Percy Granger. Percy was also a little bit ‘strange’. He was turned on by being whipped. Kinky, kinky. Probably inadequate potty training from when he was a little boy. So there we are , two things of interest along the road between Yarram and Sale.

Percy Grainger’s father’s Swing Bridge. (John Granger)

At sale we stopped for fuel before continuing on to Stratford where we stopped for lunch. Stratford is on the Avon River, so naturally all the streets in Stratford on Avon are named after Shakespearean characters. Continuing on after a nice lunch in Stratford we came to the town of Bairnsdale where we stopped briefly at a supermarket to top up the food supplies for the next few days. Bairnsdale is quite a large town, by Australian standards, and sitting on the Thompson River, probably the largest East Gippsland river, where upstream is the Thompson Dam, the largest water supply dam in Victoria and supplying Melbourne with mush of its drinking water. Another thing Bairnsdale is famous for is its Catholic Cathedral. I have not visited this cathedral, but it is reputed to be one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Australia, built in the late Gothic style.

From Bairnsdale we turned north for 22 Km over a small dividing range then down into the valley in which Bruthen is located. It is a very small town located on the Tambo river, and is the junction of two highways; the one heading east to the New South Wales coastal highway, and the other leading up into the Great Dividing Range on the border of NSW, and the major ski resorts of Australia; a very beautiful drive up into the high country. We found the Bruthen caravan and camping park and set up camp for the next few days beside the Tambo River.

Another railway line once passed from Bairnsdale through Bruthen and on to the most eastern extent of the Victorian railway system at Orbost. But this too has been closed to rail traffic from Bairnsdale for some years now, and is now also a rail-trail for cycling enthusiasts. Tomorrow Linda and I intend to ride the rail trail as far as the old timber town of Nowa Nowa. Point of interest for you readers from overseas. Nowa Nowa is an Australian Aboriginal word, what for I don’t have the slightest idea. But in the Australian Aboriginal languages, a repeated word, means a big one of whatever. ie: Nowa Nowa is a big Nowa.

Camp at Bruthen

A few Days in One

Due to having to combine a couple of days into one blog, Friday the 19th of May to Sunday 21st will appear as a single posting. Mainly because your Professor was on a Journey to Melbourne and back, and had no time to post. So now I’m back, and with lots of reading for you folks out in Cyberland. So let’s begin.

Friday 19th of May

To Melbourne

As you readers out there in Cyberland, besides knowing Linda and my mode of travel for today, hopefully enjoyed yesterday’s recipe for a gourmet steak sandwich. To begin as usual, my sister’s dogs, Angel and Bella, insisted on their morning walk, but as our train (bus) was to depart from Cowes town at 10.15am, they got a fairly truncated walk. But as dogs are dogs, they enjoyed their walk irrespective of its duration. Thus having walked the walk with the happy hounds, Linda and I then walked the 1.1/2 Km to the train stop in Cowes, and finally departing there at 10.20am. The train was a ‘stopping all stations’ to Koo-Wee-Rup, around 50 Km, so took a little over an hour. At Koo-Wee-Rup we changed trains (bus) to an express service to Southern Cross Station in Melbourne (a real train station with real trains). The remaining 85 Km journey was completed in around 50 minutes as the express service travels via the freeway routes into Melbourne. It was just before 1pm when we arrived at Southern Cross.

One of the reasons we travelled up to Melbourne was to purchase some high visibility cycling jerseys as we want to be as visible as possible on our cycling journeys over the next 5 months. There was supposed to be a bicycle shop near Southern Cross Station, but we couldn’t find it despite knowing its address. So we found somewhere for lunch instead, a nice little Vietnamese Cafe’ in Bourke St., where we enjoyed a very tasty lunch.

Melbourne, like most big cities is very crowded, and us being country folk who dislike crowds, we decided to give up looking for bicycle shops in Melbourne city, and instead head out later this afternoon to a cycling clothing shop we know of at a nearby suburb. This on leaving the cafe’ we caught a tram out to our daughter’s place in Kew where we were going to spend the night, about 40 min tram ride.

A note on the Melbourne tram network for those readers of this blog who are unfamiliar with Melbourne. It is the largest tram network in the world, and covers a majority of the inner suburbs of Melbourne within a 15 Km radius of the city centre. If one overlays a tram network map over the suburban train network of Melbourne, you get one of the most extensive rail/light-rail networks in the world. The one drawback though of a tram network compared to a rapid transport system (London, New York, Paris etc.) is that since trams run along city streets, a tram journey, at times, can be slowish. Otherwise an excellent way for visitors to get around Melbourne.

