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April 21st 2015
Published: April 21st 2015
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Deeply into study in the surf at Cape Conran
Tuesday 14thApril and we finally get away for our trip around the coast of Vic and then northward up the NSW and Qld coast line, until we reach a point when we will return through the inland/outback of said Qld and NSW. As you can guess from that sentence our plan has some flex built into it...

The theme of this entry will be somewhat focused on the weather. It seems that this was not the ideal time to leave as the weather pattern would indicate that we have missed the window before the onset of winter. Day one was not too bad, although mostly overcast, there was not anything you would call rain. Knowing that it was not going to be an early start (and it wasn’t), we only planned to get to Port Albert which is only about 175 kms from home, although with stops for lunch etc. We did not get there until late afternoon. Port Albert we would suggest is another little country town virtually dying on its feet , which is a pity because it is very pretty, and clearly has some town-proud residents. There are plenty of opportunities here for the investor...

There is space allocated for RV’s in the enormous paved car park, normally used by the fishing fraternity, although they seem to think that a 21ft van can fit into a standard car parking bay! We did take up a few spaces, but demand was not great anyway. Geoff took a short walk around the foreshore/wharf area and was impressed by the restoration work being carried out on some of the historical buildings. He did not dally as the wind was bitterly cold. The quaint little pub had some appealing signs out the front and we had an early dinner of fish and chips there. The rain that we were running from caught up with us that night.

A little further along the coast is a place called Cape Conran, which would be very pretty with the help of a little sunshine, but that was not going to happen for us. Nonetheless, we decided to spend 2 nights there. Now I must digress for a moment as we were reminded at Port Albert that the Victorian Govt had removed the camping fees from the National Parks under their control. However the devil is in the detail and what they really
Mallacoota Holiday ParkMallacoota Holiday ParkMallacoota Holiday Park

Our view from the caravan
meant was NP’s that only offered BASIC camping, not the serviced camping (read toilets and reticulated water). At Cape Conran the cost was $32.30 per night; and they didn’t even supply sunshine, electricity or showers!!

Now, no trip by the Ritchies would be complete without blood being spilt and this has been no exception. Before leaving, in his haste to get some last minute things into the car, Geoff managed to give himself the snip; on the hand that is. There was lots of blood, but little sympathy and a bandage was hastily applied. Not to be outdone, while exploring the foreshore at Cape Conran which involved clambering over some nasty jagged rocks, Margaret whose centre of gravity is somewhat high for her size, found herself with her feet higher than her head in the middle of the jagged rocks. It was a nasty fall with many bloody grazes and got loads of sympathy, but she was very brave. Hopefully we have got past the blood-letting and can now enjoy the trip.

Next stop was a place called Mallacoota. This town is best described as one huge Holiday Park with a small town attached. The park stretches around a headland and would be nearly a km long and up to 200 mts wide in places. As with most of the locations along this section of coast, their raison d’être is fishing; in fact the sign on the park reception door says bring your car and boat registration details for booking in. That presented us with a dilemma, but Marg worked her magic and they overlooked the fact that we did not have a boat... Mallacoota does however have one other great feature (for the non fisher person) and that is their “secret WW2 bunker”. Normally only open on a Tuesday, we popped in to get some photo’s and were advised that a group of car enthusiasts had booked a tour at 2.00 pm, and we were welcome to return and join them. Geoff went back at the appointed time, and what a bonus he got as there were about 20 cars of various marques that turned up. The local Historical Society have done an enormous job restoring this facility and the presentation by one of their members is a real credit to them. It turns out that it was built at the outbreak of WW2 primarily for the RAAF and was top secret to the point where many of the authorities in the RAAF in Melb., Sydney and Canberra did not know of its existence. It was known as 1 OBU(Operational Base Unit), and supported units from the RAAF (and there is an airport 100 mts away which is a legacy of its function in 1942), Army (Guard battalions) and Navy (signals station on Gabo Island just off the coast) in a camp a short distance from the bunker. The reason that it was located at Mallacoota is that the waters near Mallacoota and Gabo Island are very important as a high traffic area between Melbourne and Sydney. It was also a result of the lessons learnt in WW1 when the German Navy laid mines in the area between Gabo Is. and the mainland and further west in the Bass Strait. The Japanese sent submarines into these waters during WW2. It was a great experience to hear about the history of an unknown part of Victoria’s part in the war. The weather remained the same with bitterly cold winds and sporadic rain squalls.

We moved on to a place called the Bournda N. P. Facilities were
Munbulla Falls north of BegaMunbulla Falls north of BegaMunbulla Falls north of Bega

The promotional material was more spectacular
minimal and Geoff observed that it seemed more important that each site has a fire pit (although you are not allowed to collect firewood in the Park) than to have ablutions blocks nearby! But how much can you expect for 2/3rd of the cost at Cape Conran? We used this stop to explore the coast further North including a lunch at the Bega Cheese factory. It was hard work making a campfire with left over wet wood that was not inclined burn. The weather remained the same with bitterly cold winds and sporadic rain squalls.

We are now at a place called Dalmeny, about 6 or 7 kms north of Narooma. It is a council run camp site with ocean beach frontage and while there is a cost, there is power and water to the site – travellers’ gold! Just arrived but the weather has taken a turn for the worst and we hear from the nightly news that it has been really bad not too far up the coast and north of Sydney. We may be holed up here for a little longer than anticipated or heading inland. Geoff has tried to get some photos of the breakers, but it started pouring rain, and well, he is just not that dedicated.

Until next time.

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21st April 2015

Wot No Car Photos?
Lovely to read but concerned about Marg's centre of gravity being inverted. Take care friends! But you went all that way and no photos of the car enthusiast's vehicles? Cheers Judy & Ron
22nd April 2015

Have a wonderful safe trip you guys
Love the pics and stories - when does the book come out???? :-) xxx

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