Saturday, February 28, 2009


Melbourne - 23rd – 28th Feb

Melbourne Skyline at Night
Melbourne Night Victoria Australia
From Melbourne

Wangaratta to Melbourne is 250+kms, we woke up with no idea where we would stay as usual. We thought that we would stay in an inexpensive self contained apartment close to Melbourne city. Camping was going to take a break for now!! WOTIF came to the rescue and we found a nice apartment in St Kilda Road about 4kms from the CBD. There is one snag with staying close to Melbourne – Hotels appear to charge for parking! It ain’t cheap either at $15 a day, so beware.
Heidi drove 2 hours from Wangaratta to just outside Melbourne down the Hume Hwy. We drove through some areas that had clearly had fires go through them. There were many black fields, trees and even signposts. It made you start to realise the scale of these fires.

Burnt Road to Melbourne
Melbourne Victoria Australia
From Melbourne

We stopped for a break 40kms outside Melbourne and Carl took over the driving in to Melbourne (I think that was planned!). The first thing we noticed on the way in were the rails in the road – TRAMS! At first there was only one lane and it appeared to be shared by cars and trams. Pretty scary for a first time Melbourne driver! Anyway the drive to the apartment was fairly uneventful and Nuvi got us to our destination without too much fuss. When we got to the apartment we had to park OJ in the loading bay as she was too big to go in the car park! – They had car lifts that took you up to different parking levels!

Melbourne Trams
From Melbourne

We wandered the 4ks into the city and went to the Tourist Info and picked up some brochures. A little light reading for the night!
The next day we spent all day wandering around the city sightseeing and taking loads of pics, browsed the shops, bought some cheese and wine and headed off back to the apartment. Melbourne is a really nice city, there are Grand buildings, cathedrals and waterfront. If you have money to spend in Melbourne it’s not hard. What is hard, is not spending it when you are on a budget!!

Flinders Street Station
Flinders Street Station Melbourne Victoria Australia
From Melbourne

We went to a museum of the moving image the next day, then went out that night and took some night shots of Melbourne using the tripod.
The next day we went off down the coastline to check out Melbourne’s local beaches and the famous multi-coloured Beach houses. The beach houses are small, on the sand and a lot like the ones you find in one of the UK’s southern towns – I can’t think where that is now?? (Answers on a postcard please, or at least in the comments on the blog!)

Brighton Beach Huts
Brighton Beach Melbourne Victoria Australia
From Melbourne

Following the road down and round the bays we headed across to Phillip Island to see the Penguins. These funny little critters come out of the sea every evening and trundle up the beach to their burrows in the dunes. As they do this at dusk we had a couple of hours to kill so we had a walk around ‘The Nobbies’ at the point of the island.

Penguin Parade - Cute!
From Melbourne

Again Penguins make there homes here to and the authorities have built a boardwalk to protect the animals and vegetation. As we were walking along a few penguins were under the boardwalk. These little birds are the smallest of all the penguins and stand just 30cm tall. After having something to eat we still had some time to kill so took a drive over to Cowes and then headed back for the Penguin Parade. If I have one piece of advice for this event, it is to take some warm clothing and am I glad we did! We took our seats about an hour before the parade and as the sun went down it got cold and very windy. As the sun went behind the cliff we could see these little white bodies come out of the sea, the tide was out so they had a lot of beach to cross and were a bit nervous, but as their friends joined them at the shoreline, they plucked up the courage and came waddling up the beach. I have to say they were very cute. We were sat in a good position and the group came right up to the viewing platform and then waddled off to the side up the sand dune. We could see another group forming at the shoreline so we decided to wait to seem them come up the beach, this group were very nervous and took ages, party due to a pacific seagull just down the beach which is one of their predators. About 40mins later they started to cross the beach and there must have been about 20 of them, they were quite comical to watch as they practically walked over one another to get up the beach. As we were leaving we were able to walk back with some of them as they walked along side the boardwalk to their burrows.
Today we have been doing a bit of window shopping and catching up on a few things (like this blog!). Tomorrow we leave the comfort of our Melbourne hotel and set sail for Tasmania. We have a night time crossing with “Ocean view” recliners, so preparing ourselves for a long night with not much sleep, if it is anything like an aeroplane!?

