Sunday, 29 May 2011

Out Back

It’s been so long since the last blog, I’ve kept putting off writing as I’m not quite sure where to start.  We’re constantly on the move, visiting new places, seeing new sights, meeting new people and generally having a fantastic time.  I think my best bet is to just say a few words about the more memorable places and things which have happened over the past few weeks.  Here goes ….

Koroit Procession - "2 people with a bit of rope"
Port Fairy … After the Great Ocean Road we stayed at a lovely town called Port Fairy, unfortunately the weather wasn’t fantastic but on one of our day trips out we visited a tiny Irish town called Koroit who were having their annual festival.  It really did have to be seen to be believed!  The grand opening of the procession was announced as (and this has to be ‘read’ in the Irish accent) “and the procession is led by two people holding a bit of rope”  … and it just went downhill from then on!  Horses that decided they’d had enough so stopped pulling the cart, an Irish group singing Scottish songs (out of tune) and a very sad array of stalls and street entertainers.  We laughed so much it was well worth the $12 each entry fee!  But hey, they all put so much effort into the day and it was obviously a big thing for them - bless ‘em!

Blue Lake
Hamilton and Mount Gambier - A volcanic crater at Mount Gambier called the Blue Lake which really was astonishing and changed blues throughout the day depending on the sunshine.   We also visited some lovely water falls.  From Hamilton we had a trip out to Portland which was the first settlement in Victoria and the start of the wool trade there which Australia became famous for.  From Mount Gambier we also visited the most southerly point in South Australia - a fair few miles to anywhere!
A Very Cold Ruth
Mount Barker - we just had to stay at Mount Barker (my maiden name) and it was well worth the visit.  The views from Mount Barker were lovely.  
View from Mt Barker

View from Mt Barker
Hahnsdorf Pub
We had a day in a German town called Hahnsdorf (wine country) which brought back lots of memories for me of my time living in Germany.  It was a lovely town selling all the authentic German meats, toys, clocks etc.  
Known as The City of Churches
From Mount Barker we took a bus into Adelaide - it was about an hour’s journey, and we spent time touring the city on a guided tour bus, along with a visit to the local Chinatown. Another eye opener for us

Moving north from Adelaide….  
As the miles rolled on it was soon open scrubland and a feeling going bush again; Geoff was conscious of something he’d felt months ago as we’d approached Port Augusta last time having crossed the Nulabor desert… it was the excitement of heading into the Red Centre as it’s called… north up into the centre of Australia and beyond… (the first 2 months of our trip) and it was the signpost for Port Augusta “that lit his fire again” he loves it out there!
The Very Beautiful Flinders Range
The Flinders Range … to us was the equivalent of the Great Ocean Road - though in the desert - something different to see around every corner, stunning views, colour and scenery; it really was mind blowing …The mountains of mauve peaks and steep gorges stretched as far as the eye could see.  
Flinders Range
Sacred Canyon
Geoff's impression of an Aboriginal Emu

Sacred Canyon
We stayed at Wilpena in the Flinders Range National Park and had a trip to see an Aboriginal Sacred Canyon which again was truly amazing.     
Eagles flying overhead, kangaroos, wallabys, sheep and emus on the roads - we had to stop several times to let them cross!  
Baby Joey in Mummy's pouch
One of the many emus

We drove along the Parachilna Gorge (towing the caravan) - only a 30km trip but due to the un-surfaced road (that’s putting it mildly!) and having to stop to take lots of photos - the journey took us 3 hours!    
The un-surfaced road - this is a good bit!
Parachilna has a population of 7 … yes seven!  One pub or ‘Road House’ and a caravan site.  We didn’t stay there long!!  We also visited Farina - which is a ghost town - however several people have formed a group to rebuild and make safe the remaining buildings.  It’s hard to believe that it was once a thriving town - however when the local Railhead and stockyards moved up to Maree when the Ghan Railway extended (short for Afghan) it’s a case of pack up and leave - and that’s exactly what happened at Farina.
Shop Window Display at Quorn
Quorn  - I have to say that we really enjoyed our time there - it was so peaceful and we felt very relaxed (even more than normal!!)  It was just like stepping back in time 100 years - the shops were in a time warp.  I do struggle with some of the things which are advertised as ‘tourist attractions’ and wonder how they actually get away with it.  For instance, we visited a toy museum near Quorn, and yes there were lots of old games etc (many which I can remember playing with - so yes I know I’m getting old!) but there were more spiders and cobwebs in that place than I’ve seen anywhere, and ivy growing on the walls on the inside which had come through broken windows etc!  I do think that if you’re paying to go into a ‘museum’ the least you can expect is that it’s clean!  (There rant over!!)
Going down Day Dreamer Silver Mine
Near Broken Hill - we went down an old Silver mine - which was a bit scary if I’m honest.  We went some 200ft underground and at one point, we had to turn our lights out to imagine what it would have been like for the miners.  It was a real eye opener as children as young as 8 years old would be sent down the mines as well.. Evidence of this born up by the tiny shafts in the walls that only a child could get down!

