Monthly Archives: November 2014

Great Ocean Road: Part 2

The Great Ocean Road along this rocky coast is described as the world’s biggest war memorial.

A Grt Ocean Rd 1

A Seascape 1

Why? It was literally built by hand (with a lot of pickaxes and shovels!) by 3000 returned World War 1 servicemen from the early 1920s on.

This neatly solved two problems; how to meaningfully employ these men during the Depression and how to honour those who died during the war. It seemed fitting to be here in 2014 during the centenary of the outbreak of war, and both ‘The Diggers’ statue and the Memorial Arch commemorate this feat beautifully.

A Grt Ocean Rd memorial 2 A Grt Ocean Rd Memorial 3

Stop 3: Port Campbell.

The Holiday Park in this picturesque village was the ideal base to explore the famous wave-sculpted rock formations called the 12 Apostles. Well, there used to be 12, but they are eroding at a rapid rate – no surprise when you see the forces of the Southern Ocean at work!

A 12 Apostles 1 A 12 Apostles 2 A 12 Apostles 5 A 12 Apostles 6 A 12 Apostles 7 A 12 Apostles 8

London Bridge and the Loch Ard Gorge are also magnificent. The Loch Ard was a ship wrecked here, and of the 54 aboard only 2 survivors were swept into the gorge. Very sad. The photos show the scene along this limestone coast…

A Lock Ard story A Lock Ard Gorge

All the millions of tourists who visit this national park each year love the wild and rugged features of the coastline, and many of them take to the sky for a different perspective in either helicopters or planes. It can therefore be rather a bustling and noisy experience but we were well and truly impressed.

A Limestone coast 2 (1) A Limestone coast 2 A Limestone coast 3 A Limestone coast 5 A Port Campbell 2 A Port Campbell

Staying with the theme, we decided to drive the ’12 Apostles Gourmet Trail’ to Timboon where we just had to buy a bottle of Limoncello and an Apple Liqueur at the interesting Railway Shed Distillery. Next we picked a big box of fat warm strawberries at Berry World, and proceeded to Apostle Whey Cheese to drool over their array and bought far too much to fit in our tiny caravan fridge!  Then to Newtons Ridge Winery because of course we had to have a local Pinot Grigio to complete our culinary feast that evening… and it was such a pretty vineyard with lovely roses.

Ginny smelling roses

Stop 4: Port Fairy
Officially the Great Ocean Road starts in Torquay and ends in Allansford, but we extended it slightly to enjoy the seaside town of Port Fairy and stay at the very attractive Big 4 caravan park. Walking along the historic 19th century shipping wharf and seeing the lovely old homes and buildings all along Gipps Street was a treat but the cold wind had us looking for a refuge! Fortunately the Merry Jig Inn, Victoria’s oldest inn, happily provides late afternoon passers-by like us with a glass of wine – so civilized!

We drove an hour west to Portland, noting the many wind farms on the way (no prizes for guessing the prevailing!) This is one of Australia’s major forest regions with huge plantations so the port is busy with wood chip exports and there are a lot of BIG logging trucks on the road. The botanic gardens were lovely – never seen so many dahlias in one place! – as was the original curator’s cottage full of local memorabilia.

And so for us, the end of a wonderful 9 days exploring this remarkable section of Australia. We can’t wait to do it all again another year!

Great Ocean Road

One of the experiences we have most been looking forward to on this trip was the famous Great Ocean Road… and it really lived up to our expectations!

First though we caught the ferry across Port Phillip Bay from Sorrento to Queenscliff to catch up with old friends in Geelong for a few days. Kathy and Geoff Strachan took us for a magnificent dinner at Man Bo,  and it was great to see the Fitzpatrick’s new home and catch up with Tim as well. Ginny enjoyed walking along the waterfront esplanade down to Eastern Beach – a beautifully restored Art Deco swimming enclosure, fountain and kiosk which is very popular with both residents and tourists. Ian was also impressed with his visit to the RAAF Museum at Point Cook.

A Be2 A Bristol Boxkite A DH Tigermoth & Be2 A Vampire 1 A Vampire 2 A Walrus

Thanks to the many people who gave us good advice on the best way to enjoy the Great Ocean Road. Towing a caravan along a busy, winding and fairly narrow road is not much fun, especially for the driver! So as suggested, we chose several spots to stay along the way. We then retraced our steps or moved further along, returning to our base camp each night. An unexpected bonus was the beauty and diversity of the regions just inland from the coast.

