As I'm writing this entry of the blog, we are sitting in a beautiful home near Bega, NSW. We have decided to try the new experience of "house sitting"
Way back in September when we were in Broome, we registered on the housesit website and within days we had this stay organised, 6 weeks looking after the house and very friendly animals, 2 horses, 3 dogs and 4 chickens, while the owners are overseas.
But I need to recap on our adventures since Murray Bridge and our last entry.
We stayed in Murray Bridge for a few more days, everyday finding something else to stay for. We spent a few hours looking around Old Tailem Town, at Tailen Bend, just a bit out from Murray Bridge. This is an old museum with a collection of original old buildings from the area, very old and dusty but very interesting. We also enjoyed seeing the collection of old Humber cars in the car park, belonging to a local club that had visited for lunch.
We visited the Olive Factory where we sampled different oils and ended up buying a cask of the flavour of our choice, we were just a day too early to watch the olives being pressed, they were due to be harvested that next day.
The show ground where we were staying was the most pleasant surprise of the area, there was always something happening for us to watch, from greyhound training, pony club, motorbike training and of course, the caravan parking as well. We met some other great travellers and enjoyed good happy hours each night. We all had to agree that it was a great use of a show ground that would otherwise stand empty for most of the year. There is definitely a lesson to be learn by other local councils here.
After Murray Bridge, it was an overnight stop at Serviceton Recreation Reserve, another great little spot, only $10 a night, power and water. With great toilets , showers and even a games room, it put some "proper" caravans to shame!
Now, having crossed the border again, we are in Victoria and heading towards Ballarat, not stopped at any quarantine check points this time but advised we could be stopped and a fine would apply if caught with the goods.
Boy, was it cold in Ballarat! -2 degrees over night and a huge shock to our systems. It was only about 4 weeks previous that we were experiencing a 41 degrees day in Ceduna, SA.
On our first evening in Ballarat, we wrapped up warm and set off to Soveriegn Hill to watch the Sound and Light show, telling the story of the Eureka Stockade when the gold miners won over the law of the day.
We thought we had the aircon on heat in the van but who knew there were settings that needed to be changed! coming back to a very cold van.
Next day, it's off to Soveriegn Hill again to wander around the township and watching the many presentations of the old skills of wheel making, blacksmiths, candle making and gold panning to name a few. The shops were all open and in business, including the Post Office, where I posted a card and learned of the new concessional postage rate for the oldies. The lady who served me was very friendly and explained everything and stated that they also get rude and grumpy customers there too. Go figure!
We spent most of the day at Sovereign Hill, only leaving to go over the road to the Gold Museum and catching the short tour before closing. Next day, we again went back to Sovereign Hill to see the bits we had missed and watched the blacksmith make a couple of small turned "S" hooks for us, (put to good use under the awning of the van) We then spent the afternoon back at the gold museum.
After leaving Ballarat, we headed towards Wallington, a suburb just out of Geelong where we stayed with friends we had met in Darwin. Only expecting to stay 2 days, it was 8 days later when we pulled out of their yard. We had a great time with Dennis and Christine and also their daughter and her family. Again I got my kid fix with lots of cuddles with the grandchildren. Chris had fun on the property, helping with gardening, bonfires and rounding up cattle.
We decided that instead of driving from Geelong to Melbourne we would take the car and caravan on the ferry at Queenscliffe saving us about 3 1/2 hours driving, making good use of the early bird special of $86 all up. It was a beautiful, sunny and calm morning so was a very pleasant experience for the 45 minute crossing.
In Sale, we stayed at a caravan park that charged a nominal fee ($17) plus extra for electricity. This was an interesting experience and gave us a good idea of how much power we were using. We found we were using nearly $5 a day, (with the aircon on heat) and that was being fairly conservative, but we think the rate was some bit more than normal domestic prices.
We visited the botanical gardens in Sale, enjoying a walk among the beautiful trees with their changing coloured leaves, (a sight we don't see too often, here in Australia) and through the large greenhouse with it's begonia exhibition.
In Bairnsdale we met up with more "Darwinites" Alan and Barbara, staying one night with them and spent a lovely day looking around the area. Alan was feeling under the weather with a really chesty cold and guess who's got it now? Me! Thanks for sharing, Alan.
Next stop. Lake's Entrance recreational park, a basic council run park, cheaper than the many others in the town but it's all about location! We were parked right on the water's edge, couldn't get any closer if we tried. We again met some great fellow travellers, exchanged details and promises of meeting again.
While at Lake's Entrance, we toured the Buchan Caves (be careful how you say that!) two beautiful caves with lots of examples of stalagmites and stalactites (mites go up and tites come down)
We really didn't see much of Victoria but decided to leave our extended visit to this state until another time.
We are now back in NSW, and visited the Whale World at Eden, where we learnt the history of the area and how the killer whales used to round up and chase the sperm whales into the bay to be rewarded by the whalers with the tongue and lips of the sperm whales for their efforts. We enjoyed great fish and chips at the marina, and watched a seal swimming and playing around the boats.
Now, we are sitting here in our house stay with the dogs keeping us company and a wood fire burner keeping us cosy, looking forward to the next 6 weeks thanks to our lovely home owners who have made us feel so welcome.