Category Archives: Australia – Portland Vic, Robe SA, February 2019

Day 14 – Monday, 11 February 2019

This morning we made our way leisurely to Kingston SE to fill up with diesel from BP. As we ventured along and turned onto the highway a vehicle started tooting at us. It took us only a moment to figure out what the tooting was all about – we had forgotten to disconnect the power cord attached to the Engel in the back Hornet. It was dragging along the road behind us. Surprisingly we had heard nothing as we left the caravan park so we are hoping the chairs and table are all still good.

Once we had reached Kingston SE (don’t ask me what the SE stands for or why it is necessary) we refuelled and decided to take a drive around the township. We made a point of finding Larry the Lobster and getting his photo, and I ate my ice cream while taking photos of the lovely walking bridge and sundial in the park across from Larry.

One of the caravan parks in Kingston SE is right on the beach. I should imagine that it would be pretty hairy if there we strong winds blowing. We did not stop at the lighthouse which is just down from the park and is built on stilts – a most unusual design for a light house.

We returned to Robe and went down the main street to the Information Centre. The lady there was very helpful, and we collected a lot of brochures. We wandered across the road to the beach to see a group of four men setting up for windsurfing. At the moment the sun is shining but the wind is very cool. We got some terrific shots of them in action.

We then went to Foodland for bread and ham. It is a combined Foodland/IGA and quite a large store. The Deli department is not large and some of the salads do not look very fresh, but the ham looked fine.

Once we got back to the van, we put the privacy screen up attached to the awning with very large tent pegs securing it in place. We bought some de-flapping devices to attach the awning to the roof bar of the awning structure and it is working a treat. Russ did his meditation and I played a game and did some reading until he surfaced.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is wind and rain so we may end up having a lazy day once again. We are amazed at the number of caravans that pull up here during the course of the day. Some of them stay a few days and others only stay overnight. In summer time the place must be jumping!

Day 13 – Sunday, 10 February 2019

The weather gods have been very kind to us and although overcast the gale force winds have gentled to a breeze for the most part.

We left the Portland Caravan Park at 9:36am and were on our way.

We drove to the turn off for Mt Gambier and encountered a smattering of traffic both ways. South Australian residents obviously do not know the code of conduct when passing a van that has indicated they have a clear road ahead. Not a single vehicle did the blinker thank you after they had passed us.

We decided to pull over outside Millicent in a parking area to have our bikky and coffee. The bloody locals scared the crap out of us. When we turned into the parkway, we discovered two 4WD vehicles double parked across the road, and another van on the other side. Russ managed to squeeze the car and van through the eye of the needle that they left and scared them both as well. Needless to say, they did not hang around once we had stopped safely.

We continued on our way and it is very noticeable that we are now in farmland not forested areas. The landscape is very flat, and at this time of the year, a dull gold in colour. It is an area of high fire danger as any spark would instantly ignite and sweep across paddocks.

We arrived in Robe around 1:30pm South Australian time and drove past the turn off for the Lakeside Tourist Park. We ended up down the main shopping area and couldn’t believe that most of the shops were open on a Sunday and packed with cars and people.

We took a side road to turn around and came back to the Tourist Park turnoff. We were greeted by Julie, wife of Steve, and owners of the park. Julie said she was originally from Darwin and loved living here. They have owned the park for the last two years.

Julie gave us site 34 to set up in, and when we were checking the site out ready to do our reverse parking, she wandered over to us and said that Steve was of the opinion the site she had allocated was lacking in grass. We therefore had the option of choosing where we would like to park so continued further along, away from the facilities and road, and parked in site 9.

It is a level site, so we did not have to get out the level ramps at all. And the door of the bathroom area stays closed without the aid of a peg!

We took everything out of the car, set up the power and water, pulled out the awning, and had sandwiches for lunch. Russ did all the driving today, so of course, once relaxed he now has a headache. We have decided to put up the privacy screen once he has had a good snooze.

I took a walk around the caravan park and discovered we have a dump point, so will not have to take the cassette into town when it is full. The toilets and showers are a trifle dated, but in very good condition, although the hand dryers aren’t working.