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Great Alpine Road

The Great Alpine Road - 20th – 23rd February

Great Alpine Road Victoria Australia
From Alpine Road

We weren’t sure whether to drive this road as we had already been to the Snowys and thought it would be similar scenery, but everything we read said it is one of Australia’s great drives, so we had to drive it. And boy are we glad we did, the scenery was amazing, we were completely blown away. From the start the scenery was great.
We started at Bairnsdale, driving through farming countryside and followed a river up into the mountains. We decided to stop at Omeo and had a little look around the old gold mining village. We got talking to a great character at the museum who had lived in the town for 15 years after retiring here. He showed us around the historic Justice Precinct for free (normally chargeable). They had an old gaol made of logs he assured us we would not see another like it in the whole of the country! Apparently they had 10 inmates to a tiny cell at ‘busy’ times for up to 3 months. Hard to imagine as they had one cell with 2 beds in it and it was full! We were very surprised to hear that the gaol was still being used up until 1981! That seems shockingly recent to me!

Omeo - Log Gaol
Omeo Victoria Australia
From Alpine Road

After the impromptu tour of the Justice precinct including courthouse and old courthouse the friendly curator proceeded to tell us about some scenic drives we could do and the old goldmines up the mountain a little farther. Whilst describing the drive to one particular lookout point he told us about a tree that has Wild Dogs hanging in it. These dogs have been shot by a local and are hanged there to show people how many there are and the size of them. The curator stressed that they were not Dingoes but a new breed of ‘Wild’ dogs. He told us a story of how he had come across 5 of them snarling at him in Tom Groggin. (For those of you that are following – yes we have been there!). He said that if you slipped and fell or hurt yourself the dogs wouldn’t hesitate to have a go at you! This scared us a bit – we were going to stay at a free rest area in the woods but decided it might be better to stay at a paid one for the night. Help us to forget the horror stories!!

Wild dog tree
Dog Tree Omeo Victoria Australia
From Alpine Road

As it turned out we were very glad that we decided to stay at the local caravan park. The owners (who had friends staying on the site that night) were very friendly and invited us to join them for a drink and a chat around the campfire. We stayed up until 11pm talking away, it felt really good to socialise with a few people. We thought we would meet more people on our trip but not as of yet (Still early days!!).
When we got up in the morning the place did not seem anywhere near as sinister as it did the night before and we set off early, continuing our way up The Great Alpine Road. Just as we left the campsite we saw our first wild Echidna, we were very chuffed to have seen one of the natives in the wild. (Echidnas are like oversized hedgehogs for those of you who don’t know)

After Omeo the road continues to rise into the Alps to 2 ski resorts, Dinner Plain and Mt Hotham. We arrived at Dinner Plain first and stopped off for some lunch (a sandwich made there and then!). On the way up we had seen some breathtaking mountain scenery and had been to visit a distant waterfall.

Dinner Plain, Ski Resort
Dinner Plain Victorian Alps Australia
From Alpine Road

Ski resorts in summer are obviously very quiet places and we had a little drive around looking at all of the very expensive looking chalets. Some of the views these places had were awesome!
After Dinner Plain it was off to Mt Hotham, this was a short drive in distance but we stopped off at lookouts and messed about taking pics with the tripod.
Mt Hotham did not appear to offer as much accommodation as Dinner Plain. It was more ski slopes and ski lifts. We stopped to take a few pics and continued ever upward!
We stopped a few more times taking pics, never knowing if what we might see next would be better than what had gone before. I can’t express just how truly amazing these views were!! The day was perfectly clear and it was hard to comprehend just what we were seeing. Just when we thought we were on our way down and that the views we had seen were unbeatable we stopped at a place called ‘Danny’s Lookout’. Not sure if anyone has ever heard of this place but Oh My God. It beat everything we had seen before easily, row after row of mountain getting ever a paler shade of blue as they went off into the distance. The sky had a few clouds and then went from a pale ‘Sky blue’ all the way through to almost a deep ‘Royal blue’. Breathtaking doesn’t describe it and I have run out of superlatives! We took a load of pics and kept the very best ones, they don’t do it any justice though. You’ll all just have to get up there and see it for yourselves!!