Anyhow, back to today’s adventures. We arrived at our daughter’s place in Kew just as she had arrived back from a shopping expedition and was then about to go out and collect our granddaughters; Sarah and Zoe, from school. We therefore borrowed her small car to go to the cycling clothing shop we knew of, about a 20 min drive from Emily’s. Here we were able to purchase our very bright, luminous yellow, high visibility, jerseys. Photos maybe later when we are off on a bicycle ride.

On return to Emily’s place we were warmly greeted by Sarah and Zoe as is usual. It was then just some sitting around amusing the two girls whilst Emily prepared a roast dinner. As recompense for our wine buying for Emily and her husband Malcolm not quite a week ago in Tasmania, we had one of the expensive, but very nice, bottles of wine with dinner.

Saturday 20th of May

Melbourne & Return

Sarah and Zoe had us out of bed at 7am, and then a leisurely breakfast. After breakfast my faithful assistant Linda helped Emily with various housekeeping chores whilst Malcolm and I started some repairs to the plumbing of their bathroom vanity basin.

You can always tell an amateur had tried repairs by the amount of silicon sealer used in plumbing situations, (any situation) and the amateurs had been well at work in Emily and Malcolm’s bathroom (Long before they moved into the house). To stop the leaking tap, said amateurs had simply plugged the opening leading beneath the vanity basin tap with silicone bog, to stop the leaking water from getting into the cupboards below the basin; they hadn’t bothered to actually fix the leak. The problem was simple a worn sealing gasket between the tap mechanism and the tap body. The repair did require though, a visit to Blokeland ( Bunnings ) in Hawthorn to get a replacement gasket at the exorbitant cost of 50c. Problem fix in 5 minutes, excluding the drive to Blokeland.

It was now time for Linda and I to begin our return journey to Cowes via the trains having a high resemblance to busses. As we were about to catch a tram back to Southern Cross, I realised I had left my mobile phone at Emily’s, luckily only 100m from the tram stop. But as Murphy’s law dictates; a tram arrived just as I discovered my phone was left behind. Thus Linda waited at the tram stop as the tram passed by, and I returned for my phone. Luckily the Melbourne tram network has a very frequent service, so it was only a 10 minute wait for another tram; weekend tram time-table. Trams are at 3 minute intervals on this route during weekdays.

At Southern Cross we had about an hour to wait before the train-bus back to Koo-Wee-Rup at 3pm, so we had about an hour to spend over lunch and a browse through the shopping mall at Southern Cross. A fast express journey back to Koo-Wee-Rup, then a change of bus-train to the Cowes, stopping all stations, journey back to Phillip Island and Cowes, arriving there at around 5.15pm.

Now the fun part of the day. There is a boutique brewery in Thompson Ave., about 50m from the bus stop, and we had previously arranged to meet my sister Julie there at around 5.30pm for a few refreshing ales and some dinner. This we proceeded to do. Julie had brought along a friend of around 50 years, Clare, so we had a night of beer and wine drinking along with some excellent food. Admittedly it was only the Professor who went through 4 different beers in pint quantities this night; assistant Linda, Julie, and Clare drank wines, similar numbers of glasses each of wine, but not in pint quantities. Naturally as the night wore on, the talk became louder, and the stories more exaggerated.

Julie and Clare after the Brewery
The Thompson Ave., Brewery

Personal note on Australian beer: The commercial beer in my opinion is crap, tasteless and gassy, and usually serve at such a low temperature that your lips and tongue freeze. On the other hand, Australia, and particularly Victoria, has numerous boutique breweries producing a range of excellent beers of very high quality and flavour range. Not cheap though, about twice the price per drink as the commercial crap, but in this Professor’s opinion, worth the money. So at around 8.30pm, Linda and I walked back to Julie’s place for the conclusion of today’s adventures. Julie and Clare drove home.

Sunday 21st of May

Cowes & Inverloch

We had arranged a few days ago to spent tonight with some friends, Keith and Jean, who live at Inverloch, before setting off for the next stage of our East Coast adventure. If you have been a reader of my blogs in the past, you will realise that this Keith is the same Keith with whom I rode around Victoria and parts of South Australia a few years ago. As we hadn’t seen them for quite a few months, and as Inverloch where they reside is on our route northward, we arranged to stay with them tonight.

