On the way home, a stop off at Byron Bay around lunch time on Saturday. We found local sand artist, Craig Gascoigne raking his magic on the beach.
As I write this, TC is winging her way homewards. Veronica Viva is basking in the fact that she carried us over 3000 kilometres (close to 2000 miles) in just 12 days.
On Tuesday we left Melbourne for the longest day’s drive of the road trip aiming to put Sydney within easy striking distance yesterday. We made it to the town of Yass just after nightfall, but not before a pit stop in Gundagai.
When in Gundagai, it’s customary to visit the Dog on the Tuckerbox. Here is TC looking suitably, and politely, impressed as the sun sets behind her.
Winter has been slow to arrive this year, but Yass did not disappoint yesterday morning, providing us with the first zero temperatures (Celsius) of the trip and a decent fog to drive through after breakfast before the sun burned it off.
TC’s last night was spent in Sydney, including Thai take away food and some time with my family – and packing!
It was super busy at the airport this morning, but we made time for farewells. We stacked up lots of memories on this trip, including a number of video “Carpool Karaokes” in the can for our future amusement. Because, as you know, what happens on the road stays on the road.
On our walk into Melbourne’s CBD, we swung around to the Fairy Tree in Fitzroy Gardens to see Ola Cohn’s delightful carvings.
Flinders Street Station
Then a short drop in to the National Gallery of Victoria.
A walk along the Yarra River.
And a stop by Melbourne City Town Hall to see the rainbow flag lights display remembering Orlando, Florida.
This morning began in the town of Cowes on Phillip Island in an overcast fashion brightened only by a tasty bircher muesli garnished avec geranium flower for breakfast.
Today was all about Australian animals for TC. Albeit the walk around the Wildlife Park was a tad muddy, it was more than made up for by the variety of unique animals in the mix. Here’s a taste.
Last stop before heading towards the big city was The Nobbies – the Southern Ocean in full swell with not a migrating whale in site.
We negotiated our way into Melbourne with little or no fuss and ended a good day with a great meal at Smith & Daughters in Fitzroy which may have included a glass (or two) of Tempranillo for one of our party.
Tonight’s post is a short and sweet summary, due largely to slow internet speed. Here’s the summary of a good day’s driving in Victoria’s east.
Saturday morning after rain fell during the night at Shelley Beach near Lakes Entrance.
An unintentional but delightful visit to Lake Tyers and some black swans just down from where we were staying.
We drove through driving rain towards Phillip Island and a cold date with hundreds of penguins who came ashore just after dark. Photographs of the Fairy Penguins are strictly forbidden. While we were waiting a pair of Cape Barren geese were grazing nearby.
How to warm up after shivering down by the beach? Thai food, that’s how.
Next stop, Cooma and on to Bombala where we stopped off at the Visitor Centre for directions to the Platypus Reserve. We were advised that, given recent heavy rains, the platypuses had been more active in the middle of the day than normal. We drove up Maybe Street, hopeful of a more definitive outcome.
Between the two of us, we managed to capture some shots of the Bombala River, but saw no sign of the elusive creatures. TC did see a kangaroo though.
Suppressing our disappointment at missing out on the Ornithorhynchus anatinus, we motored on into Victoria travelling in the late afternoon through dairy and timber country on the way to Lakes Entrance.
Day 5 was a quiet day. TC took herself off to explore the city and came home in time to make us popcorn.
TC was a little discombobulated when I suggested that we hold off our first coffee stop until we got down the road an hour or so. The little town of Berrima worked its charm, especially AFTER the coffee and food.
Then it was on to Goulburn and the Alpaca Centre where the owner, Bill, gave us an insight into the manufacture of a large range of clothing items.
Veronica Viva is parked up for a couple of days while TC gets to see a little of Sydney. Yesterday’s highlight started after dark as we set off to see the light installations at the zoo during Sydney’s Vivid Festival. Throw in the usual Vivid standout buildings, a train ride, a ferry ride and a late dinner and it made for a fun night out. Here are some of the highlights (so to speak).
Another day, only this one started with a blue sky and post-storm cell winds, and coffee in Gloucester. Always ask a local (in this case, our host) where to find the best coffee.
First stop was Newcastle, a city surrounded by beaches, and bound to provide some striking evidence of the storm. The surfers were taking advantage of the swell near Nobby’s Head as a container ship entered the harbour.
Before we arrived at tonight’s destination, we made a stop in McMahon’s Point so that TC could marvel at the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. We’re here for a couple of days, and looking forward to some great light displays during the Vivid Festival.
Today was about sustenance. A day’s driving negotiating the western edge of a huge rain system required as much. What better way to start than with a BIG breakfast in Tenterfield.
And so it began. In Glen Innes, TC snagged her first kookaburra photograph.
At Guyra, it was time for a cup of tea. Just as well we came prepared with a thermos as all the residents of Guyra (including the cafe operators) were being sensible on this soggy Sunday and not venturing out into the street. .
We found more sustenance further south in Walcha in the form of hot chocolate and chai latte. There is quite an affection for motor cycles and other things metal in this town.
TC was working the iPhone late into the afternoon as we began to negotiate the curves around the mountain. The saturated rock faces were liberating more than the occasional small obstacles as we made our way through the Barrington Tops landscape towards tonight’s destination of Gloucester.
It was definitely worth it for this late afternoon view.
Day One of the road trip, it must be said, was not the blue sky day we might have hoped for. This morning’s newspaper cartoon describes the mood best.
An hour in, we were sitting in a cafe in Beaudesert, having an early lunch and watching the staff clean up water puddles from leaks in their roof. We decided to take the forest route to Tenterfield rather than go via the shorter and smoother New England Highway option.
The landscape didn’t disappoint. TC wielded her iPhone skills to bring us these highlights.
The Bell Miners (more commonly known as bellbirds) were in full song. Other wildlife highlights were kangaroos (lots of them), cockatoos, herons, egrets and crimson rosellas.
In the town of Drake, we found some King Parrots feeding by the road.
We arrived in Tenterfield around 4.00 pm, and swung around to the Tenterfield Saddler (made famous by Peter Allen) before checking in to our evening’s accommodation.
A pre-dinner walk in the main street, and a Thai green curry cooked in our room fresh from the road trip provisions ended what was a pretty good day, given the weather.
We’re off tomorrow on a road trip, just me, my American travelling companion (henceforth to be referred to as TC) driving a 9 year old Holden Viva called Veronica.
For the next week and a half, I hope to bring you regular briefings on our notes and observations. The route will remain a close-kept secret to all but the driver to avoid accusations of getting us lost.
In the meantime, we broke TC in to some Australian cultural experiences with a couple of nights on Stradbroke Island. A State of Origin football match at the Bowls Club was a curiosity, but not nearly as big a hit as the natural wonders of the island. Here are a few highlights.
Early morning Ibis – Adder Rock beach
Eastern Osprey – Adder Rock
Kangaroo and dunes south of Main Beach
Sooty Oyster-Catchers – Main Beach
Myora Springs at low tide. No place demonstrates the value and beauty of mangroves as this one.