Friday, May 29, 2009

Day 11: South Western Victoria

A pretty cruisy day today, the campsite is pretty damp and dewy in the morning so we let the sun dry things out a little before hitting the road. We stop at a lavender farm where the owner has two  very entertaining dogs. I briefly consider stealing one of them... a dog would make this trip even better. We pull into Portland and check out the Maritime museum, which is good value and pretty interesting before heading out to the cape where thankfully you don't have to pay to walk around near the lighthouse. On the way we pass a windfarm which provides a rather ironic sight-


We then head into the Glenelg River National Park which turns out to have some more fantastic campsites, so we pitch camp for the night. Someone else has carelessly left a fire burning, which suits us fine as we stoke it up to ward off the cold.

Day 10: Shipwreck Coast and Warnambool

The whole coastline around here is spectacular, as we check out Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge before stopping in Port Campbell for gas. The bloke who runs the gas station also runs the local dive boat- unfortunately at this time of year I'm the only one who wants to go diving. I almost cry- some of the spots long this coast myst be as spectacular under the surface as they are above it.

 We head on to Warnambool and check out the "whale nursery". It mustn't be a school day as the whales aren't in attendance. So we drive on to Port Fairy, which is another lovely spot, with loads of old buildings and a picturesque harbour which was once apparently one of Australia's busiest- kinda hard to believe now.

We camp at the mouth of the Fitzroy River a little further down the road- a good free campsite at last! The land is really flattening out here and the sunset is spectacular.

Day 9: Great Road is Great

What is it about Australians and calling things "Great"? Great Ocean Road, Great Australian Bight, Great Western Highway... you'd think if something was that great it would be self evident anyway. At least the Great Ocean Road lives up to it's billing, it really is a spectacular stretch of coastline. The eastern coastline drops steeply away from the Otway ranges and the road winds along the cliff high above the ocean- it reminds me a little of some of the coastline on the West Coast of the South Island in NZ, except there its usually raining...

At Kennetts Creek we detour up a side road to check out the local population of koalas who obligingly hang out in the trees above the road waiting to be photographed, then cruise on to Apollo Bay for lunch.   From here the ranges drop away as you approach Cape Otway and the road heads inland, before a side road heads out to the lighthouse at the cape. We head out there only to discover that you can't even walk up to the lighthouse and the cape without paying $14 a head for the privilege- rip off! Fair enough if you want to do the whole lighthouse tour malarkey, but surely places like that should be free to wander around the outside of. 

We head onwards to Princetown where we pitch camp for the night at the caravan park then head down the road to catch the Sunset over the Twelve Apostles. The coastline on this side is completely different- rolling farmland dropping away suddenly into the sea in sheer limestone cliffs. I consequently test my partner's patience by setting up my tripod and taking 100+ photos, managing to get a few decent shots in the process.  

(more pics to come)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Day Eight: Geelong & the Surf Coast

I take back everything I said about Victorian weather- it's fined up right on cue and the weather's perfect. We head west on the freeway before turning off to hike up Flinders Peak for a view of the surrounding plain. For the first time I'm starting to get a feeling of how wide and flat Australia can be here Wide LanD IS WIDE... We stop for provisions and lunch at Geelong (cat is long!) (someone really needs to do a longcat banner for the Cats in the AFL, hey I'd laugh at least!). Nice view from the waterfront there:


We then head down to Torquay and check out the surf Museum before stopping at Bells Beach. The surfs nothing amazing by Bells standards- but it'd have the waxheads frothing at the mouth just about anywhere else, it's about 6 foot and clean as.


I send my mate Sam who surfs in NZ an SMS just telling him I'm there just to annoy him. We then head down the Great Ocean Road until just south of Lorne where we stop for the night at the mouth of the Cumberland River, in what looks like a nice campground.

Day Seven: Melbourne

Another bludgy day cruising around Melbourne today- the weather's improved little and a wander onto St Kilda Pier produced a nice view of Melbourne. We then hang about the botanic gardens for a bit before heading back to Eddie's past the MCG, where I instantly regret not going to the footy this afternoon Watching the AFL would certainly have been more fun that seeing the Warriors shithouse performance today- I'm boycotting NRL until they decide to play decently, not that I'll have much opportunity to watch it out west anyway!

Day Six: Melbourne

Weather aside, I'm loving Melbourne. Great pubs, and it's nice to be able to walk into a laneway for reasons other than to get stabbed or to score smack or pick up hookers... 

Plus Melbourne women are better dressed than their Sydney counterparts, and the souvlaki here are way better than those filthy turkish doner kebabs that seem to predominate up north.

