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.
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.
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!
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.
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…