Monday, January 27, 2014

Road trip: Day 2 - Warrnambool to Robe

We spent the morning of our second day in Warrnambool, a place that I know quite well as I grew up about 70kms away and my grandmother lived there after she retired.  I've never really visited in tourist-mode though.

After a delicious breakfast at a cafe (more gluten-free fare!), we drove down to the breakwater and Stingray Bay. I didn't appreciate before that Warrnambool has such cool place names (it also has a Lava Street). In the picture below the headland in the distance is Thunder Point.

It was low tide so we poked about in the rock pools and spotted a few small fish in the channel in the picture above. I'm living in hope of finding a baby octopus.  

Before leaving we visiting the Botanic Gardens, which were designed by William Guilfoyle just after he finished work on the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne. It's a much smaller, more minimalist garden - perhaps more a park than a garden - but it's pretty. It has some fantastic fig trees - check out the roots on this beauty!

Band rotunda

Willows and waterlilies

Then we hit the road for Port Fairy. Eagle-eyed Luke spotted this ace old Ampol sign on a derelict garage along the way.

I had high hopes for seeing plenty of ghost signs in country towns, but I was disappointed. Oh well. There were plenty of other things I could point my camera at.

Port Fairy is a charming little fishing town rich with history. It was settled in about 1839, although whalers and seal hunters visited the area from the early 1800s and a whaling station was established in 1835, the same year Melbourne was founded. 

The town has more than 50 buildings classified by the National Trust as well of loads of other cute little cottages and beautiful old buildings.

We strolled along the Moyne River towards the beachfront where we saw what must surely be among the prettiest riverfront properties in Australia. Look at them! No doubt property owners are forbidden from erecting ugly modern glass monstrosities. Good!

There was a lone pelican on the river fishing. I tried to get a picture of it scooping a fish into its bill, but this was as close as I got. Haha. 

We had lunch at a combined art gallery/cafe where Luke ate two of the fattest sausages ever made, and then we were off again. We had accommodation booked in Robe, so we had to keep moving.  We stopped briefly in Portland (the oldest European settlement in the state of Victoria) and then again to take photos of the windfarm at Codrington. 

Those turbines are massive and although many say they are a blight on the landscape, they really are an arresting sight on the horizon. The sign on the gate said 'No public access' but the gate was open we went. 

 Turbines and bovines

Next stop: Cape Bridgewater. It has a beautiful sweep of pristine beach and some of the tallest coastal cliffs in Victoria (which I don't seem to have taken photos of. Here's one. I've walked to the top of it before - it's higher than it looks). 

We did part of the walk to the clifftop, but it was well into the afternoon by now so we didn't have time to go the whole way up and back, much to my disappointment. (Note to self: on our next road trip, less driving each day = more time to explore.)

A shack at the foot of the cliffs

Back on the road, we passed over the border into South Australia. 

We stopped in Mount Gambier to look at the Blue Lake...

...and then kept going until we got to the little fishing town of Robe. We had pizza for dinner at a local restaurant - I had a gluten-free one! -  and collapsed into bed. I'd been having trouble getting to sleep for the couple of weeks before we went away, but I nodded off in no time for the second night in a row. Zzzzzz.   

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Road trip: Day 1 - Melbourne to Warrnambool

I've taken my time getting around to writing about our road trip in early January. It's a long weekend for Australia Day, so I thought I should get off my butt (or, rather, on my butt) and blog. 

On our first day Luke and I drove along the Great Ocean Road (GOR) to Warrnambool. 

Iconic Bells Beach near Torquay. Not a great day for the beach 
(for us, I mean, not surfers) - it was very windy and a bit chilly

The Split Point Lighthouse at Aireys Inlet

It's a pretty little lighthouse

Although the sky was mostly grey, there were some sunny
 breaks which turned the shallows a beautiful aqua blue 

The lush rural hinterland near Apollo Bay...a dramatic
contrast to what was to come later in our trip

That's the ocean at Apollo Bay in the distance

Our next stop was at Cape Otway. There's a lighthouse there, but we thought the admission fee was a bit steep, so we walked to the little historic cemetery nearby instead.  In the late 1800s it was the burial place for about a dozen people mostly connected with the lighthouse (including several infants) and victims of drownings at sea. 

One of the graves is for a seaman who died in the Eric The Red shipwreck in 1880. The ship had sailed from New York en route to Melbourne carrying exhibits for the International Exhibition.

Another is for Thomas Monk who died in the Blanket Bay disaster

It reads: In memory of Albert Griffiths Chief Officer aged 33 years * Thomas Monks aged 34 years * Alexander Mathieson aged 23 years * Who lost their lives in the Blanket Bay disaster 21st March  1896 * Erected on the grave of Thomas Monk by their shipmates and friends

There were tracts of skeletal trees on the road between the GOR and Cape Otway. They were eerily beautiful and reminded me of the trees we saw on top of Lake Mountain in 2012. I don't think they were dead as some were sprouting leaves. I'm not sure what was going on with them. 