A Grt Ocean Rd 1 A Seascape 1 A Shipwreck coast A Wye R camp

Stop 1: Wye River, staying in the lovely caravan park and ambling up the hill to the pub or out to the beach. Koala-spotting became our newest hobby but we didn’t expect to see our first one racing towards us on all fours along the river bank! The wildlife in this caravan park is marvellous to experience. All manner of birds are attracted to the trees and shrubbery in the park and are a constant presence here… Very pleasant.

A Koala 2 A Koala 1 A King parrot 2 A Gang-gang 2 A Duck 1

Stop 2: Bimbi Park. We were surrounded by the beautiful manna gums which are the preferred food source for koalas, so we felt privileged to see so many in their natural habitat doing what koalas do best – eating and sleeping! Once again a wildlife wonderland.

A Bimbipark Koala 1 A Bimbipark koala 2 Sulphur Crested cockatoo Wild Koala

They also make the loudest noises. Apparently they have a unique voice box that allows them to make a ‘belching’ call that only large animals like elephants are capable of usually – read about it here. Very weird the first few times you hear them – listen here and see what you think!

The nearby Cape Otway Lightstation has been operating since 1848 – the fact this area is known as the Shipwreck Coast probably gives you the rationale for that! The views from 80m up were spectacular.

A Cape Otway lighthouse 1 A Cape Otway lighthouse 4 A Cape Otway A shipwreck coast 2

Two day trips stand out in our memory:

1.  Tanybryn, Forrest and Deans Marsh and back to Wye River via Lorne

A Rainforest 1 A Rainforest 2 A Seaview 2 A Superb Fairywren 2

2. Lavers Hill, Beech Forest, Skenes Creek and back to Cape Otway. A narrow road wends through beautiful forest, tall stands of plantation timber and huge tree ferns between Beech Forest and Haines Junction – very beautiful, but put your headlights on!

Next blog – further west on the Great Ocean Road…

Mornington Peninsula & Melbourne

Next stop was Dromana, a seaside village on the Mornington Peninsula about 20 minutes south of Mornington where friends Di and John and Lorraine and Keith live. We fell in love with this region as it really does have it all – beautiful coastline and beaches, fertile farmland and scenery and full of history and art. We reckon these lovely beach huts epitomise the locals’ laidback approach to life!

A Boat shed 1

John kindly organised 3 great visits for us. The Old Aeroplane Company in Tyabb had Ian in hog heaven checking out the restoration of antique planes. Very knowledgable volunteers both assist with restoration and guide visitors around the hangars. Read Judy Pay’s story about just one plane – the Curtiss P-40F Warhawk – that has been restored. These are passionate people.

A X-1 replica A Sopwith A Prop A P-40 A Old Aeroplane Co 1

Next visit was to Tyabb Packing House Antiques. This brings together many collections of antiques, art and books plus we enjoyed lunch at their cafe. You could spend days there. Just not sure who is going to buy all the old large heavy furniture, books and homewares any more though – they don’t seem to fit with many Gen X or Y homes or tastes?

Final stop was the McClelland sculpture park to marvel at the variety of works on display among bushland and lakes – very inspiring.

A Sculpture 1 A John & sculpture A Sculpure 3

A wonderful moment for us in their inside gallery was to find magnificent WA Landgate prints of the Pilbara landscape on display – we felt VERY homesick! Anyone who has flown through and round the Pilbara and the Kimberley as we have done so often, will know this scene of red sand dunes and salt lakes – very picturesque from altitude…

A Aerial photo Pilbara

Ian enjoyed attending the veterans’ heart health program with John and Keith – he’s been missing his vet mates in Perth! Us gals joined them for lunch at Gem Cottage (best corn fritters ever!) one day, and then went off to see the Archibald art prize winners’ exhibition at the regional gallery in Mornington. This was a first for us, and although we thought that the winner was well deserved there were many other beautiful or quirky portraits that caught our eye! Check them out here

Another first was being in Victoria on the first Tuesday of November for ‘the race that stops the nation’. We were invited to spend Melbourne Cup Day at Heather and Graham’s home overloooking Mt Martha, and what a fun day it was! We frocked up for champers on the lawn at 1 pm and the day just got better and better. Apparently horses ran, some won and some lost on our little sweepstake…

A noshup A Ginny A Dianne & Bilco A cool Keith

Took the train into Melbourne to catch up with son Cameron and reacquainted ourselves with the great tram system and magic food.  Favourites were Lucyliu’s in Oliver Lane – sort of Asia meets tapas style (we’re all still raving about the Korean style crispy pork hock), and the  Waterfront Seafood Restaurant in Southgate – great lunch.