One of the many metal sculptures
Silverton - another town which was almost deserted - a couple of galleries to look at - Geoff has been fascinated by the metal art and I think will be trying his hand at some of the sculptures on our return.  BUT... so often we come across a real gem… whilst here we had time to visit the old Goal.. It turned out to be the most fascinating museum either of us have ever visited anywhere. Every space (including the cells) was packed with local and Australian history. A true credit to those who have put that display together.

Noodeling for Opals
White Cliffs - way out in the middle of nowhere!  Famous for Opals being found there in the 1860’s. People flocked there,  though a slow hard tedious process soon reduced the numbers to the more hardy miners who stayed on and settled. They made their homes underground because of the heat.  We went ‘noodeling’ which is a term used for people who look in the rubble of those who have done all the hard work  mining  (they’ve used their noodle or head and let someone else do the hard work!)  We actually found several pieces of opal - one in particular was lovely and we took it to Bret at the Cathedral Gallery in town who made it into a pendant for me.  Geoff has enjoyed cutting open a rock to find opals inside, although these are known as ‘shotgun’ as it is shot through the rock and not really big enough pieces to cut out.  Was great fun though and to have a memento like this pendant is a fantastic long lasting memory of Oz.

Our Opal Finds

Pendant made from an Opal we found at White Cliffs
From White Cliffs to Cobar we had a bit of an ‘incident’ with the car - it seemed to be using far too much fuel and we were unsure whether we would actually make it to Cobar before juddering to a halt.  We stopped at a rest area and eventually another couple came in to stay the night, who had a 10ltr jerry can of fuel.  We unhooked our caravan and I stayed there with the other couple for company while Geoff drove the 60kms on to Cobar to refuel and re-fill all the jerry cans.  We’re sure now the petrol gauge is faulty - but it really wasn’t worth taking the chance at night time.  
Cobar -  we’re at Cobar now - another town famous for mining - copper, zinc and gold over the years.  We’ve visited the Heritage Centre which was good and again had an eye opener into life for the early settlers in Australia.  Geoff reckons the government got things wrong way back in the day … the convicts should have stayed in Britain and we should have been sent to Oz - however I don’t envy the work the convicts or the early settlers endured.  Life out in the ’bush’ and all these surrounding towns and villages we’ve visited, still seems quite primitive to me; it’s been fantastic to visit and see how life is for people here, but I’m looking forward to being back in civilisation again in the next couple of weeks!  Might have to drag Geoff away though as he’s loving it!!!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Great Ocean Road …. Just Doesn’t Do It!

Start of The Great Ocean Road
We’d heard so much about the “Great Ocean Road” … how wonderful it is, the amazing views, the wonderful sites, the fantastic sculptures which rise up out of the sea, the windy roads when you have no idea what beautiful scenery will meet you around the next corner, the turquoise waters and deep blue skies, quaint towns along the way, idyllic places to stop and enjoy the calm - and so the list went on.  You can imagine we were excited about travelling such a wonderful journey. 

Geoff enjoying the views
But I’m afraid that The ‘Great’ Ocean Road just doesn’t do it …. ‘great’ just isn’t a word which describes the awesomeness of what we saw - and the pictures don’t do it justice either - but I’m sure you’ll get a taste of what it was like.  We loved it!  Our ‘informants’ had all been correct in what they told us - it is just the most amazing drive we’ve ever experienced. 

