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.
We stopped at a few lookouts along the way, gazing down the valleys and admiring the snow daises. At Danny's Lookout we had superb views back to Mount Buffalo, including The Horn. It is amazing to think that yesterday we were standing on top of it.
At Hotham Heights we stopped at The Cross for a traditional photo alongside our vehicle, as this marks the summit of the highest section of year-round accessible, sealed road in Australia. The elevation is 1875m.
We drove through Hotham Village, and on towards Dinner Plain, enjoying vast mountain vistas all the way.
Dinner Plain is a small alpine village, lots of cute timber chalets set among the snow gums, up on an alpine plateau. From here we began our descent, national park giving way to pastoral land. We stopped at Swift's Creek for lunch at the bakery, and then drove alongside the Mitchell River until we arrived at the end of the Great Alpine Road in Bairnsdale.
The Great Alpine Road was awe-inspiring and being up in the mountains on a clear day in the early morning was the perfect time to drive it. The soft lighting was perfect for optimal views. It is a summertime drive we would strongly recommend to everyone.
From Bairnsdale we had some serious driving to do and headed west towards Melbourne, stopping once when Lil Sis spotted the Big Pheasant on the opposite side of the freeway. Of course we had to wheel around and get some photos.
On the way into town we detoured via the Cranbourne Botanic Gardens, hoping to spot a Southern Brown Bandicoot or two. We arrived with only half an hour until closing time. A quick lap of the area near the car park, and we did manage to get eyes on one bandicoot for a moment. Another mammal for the life list, satisfying as new mammal sightings are hard to come by in Australia.
To finish the day, we had to drive across Melbourne to reach our friend's house, contending with traffic delays, but that's okay every now and then. It's a good reminder of why we are so lucky to live in the country.