Saturday, January 20, 2007

Princes Highway

We start our journey to the Great Ocean Road on Princes Highway south out of Sydney. Past the airport and into the Royal National Park created in the 1870s which is full of names like Lady so and so's Drive, Lord whatsits Lookout names that hark back to a bygone era. It was cool, green, with big elegant tall trees. Beautiful. At its southern tip Otford Lookout gave us far reaching views down the south east coast of Australia, the Illawarra Coast to Wallongong, lapped by the Pacific Ocean.

We popped into several pretty bays, including Jervis Bay a popular holiday centre, on our way to Mollymook. We arrived at our hotel on the Point in time for a swim. I've always wanted to float in an infinity pool - here was my chance.

.... Magic.

Next day we set off again down Princes Highway taking an 8km detour down an unmade road to Pebbly Beach, which isn't pebbly at all but lovely sand and a fair amount of grass leading to the forest which comes right down to the beach. Kangaroos feed here in the early morning and evening, but we were too late. You could stay at the small campsite here for $17 to get the best sightings of kangaroos on the beach. We rejoined the highway via Mount Agony!

For lunch we pulled off the Highway again at the National Trust listed village Central Tilba, which has a cluster of well preserved 19th century weatherboard buildings turned into shops and caf├ęs selling tourist knick knacks. It was a pleasant break, could have been better if cars were not allowed into the main street, but the car still appears to be king here in Oz.

We reached Eden on the Sapphire Coast, at tea time and found our cottage on the shores of Quarantine Bay, on the south side of huge Twofold Bay. Forest sweeps down to the waters edge and the sound of Bell birds is all around us. Twofold Bay is reputed to be the third deepest natural harbour in the world and was a busy 19th century whaling centre, it still has a small fishing fleet and mussels and oysters are cultivated here now.

We have visited The Killer Whale Museum in Eden, purpose built to house whaling memorabilia, including the skeleton of 'Old Tom' the Killer Whale, leader of a pack of killer whales that used to round up krill eating Baleen Whales and herd them into Twofold Bay and then alert the local whalers - Tom's reward was the tongue and lips of the whale, all 4 tons of it!

The museum was fascinating, well laid out, it also included a touring exhibition of two amazing photographers black and white works, Englishman Herbert Ponting (1870 - 1935) who was the first official cameraman to go on an Antarctic Expedition. He was with Scott's ill fated South Pole Expedition. He built himself a darkroom at Cape Evans and spent a winter there before returning to New Zealand when Scott went onto his death at the South Pole. There is a poignant photo of the four just before they set off. The other photographer was Australian born Frank Hurley (1885 - 1962). He went with Shackletons ill fated expedition on the Endeavour when it got stuck in the ice and eventually sank. Shackleton rowed 800 miles in an open boat to South Georgia to get help from whalers stationed there. Hurley stayed with the rest of the crew and photographed their ordeal. They are absolutely stunning pictures. Its a travelling exhibition and only in Eden till February, it then goes onto Canberra - we were so lucky to catch it.

Tomorrow we rejoin Princes Highway travelling down towards Melbourne.

*********

We've got as far as Moe, just over an hour East of Melbourne. This morning bright and early we drove through miles of State Forests. I'd never really associated Australia with forests but it has plenty, as we have seen over the last few days. We had a welcome pit stop at Orbost, which is on the 'famous' Snowy River and has a historic trestle bridge that we whizzed past before I could take a photo wondering what it was. A wooden structure, it was pretty dilapidated, in a worse state than Bussleton Pier!

We went onto Lakes Entrance a rather tacky looking holiday town but superbly situated at the entrance of the Gippsland Lakes and 90 mile beach fronting the ocean. It is also home to a huge fishing fleet that lines up right alongside the road. The photo is taken from Jemmies Point high on the far side of town. To the right is Rigby Island which is home to the largest breeding colony of Little Terns, the tiny sea birds that fly all the way from North to South Poles every year.

We then drove through arid pastoral scenery, which reminded us a bit of the plains north of Madrid, with mountains in the distance to the left and right until we reached Moe. Moe was the gateway to the goldfields and has an historic buildings theme park. It also has an annual Jazz festival in March apparently. We had both had enough of driving, it has been very hot today, when we stopped to eat our sandwiches I made this morning it was like standing in front of a hot hairdryer - so we sat in the car with the engine and a/c running! There have been a lot of forest fires inland and we saw signs that various roads were closed, visibility is not crystal clear and we assume smoke from the fires is contributing to this. Today we think some fire crews have been stood down as about 20 passed us in convoy going in the opposite direction. We hope so anyway

Tomorrow we are on the Great Ocean Road .......

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you call our town of Lakes Entrance A TACKY LITTLE TOWN well maybe your country can offer better you came here for a holiday WHY to critacise our town go home