After our ferry trip from Sorrento to Queenscliff … which was an experience in itself - taking the car and van on the boat - we booked into a camp site at Torquay and decided that the next day we would drive through Anglesea, Aireys Inlet and Lorne right along to Apollo Bay (a round trip of about 180km) - quite a drive - but as we were stopping another night at the camp site, we didn’t have the van to tow so were able to enjoy the drive, stopping at all the viewing points and taking in the lovely views.  

The following day was move on day and we had the same journey to do as we’d done the previous day - this time with the van - some very very windy roads and my heart spent quite a lot of time in my mouth!  We set off early and stopped along the way for a picnic - the beauty of towing the van is that you can stop and have a rest, cuppa, sandwich etc whenever you want!  We went a bit further along the Great Ocean Road to Princetown, set up and then drove to see the famous 12 Apostles - only there’s just 8 now as 4 have eroded over the years!   Awesome sight!
The Apostles

 The next day we completed the Great Ocean Road and went further on to Port Fairy, stopping at Warrnambool for our usual picnic on the way.  Again there were some absolutely fantastic sights - we stopped at every viewing place - I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves - basically because I don’t have the words to describe how magnificent these rocks appeared to us.  

London Bridge

The Grotto
The Martyrs

So - like I say - The “Great” Ocean Road just doesn’t ‘do it’  - it really should be called the “Most Amazing, Astonishing, Astounding, Awesome, Beautiful, Breath-taking, Fantastic, Incredible, Inspiring, Magnificent, Remarkable, Surprising, Wonderful Ocean Road”!

Monday, 2 May 2011


We had planned to meet up with cousin Geoff, Janelle and a Beth, a friend of theirs, staying at another cousin’s home in Bright. However Bill and Hilde decided to take a trip to the UK - how inconsiderate of them!!!  So we had a change of plan, and Geoff and Janelle booked a cottage in Healesville where we arranged to meet up with them.  Healesville isn’t far from Melbourne so it fitted in well with our planned route.  Unfortunately most of the pictures were taken on my ipod and I’m afraid I can’t download them (modern technology and all that!) so pics are few and far between for this blog.    

The caravan site at Healesville
We booked onto a site for 5 nights leading up to the Easter weekend - most site’s are fully booked for Easter as school holidays are so popular and everyone seems to go camping or caravanning and you need to book well in advance (like 12 months sometimes!!).  The Ozzies certainly Work to Live (rather than Live to Work) and enjoy their holidays and free time so much.  Another lesson we’ve learned which we hope to put into practice when we return home.   We couldn’t have booked a better site - it was literally just around the corner from Geoff and Janelle’s little cottage.  We met up the first night at the local RSL Club and had a meal and caught up with all the news.  
Ruth helping Geoff prepare dinner
 On the Sunday evening Geoff (my Geoff) arranged to cook dinner at their cottage. We bought what looked like a lovely Sirloin joint, did the veg and put it all in the oven.  Turns out that it was Australian Corned Beef ….soaked in Brine…(not like our tinned corned beef back home) but anyway - you’re not supposed to roast it.  Laughs all round again.  But it was ok and we had a good night!
On the Tuesday all went out to local towns and villages, generally having a good mooch around and yes, meeting up for lunch.    

I had a day trip with them which started off as a bit of a disaster - everywhere we’d planned to go was closed - we just laughed and laughed … so we had to find a café for scones and hot chocolate!   We went on to a winery and were given a fantastic and very informative tour - the grand finale being - yes you’ve guessed it - wine tasting.  And of course, we had to find another café for a light lunch.  Geoff and I were treated to a fantastic meal that evening at the local hotel - thanks Geoff, Janelle and Beth!

We had a lovely few days with them - as you can tell - mostly centred around food!  Ahhhh well - diet starts again tomorrow!!

We went back to Helen’s place just outside Melbourne as we couldn’t get booked onto any other camp site.  It worked out really well as Geoff was able to do a few extra jobs around the farm for her and we were able to go to the Easter services at the local Baptist Church - which were really good.  
 We left Helen’s on the Tuesday morning heading to the Great Ocean Road. Our little adventure to get there included a trip from   Sorrento over to Queenscliff on the ferry - interesting taking the caravan on a boat - but a lovely trip and so to start our journey along the Great Ocean Road.  But that’s another story!
Our house on the ferry!