Before setting off to Keith and Jean’s we spent the day packing the camper, and finalising clothes washing. But of course, dogs needed their walk. A long one as they will not see us again until November. It then took the remainder of the day to about 3pm to get the clothes washed and the camper packed. Thus at around 3pm we said good bye to my sister Julie and her daughter Kate, who was visiting for the weekend from Melbourne, and drive the 50 Km to Inverloch. We stopped at the old coal mining town of Wonthaggi on the way to buy some wine and a bottle of single malt whiskey before getting to Keith and Jean’s.

Wonthaggi is an interesting town. It was originally founded in 1909 by the Victorian Railways to exploit the shallow black coal seems in the area to feed the boilers of the railway’s steam locomotives. Prior to Wonthaggi coal, the railway had to import black coal from New South Wales, thus Wontahggi was a ‘company’ town. The high quality, and easily exploitable coal ran out in 1968. The town is now a large towns supporting the various rural businesses in South Gippsland, mainly farming, and tourism, as Wonthaggi is not far from Bass Strait beaches.

A brief note on Victorian coalfields. There are some small black coal fields like Wonthaggi around the South Gippsland area, all no longer exploited. Whereas Victoria has one of the largest brown coal deposits in the world; the Latrobe Valley, about 100 Km north east of the Wonthaggi fields. The Latrobe Valley is about 100 Km long east to west, and 50 wide, and all a brown coal deposit. Unfortunately brown coal is a very dirty fuel and is slowly being phased out as a fuel for electricity generation in the Latrobe Valley.

On arrival at Keith and Jean’s place at Inverloch, 15 Km past Wonthaggi, we did the usual thing Keith and I do when we got together; we drank beer and told lies about our cycling prowess. Keith and Jean are very old friends we have known since we all were pre-teens living nearby in Melbourne.

Cowes, Phillip Island

Thursday 18th of May


A lazy day. Ditto yesterday but exclude the bike ride.

This morning we purchased train tickets to Melbourne for tomorrow, returning late Saturday. We could have driven, but carting the camper around when we don’t need to is a bit ridiculous. We accidentally left some stuff at daughter Emily’s place last Monday, so we need to go back and collect said stuff as it is needed on our adventures up the East Coast. And besides, for us old folk with the various travel discounts, it is cheaper to go by train than drive the ute. $14 each for a 260 Km journey. (There and back)

Now some of you reading this epistle will question our going to Melbourne tomorrow by train, and rightly so, as no trains have ever run to Phillip Island; the closest station in the past was at the location of Anderson, about 25 Km east of Cowes, and that railway line closed in 1986, and is now a cycling rail-trail. So our train from Cowes to Melbourne tomorrow morning is actually a bus, but run by Vline, the Victorian country railway company. Hence we are going to Melbourne by train disguised as a bus.

But wait. There is more to this epistle. Since there are no adventures today of a travelling kind, it’s time for a lesson in gourmet cooking. Remember, this website is about anything at all, so cooking it is, and tonight’s dinner:

Gourmet Open Steak Sandwich.

Bake a large mushroom head until cooked. Cap should be about 100mm diameter.
Toast a thick slice of sour-dough bread. Butter it then cover with a 2mm layer of chicken pate’.
Place the cooked mushroom cap on the pate’ covered slice of toast.
Fry or grill a piece of eye fillet steak to your liking. If you cook the steak to ‘well done’ replace said piece of steak with the leather sole of your shoe. Shoe sole tastes better than ruined steak. Place the steak on top of the mushroom-pate’-toast stack.
Eat it.

If you are a vegetarian, forget the pate’ and the steak and enjoy mushroom on toast, but that’s not very ‘gourmet’.

Cowes, Phillip Island. A Do Little Day

Wednesday 17th of May

Linda and I were intending to do an early morning ride but it was lightly raining so we decided to do some essential shopping instead and see what happens later. But before going shopping we had the usual pressure from the two dogs to go walkies, which we dutifully did. ( There is no way we can really get out of walking the two dogs.)

Thompson Ave., Cowes.
Looking towards Western Port Bay

Later I was able to go for a ride, though without Linda. It was a good ride and I managed to do some good times over various Strava segments around the island. Total ride of 41 Km, at an average speed of 22.4 Kph. Since the ride took a bit less that 2 hours it used up part of the afternoon. On arrival back at sister Julie’s place, we were graced with a visit from our cousin Laraine who also resides on Phillip Island.

Linda and I will be meeting up later in Queensland with Laraine and her husband Cliff.

That was basically it for the day.