Danny's Lookout
Danny's Lookout Victoria Australia
From Alpine Road

After this lookout the road began to head down the mountains and we entered a valley. The temps down here were at least 10-12C hotter than they were up in the mountains! We stopped for a few supplies and fuel and pushed on to the town of Wangaratta and the end of The Great Alpine Road. Wangaratta (what we saw of it) was a functional country town with all the shops the region required and not a great deal else. We found a reasonably priced caravan park and stayed for 2 nights – this would give us chance to explore the area for one day before moving on.

Our one day her saw us explore the historic town of Beechworth. This little town reminded me very much of the older little towns back home - Kind of a small Cirencester if you will. We wandered around the shops for a while and took in some of the ‘History’ of the place.
At this point it seems like a good idea to point something out about Australia. Something here is considered ‘Historic if it is more than a hundred years old. Unless you are from Milton Keynes ‘Historic’ in the UK, means a lot older than that. For instance the aforementioned Cirencester has a church that was started way back in the 1200’s and a Roman Amphitheatre and wall from BC! That said Australians are much more enthusiastic about their history than us Brits – I think we just take it for granted.

Beechworth Bakery
Beechworth Bakery Victoria Australia
From Alpine Road

The bakery in Beechworth seems to be quite famous in Victoria. We popped in for some lunch and a loaf of bread. It is the biggest bakery we have ever seen and it was very busy. The food lived up to its reputation and was good. After Beechworth we briefly spent some time in Glenrowan. This is the town where the infamous outlaw Ned Kelly had his last stand clad in armour. Well having seen enough of the countryside for now we are headed off to the big smoke tomorrow.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Lakes Entrance

Lakes Entrance - 17-20th Feb 2009

Lakes Entrance is a huge system of lakes that have been made to flow into the ocean by a man made trench, this trench needs to be dredged regularly to keep ‘The Entrance’ open. The Lakes are kept from the open ocean by a thin bank of sand known as Ninety Mile Beach.

Lakes Entrance
Lakes Entrance Victoria Australia
From Lakes Entrance

The whole place had a holiday resort feel and the camp sites came thick and fast. As usual we had not booked anywhere and asked at Tourist Info for something ‘central’. The lady was very nice and provided the info we requested – 3 central campsites. We drove around the sites and they all had something in common – They were small and cramped for space. It looked like all the sites merged into one. This is not what we are used to and we decided to turn to ‘Nuvi’ our sat nav. She sent us to a site slightly on the edge of town and near the beach. The site itself was much bigger and seemed more spread out. It was slightly above budget, however there was one serious plus here – 3 hrs free WiFi Internet every day! So good. Also Heidi would like to mention that there was a jumping pillow. This is basically a massive bag of air, like a bouncy castle.

Jumping Pillow
Jumoing Pillow Lakes Entrance Victoria Australia
From Lakes Entrance

We set up the main tent as this was a ‘3 nighter’, then it was straight off to the showers. I was right, hot, running water felt so good! As did a shave – I was looking a bit rough!

The next couple of days were spent driving around, seeing a few tourist places and relaxing. We had lovely local prawns, chilled on the beach, drove up the silt jetties second in size to those in the Mississippi river and decided what to do over the next few days.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wingan Inlet & Thurra River, Croajingolong National Park

Wingan Inlet & Thurra River, Croajingolong National Park - 14-17th Feb 2009

Victoria - YEY!
Victoria Sign Australia
From Wingan Inlet - Croajingolong NP

We left a rainy Eden at 9:30 after packing everything up the night before and getting the tent away in the morning literally 2 mins before it started raining– boy were we glad!! Wet tents are no fun – as we found out in Sydney!
With a bacon roll in our tummies we were on the road to Victoria and Mallacoota – a small town that we used to supply all of our needs for the next 3 nights of bush camping. We visited tourist info and picked up our maps, we asked the lady there (from Kent) if there was a way to Wingan Inlet without going back to the main road? She said that there wasn’t and that we would have to go around.
We had read our 4x4 trip book and this had said to the contrary, so we went the 4x4 route anyway. As it happens after reading another trip backwards sentence by sentence we made it through to the camp without going back to the main road. The route was fun and OJ managed nearly all of it in just 2wd!! Good girl!! There were lots of puddles and Carl was in his element – getting the car in a mess!!

