A quick early morning stop at the Big Murray Cod on the way out of Tocumwal on the final day of our trip. This particular Big Thing is Australia's second oldest, dating back to 1968. Not as big as the Big Murray Cod in Swan Hill, but still worth a visit. After a quick look at the Murray River we set off north, heading for Fivebough Wetlands at Leeton.
This morning we were up at 5:00am to head up to Hamilton with our friend to help her with work. Going to work with a friend may not sound like the most exciting way to spend a day on vacation, but when the task for the day was checking traps for endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoot, there was no way we could resist.
Today it was up to us to entertain ourselves. We began with a visit to the local history museum at the information centre.
Portland is Victoria's oldest town, settled in 1834, and the museum has artefacts and stories about all aspects of Portland's past including whaling and shipwrecks. In particular the harrowing tale of the Admella which wrecked in 1859 and survivors clung to the wreck for 8 days before being rescued.
Today we ventured into two national parks just north of Portland. As our Portland hosts work in the parks we got an insider’s view of the parks and their management.
Started the day with an early morning walk around Fawthrop Lagoon for some birding. The walking track is a flat, 2-kilometre loop, along which we were lucky enough to spot a koala, as well as some interesting birds like Swamp Harrier and a juvenile Pallid Cuckoo.
Luckily for us being at the bottom of Australia meant that we only had to experience one day of the intense heatwave that lingered for five days in other parts of the country. We tried to combat the heat by getting out early to do our sightseeing.
Bid farewell to our Melbourne hosts and hit the road at 8:30am, heading west to Torquay where the Great Ocean Road begins.
A laid-back start to the morning, which gave us a chance to catch up with our friend and to hang out with George the cat. At about 11:00am we caught the train into the city. We hopped off at Parliament, walking through Carlton Gardens and past the National Exhibition Building, to the Melbourne Museum. This was not our first, or even our second, visit to this museum.
Like us, our Melbourne host is a country girl at heart, so instead of heading east into the city, we headed west for the day. Our destination was Werribee Gorge.
Hit the road at 7:30am, heading for Melbourne via the alps. From Harrietville the road begins to climb quite quickly, winding along the mountainside, giving us great views of the Alpine Ash covered slopes. Many of the trees are dead, both from fire and as part of their natural lifecycle, their skeletal remains making for an other-worldly landscape.
Bid farewell to our lovely hosts in Wangaratta and finally, after more than a decade of talking about it, set off to traverse the Great Alpine Road.
With local tour guides for the day, we sat back and enjoyed a day of sightseeing. First was a stop for coffee (hot chocolate and a milkshake for us) at a little café in Whitfield, and then on to Lake William Hovell. The drive up the King Valley was very pretty, with lots of vineyards and old tobacco kilns. Since the 1850's tobacco was a big industry in the Wangaratta area, up until production ceased in 2006, and these two storey high tin constructions are an interesting and picturesque remnant of the era.
With another year drawing to a close, another road trip beckons. Lil Sis and I have not actually been on an extended trip together since May 2016 when we travelled around western Victoria to test out the brand-new Suzuki Grand Vitara. The Suzuki will be our ride for this trip too, though since that time I have racked up over 60,000 kilometres.