At Cowes, Phillip Island

Before I post: Will you childish pornography scribblers, I cannot in all sincerity call you writers, as your grammar, syntax etc., is appalling, go away. Your childish garbage comes to me for approval before publication. I just erase it. There is no way in which I will assist you morons in getting such rubbish published. Stop it. You will go blind.

No back to my genuine posts:-

Tuesday 16th of May

We awoke to a beautiful fine late Autumn day at Cowes, so we had the intention of going for a bike ride later in the morning. But first of all we had to deal with my sister Julie’s two dogs, Angel and Bella, who, once they know we are awake, insist on immediately going ‘walkies’. Unfortunately for them, they have to wait until us furless dogs have breakfast, put on our fur coverings and paw covers before we can take them out. Thus at about 10am we set out with the dogs in tow for their morning walk. As both dogs have not had a good long walk since we last saw them in mid March, they had forgotten their walking manners, such as not pulling on their leads, not sniffing every spot on their walks, or wanting to sniff bums of every other dog they pass. But after about a half an hour of walking, including a couple of sections of ‘off lead’ walks, we made it back home.

We were now able to go for our intended bike ride. Thus about 11.30am we set off for a figure 8 course of the island. Phillip Island is not a particularly large island; around 10km north to south, and 20 east to west. So a ride around the island is limited by the few major roads, and without doubling back on your route, gives about a 39 Km ride. One of the major attractions of Phillip Island is the, Motorcycle Course on the southern coast of the island which hosts the Australian Motor Cycle Grand Prix each October. At other times of the year, the public have (paid) access to the race track for motorcycles and cars. Today the motorcycles had access, so as our cycling route passes the GP circuit, we stopped for a few minutes to watch motor bikes doing high speed laps of the GP circuit; fast and noisy.

Our route once past the GP circuit heads north towards Cowes, the main town on the island before heading east for another part of our route. One good aspect of this part of our cycling route is that it is slightly downhill into the town, so as cyclists, we can get a good speed up. Once near Cowes, Linda decided to head back to my sister’s home as she had developed a muscle cramp. I on the other hand, continued on the intended 39 Km of our cycling route. Again due to the lack of wind, I was able to maintain good speeds on my bike for the route, and arrived back at Julie’s home at around 1pm. It was a good ride for both of us.

We then had lunch before resting for a while. Linda had decided to make a frittata for dinner that required a few ingredients Julie did not have, so later in the afternoon we took a walk up to the town centre to get the missing ingredients. As my sister lives only 200m from a beautiful beach on Western Port Bay, we decided to walk along the beach to Cowes for our limited shopping. A lovely and very enjoyable walk. The day was warm, the water was like a mill pond, there was no wind, and no people on the beach save for us, so it was a peaceful and pleasant walk to the town centre.

Cowes Beach

The main street of of Cowes, Thompson Avenue, faces down onto the town beach and is a pleasant walk up from the beach through the town to the supermarket where we needed to go. One of the recent attractions of Cowes, to me, is a micro-brewery half way along Thompson Ave., that I intended to stop at for a refreshing ale, but unfortunately we found it was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so that idea went out the window. A short walk then to the supermarket where we bought the essentials for tonight’s dinner. It was the a pleasant slow walk along the streets of Cowes back to Julie’s house where Linda began the preparations for dinner.

Thompson Ave., Cowes
Main Shopping Area

For those of you readers not familiar with Phillip Island here are some details. It is one of two large islands that occupy Western Port Bay, a large deep water bay to the east of Port Phillip Bay on which Melbourne is located. The other island is French Island, that once was a prison island, but now farming. Phillip Island sits across the entrance to Western Port Bay and so has safe bay beaches on its northern side that faces into the bay, and ocean and surfing beaches on the southern side facing into Bass Strait. Phillip Island itself is only around 75 Km from Melbourne in a direct line, but a 130 Km drive by road. Because of its close proximity to Melbourne Phillip Island, and its main town Cowes, are popular holiday destinations. It is also a very popular destination for foreign tourists to Australia because of its Koala, Seal, and Penguin populations. Phillip Island is the only place in Australia that has a large wild Fairy ( or Little ) Penguin population that can be easily seen. Foreign tourists understandably love to see genuine Southern Hemisphere penguins. ( Not that there are Northern Hemisphere ones except in zoos or aquariums. )

Heading East from Melbourne

Monday 15th of May

Port Melbourne to Phillip Island

Despite the crossing of Bass Strait last night on the ferry being a smooth as a mill pond, you hardly knew the ship was moving, I didn’t sleep too well and was awake as the ship made its way up Port Phillip Bay. We arrived at Station Pier, Port Melbourne at 5.45am and disembarked around 6.45. It was just breaking day as we drove off the ferry and onto City Road leading to Melbourne proper, about 5 Km north of the port. It was fairly heavy morning peak hour traffic as we drove to our daughter’s place in Kew.