A Melbourne 3 A Melbourne 2 A Melbourne 1 A Chloe

Also enjoyed the beautiful glass ware and artistry at Kirra Galleries in Federation Square. Ian caught up with his old Melbourne squeeze – the lovely Chloe at Young and Jacksons as well…

All in all, we have had a wonderful time here, but time to move a little further west…

In to Victoria…

On our way to spend time with friends near Melbourne, we stayed at Korumburra. Their information centre is a hub for community activities e.g. Halloween and literary festivals so lots of local families also use the centre. It is located within the Coal Creek ‘living history museum’ – great to wander around the old buildings and see the influence of the historic coal industry – now superseded by the dairy industry.

A Coal Crk 1 A Coal Crk 2 A Coal Crk 6

We also rode on the Bush Tramway which has been restored, maintained and operated by local volunteers.

A Coal Crk 3 A Coal Crk 5

Staff from the centre suggested that we drive south to Cape Liptrap and then across to ‘the Prom’ (Wilsons Promotory) to see the many accessible beautiful bays and beaches. All are very popular with families wanting to go bush in the school holidays with a range of accommodation and camping options.

A Cape Liptrap 1 A Wilsons Prom 1 A Wilsons Prom 2

We especially liked walking down into Whisky Bay along the creek which opens out into a lovely sheltered beach with spectacular coloured orange rocks, apparently caused by algae.

A Whiskey Bay 2 A Whiskey Bay 4 A Whiskey Bay 5 A Whiskey Bay 6 A Whisky Bay 3

We visited Phillip Island, home of the Australian Grand Prix (yep, it was very noisy that day!)  and to the National Vietnam Veterans museum. This is described as “an independent Australian museum dedicated to the heritage and legacy of Vietnam veterans”. We spent several hours there and can only praise the achievements of all the volunteers – brilliant. Work continues here to restore more relics for future displays.

Next we will be visiting friends in the Mornington Peninsula and Geelong regions near Melbourne, the capital of Victoria…

Back to the coast…

From Canberra we headed back to the east coast to Batemans Bay in the Eurobodalla region. We stayed in the Big 4 park on the northern edge of the Clyde River where it opens to the Tasman Sea – delightful. The town is on the other side of the river and boasts great seafood. There are several lovely beaches as you drive around the coast – lots of swimming, surfing and fishing – and many national parks to explore.

A Batemans Bay 1

Visiting the nearby botanic gardens reminded us of the power of volunteers yet again! The original gardens were destroyed by a massive fire in 1994 so the past 20 years has been spent completely rebuilding the beautiful gardens. Such a peaceful place with a sensory garden and a bird hide. We still managed to upset two masked lapwings protecting their nest and got ‘swooped’ – just like magpies! Although we didn’t indulge ourselves the Chef’s Cap Café looked like a great spot for lunch or afternoon tea.

On our way south we bought ‘just out of the oven’ date scones from the delightful village of Mogo to share with friends in Rosedale. There are just so many great coastal places to live in this region and they all seem to have good facilities for their residents.

Meandered slowly south through Moruya and Narooma to the historic town of Central Tilba to wander through galleries and beautiful art and jewellery shops such as Reva at Tilba – yes, we succumbed a little!  Then we chose some 3 year old vintage cheddar from the ABC cheese factory and fresh bread from the bakery for a  picnic lunch en route to Merimbula on the Sapphire Coast. This was a fun place to stay, even though the weather was windy and wet for most of our 3 days there. We lucked in by having terrific caravan neighbours – thanks Dave & Margaret and Keith & Ann!

We got bad cabin fever one day so went exploring in the rain and found the nearby Wheelers shop and restaurant. Ginny’s dish combined her favourite 3 ingredients (smoked salmon, avocado, macadamias) and Ian’s local oysters were a big hit also as he could order 3 different styles – very civilised. It’s amazing how good food at a reasonable price can drive away the wet day blues!

Left Merimbula heading due south in wet and cold weather still, then crossed the border from NSW into Victoria and turned right so now we are officially “heading west” – we plan to be home in Perth for  Christmas – just! Our destination was Lakes Entrance in East Gippsland, a popular spot for Melbournites seeking a cooler climate in summer and water sports galore.

