Saturday 1st November 2014 Day 54. Pleasant pause
The day started with an excellent cooked breakfast as we sat watching the rain which began overnight. The weather during the day proved to be cold and showery, offering little incentive to leave the comfort of Nick and Judy’s comfortable home. As a result we spent the day catching up, chilling and doing chores such as laundry and mending the rucksack and Eric’s bag. We ended the day with a delicious roast chicken meal and a wide ranging discussion, which pushed bedtime a little later.
Sunday 2nd November 2014 Day 55 Particular penguins
Last night and this morning turned very cold with rain and sleet on our way to the Friendship First congregation with Judy, held in Beaconsfield community centre. The Word was again well delivered, based firmly on scripture, developing the theme of the church needing to be based on relationships reflecting the family, rather than rules. On our return the sun came out with some heat, followed by wind, clouds and more rain, proving the description of Melbourne weather as having four seasons in one day.
After lunch we bade farewell and left for Phillip Island, passing through the town of Nar Nar Goon (for the aficionados ‘he’s fallen in the water’) with its murals. Once on the island we visited the Koala sanctuary, where the boardwalks brought us closer to the animals. As we had already experienced the koalas were doing what they do best, sleeping, but two did waken to entertain us. One roaring (a cross between a pig and stag), the other munching on eucalyptus leaves. They are adapted to eating manna, blue or swamp gums.
We checked into our hotel but realised that time was pressing for visiting the penguin parade. We therefore grabbed a take away pizza and drove to view the Nobbies, the coastal features at the west end of the island. From here we drove the short distance to the visitors centre for the penguins. These are called the little penguins, no more than 30 to 40 cm in height. We arrived just after 7.00 pm and went immediately to the tiered seating to view the penguins’ arrival, pausing only to look at the display showing the relative sizes of the various species of penguin.
As the sunset we began to see small groups (rafts) of penguins swim into the surf zone and pausing in the shallows to assess the risk levels. The first few groups stayed in the water a long time, flossing in and out with the tide, before they stepped ashore and then scurried across the narrow strip of sand into the vegetation of the dunes. We stayed and watched a large number of penguins come ashore before taking the boardwalk back to the visitors centre. On the way back we could see individuals and groups of penguins making their way back to the burrows on paths through the dunes.
We were both feeling the cold, having sat outside for 90 mins, but were relieved that the rain had held off. Having enjoyed this fascinating sight we returned to the hotel to warm up, only to discover the room heater was not working, just a small heater in the bathroom, so we wrapped up well and retired for the night.
Monday 3rd November 2014 Day 56 Promontory peregrinations
We had a pleasant sunny start to our travels, revisiting the Nobbies, with views of seal rocks and a walk to the blowhole, exhibiting the power of compressed air as waves break into a cave. From the car park a gravel road led along the cliffs on the southern coast, affording excellent views. We then visited Grossman point and walked to see pyramid rock, before driving off the island and heading south for Wilson promontory.
Stopping at an Aldi store in Wonthaggi to buy the makings of lunch we diverted off the route to visit Venus beach, where we had our first beach picnic on a bench overlooking the beach and breaking waves in the sunshine.
The drive on to Wilson’s promontory, through the National Park, again offered beautiful views. We paused momentarily at Tidal River visitors centre for the facilities and were startled to hear a prolonged siren. No-one seemed bothered by this and all was explained when Eric read the park information leaflet which told us that the siren was tested at 4pm every Monday.
We then found from the gps that we still had over 300km to travel so we promptly set off to retrace our steps before we headed south for Lakes Entrance, arriving at 7.30pm. This proved a somewhat taxing drive for Eric. Given the propensity for restaurants to finished serving at 8.00pm we were pleased to be directed to the local bowls club which stayed open later. We had a good meal before retiring.
Tuesday 4th November 2014 Day 57 Snowy mountain melange
This was to be another long day’s drive but with bright sunshine and 25oC at 9am we couldn’t resist going onto the beach, having a paddle and enjoying the views of the bar (the eastern end of 90 mile beach) and lagoons. We also viewed the wood carvings which were erected as a World War 1 memorial. Lakes Entrance was a delightful place and we could have spent several days here.
Travelling via Orbost we visited Marlo at the mouth of The Snowy River and Cape Conran, where we again enjoyed a picnic lunch on the beach.
The afternoon was largely driving north towards the Snowy Mountains, we bought petrol at Cann River and crossed a pass in the Great Dividing Range at 1110 metres before stopping for ice cream at Nimmitabel. The scenery is dominated by rounded hills with tor features of rounded boulders. There is far less woodland, with extensive tracts of grassland.
Our destination was Jindabyne, alongside the reservoir created by the damming of the upper Snowy River. We arrived by 5.30 and were able to enjoy a relaxing evening in our room which overlooked the lake. From our hotel we walked to a local Italian restaurant where we enjoyed a lamb shank meal.