Before arriving at her place we pulled into a French Bakery at Kew Junction to get croissants and baguettes for breakfast at Emily’s. Due to the morning traffic we didn’t arrive at our daughter’s until around 7.45. Malcolm, Emily’s husband had left for work so we missed seeing him. But we had two reasons to visit Emily. Firstly to deliver her, her very expensive wine from the Ghost Rock Vineyard of yesterday, and then to see our two granddaughters; Sarah and Zoe, two delightful little girls ( not that we have a biased opinion ) who were getting ready for school when we arrived. After all of us enjoying croissants and baguette for breakfast we then walked Sarah and Zoe to school that is about 500 m away. This is the last time we will see the two girls until late September, so they were very pleased to see us and have us walk them to school.

Having delivered the girls to school we returned to the ute and set off to Phillip Island where my sister Julie resides, to spend a few days with her before heading up the East Coast. It was an easy drive to Phillip Island, particularly along the city’s freeway system as we were driving against the general flow of morning peak hour traffic. We finally arrived at Julie’s place around 11.30am. Julie had gone to work, so instead of being greeted by her, we were greeted by enthusiastically by her two very large dogs. The two dogs, Angel and Bella always greet us enthusiastically as we are the ones who always take them for a walk each morning when we are staying with Julie.

The remainder of the day was spent doing our housework, or really my faithful assistant Linda doing our washing. Later we took the dogs for their expected walk. It is impossible to avoid giving the dogs a walk as they continually bounce around us until we relent.


PS: A reader of my blog posted a relevant message, saying I need to put a lot more photos on the pages. I certainly agree with this sentiment, and will try and put more photos for each day’s adventure. For the present though whilst at Phillip Island for the next few days, you will not see too many extra (or any) photos. A reason for this is that I’ve been visiting and living at Phillip Island since 1956, ( Yes! I am quite ancient ) so it’s more like a common home than a place to visit despite it being famous for its beaches, wildlife, seal and penguin  colonies. If I see something of interest whilst here, I will try and remember to take a few photos of the place and publish them accordingly.

But when Linda and I leave Phillip island in a few days, more photos will appear, and as requested, I will try and put more into each day’s adventures thereafter.

Hobart to Devonport

Sunday 14th of May

I had hung my dressing gown over the door window to our room to stop the light from the permanent porch light along with daylight from waking us too early. Consequently we didn’t get out of bed until 8am, an hour later than we wanted. Thus it was a quick breakfast then showers and packing of the ute. We left the motel at Sandy Bay at around 9.50am.

The day was fine and warm with lots of blue sky and zero wind, and remained that way for the rest of the day over the whole island. We didn’t stop at all in Hobart, but immediately set off up the main freeway northward. Not much traffic on a Sunday morning so it was an easy drive all the way. At Brighton, just after crossing the Derwent River, and about 20 Km out of Hobart city, the freeway once again resorts to being a single lane in each direction, but luckily there has been a lot of roadworks all along the Midland Highway north, so it was an easy drive all the way to Launceston.

At 11am, we pulled into Callington for a morning coffee and cake, that would be our early lunch. Callington used to be on the highway, but is now bypassed, so is a rather sleepy town, but full of history. Lots of beautiful Georgian buildings as one would expect for a town that was settled before Queen Victoria ascended to the throne. Of particular interest is the Callington Mill, a stone based windmill built around 1840 for grinding flour. The mill was in a state of total disrepair around 20 years ago but has been totally restored to a working wind powered flour mill.

Callington Mill

From Callington we continued on and again called into another bypassed town, Ross, where we had intended to stay last Thursday, but was too expensive compared to Swansea. Ross is another Georgian town with many fine buildings and the 2nd convict stone bridge built in Van Diemens Land and of similar design to the one at Richmond. Interestingly, Ross was designated in Colonial times, as the dividing line between North and South Van Diemens Land along the 42nd degree of latitude (south). Metal markers along the southern balustrade of the bridge marks the latitude.