The laundry charges $4 per washer (do not have to use) and $4 per dryer for 40 minutes – much more expensive than Portland who charged only $3 in the dryer for 45 minutes.

The Lakeside Tourist Park is along the shoreline of Lake Fellmongery (I love that name). It is salt water and deep enough for both swimming and skiing, although it will take a while to get used to the briny smell that accompanies it. Our site is on the shoreline of the lake.

There appears to be lots to do in Robe and around the general area. Russ is particularly interested in the ride in a Tiger Moth which is apparently available. More tomorrow as the rest of today will be spent affixing the privacy screen and settling in. We may have to wander down the street and get some bread

Day 12 – Saturday, 9 February 2019

Well, the best laid plans etc. It is blowing a gale this morning. It has rained heavily and constantly overnight, and we have decided that we will ask to stay another day and head to Robe tomorrow when the gale force winds are supposed to have abated.

I also advised Robe that we would not be arriving until tomorrow. The lady I spoke with didn’t seem to be terribly interested, but I thought it was the polite thing to do. At least she is aware we will be arriving tomorrow.

So, we are enjoying an unexpected lazy day. There were no problems getting another day from the park, and Erin was very helpful and gave us part of the special being run at the moment, so the extra night is costing us $28 instead of $40.

Russ is having a wonderful lie in and is reading in between naps. I have done the washing and dried it in the dryers.

Lunch was a snack of jam and honey sandwiches for Russ who loves them. I intended to eat some of my left-over duck and fried rice but didn’t get to enjoy as much as I would have liked as I spilt it all over my jeans and the floor. By the time I had fixed the mess there was not quite as much as originally put on the plate!

Soup and toasted cheese and ham sandwiches will be our tea tonight. The sun has made several appearances this afternoon, and the wind comes in periods of gusts. The gale force winds have changed to strong winds and it is expected to be blowing about 20kilometres an hour by tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed!

Day 11 – Friday, 8 February 2019

Today we had a bit of a sleep in before gearing up to go visit Mt Richmond National Park. Mt Richmond, like Mt Eccles, is another extinct volcano. Most of the volcano is in fact covered with a layer of sand blown inland long ago from Discovery Bay. The mountain itself consists not of basalt, but of tuff – a porous rock formed when volcano ash gradually hardened after the eruption ceased over two million years ago. Many hardy plants now grow successfully in the infertile grey, sandy soil.

The Gundidjmara call this area Benwerrin – meaning Long Hill – and have inhabited the area for many thousands of years, enjoying the rich variety of foods available in the bush and along the coast.

Mt Richmond was named after Richmond Henty, one of the first European children born in the Portland area. The NP was established in 1960 and is 18 kilometres west along the Portland Nelson Road.

Some of Victoria’s best wildflowers are found in Mt Richmond area. We, of course, are too late for most of them as they feature best in spring. The area supports manna gums and there is a small population of koalas which make their home in the Benwerrin Nature Walk area. We were lucky enough to see one asleep in the trees during our wander.

We ran out of time to do the other walk which had taken our interest – Ocean View Walk. The Great South West walk also meanders through the Mt Richmond NP. There were very little photo opportunities along the way today so we are well under our usual quota.

Russ got to enjoy more off-road driving, a bit bumpier road than the one travelled yesterday. Eventually we made our way back to Portland, refueled on the outskirts of town, restocked on groceries, picked up our required scripts, and returned to the van. Russ did his meditation and then we attacked the dismantling of the privacy screens and awning in preparation of our journey to Robe tomorrow.

Russ decided he would have KFC for tea, and I chose to have Chinese – duck – yummy.

The Vic Emergency app indicates that we will have strong winds overnight. Time will tell as much of the forecasted weather here has not eventuated.

Russ has put the updated blog on the website, and the photos have also been uploaded. Time to have an early night ready for travel tomorrow.

Day 10 – Thursday, 7 February 2019

Well, we got down to Centrelink nice and early. It was amazing that there were no people waiting in line when we arrived. The gentleman greeter took my details and said someone would be along shortly. This was a very nice lady who indicated that I should have been keeping check on the MyGov site all the way along. It apparently has nothing to do with the number of text messages I have received telling me my claim is being processed and I don’t need to do anything.