Playing in the mud
Croajingalong National Park Victoria Australia
From Wingan Inlet - Croajingolong NP

We arrived at camp, set up, ate, drank a little too much and went off to bed.

In the morning we went for a 3km walk (round trip) to the beach on the other side of the inlet that we are camping on. When we arrived at the beach we were rewarded with a close(ish) view of “The Skerries” this is basically rocks out to sea. What makes them special is that they are covered in Seals. Looking through the binoculars we could see what seemed like nearly 100 seals lying on the rocks and playing in the surf.
One issue we did have were the March flies – they are big boggly-eyed things that have a nasty bite. Lets say their population took a hit and we got out fairly unscathed (Good job we were wearing Jeans!) We also noticed Dingo prints on the beach which confirmed howling noises we heard the night before.

Wingan Inlet
Wingan Inlet Croajingalong National Park Victoria Australia
From Wingan Inlet - Croajingolong NP

In the afternoon we just went off for a drive and took OJ for some more forest 4wding. This route was a lot narrower than the previous one and there were a few fallen trees to negotiate and drive over!! The track wound on for what seemed like forever and the speeds were under 10kph nearly the whole way. After about an hour of this and not really getting anywhere but further into the undergrowth, we decided to turn around. Easier said than done! We drove another 10 mins before finding anywhere remotely possible to turn and when we did it felt like a 47 point turn!!

End of the line?
Croajingalong National Park Victoria Australia
From Wingan Inlet - Croajingolong NP

Safely back at camp we had dinner and wine and a chat. Whist here Carl heard a pattering of feet in the bushes behind camp and turned around to see the silhouette of a Dingo trotting passed. This made Heidi very nervous for the rest of the evening and we soon got off to bed. The whole place is so much friendlier in the light!

The next day we packed up (AGAIN – feel like we are packing and unpacking the whole time!) and set off for our second camp spot in Croajingolong NP – Thurra River. We took the 4wd access route once more and the track was a little easy and mundane for the first 18ks. Carl then got into drive the last bit and had all of the fun, a river crossing, ridges, etc – Typical!! As we were arriving at the campground we had to cross a long one lane bridge over Thurra River. From the bridge we could see some very high sand dunes (we planned to walk to these later).

Thurra River
Thurra River Croajingalong National Park Victoria Australia
From Thurra River - Croajingolong NP

We picked a site and were a little aggrieved to have to pay as much for this as you would for a facilitated camp site and this one only had pit toilets!!
After paying the fees in the ‘honesty’ box, we set off on the 2hr (return) walk to the dunes. It was a fairish walk until you got near the dunes, then it went uphill in sand fairly steeply. This was not too bad on the way up and we got out onto the dunes in good time - 40 mins. We wandered around the dunes for a while and found a steep downhill section. We had great fun running down it, but a mega hard slog getting back up! Your legs are moving like mad but they slip back and you don’t go anywhere. I was knackered (Carl). Never the less we went up for another charge down – great fun but for the trudge back up!

Having fun in the Dunes
Sand Dunes Croajingalong National Park Victoria Australia
From Thurra River - Croajingolong NP

After the tiring excursion to the dunes we decided that relaxing on the beach would be a good plan. The beach was 100m from out site and was really nice. We relaxed here for a couple of hours before dinner (Pasta and sauce) and then off to bed for another early night. This was partly due to seeing the Dingoes the day before but mostly because the Mozzies here were the worst I have ever experienced!! I had repellent on all exposed skin apart from my face and neck as I haven’t ever been bitten there. Until now! I was bitten on the neck, chin and one right on the forehead – not a happy chappy! (May have been their way of getting revenge after I went to the pit toilet with a can of RAID and killed hundreds of the buggers!!)

Well we are off to Lakes Entrance tomorrow via Orbost. We have had 3 days without running water and are starting to feel a little feral. A shower is going to feel Sooo good!



Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ben Boyd Natioanl Park and Eden

Ben Boyd Natioanl Park and Eden - 12-14th February 2009

Eden, NSW
Eden New South Wales Australia
From Ben Boyd NP & Eden

After we felt it safe to do so we set out from Narooma – slightly delayed, but in good spirits. Our next two nights were to be spent in our last NSW destination for some time (maybe at all). Eden was the name of the town and we had heard that it was a very nice fishing town on the water.
On the way to Eden we stopped off at Ben Boyd NP to see a sandstone cliff face dating back 60 million years called The Pinnacles. This was a 1km walk (round trip) from the car park and was a little underwhelming; we took the obligatory pics and carried on our way to Eden.
We proceeded to the Information office in Eden where we asked about a campsite recommended to us by a fellow camper in Narooma. We gathered all info we needed for the next few days and set about finding the site.
Our campsite was right across from the beach one side (across a street) and on a lake the other side – Pretty idyllic I would say. We had a sunset the night we arrived and took a few pics – which I am sure you will see below!

Eden NSW
Eden New South Wales Australia
From Ben Boyd NP & Eden

We went for a walk into the town the next day for supplies and a piece of cake (Heidi!!) and had a nice walk back along the sea front.
That evening we planned our trip to Croajingolong NP where we would have no access to water or showers for 3 nights – Pit Toilets though – Oh the JOY! The smell is something to behold!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wadbilliga National Park & Narooma

Wadbilliga National Park & Narooma - 7th-11th Feb 2009

A long way to the next fuel!
Fuel Sign New South Wales Australia
From Wadbilliga NP

If you look at a map of this part of Australia you will notice that there is no real direct route from Jindabyne to the coast by main road. There is however is 4x4 track through the Great Dividing Range which was meant to be a good challenge offering plenty of good views. This was to be our path to the coast, we left camp at around 10.30am and travelled back along some of the road we used to get to the Snowy’s. Through Jindabyne to Cooma, from Cooma we went to Countegany where the road turns from bitumen to dirt (they have many different types of dirt roads here in Oz; Gravel, sandy, stony, rocky, mud, etc) This road would be best described as a bit rocky but mostly gravel.
We were looking for a place called the Cascades, which we had heard was a very nice spot – popular with the locals for cooling off in the hot temps. The day was pretty hot – 37C – and the plan was to go there take some pics maybe go for a swim and then head for the coast. We were following a route described in an “Australia by 4wd” book given to Carl as a birthday pressie back in 2007. It was a little hard to follow as we were doing their route backwards. One sentence at a time was the way we did it!
Needless to say we missed a turning and had to chuck a U-ey. We had gone about 8ks to far. About 4ks back the way we came, Carl said that the car sounds funny and feels a little weird – OH NO we thought. Heidi jumped out and sure enough the passenger rear tyre was as flat as a pancake! (discovered it was a nail)

Wadbiliga National Park New South Wales Australia
From Wadbilliga NP

Well we had prepared for this eventuality so we set about getting the spare on. The wheel came off easy enough considering how rusted the nuts looked! Now to get the car off the floor (easier said than done). We had purchased a Hi-lift jack, so we untied it from the roof rack and proceeded to line it up with the jacking point. It seems the nose on the jack is not long enough to reach the point, no matter how hard we tried! Plan B was the little bottle jack in the back that had been stowed away ever since we bought the car. Once I got it out it was immediately apparent this wasn’t going to work either, as all of the fluid had leaked out and it wouldn’t lift a rock let alone a 4x4!!

New tyre ready to go
Wadbiliga National Park New South Wales Australia
From Wadbilliga NP

Now we may be in a little strife! Only 2 cars had passed us in our near 2 hours on this road, what are we gonna do? Just as Carl was contemplating lifting the whole back of the car by the recovery point, a car that had already passed us came back in the other direction – turns out they had missed the turn off to the very same place that we were going! Carl flagged them down and asked the guy if he had a jack fit for lifting our wheel off the floor. The man looked a little flustered and annoyed but was very helpful. He rummaged in his very packed boot for his bottle jack. To cut a long story short we eventually got the correct point to jack from and changed the tyre over. The man and his family rushed off. We thanked them endlessly for their help and set about packing everything back into the car and tying the useless jack back to the roof rack.

