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Published: April 1st 2014
Friday 28th March - collected Maui van, very smart lady on Reception who liked the thought of camping but didn't think she could cope with the toilet!! Fought our way out of Sydney and headed for the Blue Mountains. First stop Katoomba - fortunately we remembered it from last time with blue skies as low cloud and rain obscured the views. We stopped for a quick coffee by the Three Sisters Viewpoint, in a tacky gift shop thronged with 3 coaches of Chinese tourists! Managed to escape unharmed and headed for campsite at Blackheath (Oz not UK). Arrived just in time to get the last pitch available. Pretty weary so had early night.
Saturday 29th - awoke to blue skies and sunshine - hooray! Drove down the road to Govets Leap - 300 metres of vertical cliff face and wonderful views of the mountains. On with the walking boots, down to the first lookout over the waterfall then we took the Braeside Track which followed the creek for 3.7km, only saw one family who were swimming in one of the deep pools - very cold water so we gave this a miss. Back to the top and hit
the road on our way towards Melbourne. We decided to leave the tourist route and head across country on the byroads - lovely straight roads with hardly any other vehicle. Went to Cowra via Bathurst (saw our first Emu) and stopped for the night at a Freedom camping area at Carcoar Dam. This was amazing, spacious camping area, with toilets, wash basins and showers (but no hot water) all completely free. Saw lots of birds here including, parakeets, rosellas, willy wagtails (nothing anatomical just a local bird!). Met some lovely Aussie campers who were just starting their retirement.
Sunday 30th - woke to beautiful sunny morning with a mist over the lake which soon lifted. On the road by 9.30 - Lyn driving. Travelled along the Olympic Highway to Wagga Wagga through lovely agricultural countryside, lots of Angus cattle and Poll Dorset sheep. More coffee and muffins in Cootamundra - these townships are wonderful places with huge wide streets and with old colonial hotels complete with verandahs and balconies. We had picked another site for the night from our Camps5 Freedom Camping book (the 'bible' for all Aussie campers - it lists every free and low budget
camping/rest areas across Australia). This one was just west of Albury next to the Murray River - we found the side road Gooramadda Road which lead to the 5km gravel Police Paddock road. So named because the police used to rest and water their horses by the river. Another wonderful spot - we were underneath the Eucalyptus trees, right next to the river where we could watch spoonbills, herons, kookaburras, white cockatoos and lots of little birds with no names! Another BBQ, another bottle of wine and all is well in the world.
Monday 31st - needless to say the kookaburras woke us up really early. More lovely townships on our way south. At last we've seen kangaroos and wombats - sadly only as road kill although we did actually go through a settlement called Wombat. Al may remember impersonating 'a one long lost tooth wombat' which Clive (Dr Pinder, PhD in Zoology!) failed to recognise - Al completed the impersonation by sticking a gherkin up his nose - he was only 8 at the time!!!!
Stopped at the Information Centre (I-Site) in Wangaratta to ask about the aviation museum reputedly the best in
Australia - shame it closed 3 years ago. However really helpful lady, gave us lots of info on the region, suggesting we went to Harry Powers Lookout. Harry was a notorious bushwhacker who reputedly "taught" Ned Kelly. Harry was eventually captured having been shopped by Ned's uncle - so much for honour amongst thieves! The view from the lookout was spectacular and a couple of tattooed bikers kindly took our photo. Our stop for the night was in a camping area in the middle of nowhere but somewhere between Yea and Seymour but within striking distance of Melbourne tomorrow.
Tuesday 1st April - up early and en route to Melbourne. Hadn't gone far when we saw a sign for The Australian Light Horse Memorial just outside Seymour. Had to do a U Turn to investigate. This was a very moving memorial to the Brigades, Divisions and Regiments of the Australian Light Horse (Cavalry) who had been formed prior to the First World War and who had fought at Gallipoli. This was a nature reserve and memorial that had been created by local volunteers. Arrived at our powered campsite on the outskirts of Melbourne then caught a tram
into the City centre with the help of an ex-pat from Suffolk. Lovely city, very hot, move on to the Great Ocean Road tomorrow when we have finished with the culture of Melbourne.
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