So, I have 13 weeks to upload the latest bank statement and Russ CommInsure schedule dated at 17 January 2019. This will then restart the claim process. Go figure!

So, we came back to the van and made our lunches, packed the backpack and took off on our daily adventure. Today we are investigating the Cobboboonee National Park near Heywood, and taking the Wood, Wine and Roses Forest Drive.

I was very disappointed at the drive. We passed one place that had vines growing, but there were no signs out to indicate it was a winery – not that we would have gone inside anyway.

We passed no roses at all, and the track wove all the way around and through sections of the Cobboboonee NP and Cobboboonee State Park. Whilst in the Park itself we stopped to do the Nature Walk, which turned out to be quite lovely. The highlight of this trek was to find a flowering pink spotted orchid – absolutely stunning. The walk was a meander through three kilometres of heathland with some panoramic views.

The walk was not well signposted, and we actually had to turn back to find it. There were no designated parking areas, and no picnic spaces. The Great South West Walk also runs along the Nature Walk area.

We decided to sit in the car to have our lunch, and that was when the birdies decided to make an appearance while Russ had a salad sandwich in his hands and the camera with telephoto lens was sitting on the back seat. Needless to say, we did get a shot or two that made it worthwhile.

There was also supposed to be a Tim’s Lop Walk, but we were unable to find it, and it did not show on the map in the Parks Vic handout sheet.

The drive with Russell was lovely, and he got to do some off-road driving, so he was more than happy. We called into the Portland Strawberry farm on the way home. I bought some strawberry jam, some freshly picked strawberries (yummy), and some strawberry and mixed berry ice creams in waffle cones. Delish!

Russ did his meditation and I spent some quality time reading. I felt very lazy but figured with all the walking today I had earned some down time.

Day 9 Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Russ woke up early in the morning (5am) with a migraine so quickly took some tablets before going back to sleep. When I woke up it was just after 9am but Russ continued to sleep until 10:15am. I was very hungry when he finally opened his eyes.

After breakfast I got ready to go down the street. The weather is fairly muggy and very overcast, but we have not had the damaging winds that were predicted, and there is very little breeze at all at the moment.

I took off for the shops only to be waved down by one of the park workers before I had left the park. I forgot to take the extension cord off the Engel fridge before I drove away, and it was dragging along behind the car. I thanked the gentleman very much and quickly bundled it into the canopy. Russ nearly did the same thing the other day but I managed to stop him in time.

Russ rang me to advise that I had made a big racket as I took off, and asked if the cord was in the car yet? (cheeky devil).

I had a wonderful stroll all over the town, visited several establishments, bought some things on the list, and others not on the list, and all in all had a marvellous time.

When I got back to the van Russ was working on putting the blog on the website, so I unpacked my goodies to approval from him.

He had already had some lunch, so I quickly had a snack too, and then I investigated an email from Centrelink telling me as I hadn’t replied to their letter, they were denying me the age pension. After 45 minutes waiting for someone to answer the phone I decided that we would visit Centrelink early tomorrow morning and find out what the situation entailed.

Russ has gone for his meditation while I update the diary, and then I had a chance to play a few games while I wait for him to surface. I have put on the slow cooker for tomorrow’s meal, and tonight we will try again to make Chicken Pesto Pasta.

It is sprinkling with rain so I doubt I will get my washing dry without putting it all in the dryer in the laundry.

Day 8 Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Today we were a bit later to finally set off for our adventures as we got ten kilometres down the road and Russ realised he had left his phone and wallet outside sitting on top of the Weber. So, we immediately turned around and went back to the caravan park, with heart in mouth, and found them sitting right where he had left them.

Second time around we set off and Russ advised me I was the navigator. We are going to Mt Eccles which is now in the Budj Bim National Park, formerly the Mt Eccles NP, and is found 15 kilometres southwest of Macarthur.

From Portland we are on the western side of the park, and the area we need to get to is found in the north east of the park and means we need to drive around the outskirts to get on the right road.

