Not having far to go this day, we left Melbourne at a fairly civilized hour and headed down the freeway/tollway towards the Princes Highway which is the coastal route back north.
This was the co driver's quilt shop day (see her detailed report here).
We had sussed out all the possible stops in the Victorian regional towns on the way and there were plenty of them.
First stop Warragul, my mother's birth place, and a thriving West Gippsland town which is in a major dairy area. Lots of nice preserved historic buildings in the town as well.
The quilt shop verdict? Reasonable.
Next stop was Morwell which is in the heart of Victoria's energy centre, the Latrobe Valley, with the huge Yallourn open cut brown coal mine and electricity generation plant just to the north. No quilt shop but I had heard that they had erected a statue of my uncle, Stan Savige, here.
Morwell was his birth place and he was a World War 1 and 2 hero but more importantly the founder of Legacy which is an organization dedicated to caring for the families of deceased and incapacitated war veterans.
And there 'he' was in the middle of town at Legacy Place.
Traralgon was next. This is a not only a power generation town but there is also a significant logging industry of plantation and natural forest timber, a large paper making plant, drilling for oil and natural gas off shore in the Bass Strait and an agricultural industry, principally in wool and dairy products, as well as vegetable growing. The quilt shop was small but interesting enough for a extended stop.
Next was Rosedale, a small sleepy town with a major quilt shop. I had more than enough time to explore the town..... a number of times.
Why don't Australian quilt shops have 'men's waiting chairs' outside like they do in the USA?
The old bank there, built in 1874, (held up 4 times in its history, according to a small sign) is now the headquarters of a preserving company, Tara Foods. I loved the sign on their window.
A summary of my childhood.
Next stop was Sale. No quilt shop here but time for lunch. We both had a craving for a good old Aussie hamburger with the lot. For the uninitiated this means a burger with lettuce. tomato, cheese, beetroot, bacon, fried egg and fried pineapple ring in a bun. We found a likely looking old fashioned cafe and they 'delivered' the goods.
Next was Bairnsdale, with a major quilt shop, and the gateway to the Gippsland Lakes which was our destination for the night.
The Gippsland Lakes are a network of lakes, marshes and lagoons covering an area of 600 sq.km and are separated from the ocean by coastal dunes known as the Ninety Mile Beach.
We stayed in Metung a small resort village on Lake King. During the holiday season this is a busy sailing, fishing and water recreation area. When we were there it was basically deserted.
McMillans had wonderful cabin accommodation with nice views across the lake.
We did a bit of exploring and came across some local wildlife at the boat ramp where they are kept busy tidying up the scraps from the fish cleaning tables. They are obviously well fed and quite tame. Both the pelicans and black swans walked up to us to see if we had anything extra to eat.
That night we had dinner at the one and only cafe open, Bancroft Bites. It was probably the best meal of the trip.
I had roast duck breast with a fennel and orange salad, the co driver also had duck but with a mushroom risotto. It was delicious. We pestered the chef to divulge her risotto recipe. It appears that the secret ingredient was five different types of mushrooms all marinated in verjuice. We drank a local Lightfoot & Sons unwooded Chardonnay. Now, friends and acquaintances will know we both belong to the ABC Club (Anything But Chardonnay) but we had come across a local unwooded style from Two Figs Winery in the Shoalhaven which we liked and thought we would try another.
We may be hooked!
Next morning we were up early for the longish drive home.
It was a pleasant trip to Eden for coffee and cake along a virtually deserted highway. Crossing the lower reaches of the Snowy River at Orbost (it runs into the sea about 10km downstream at Marlo) it was good to see that it was a raging torrent which had spread out several kilometres wide on the flood plain due to all the past week's heavy rain in the region. Quite a comparison to the river's sad state at Dalgety.
Eden is still an active fishing port on Twofold Bay. Once a major whaling centre, the town's attraction is now water sports, including surfing, yachting, diving, fishing and swimming.
There is also a Killer Whale Museum which has been in operation for over 80 years.
Twofold Bay is also famous for whale watching, which is a popular tourist activity from September until December, when a variety of whales visit the bay.
From there it was on through Bega, Narooma (quilt shop stop), Moruya (late lunch at Cafe' Vulcan) and home.
We had obviously had a lot of rain. The dams and tanks were full, our road a line of muddy potholes and the ground very very soggy. Surprisingly our creek had not burst it banks. Maybe the lake at the beach has opened to the sea and is draining the water away quickly.
And the wet weather continued. We had another 70mm that night.
The last week has been the equal wettest week on record.
Come back, El Niño! All is forgiven!!!!!