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Published: October 11th 2015
Tassie is that way
The way forward from Ballarat and the goldfields was rather complex. The easy part was drive to Melbourne but where to from there? There are so many options it can be really confusing. I left the brain to do the thinking and decided not to focus on where. And so it was that we got to Melbourne and then went in to auto-pilot and the next thing we were down in Gippsland!
My grandparents had often made the Bunyip roadhouse a stopping point for a trip to Melbourne and it seemed logical to do the same going the other way. However, when we got there, the roadhouse had been pulled down - we chose to drive back to the fruit orchard which now sported a newish cafe (now there was less local competition) and had lunch there.
Further east we travelled until we got to Traralgon where we stopped to do some grocery shopping. Now we had a plan for the remainder of the day. We would visit some places that I had been to in my childhood (and sometimes later on too). These are special places, secret places that mostly only locals know about and go to visit.
A huge Mountain Ash tree, the worlds tallest flowering tree.
So we turned off the highway at Traralgon and headed south in to the hills. At first, they were rolling green hills with cows and easy to negotiate but soon they became steep and winding with the trees providing an archway over the road. Now we were in the Strzelecki Ranges, a relatively small but steep and dense range of hills that are south of the Princes Highway and provides a natural border to South Gippsland. Pawel Strzelecki was an explorer (originally from Poland) who made his mark in this area in the 1840's. It is not so well known that he was also a geologist and found gold in 1839 but this discovery was kept secret by the authorities fearing that working men would abandon their jobs to seek their fortunes. Of course, the word eventually had to get out and so it was that the goldfields in Victoria became a destination of choice for many immigrants. Strzlecki also explored New South Wales (naming mainland Australia's highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko) and also spent some years in Tasmania.
We came to a bare hill with transmission towers which is known as Mount Tassie. It was always thought (and
The famous suspension bridge - such fun
told) that on a clear day you could see Tasmania in the distance. I'm not sure if this is correct, because every time I have been here, there have been clouds to obscure part of the view. What Mount Tassie does have, though, is some of the best views of the Latrobe Valley. At night there are a million twinkles in the distance as you look at the towns of Traralgon, Morwell and Moe.
From here we travelled to Balook and the Bulga National Park, a small park notable for its intact rainforest and suspension bridge and walks. There is now a visitor centre too but that was closed when we arrived. People lived in this area for a while attempting to make a living from farming, but the country was much too tough. It's similar to the west coast of Tasmania (but less wet). Georgi was keen to see the lyrebird which inhabits these areas and she was lucky enough to get just a brief glimpse of the bird in the fading light as we returned from a walk. Back at the visitor centre, Rosellas were feeding on the local grasses and we managed to see a Scarlet
You shalt not pass!
We put the headlights on as we drove out of Bulga National Park and towards Yarram but we only got as far as Tarra Valley before we decided that it was the right time to pull over and ensure that we didn't run over any of the local animals (including wombats).
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