We meandered along country roads, some of which were definitely not even C roads, and were very glad we were not towing the van. On some stretched it is a single lane and travels through the blue gum forest plantations where you ae likely to come across and very large lorry and it can get scary.

Never the less we finally found ourselves in the correct neck of the woods (so to speak), and made our way into the national park.

We had our lunch sitting in the shade at a picnic table on the rim of the Lake Surprise crater. As our coffee thermos’s were too hot (made at 9am) we decided to take our water bottles and do the Lake Surprise walk. We would then enjoy the coffee all the more once we had made it back to the top of the rim.

Budj Bim is the first co-managed national park – managed by the Gunditjmara Traditional Owners and Parks Victoria. Budj Bim is a long dormant volcano and is the source of the Yrendarra lava flow which extends over 50 kilometres to the south west. The tranquil crater lake is set in pleasant bushland surrounds.

It is estimated that the walk around Lake Surprise should take approximately 1 hour at a moderate pace. The path from the picnic area leads down a longgggg way with three switchbacks before you get to the bottom.

The breeze blowing along the water was very welcome as it was quite warm in the sunshine.

We took our time and spent many moments stopping to investigate a bird call or a noise in the bush. Russ got some terrific shots the bird life, and I got some beautiful shots of the landscape. We even disturbed two small wallabies that we had not known were there along the path. Thankfully, we did not encounter any reptiles of the long, slinky variety.

We decided to break out the peppermint Crisp from the backpack to give us the energy to walk the steep climb back to the car. By the time we walked around the lake and back up to the top of the rim we were well and truly tired. The coffee was welcome.

Russ downed a whole bottle of water before he drank his coffee and we then slowly left the park.

As we had taken the bottom roads to get to the park, we returned home via the top roads. We kept to the country lanes and the views were pretty. The area is fairly dry as is expected at this time of the year, but you can see how marvellous it would all look once the rains arrive.

We came back to the park via the shopping centre so Russ could pick up some Voltaren cream, and I picked up a few groceries.

Russ did his meditation and once he surfaced again I stated to make tea – Pesto Chicken Pasta, only to discover that I was missing the cream (it is on the shelf in the pantry). We had grabbed a couple of quick snack items last shop and decided to have them. Russ said his Butter Chicken and rice was adequate, but my Chicken Chow Mien was horrible and I ended up throwing most of it into the bin. Tomorrow it is expected to rain and we have decided to have a lazy day. I am going for a long walk down the street and will stop to investigate anything that takes my attention. I am sure Russ will be very lazy back at the van.

Day 7 Monday, 4 February 2019

We called out ‘Bon Voyage’ to Colin as we left the park this morning. He was in the process of preparing to hook up the van and leave.

We travelled to Yellow Rock on our way to Cape Nelson lighthouse and took some photos. There is a huge wind turbine farm in this area of Portland and some are quite close to the roads. They had feathered the blades on several of the turbines and we saw the maintenance crew hard at work. Russ got some super shots of these.

We then stopped at Cape Nelson lighthouse. We came here several years ago when we were last in Portland, so it was a revisit. We took some of the walk paths and wandered along looking at scenery and birds.

When we left here, we travelled to Cape Breakwater which was new territory for us. We took some amazing shots of the Petrified Forest, and then spent some time watching the tide come into the Blowholes. More shots of birds.

We decided to go to the Breakwater Lakes and stop for our lunch. We didn’t see the picnic tables down by the lake until we were leaving, but it was a pleasant spot. We also paused and took some photos of the Tarragal Caves. We didn’t stop to go inside today.

We continued on our loop and headed back to Portland. We went past the Port of Portland and travelled to the Gannet Rookery where Russ got some good shots of the birds and their chicks.

We were passed by the fire brigade truck with flashing lights and siren on its way to fight a bush fire over on the promontory past the aluminium smelter. Many cars pulled over at the lookout to keep an eye on the happenings – including us. We could see the flames over the tops of the trees and there was considerable smoke.

Once back in town we stopped off to get a few groceries and vegetable (ugh!) and then headed back to the caravan park.