Now with most of the day gone, heading to the coast was not a possibility. Sunday was meant to be 47C and we were going to have to drive in it – Great!
We headed off to the Cascades as we had read there was a nice campsite there and it was FREE!! We got there in the afternoon after 40 mins driving down a fairly rough gravel road. We were of course very nervous now as we had no spare! We set up camp and went for a swim in the cascades. The cascades are basically a few pools that pour down to one large one with a small waterfall down some smooth rocks. Kids were using it like we used to use the red slides at the Oasis in Swindon! After cooling off we went back to camp, made a salad, harassed once again by the bloody flies. Then we were in bed by 9pm!

The Cascades, Wadbiliga National Park
The Cascades Wadbiliga National Park New South Wales Australia
From Wadbilliga NP

We got up nice and early and were away by 8:30, we decided that we would still continue on the most direct route as it was a lot shorter in distance than going via the main road. The route was harder and longer than we first thought but we enjoyed it, taking it very steady. We drove through rivers, up mountains, had to open and close gates and the views were pretty damn good! The only issue was the heat – we were both just sat there sweating. The wind coming in through the windows was actually hot! I checked the temp in the car and it was nearly 47C and we were up a mountain! Jees we thought, we need to get to the coast and the sea breeze.

Wadbiliga National Park
Wadbiliga National Park New South Wales Australia
From Wadbilliga NP

After 4 hours of 4x4ing with no spare it was nice to be back on the bitumen. We pulled over for a break and put the bonnet up on OJ as we had been having fuel vaporisation issues again (not surprisingly) we were barely out of 2nd gear for 4 hrs in that heat. As we sat there drinking the last of the cold water (plenty of warm still left!) a lady pulled up in a car towing a trailer and asked if we were ok? We said that we were just letting the car cool after driving over the range. She said oh good you don’t want to be stuck out here, especially with the fires. We were like WHAT? Fires? She asked if we had seen any smoke. We told her we had not seen any and she was pleased (not that we had been looking for it). She went off saying that she was in preservation mode and was ready to pack the trailer and get out! We headed off with this news aiming for the coast as fast as poorly OJ would get us there. As soon as we got 500m up the road and over a hill we could see smoke and this just pushed us on even quicker. Whilst on our way I said to Heidi that it felt noticeably cooler in the car and outside. Sure enough the temp gauge said 40C (sweet we thought). We were heading for Narooma – one of the bigger looking places on this part of the coast. As we approached the air was getting ever cooler and I joked to Heidi “Can you get me my jumper please!” finally we stopped, smoke still pouring from behind the hill, relieved and pretty tired. We had no food since brekkie and were looking for a place to eat. We stopped in a car park and let OJ cool down whilst we jumped out to stretch. Holy Hell! We got out and felt something we had not for a loooong time – COLD!
I checked the temp again and in 1hr it had dropped 20 degrees to 26C!!! The relief was overwhelming we were so happy to see the ocean. After fish and chips in what was a comparatively biting wind! We set off in search of a place to camp and a place to replace the spare – all accomplished with ease.

Narooma campsite
Narooma New South Wales Australia
From Narooma

So here we are now in Narooma. We are both feeling a bit empty after all the terrible news of the fires. Our next port of call was going to be Victoria and Melbourne in particular, but we are going to give it time before heading any further south. Can’t stop thinking about the so many people that have been affected by the devastation and terror of the fires. It is shocking the speed of these things and how, often there is no escape. The stories in the paper bring you close to tears. This part of the blog will end here, our thoughts with all those terribly affected by one of the worst natural disasters in Australian history…



Saturday, February 7, 2009

Snowy Mountains

Snowy Mountains - 4th Feb – 7th Feb

So… away from the heat eh? NOPE!
Ok it in not quite as hot as it was in Canberra but it is far from the relief we had hoped for!! We decided to stay on an un-powered site at Kosciuszko Mountain Retreat in Kosciuszko National Park (The NSW park portion of the Snowy’s, The Victoria part is called Alpine National Park)

Kosciuszko National Park
Kosciuszko National Park New South Wales Australia
From Snowys