Can't be bothered carrying the DSLR about today, so a few iPhone Pano shots will have to do, the first is from Federation Square (not including the ugly architecture) and this one of the Yarra at sunset: 

Day Five: Gippsland and the Mornington Peninsula

Bloody Victorian weather, it did it's best to blow the tent away last night and it's cold and raining today! Still at least the weather shouldn't matter too much for the next few days, and the sun through the rainclouds does make for a nice picture. Things start looking up when we find a place in Yarragon doing wine and cheese tasting, a nice entree before heading down the freeway to the Mornington peninsula for the main course. A fun day sampling the local wine follows, although the Pinon Noir isn't quite up to Central Otago standards. The weather's still pretty rubbish so we take a dip in the hot pools which is great- although again to someone accustomed to the quantity of thermal pools in NZ the price seems a bit steep. Still it's a nice way to unwind before heading into Melbourne to meet up with Eddie, who's kindly putting us up for the weekend.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Day Four: East Gippsland

F**k me it's cold here! I suspect I know why this isn't a caravan park any more... it must've been below freezing last night, it's 4 degrees at 7am and thats only because it's clouded over. I've decided we need another blanket...
Thawed out and hit the road, looks like NSW has held onto the perfect weather as it's chilly and blowy today. We stop for a fairly underwhelming rainforest walk in the National Park and head on, until I decide I want a look at the coastline and we head down to Cape Conran. The wind is pretty fierce but the scenery is beautiful none the less- it'd be a nice spot here in summer, although you'd be suicidal to launch a boat off the ramp here today!

We keep heading west and reach the mouth of the Snowy at Frenchs Narrows, an interesting spot but time is against us a bit, so we keep driving, stopping at Orbost for lunch, then at Bairnsdale for that extra blanket- a heavy coarse wool Italian thing that smells vaguely of diesel, but more importantly is cheap and warm! We stop for the night at Stratford (on the  Avon no less), which provides another beautiful sunset, although the wind is blowing pretty fiercely.

Day Three: Narooma to Genoa

Another perfect day- hard to believe it's almost officially winter! We head out of Narooma via the coast, past Wallaga lake (pic above)to Bermagui, where someone obviously hasn't quite got the intent of the signs the signs...

Still, the weather's still perfect and the water looks amazing- there's gotta be some great diving around here.

We then head south to Tathra via Mimosa Rocks NP, and I think how I've definitely got to come back to this part of the country for a longer stay some time. We pull up for a break and another photo stop at the old wharf at Tathra- apparently the last sea wharf on the NSW coast.

We head on to Bega (more cheese!) and Merimbula, where we stop for lunch, and some of the best oysters I've ever had for $12/dozen (why the hell do I live in Sydney again?).

In Eden we visit the Killer whale museum, with it's displays on the shore whaling industry that operated there around the turn 
of the 20th century, where pods of Orcas worked in cooperation with the whalers to herd whales into the bay to be killed. I can't help but think it would make way better subject matter for an Australian period movie than some bollocks about a cattle drive during WW2...

Heading towards the Victorian border, we start to look for a campsite and realise we're running low on water... not too smart, remind me not to repeat that when we hit the Nullabor!! So we push on across the border to Genoa, where we find what appears to be a disused caravan park with a few mobile homes already parked up for the night... and no sign of a price tag or "no camping" signs. We can't believe our luck, and pull up for the night.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Day Two: Nelligen to Narooma

Wake up by the river in Nelligen this morning in thick fog- which provides a spectacular sunrise through the mist over the water. 
The most soon burns of and it's another perfect day, so we pack up and head on to Narooma via Mogo Zoo and Tuross La
ke, where a couple of dolphins are mucking about off the pier. Apparently they've been stranded there since the lake entrance closed a few months back, but there's plenty of fish,
 so it probably isn't a bad life!
We head on to Narooma, where we're staying with my partner's brother who's working there. 

We have a few hours to kill so we head down the road to central Tilba, where as well as a top bit of cheese, we get a great view southwest from the slopes of Mount Dromedary.

Day One: Wollongong to Nelligen

So after a week on the road we're in Melbourne, I have a broadband connection at my disposal and I've finally thought up an (admittedly slightly lame) title and theme for this blog. Predictably I've been stopping regularly to take photos, and I've found that, in typically Australian fashion, the landscapes are too wide and grand to fit into a normal 4:3 35mm frame. So the panorama stitcher has been getting a workout, and the the blog has a theme of sorts.
For those who're interested in the technical stuff most of these images are taken with my trusty Canon 350D DSLR with the standard EF-S 18-55mm lens, with the odd addition from my partner's IXY 810IS compact, and the occasional quick and dirty shot taken on my iPhone 3G with the Pano application. Post processing is handled using Aperture, Hugin for panorama stitching and GIMP for any additional editing.

Day One - 11/05/2009: Wollongong to Nelligen

After packing the car in pretty miserable weather yesterday, we hit the road late morning in perfect weather and head south. We take a detour to Pebbly Beach in Murramarang National Park where this image was taken, before heading South to our first stop at Nelligen. On the way into Nelligen we detour to a local lookout with fantastic views north to Pigeon House Mountain.