A Lakes Entrance wharf 1 A Lakes Entrance wharf 2

Now, have you ever seen chainsaw sculptures? These came about as a good solution to a BIG problem! An avenue of Monterey Cypress trees was planted along the Esplanade as a tribute to local men who lost their lives in World War 1, but no-one realised just how huge these trees would grow and the damage they would cause. Oops. The hard decision was made to remove them down to stumps. Ugly. Then a bright spark suggested that perhaps chainsaw artist John Brady could transform them into sculptures of WW1 scenes. Brilliant!

A Carved stump 1 A Carved stump 2 A Carved stump 3

We enjoyed exploring the nearby town of Metung and lunch at the local hotel – it has an interesting history from hosting the rich and famous to almost dereliction and back again! There are interesting shops and cafés, and a wide range of accommodation although interestingly there is no caravan park.

A Metung 1 A Metung 2 A Metung 3

Gallery House in Nungurner is set in a beautiful native garden (lovely to see great clumps of kangaroo paws as we grow them in WA). This fine art gallery features local works from jewellery to oil paintings and much in between. A small painting of 3 men and a dog by Arthur Hamlyn intrigued us and reminded us of lovely Broome artist Helen Norton’s style.

Next stop will see us edging closer to Melbourne…

Australian War Memorial, Canberra and Bungendore

Our capital city of Canberra is located in the Australian Capital Territory and is completely surrounded by the state of New South Wales. That’s how we found ourselves 10 minutes from the city but staying at Queanbeyan caravan park in NSW! It reminded us of Washington DC in the USA, where we were surprised to hear that the locals there have no representation in parliament but still have to pay taxes…

One reason for our return visit to Canberra was to revisit the Australian War Memorial.  A bonus was catching up with Ian’s army colleague Adrian Roberts at the lovely Southern Cross Yacht Club in Yarralumla, as well as our Perth friends Jude and Bob. Ian was able to give Bob an insider’s view of the Vietnam War displays at the museum, and had been anticipating viewing the new World War 1 dioramas. This is the period of history that he is most interested in (watch our for a future blog on his two trips to the Western Front and his hero Monash!) Unfortunately these displays will not be completed until 2015.

AWM A Ian &  Adrian 2

The Last Post Ceremony is held at 4.55 pm daily to honour the dead. We first experienced this concept at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium where a very moving service is held every evening at 8 pm to honour the soldiers from the many countries who lost their lives on the Western Front. We weren’t sure what to expect in Canberra, but also found this an emotional experience.

AWM Honour roll 2 AWM Honour roll AWM Last Post 2 AWM Last Post 3

Mobs of school children – all very well behaved – and clockwork precision proceeded for 25 minutes. Each day the story behind just one of the 100,000+ names on the Roll of Honour is told – such a great way to show the scale of death and the impact of war. Then the Ode of Remembrance is read:

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

And, joy of joys, a bugler who can bugle as no other then gives a beautiful rendition of ‘The Last Post’. Click here to see if you agree!

Ginny visited the Floriade, walking through this amazing and free ‘celebration of spring’. One million flowers come into bloom for four weeks each year in the Commonwealth Park, along with many gardening workshops and displays. Check out the photo gallery!

We fell in love with the Canton restaurant in Queanbeyan once we scored a table in this tiny restaurant specialising in Chinese/Malaysian cuisine.  Everything we ordered on our first visit was superb (rocksalt and chilli squid was the standout dish), so a return visit was in order. Yum, fresh asparagus wok-fried with chicken and spicy plum sauce, plus lemongrass and chilli pork ribs with snow peas washed down with a BYO bottle of Oomoo Shiraz. Hmmm, I wonder if they will deliver takeaways to Perth?!

Bungendore is a historic country town (built in 1837) nestled in a pretty green valley about 30 minutes from Canberra. There are several cafes and galleries to browse but our favourite was the Wood Works Gallery, a magnificent display of Australian made wood furniture, craft and sculptures. Check out the famous Hannah cabinet – what a work of art – and these other two beautiful pieces below.

A Bungendore 1 A Bungendore 2 A Bungendore 3

We think Canberra is an under-rated destination. In addition to the many outstanding attractions – for example our old Parliament House fairly echoes with history – there are many beautiful parks and gardens to relax in, and great food to be eaten! Go there, you won’t be sorry…. or better still, tell us about your favourite thing to do in Canberra?!