The park is nice, filled with trees and back to nature. The flies are a little annoying but we are learning to live with them after the walk we did on our first day. We decided we would do a 10km return walk to a place called Bob’s Ridge. Apparently from the top you could see views across the Murray river into Victoria. Great we thought, we took the camera, the wide angle lens and plenty of food and water.
We arrived around 11ish and the first thing I noticed was the scenery. Really nice mountain views, streams (Creeks for you ozzies! Creek isn’t as nice a word as stream!). We hopped out and there were a lot of flies about. I just thought that they were in the parking area for the walk and that when we got off into the wilderness there wouldn’t be too many about. I was sooo wrong it’s not even funny! The flies were everywhere and for some reason they wanted to be in your face and in your ears. They are not content with sitting on your bag or hat for long. They NEED to be in your face. We spent more energy in the first 2ks trying to swat flies than we did walking. They are just SOO annoying! After a while the swatting became less vigorous and we just gently wafted our hands. Only swatting them off of us when 5 kills at once were guaranteed!! (Yes there were that many!!)

Snowy Mountains
Snowy Mountains Kosciuszko National Park New South Wales Australia
From Snowys

I don’t know how we did I but we managed to carry on for the whole 5ks (We believe – there are no signs in a Wilderness Area you see). We saw a lovely view from the top of our steady 5km climb but somehow it didn’t feel worth it, plus we didn’t know if we had the right spot. Every time we checked to see we would be swarmed by all of the flies that were hitching a lift! So no time to take a pic, we hurried off down the mountain, flies swarming everywhere still. Shame because it could have been a really nice walk, instead it was like a slow torture. We laugh about it now, but it wasn’t fun at the time. I am amazed at how far we went considering.

After getting back to the car and getting the last of the flies out, we continued down the Alpine Way stopping at points of interest. This included Thredbo, where we paid $1.60 a litre for petrol!!! Better get used to it I spose. Thredbo is a nice little ski resort but as you can imagine at around 28C it was a little short on visitors! Tho cycling appeared to big round here. Imagine all of the flies you could get lodged in your teeth – awesome!
Then onto the best part of the day for us, we drove to a place called Tom Groggin. It is right on the NSW/Victoria border on the banks of the Murray river. There is no road into Victoria from here, however we were intrigued when we heard that there was a ford to get across. This could be the 1st chance to put OJ into 4wd I thought. So off we went driving near the river looking for this crossing point. We tried a few spots and had no luck and just as we were about to give up we saw a sign “Caution deep ford” COOL I thought. We drove down the embankment and sure enough there was a river bed that was covered in pebbles and looked suitable for crossing. We walked to the edge and it didn’t look to deep. I remembered training where the instructor said that water looks shallower than what it is and threw in a rock. Sure enough it was deeper than we thought. Heidi put on her rock shoes and proceeded to wade across the river thigh deep at one point! I thought “hmm I am sure OJ can handle this” plus I wanted to say that we had crossed the Murray in to Victoria.

Heidi in Murray River
Murray River New South Wales Australia
From Snowys

Heidi got to the other side and pointed out that there was one large boulder to go around. I beckoned her back across and asked if she would like a lift! She hopped in, I locked the hubs and put OJ in 4L (4wd Low Range). Then I rumbled across the river avoiding the rock and scrambled up the opposite embankment. Wahoo our first river crossing of the trip and all went smoothly. They were no roads from here back to camp so a quick pic of the “Welcome to Alpine National Park” sign and a 3 point turn. Back across the river I went. This time more relaxed I looked out of the side window and realised how deep the water actually was. (3 inches up the drivers door!) Out I came the other side and I watched the water drain out from OJ – cool! We headed off back to camp exhausted after a long day walking and driving. Couple of glasses of wine and some cheese and biscuits! Sweet day after all.

Crossing the Murray River
Murray River New South Wales Australia
From Snowys

Today was a bit of a nothing day as we set off for the caves but decided to turn around as the car seemed to be having a bit of trouble, after a call to the very nice mechanic in Canberra it seems the fuel was vaporising due to the high temperatures and was having trouble getting through. So we headed back to camp to get organised for leaving tomorrow and updated our blog.

