Saturday, 14 March 2015

Melbourne to Ceduna

During the first two months of our travel, we met so many interesting and helpful people which asked for pictures and updates from our trip around Australia. Thus we have decided to start a blog in English, which is sort of a travel diary, unlike our blogs we maintain in German, which focus on specific topics. We will publish some news fortnightly if possible and the following posts will be shorter than this one, which covers only the last 4 weeks of travel in some detail.

White route: First two months (Melbourne to Melbourne) - 5540 km
Yellow route: Melbourne to Ceduna - 3280 km
Total so far: 8820km

We started travelling in Australia in early December, after the Quarantine officer had released our car Kasbah after his 2 months travel in a container from Switzerland. And after VicRoads and CIL had the car insured and officially accepted it on Australian roads for 12 months … and after we had done all the work to it that we hadn’t get round to doing before shipping it.

In December and January we travelled through Gippsland and eastern Victoria, southern New South Wales, enjoyed Canberra as much as Sydney, explored the so far unknown land of central NSW with places like Orange, Dubbo or Mudgee and finally travelled back to Melbourne through the Snowy River Nationalpark and the Alpine Nationalpark, where we did one serious 4WD track, the Deddick-trail. 

  The Zinc house, Lowe winery, Mudgee

McKillops Bridge, Snowy River Nationalpark, starting point of the Deddick-trail

We always enjoy the time in Melbourne very much, especially because our hosts Robyn and David make us feel so welcome at their lovely house, and we appreciate to be part of their family during our stays. Therefore, at the beginning of February, we were spoilt again for more than two weeks, before we left „our“ castle in Templestowe to the West for more adventures. 

It was probably not very smart of us to leave on a Friday 13th. Even though we are both not superstitious, a few things occurred, which might be related to that date. The most unfortunate thing was, that Oliver lost his whole bunch of keys. Realising it about 120km further on, and knowing exactly where it must have happened, even the advised police couldn’t help and the keys remained lost. We do carry two sets of course, but it makes the remaining ones very valuable now … 

We left towards the West and enjoyed the Great Ocean Road once more. The hike at Cumberland River through bush, along the river with cascades and two waterfalls, followed by a fabulous view point, was wonderful. Due to the very changing and moody weather and the new pricing and booking policy of Parks Victoria, we didn’t spend too much time in the area. As of July last year most campgrounds have to be booked in advance (you even have to choose a site without knowing what to expect) and the prices are up to $38 per night for a pit toilet — if there is one at all! Of course we are very happy to pay something for the fabulous network of camping options there are, but $38 is the price for a site at a commercial caravan park where you get hot showers, kitchen and laundry facilities, electricity and water, sometimes even a swimming pool. So far, we couldn’t figure out if VicParks’ goal is to actually keep people away from the Nationalparks.

Great Ocean Road (GOR)

Cumberland River and GOR from the Lookout

12 Apostels

The drive through Mount Gambier with the sinkholes and deep blue lakes was worthwhile and very different to the experience we had in 2010 (drizzle and a basically „dead“ inner city). As we liked the temperatures and the sun so much, we took them with us towards Penola. There we did a fabulous wine-tasting tour through the Coonawarra by bicycle and had  a superb lunch at Coonawarra village. At a place with the somehow fancy name „Eat | Drink Ottilia |Fodder“, situated in the old school building. They offered an exclusive selection of homemade antipasti, wood-fired pizza and salads. Yummie! The best selection of wines we tasted at Majella and found the Sauvignon Blanc of Rymill outstanding.

 Mount Gambier - Blue Lake

The old school, Coonawarra

On the way to the Murray River, in the area of Mannum, we visited the Naracoorte caves and learned about the creatures of the Megafauna. After a very hot weekend by the river and a exclusive private tour around Lucy’s and Brenton’s sheep and crop farm nearby, we went to Adelaide and stayed at a caravan park which was within walking distance from the CBD. We found the city very pleasant and lively, especially because the Fringe Festival was on. Our general impression is that Adelaide is underrated. We find it a very liveable city. 
Adelaide is surrounded by wine regions and in 2010 we visited the Clare Valley and Mac Laren Vale. Hence the Barossa valley was up this time and, not surprisingly, we did it by bike. The region was such lovely bike terrain for us, e.g. the Mengler Hill lookout and the Seppelts Trail, flanked with palm trees. Thus we only got called in at two wineries. But it was a fabulous day for us.

 Marsupial lion - Megafauna creature, Naracoorte caves 

 Camping at the Murray River

 Historic paddelsteamer Murray Princess

Adelaide Arcade

 View from the Mengler Hill lookout, Barossa valley

 This guy made us taste the sickly sweet grape juice

Scenic Seppelts Trail, Barossa valley

The next still unexplored land for us was the Yorke Peninsula with its vast barley and wheat fields, the Viterra silos and in places rough coast line. It was a new landscape for us. The Innes NP offered some lovely beaches and good hikes along with some history about the gypsum production in the area more than 100 years ago. Also in this Nationalpark, we had a car breakdown, which Oliver fixed himself over 20 hours by pouring over the electrical plans and taking half the car apart. It was a broken soldering point in the car’s ignition system. I acted as first assistant and learned a lot. Nevertheless we hope that this will not happen again.

 Innes Nationalpark at the tip of the Yorke's Peninsula

 Kasbah refusing his transport service

Impression from the Yorke Peninsula

Our stop in Iron Knob was not really planned but we were very happy to find out that they offer tours to the iron-ore mines. Mining was discontinued by BHP in 1999 and only recently (2013) OneSteel took over (they run the steel mill in Whyalla) and under the name of Arrium the mining is now running again. Nevertheless we had the impression that there is not much of a chance to prevent this little town from dying. Next stop was the Gawler Ranges Nationalpark: to enjoy a stunning scenery, some quiet camping and visit the Organ Pipes, an impressive granite rock formation. A dusty gravel road led us to Elliston on the West coast of Eyre Peninsula. We were blown away by the scenery we got here. It started with the tourist drive around Elliston, we called it „little Ocean road“, a coastal walk at Venus Bay where we spotted dolphins, Point Labatt with the sea lion colony and finally Dog Point in the Laura Bay Conservation Park where we spent a very peaceful afternoon and evening, before heading back into the designated camping area in the park, which was full with mozzies! In Ceduna we got prepared for the Nullarbour and the crossing to WA, which we did on March 11.

 Iron Princess mine, Iron Knob

 Organ Pipes, Gawler Ranges Nationalpark

 Sunset at Anxious Bay, Elliston

 Woolshed cave, near Venus Bay

Dinner at Dog Point, Laura Bay Conservation Park

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