19th September, 2022, Sydney to Canberra (very unadventurous):
“What the faaaa…?” It’s Ted. We’re three hours into our two month journey and I had just attempted a three-cornered-turn in Dangar Street in Randwick and jammed the van, front end and back end, in a deep street angle where a side street meets Dangar Street. Roaring the engine in both reverse and forward, we can’t move either way. A jack won’t help, the bricks we steal from a neighbouring garden don’t help and we’re fully blocking a street. Between waving away cars that try to enter the street and ringing the NRMA (who won’t help), we’re saved by two Good Samaritans, Andy and Andy, who amble up from around the corner with long planks under each arm. ‘Happens all the time,’ they chortle happily, ‘look at all the gouges the garbage trucks have made in the bitumen!’ In a few minutes we’re out and away! Thank you Andy and Andy!
Picture left: We’re finally unstuck – behind Ted the bitumen shows gouges… note smoke from ears…
(We’re headed for the High Country of Southeast Australia, but first we have had to snap-visit some family and friends on the way – Suzie and Kassandra in Sydney, Jeff in Bowral, Peter in Werai, Johnnie and Marg in Canberra, then finally Simon and Erica and our two grandchildren Marlowe and Violet in Canberra. It takes a week of joyous time – too much for this blog – before we’re finally on our way into the high wildernesses of Barry Way.)
23rd September, 2022, Bredbo:
What better place for a first night than the friendly Bredbo Inn – or rather just behind it, where they love RV’s to stay, as long as we have dinner, an easy option. It’s buzzing with Bredbo locals, the fire’s warm, the food is warming and the wine is welcome. Great first night out!
24th September, 2022, 0vernight Mulgulmerang (Where’s that?):
Barry Way is a narrow gravel track that veers south away from Jindabyne to chase up and down the ranges, cut into steep hillsides, hairy enough on one’s own, but terrifying if one needs to pass an oncoming car – especially if one is on the crumbling edge of the road above a vertical drop. The track then follows the Snowy River on its way to Victoria, where it becomes the Snowy River Road. It’s an old road, started in 1925 and the views are breathtaking across the Victorian Snowy Mountains – Hotham is not open, too early for that and the naked ski-runs look more scary without their velvet covering of snow.
Overnight stop in Mulgulmerang Reserve, at around 1000 metres, is chilly but full of sunshine and grassy stretches for Jack Russells who can’t stop running in frosty paddocks.
25th April, Anzac Day, 2022:
Anzac Day reaches us by radio and flowers left in townships from early morning services. We’re swooping south via Buchan and Bruthen, then upwards into East Gippsland through many miles of regrown burnt-out forest. We grieve and we drive, our grief mixed with that for soldiers long gone and fire victims so recent. We lunch in the War Memorial Park at Omeo, then on through Bright to overnight at Milawa, a long driving day, but the destination, Brown Brothers Winery, was worth the drive!
26th April, 2022:
We’d love to breakfast at the famous Cheese Factory in Milawa, but, like the rest of most of Australia in 2022, they can’t get staff, so it’s a rudimentary croissant that will have to do.
Victoria has always been more English than the English countryside itself, gently rolling green hills, clean white sheep and historic townships smothered in orange to red autumn leaves. It’s a glad drive, avoiding highways, through the lush countryside – Omeo, Violet Town, Murchison Cemetery, where we stop, both for lunch and to find Ted’s great-grandfather’s grave, then on to Bendigo and, for the first time, a stay in a caravan park, where washing, watering and powering up are now due.
28th April, 2022:
Bendigo is a heritage architect’s dream, unending rows of lacy Victorian miners’ cottages or mansions, the city packed with magnificent 19th Century buildings. Ted’s in heaven. We wander the streets, walk blocks the wrong way to find their wonderful Art Gallery, where Elvis has pride of place, get our postal votes for the 21st May election in order, then press on towards Ballarat.
On the way, however, Maldon must take the prize of the most delightful town in Victoria, with a to-die-for lunch at Le Sel – worth a trip to Victoria, just to eat there.
29th April, 2022:
Ballarat is justifiably proud of its Irish history along with memories of the Eureka Stockade, the original flag still kept – what’s left of it – in a darkened room. The memories are gloried in a park where the original stockade took place along with a classy modern museum to the event.
The Great Ocean Road is calling, but we’re away to Geelong first to catch up with Natasha, one of Nancy’s old friends, overnight first at their spacious and centrally located Showgrounds.
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