From Ross we continued north along the Midland Highway intending to take the normal route to Devonport from Perth. But since we had plenty of time to waste until departure tonight at 7.30, we decided to take the longer, but scenic route back to Devonport via north up the Tamar River from Launceston to Exeter ( More of those original names for Tasmanian towns.) and then eastward to near Port Sorell and then on to Devonport. Managed to get lost, slightly, once again in the spaghetti bowl of one way Launceston roads, but have stayed in this part of Launceston in the past, I soon found our way back to the highway north to Exeter. A very scenic forest drive through typical Tasmanian rural roads; highly undulating and very twisty. Only near Port Sorell did we get back to undulating farming country ( with twisty roads ).

Our reason for such a slower journey to Devonport was: (a) Some different scenery. (b) A vineyard near Devonport that serves an excellent lunch. Thus around 2.30pm we reached the Ghost Rock Vineyard, where we sat down to one of their excellent Tasmanian Tasting Platters; cheeses, meats, pickled vegetables, terrines and breads. Add to this a glass of excellent Tasmanian wine, we then took us 1.1/2 hours over lunch listening to some excellent live music from a guitar duo. Another reason for calling into this vineyard was to get some wine for our daughter Emily and her husband Malcolm. Said daughter and her husband have expensive tastes, the wine they wanted, half a dozen thereof, at $60 per bottle.


At around 4pm we set off for the final leg of our driving in Tasmania, the 16 Km to Devonport. As the ferry doesn’t start loading until 5pm, we pulled into the foreshore at Devonport and went for a walk along the river bank before returning to the car just after 5pm and driving over to the loading wharf. The loading area for the ferry was absolutely crowded with vehicles wanting to board, and it looked like we would be in line to board for a long time. But luckily we realised we were in the ‘big vehicle’ line, ie; caravans, busses and motor homes. On moving into the small vehicle line we were checked in and driving onto the ferry within 15 minutes. As I write sitting in our cabin and looking out over the loading area, there is still lines of big vehicles lining up to load.


Saturday 13th of May

The bed in the motel at Sandy Bay is not a rolled steel slab, but it was a little hard, so sleep last night was a little disturbed. Despite this, we did sleep most of the night, and were out of bed by 7.30am for breakfast. Our intentions for the day were the Salamanca Market, and then the replica Mawson’s hut. The rest of the day was whatever eventuated. As most of today was to be walking, Linda set Strava to record the distances we walked.

Thus around 9am we walked the 3/4 of a kilometre to Salamanca Market and spent the next two hours wandering around it. Usual market stalls as the many times we have visited Salamanca before; lots of crafts, particularly Tasmanian wood products, food, clothing etc. At one stall we found a bloke who makes pens from Tasmanian woods. Usually such pens are ball point, but this bloke made beautiful fountain pens. So I bought one made from myrtle, a lovely dark pink wood. Not cheap at $65, but very nice. We also bought some specialised Tasmanian honey for our trip food supplies. Food wise, we had some tempura mushrooms, and then some crepes near lunch time. Usual crowds at the market, and it was a lovely fine day to boot.

Salamanca Market

We returned to our motel to drop off our honey and my pen, had a cup of tea, and then headed out once again, this time down to near constitution Dock to visit the reconstruction of Douglas Mawson’s Antarctic hut. The hut is a full reconstruction of Mawson’s hut that is still in Antarctica and had there been restored. Because it is an historic monument, it cannot be visited by the general population, but it’s reconstruction in Hobart is an exact reproduction down to the relics left behind in 1916. We spent over an hour there reading all the displays. Other people passed through the hut whilst we were there. Linda and I are the sort of persons who visit a museum and read all the signs, just not skip over them as most people do.

From there we walked into the centre of Hobart and wandered through the Cat and Fiddle Arcade before returning to our motel in Sandy Bay for a rest. Linda closed Strava down on return, and it showed that we had covered 8.1/2 Km, quite a walk.

We rested for about an hour, then decided to go for a small ride to recharge the camper battery running the fridge. We also took the opportunity to refuel the ute. Our drive was around the coast to Kingston, about 12 Km, then a return via the main southern freeway to Sandy Bay. Rested again and I went for a walk to the Sandy Bay shops.

At 6pm we walked to a nearby seafood restaurant for dinner. We were sitting next to a couple of women a bit younger than us (so we determined) and struck up a conversation with them. All of us had travelled to similar places in Europe, so we had a lot to talk about, as well as common family origins in Hobart, Sydney, France and Germany. We had a pleasant evening before returning to our motel and a television fix. Tomorrow we head for Devonport and the boat back to Victoria.