A Possum
A Possum Australia
From Snowys

We are heading for the coast tomorrow for some sand and cooling surf, I think we are just going to take a couple of days chilling on the beach as we make our way down to Melbourne. NSW is in for a heat wave over the weekend so we are running from the sun (47C is predicted for some parts!!)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Canberra - 30th Jan to 4th Feb 2009

Canberra Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
From Canberra

Reluctantly we left out little air conditioned apartment for the extreme heat of the day. 38C! We drove for 5 hours to Canberra via the outskirts of Sydney then along the Hume Hwy. The scenery was a bland dry landscape of mostly yellow and brown. The heat killed the aircon which failed 1 hour outside Canberra – not good. Never mind I checked the Sat Nav and saw that we were coming up on the very large Lake George not far from the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). I thought there could be a nice cooling breeze coming off the water for a while as the road goes right around it. I glanced back at the Sat Nav after a while thinking that I should see the lake by now?? I looked out and there was a sign for the lake but what I could see was a field with cows and a barbed wire fence! We checked the maps and the sure enough should be here. We laughed and agreed that this had not been a lake for some time!

We had not booked anything for the 4 night stay in Canberra and once in town went to where we had seen a nice site in our campsites book. We got there and we just didn’t feel it (If you know what I mean?) So we went off to MacDonald’s for FREE WiFi internet. Yes they do! Not sure if they are doing it back home (Probably we are behind over here) anyway we were checking for campsites in the area whilst drinking watered down Diet Coke. We found a couple and have bedded down in our second choice place – a bit of a dive compared to the first choice. Never mind we finally found a flat spot on our pitch and set about pitching the tent in the 38C heat. PLEASANT!!
With night setting in I finally hammered in the final peg and got a cold beer!

Canberra Sunset
Canberra ACT Australia
From Canberra

Temps that night got down to 17C degrees! That's a 21C change!! - Had to get the sleeping bag out for the first time. In the morning the sun was behind a tree and it was cool in the shade – Wouldn’t be that way for long! That day we went into Canberra and might I just say what a really nice city it is. The roads are quiet, wide and leafy. The people are all very friendly, there are parks everywhere and most of the attractions are free. We have been to a few museums (the air con is luuush!). Picnicked around the lake and taken loadsa pics. We watched a lightning storm over the city last night – always fun and looks like tonight we have another to watch, but seems it might be coming our way. Parliament house and the Australian mint were our stops the next day. Had a really interesting tour around Parliament house, didn’t get to see Mr Rudd (Prime Minister) as there was no sitting of parliament on Monday, should have gone today and we would have seen all the action.

Canberra Australia
From Canberra

We got a little rain last night and some rumbles – nothing to worry about. Storms aren’t as fun when you are at the bottom of a hill in a tent!! We miss the Bureau of Meterology website (BoM), no idea where a storm is heading.
In the morning we had to take OJ in for a service (for those of you who don’t know that is the 4x4. OJ for Oska and Jess – Our 2 kitties back in the UK), she has been making a bit of a knocking noise lately and was due for a service so we took her in slightly earlier than scheduled – we were trying to get to Melbourne. The guy at the garage was really helpful and friendly – as everyone has been in Canberra. We left OJ for the day and caught the bus into the city. We were off to spend the day at ‘Questacon’ Canberra’s “Hands on” and “Fun for all ages” science and technology museum. Those of you that know me reasonably well can probably tell from my written tone that all was not as advertised. I mean don’t get me wrong it kept us interested and killed 5 hours while we waited for the car, but it wasn’t really that awe inspiring. It was billed as this great experience – Yeah if you are ten!!

Parliment House
Parliment House Canberra Australia
From Canberra

We left a little empty – in more ways than one! We hadn’t eaten since we had had a lovely CafĂ© breakfast at around 10am (Carl = Toasted egg and bacon roll, Heidi = Scrambled eggs, toast, bacon, mushrooms == YUUUM). Back on the bus to pick up OJ. The bill came to a lot more than we expected – as usual with cars! But we were happy that the work had been done and was necessary – Knocking noise still there but the mechanic assured us it is not terminal as nothing is loose. He did find a bend in the chassis (could have been a rock) that maybe causing 2 pieces to come together that normally don’t. He said you could pay a panel beater to fix it or put up with it. We had parted with enough cash for now so put up we will!!
Dinner was a lovely posh bangers and mash (Not as posh as Mel’s, but posh for camping!) 4x4 is almost packed – one sleep and we are off to the Snowy Mountains for some time away from the Canberra heat!!

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