We feel really blessed. As we were about to turn into the park a koala crossed the road in front of traffic and headed to a tree just outside the caravan park entrance. He/she waited for me to get my camera and then posed. He/she started to walk towards me, so I stepped aside, and he/she continued into the park and up a tree right beside where Mary and Colin had had their van. Russ also got a great shot of the koala.

We unloaded out groceries and I downloaded the photos taken today while Russ did his meditation.

For tea we had satay kebabs with mashed potato and pumpkin, peas and corn.

Russ is now checking out the photos ready to place them on our website, and the blog will be uploaded once I have completed today’s entry.

Day 6 Sunday, 3 February 2019

Today we decided to have a slow day so we slept in quite late, and enjoyed the more leisurely pace. It was supposed to be hot even in Portland, but the heat did not eventuate. It was a bit muggy but the breeze that was blowing was considerably cool.

Russ and I went down to the local fish and grill and brought our tea back to the van to enjoy. Russ had a lovely hamburger, and I had grilled fish with a couple of potato cakes.

Mary and Colin came over to say goodbye while I was talking with Russell’s mum who has finally got out of hospital. Mum says she is taking things very slowly over the coming weeks but is feeling a bit stronger than earlier.

I am not terribly impressed with the caravan park at the moment. They have closed and locked the amenities block at our end of the park and we now must walk down to the front to use the loo and showers. Thankfully, we have our own facilities, but we do try to use the site one which means our cassette doesn’t need to be emptied as often. Tomorrow we are going to Cape Breakwater and Cape Nelson. Russ has a mind to try the new super telephoto lens out and take some shots of the gannets.

Day 5 Saturday, 2 February 2019

We made our early start, but not quite on time. When we got to Warrnambool we went to the Information Centre where a very kind lady added some of the interesting things to see and gave us a map of the town.

We determined that we would go up to the Botanic Gardens first before heading anywhere else in town. We also picked up some diesel fuel as it is nine cents cheaper than Portland.

When we arrived at the Botanic Gardens we found it was a bit difficult to get a park, but persevered by going round the entire block until we came to a no through road. It seems that there is a free Jazz/Blues concert on and every man and his dog has decided to sit in the shade of the magnificent Moreton Bay fig trees and listen.

We ate our lunch sitting on a bench and enjoyed our coffee. The first band that played were a swing combo and their music was terrific. Unfortunately, they were then joined by a female singer and some of the songs chosen did not suit her vocal range. The crowd seemed to enjoy it anyway.

We then set off to walk around the gardens and take some photos. Russ got a fabulous shot of fruit bats nesting in the trees, and some of the other photos turned out well.

The gardens are very small for a place the size of Warrnambool. It didn’t take us more than half an hour to complete the circuit, and that included stopping to take photos.

We got back to Hornet and drove to Cannon Hill which offers panoramic views of Lady Bay and Lake Pertobe. I took several photos and Russ stayed in the car.

A Portuguese Padrao commemorates the early Portuguese exploration of the Warrnambool area, a fact of which I was unaware until I got here.

We then moseyed along Pertobe Road to the breakwater but did not stop here. We also meandered along Viaduct Road, along Stanley Street and into MacDonald Street which ends at the lookout at Thunder Point. There are some beautiful beaches along this section and, as the day was quite warm here, many people were taking advantage of the weather and enjoying a swim.

Russ and I concluded our sojourn by agreeing that Warrnambool was a place of interest and should come back and stay here for at least ten days to thoroughly explore those sections we had missed.

We finished our afternoon with an ice-cream – Russ had Hokey Pokey (vanilla ice-cream with pieces of honeycomb through out) and I had salted caramel (self-explanatory).

Once we returned to Portland it was time for Russ to meditate and I downloaded all the photos and chose the best for inclusion on the web.

After tea we ventured across the park to see Colin and Mary at their caravan. We enjoyed several hours in their company and a cuppa together. The Munros will be leaving on Monday morning. Colin likes to take his time and Mary is more than happy to oblige. It was great to catch up with them and we asked to be remembered to all our crowd who make it to the Ouyen Reunion in the Fitzroy Gardens on February 10 when we will be in Robe, South Australia.

The caravan park has hosted a large number of families who have come to Portland for a District Junior Basketball Tournament. The place was humming.