Moving right Along

Just a trip update for those who are interested…

After leaving Melbourne we headed south to McCrae – Phil McCredden’s place, where we spent 5 nights. The camper fitted perfectly under Phil’s carport so the occasional bit of rain didn’t bother us and we were able to use the house during the day. We didn’t get to see much of the peninsula as 3 of the days were spent meeting with the Forge National team discussing future directions, but it was great to see the guys again.

From McCrae we hopped on the Sorrento-Queenscliff ferry and made a 40 min trip across the bay instead of a 2 1/2 hr drive around. For $127.00 we felt this was well worth the $$ to save what would have been a laborious and unexciting day of driving. Instead the kids felt they had been given a treat and the drive from Queenscliff to Torquay was really enjoyable. The ferry ride was really nice and a great way to see a bit of the area too.

As we got into Torquay we were reminded again that it pays to check around before booking a campsite. The 3 ‘Great Ocean Rd’ parks we rang varied in price from $31.00 up to $60.00/night. With budget always a consideration we decided to go for the cheapest and stayed at Torquay Holiday Resort right in the heart of town. These guys were having ‘kids go free’ so we saved quite a bit and ended up staying two nights instead of the one we had planned. This was a good park with plenty of facilities for a decent price, but the second night was stuffed up by two noisy groups who wanted to ignore other people and party on.

It takes a lot to get me out of bed at night, but these guys did… twice… I often don’t go out because I know that it would be easy to end up in altercation and that isn’t going to help anyone. However after 2 hours of on again off again noise I left the camper at 11.30 to politely ask if they could keep the noise down. The group of 4 or 5 ‘p’ platers across from us were sitting on their verandah drinking and laughing, but apologised and moved away. However at 1.00am they woke us all again as boyfriend and girlfriend were having an alcohol fueled argument on their verandah. After 15 minutes of hearing their problems I had steam coming out of my ears and decided to make another approach. This time was a bit more icy and involved a bit more ‘telling’ than ‘asking’. They got the point and not surprisingly didn’t say ‘boo’ again that night. Probably lucky for both of us…

While in Torquay the surf was almost flat for the first two days, so any hopes of surfing the area were evaporating fast. We did manage to have lunch with Gary and Ev Heard on the Saturday and it was great to spend time with a couple who are engaged in some exciting and challenging work leading the 8th Day Community in inner city Melbourne. We met around 25 years ago at a Baptist Basketball Carnival and while we don’t know each other well at all, the web has been a place for reconnecting and observing each other’s lives from a distance. We really enjoyed being around some passionate and earthy people, catching up on life and hearing their dreams for that part of the world.

After the crappy night’s sleep, we headed off to make the drive down the Great Ocean Rd and enjoy it. We stopped into check the surf at Bells and Winki and saw beautiful 4 ft waves rolling thru, but decent crowds at both spots. I wasn’t up for the hassle so we decided to drive on.

There were some great waves all along and in hindsight we should have stopped at Fairhaven where there were a handful of guys getting into some clean beachies. However we decided to try our luck a little further along and stopped for lunch on the west side of Lorne where 3 blokes were riding a wave breaking down the point. For some reason in the time between us eating lunch and considering heading out the waves had died and they had all come in… so we hit the road again with the intention of camping in National park in Johanna and hopefully scoring some isolated waves there.

What I didn’t realise was that once you get around the other side of Cape Otway the swell goes beserk. Upon arriving at Johanna we drove into the carpark and saw huge 10ft mountains of water breaking well out to sea and looking frightening even from that vantage point, so I was a tad disappointed. You wouldn’t consider surfing that in your wildest dreams, so instead we set about putting up the camper.

Johanna is a beautiful area with big rolling green hills and a rugged coastline. The campsite is big and grassy and while I’m guessing the Nat park ranger must collect some fees, he didn’t turn up while we were there so we had a freebie. You also aren’t allowed to have fires, but my wife being the rebel she is decided to light one anyway. She and the kids did the marshmallow thing, but I thought it was warmer inside even with no power so I stayed there. Brrr…

The next day we packed up and headed off to do the rest of the Great Ocean Road. This is truly one of the great spectacles in Australia. Right from Torquay all the way thru to the end it is stunning. Danelle drove for most of it as my desire to keep looking to my left made it a little dangerous at times. Words and pictures can’t adequately capture the beauty of this place and even though I had done it several times before I was still in awe.

We pulled into Port Fairy around lunchtime expecting to stay somewhere there. This is a beautiful town with a strong Irish heritage evident in the buildings and names of the streets and buildings. It had a lot of charm and given a little more time we would have loved to stay a few more days and check it out. A price check revealed the budget campsites were either Killarney on the way in or at Yambuk on the way out. Still hopeful of a surf I opted for Yambuk and we drove out there and paid $24.00 for a powered site for the night.

This was actually a very good campsite, right on both beach and lake with great kids playground, good clean facilities and a cheap laundry with free clothes dryer. The surf was big, wild and woolly and the wind chill factor was up there with Jindabyne so I didn’t get to hit the water yet again. Oh well…

That evening the rain started at 7 and the wind started to blow pretty hard too. The BOM radar suggested there was a storm either just going to miss us, or go straight thru us… we weren’t sure which… Fortunately by 2am the rain had stopped and the storm had passed. The little Jayco survived another night… We could have stayed at Yambuk a bit longer as the kids found a huge slide that they loved and we were loving the wildness of the area, but we had arranged to catch up with old friends Garth and Sharron Wootton in Mount Gambier today, so we packed up again and hit the road.

The forecast for the next few nights is a bit dodgy so we have decided to sleep indoors rather than in our beloved camper. We can handle the rain, but if the wind blows like its supposed to then it could be very noisy and unenjoyable.

So today we have been loving catching up with the Woottons and getting our heads around the road ahead. We have until Friday 2nd of October to get to Esperance where we will be hooking up with some other good mates Graeme and Sharron Mason for the weekend. It means we will be seeing SA in 4 days and then driving pretty hard across the Nullabor. I have allowed for 2 nights at Cactus – just out of Penong – in case the surf is any good there, but otherwise we won’t be stopping for much sightseeing. It means we won’t see much of SA at all, but we just figure we can do it next time. Already we have pencilled in another trip in 5-6 years time so we will simply do the rest at that time.

Anyway that’s where we have been the last week or so…

With 5 1/2 weeks to go it feels very much like we are homeward bound. There is part of us excited by that and part of us quite sad. It has been great to be wandering travellers and especially in the last 2 months to have been able to spend a fair bit of time with friends.

But the real world beckons…

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