August 26, 1999 - Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia

A very productive day, we covered a lot of ground, on our way to Sydney then, eventually, back to Melbourne.

Cleaned up the hotel room after being there for two days. Packed up the car and started driving right away. We stopped in Newhaven, just before leaving Philip Island, at a flower shop that had an attached café. It was a very good meal, if a bit expensive, compared to Canada (all prices are good compared to England).

We headed out down towards Wilson's Promontory and accidentally ended up at Venus Bay but it turned out to be very pretty – the road ending right on the beach which had a wonderful surf (though not much really to surf in though one person seemed to be practising there). It was raining a bit all day and fairly cloudy. Evidently this was all around Victoria.

We passed a large number of fields and farming areas, with the obligatory cows (mainly Black Angus) and sheep (mainly…you have GOT to be kidding!). Rolling hills and wonderful views of the ocean, if sometimes clouded in fog.

We reached Wilson's Promontory, a national park, which is absolutely wonderful with large mountains covered with small, scrub-like trees and rocks all surrounded by ocean, essentially a little island. We were surprised to see some kangaroos lounging by the side of a small body of water, though we passed by pretty quickly, turning around to drive by slowly. They were very large red “joeys” and did not seem terribly interested in us. We also saw a few Emus near by which basically looked like large ostriches.

Continuing on around some rather narrow roads (with few signs indicating that a tight corner was approaching) up and down the sides of some of the mountains (with very few exposed rocks, except nearing the top) we reached Tidal River which is the furthest south you can drive in Victoria. There is a great deal of the park that is south but the only way it can be reached is by hiking in (which takes several days if you wish to make the point furthest south). This town serves as a park headquarters with rangers, information, a store and petrol.

We visited the information centre, picking up a map of the park and information about what we could do while here and then we wandered over to the general store. We took a look around the store finding only a road atlas of Australia that we really needed from day 1 here. It will be very useful since the only information we have is for Victoria.

We had a bit to eat, grabbing a few prepared sandwiches from their café. We had a sit and ate looking at some local people feeding some parrots outside. We have seen a large number of parrots in this area, they are very pretty: bright red with purple wings.

After eating we headed off for a walk on Mount Oberon. We drove to a point quite high on the mountain (on a point between two mountains) then got out (visited the 'natural' toilet shed) and took a path up to the top of Mount Oberon (about 580m high, after about 300m in the car). The path was basically a gravel road used for access to a radio transmitter near the top of the mountain. The walk was quite pleasant, though raining, just after we set out we came across a wallaby on the trail. It was a bit startling, we sat and looked at it and it sat looked at us. We did not quite have time to get out our cameras to take the picture. Very odd.

From the Top of Mount Oberon

We continued up the trail, noticing a fair number of significantly larger trees that looked like they had been burned. Many of the other trees were tiny by comparison. We made it to the radio transmitter after which we climbed up a series of staircases (many cut in the side of the rock) to the very top of the mountain. It was quite a view from there, so we relaxed for a few minutes, taking a few pictures before heading back down. It was interesting to be able to see both sides of the park (ocean on each side) and the southernmost point also. We could make out the many walks in the park as paths cut through the trees. Only park rangers are allowed to drive on the roads (who need emergency and maintenance access).

Relaxing at the Top of Mount Oberon

We made our way back to the car. It was a very good time, we spent a long time talking though mother did have a bit of trouble breathing on the way up she was much better on the way down.

On the road again, we left the park but not before passing many more kangaroos (one which mother got a picture of was right beside the road, not 5 feet away when she took it's picture), emus and wombats. We saw one person standing throwing a boomerang in the air (WAY in the air) towards some kangaroos in a bunch a few hundred feet away – if he was hoping to hit them, he was not terribly good at it (never mind the fact that he was not using a hunting boomerang).

With all the live wildlife we also did see a lot of dead animals beside the road, many before we saw the live examples. Mother has a point though, it is very good to see the animals in their native habitat and to see so many!

We knew at this point that there was a long distance to travel (before next Wednesday) so we drove quite quickly, chatting all along the way. We stopped briefly for petrol (after about 475km since we set out from Melbourne those few days ago) chatting to a lady that turned out to be from Croatia, wonderful place to live in, down here.

We really pressed on, arriving in Lakes Entrance around about 8:30 at night. We were really quite pleased to see the many choices of hotel offered at much more reasonable prices than on Phillips Island. It makes a difference to your enjoyment of a place if you pay a little less. It is also off-season though, so it makes it a bit cheaper. We also even get a free breakfast, VERY different then the other places…

Very nice hotel right beside the ocean, very clean. Much nicer than the previous hotel. We walked down the street looking for somewhere to eat, ending up in a local café that served 'Chinese' food (where I had a fisherman's platter that had fish, calamari, shrimp and scallops and mother had hot and sour soup – both of which were very good). We walked back to the hotel to prepare our laundry for tomorrow along the ocean-front (actually, I believe it is an inlet).

A long drive tomorrow, not really looking forward to it, though I am interested to see what is out here – this is all new to us…

⇒ Continue to August 27, 1999 - Near Sydney, New South Wales, Australia