Some - the ones with more leaves - had koalas in them! 

 This was the first of several wildlife encounters on our trip

Mmmmm... gum leaves...munch munch munch

We stopped at the little town of Lavers Hill for sustenance and I was thrilled to find a packet of homestyle gluten-free melting moments biscuits. They were delicious too - far superior to ones I bought recently from the gourmet mecca of the David Jones food hall. 

Next up was Melba Gully, a patch of mossy, ferny, licheny, fungusy rainforest with some superb trees. 
 This one has a face, a spooky face

 Moss-covered tree

 Above tree, with tree fern

Fungus on a fallen log

Next up was the best-known stretch of the GOR - the bit with the Twelve Apostles and the other rock formations beyond.

 The Twelve Apostles

 The Apostles again

 The Loch Ard Gorge. The open wild Southern Ocean lies 
through that gap in the rocks 

The Loch Ard Gorge is my favourite. It's a secluded cove bound by high cliffs, with a little beach and a cave at the back with stalactites and stalacmites (below).  I like it because it doesn't attract anywhere near as many tourists as the Twelve Apostles and because when I was in grade six I won an essay competition in which I had to imagine I was one of the two survivors of the Loch Ard shipwreck. My story was published in the local paper. I always think about that when I visit. 

The gorge is named after the ship because the survivors came ashore there. The rugged coast in this part of Victoria is known as the Shipwreck Coast because of the more than 600 sailing ships that came to grief there in the 1800s to early 1900s. 

The cave

 Further alone, the Bay of Martyrs in the golden hour

The sun setting over the Bay of Martyrs 

We continued on to Warrnambool, checked into our motel, managed to get a restaurant meal at 9.30 on a Monday night (Warrnambool is quite large, but still a country town). The restaurant also offered gluten-free options. I was impressed...even though I then chose to eat gluten because bread is delicious.  It's nice to have the option, y'know?

We both slept very well. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Road tripping fun

Luke and I got home from our road trip yesterday. We had a fantastic time taking in the sights of Victoria and South Australia and communing with nature. We covered a lot of ground in our little hire car and had a lot of fun. I feel very relaxed and happy. 

I was a little sad when we pulled up in front of our flat Sunday afternoon, but oddly I didn't feel downhearted when I returned to work today. That's a good thing. 

I have many things to tell you and many photos to share, but I'm too weary to start writing now. Until I return, here's a photo of a snoozing koala at Cape Otway along the Great Ocean Road.  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Road trip eve

Luke and I are heading off on our road trip along the coast in the morning. We're driving along the spectacular Great Ocean Road on day one, with stops along the way to walk through the rainforest, visit waterfalls and lighthouses, and the region's most famous attractions,  the Twelve Apostles and other nearby rock formations. 

We'll spend our first night in Warrnambool, then pass through Port Fairy and Portland on our way into South Australia. We're spending our second night in Robe on the SA coast. 

Day three will take us further into South Australia to the Coorong National Park, a wetland of international significance, and Lake Alexandrina, where the Murray River eventually flows into the ocean. 

Beyond that, we'll be making it up as we go along and haven't booked any accommodation. We have a tent... 

See you in a week or so! 

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Happy new year! I hope 2014 is treating you well so far. I'm on holidays still, and have spent most of this year (ha) reclining on my couch watching Bored to Death on DVD and chuckling heartily. 

It's a comedy about a heartbroken, struggling writer called Jonathan who lives in Brooklyn and moonlights as an unlicensed, bumbling, but actually-quite-successful private investigator. My favourite character is Jonathan's boss/friend/father figure, George, who's played by Ted Danson. He's a heavy drinking, pot smoking, several-times-divorced magazine editor, who is far less jaded and cynical than one would expect. He detests boredom and gleefully helps out with some of Jonathan's cases. 

Anyway, I'm not writing  a review here...this post is about word nerdery. 

In the first couple of episodes George uses the word 'milquetoast' (a timid, spineless person) twice. 'Don't be a milquetoast, Jonathan," he said. I already liked the show before that, but I liked it a lot after George said milquetoast. 

Then I got 'milquetoast' stuck in my head like a one-word ear worm. A wordworm. It kept popping into my head randomly and often. (This happens to me sometimes for some reason. It used to happen with 'antimacassar' and 'amygdala'.) 

This morning I woke up early, fell asleep again and milquetoast featured in my dream, but I don't recall what actually happened. I woke up thinking about milquetoast. If only I could work it into a conversation...without people thinking I'm saying "milk toast". 

I have also watched two seasons of Girls. It only occurred to me after I started watching Bored to Death that both series revolve around the lives of struggling writers living in Brooklyn. Total coincidence. 

I was prepared to find Girls irritating, but I didn't. I liked it a lot and chuckled heartily at it. 

PS I have left the house this year.