Published: June 26th 2012June 26th 2012
Coal Power Station
Quite dominating on the countryside
We’ve now left Melbourne, heading east into Gippsland. It was named by Strzelecki in 1840 after Governor Gipps of NSW. (Bet the Victorians hate that.) It has a comparatively high rainfall and has lots of dairy, sheep and beef. It was originally thickly forested and while they have milled a lot of it, there are some substantial tracts of forest still. There’s quite a lot of new planting, too. The country is gently rolling, so quite familiar. The farms look quite prosperous with good buildings and new tractors. They had some gold, but have dug all that up and sold it. There are still huge deposits of brown coal, soon to be subject to the new carbon tax, but used extensively for power generation. See our Tasmanian blog about zero carbon tax on inter-state power exports – stupid. From Lakes Entrance we could just pick out a couple of the oil rigs in Bass Strait.
The other attraction is the seaside as they have a string of landlocked lakes behind large sand dunes. Being midwinter, the holiday element is completely missing, and there is space everywhere. Our first night was at Port Albert, a tiny holiday area. We were the
only tourist van in the park. It was also the most southerly park we have stayed in with the van. (We didn’t take the van to Tasmania.) We then moved to Orbost, which is near the mouth of the Snowy River. We were here for the Melbourne earthquake, but didn't feel a thing. The town at the actual mouth of the river is Marlo, which is very pretty, and no doubt lovely in the summer. We were camped on the banks of the Snowy and it’s cold!! There were only 5 or 6 vans here too, so we should move north.
About a week before we arrived, the area had some huge winds and there are trees down everywhere and lots of side roads are still closed. We continued east with the windy, hilly roads. The countryside was generally forested, some original, some cut over and regrowth, and in the valleys, surprising stretches of good-looking pasture.
Over the border and the rest areas improved immediately with toilets and rubbish bins, and more of them. We stopped for the night at the town of Eden, in the appropriately named Garden of Eden Campground. This is the southern end of
the “Sapphire Coast” and it is a holiday destination of both Canberra and Sydney. There are lots of hills and small bays and tidal lakes. Very pretty bays and lovely views.
We traveled up as far as Batemans Bay, stayed another night, which was as windy as hell, and then climbed to Canberra. I would hate to calculate the fuel as we climbed to over 600m in about 50km into the teeth of a strong westerly.
In Canberra we stayed with Marlene and Ken Southwell, whom we originally met in Denham WA. We had a great time and its good to have two natives to show Canberra to us. They got a bunch of similar touring friends in on Saturday night which was an unusual experience to have everyone with a common interest.
Ken used to work at Parliament House, so was able to give us personal insights when we had a look around. The building has over 4,200 clocks and they are all synchronized to the second. It’s only 3 stories high, but has 43 lifts. There used to be carparks under the building, but 9/11 closed all those. We also toured the National Museum, the
Marlo - the mouth of the river
National Gallery, the Portrait Gallery and the Australian War Memorial. The War Memorial is a very moving superb museum with displays of Aussie battles, medals and memorabilia from all conflicts. We actually went twice it was so impressive.
We also caught up with Edie Young, an old friend from our skiing days. Since Queenstown she has lived and worked all over the world. She is now in Canberra in charge of functions at the National Gallery, quite a change. She’s still skiing and has a house on the coast. Life is good.
Canberra is always criticised as a soulless city, and it is totally dependant on the car. This city probably has more motorways and green spaces per head than any other city in Australia. There’s no strip shopping, but lots of small and medium shopping centres hidden away. They have lots of parks and sports areas, small and large lakes and green zones. The suburbs are well away from the Government buildings and the CBD and Ken & Marlene live about 25km from Parliament building where both of them used to work.
We stayed four days with them, which amounts to almost overstaying, but Ken &
Marlene have got their caravan out and dusted it off and are joining us for next weekend, so we can’t have been too objectionable.
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26 June 2012
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