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Showing posts from October, 2016

By George, there's water!

As we rounded the crest of the hill we were greeted by an astonishing sight. Lake George had water! Not just a puddle in the centre, but a wide expanse. It's been a long time since we've seen it this full. We were heading home from Canberra. Earlier in the day we had checked out of the hotel and boarded the free shuttle bus to Floriade. To our delight it was an open top double decker. Tree branches whipped closely over our heads as we wound our way down to Lake Burley Griffin. The ride was more of a highlight than the annual flower show, the last in its present location by the lake. The colourful tulips and other flowers were still gorgeous to look at, but Alex had more fun handling reptiles, tossing footballs to score a free Raiders' cap and going down the big slide. There's so much to see in Canberra and never enough time to do it all, but we wanted to get home before the early Friday knock off. Last night Alex had read a passage

Crossing states not by train

Abandoned railway lines, tracks rusting away, sliced by roads, bridges collapsing, never to feel a train again. They make me sad. Never shall I have a chance to watch the landscape outside trundle by without a care in the world, without worrying about overtaking that truck and hitting that kangaroo about to leap off the side of the road. What's makes it worse is when the lines is through such beautiful countryside. After leaving Lakes Entrance the highway roughly follows the abandoned section of the Gippsland railway line between Bairnsdale and Orbost. State forests of eucalypts, waiting to be logged, line the road. Occasionally a small town, a general store and pub, appears. When the sign says "rainforest" I first disbelieve it until we notice giant tree ferns growing in the valleys. Then we emerge into a bucolic scene of the bright green of open fields of dairy cattle and sheep. To our left the wooden railway bridge and causeway across the legendary Snowy

Caves and cricket

As I stepped into the toy shop on the main street of Lakes Entrance a tremendous wave of nostalgia swept over me. You don't find too many toy shops like this in Sydney anymore. Toys'R'Us may be giant but we almost never buy anything there. Or it's BigW or Target with the same old selections amongst everything else. Then there are the high falutin' educational toy stores with similarly high prices. This was none of those. Just a smallish shop packed floor to ceiling with toys. In the back corner of the shop, in the hobby section, were things you can't buy in your average toy store anymore. A model train set and some tracks, plastic model aircraft kits that you need to paint and glue yourself. I could just see myself putting one of those kits together like I used to do as a teenager. Something that was disappointing were the army figures. When I was small we went on a farmstay at Taralgon along with some friends of the family. I remember my parents purchasi

Rain, bows

The rainbow stretched across the entrance to Port Phillip Bay, a grand multihued gateway to the mainland. I did say it was a magical place. We were on the car ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento, a forty minute journey across the bay. Rather than drive via on the longer, but faster and cheaper, route via Melbourne we were heading directly East across the water towards our final destination of Lakes Entrance, from one seaside resort town to another. B and Alex were below in the warm and comfortable main cabin, but I spent most of the trip on the top deck in the freezing winds and spitting rain. The view was worth it. I watched the lighthouses and beacons of Queenscliff recede into the distance, blinking through the grey. We drove straight out of the boat at Sorrento and on to the road up the Eastern side of the bay. Last time we were here it was Summer, the roads were jammed, the skies were hot and clear and the seas were flat. Now it was cold, wet and the seas churned in

The A-mazing Bellarine

Can't just sit around doing nothing on this holiday, especially after a big breakfast of delicious crepes at the Panache Cafe. We began with a game of tennis at the caravan park court and followed up with a bicycle ride all the way to Queenscliff station. A few hills but a scenic ride, mostly following the railway track along the Swan Bay wetland. As a kid I used to holiday in the Bellarine in our Franklin caravan. This was our first stop on our "Round Australia" caravan adventure that only saw us getting as far as Central Queensland. So it felt appropriate to see another Franklin caravan sitting in front of a Queensland Railways diesel locomotive and carriages at the station yards. Worn out by all this exercise it was time for "Australia's best meat pie (2013)" at the Rolling Pin Pie and Cake Shop back at Queenscliff. Not the best in our opinion, but still very good. It still wasn’t raining and we had the rest of the day left so we drove

The steam train and the lighthouse

At last a warm and sunny day! I write that as our cabin sounds with the white noise of heavy showers, but it was true when we awoke, clocks turned forward by an hour with the arrival of daylight saving. We hired Alex a "go kart", a two seat tricycle, that we pedalled around the caravan park. Then it was time to head into Queenscliff proper to catch a ride on the Bellarine Railway. I have ridden this historic tourist train line many times over the year and it's one of my favourites, especially the start which sees you running just above the waterline of Swan Bay, alongside, weedy brine swamps. Our two wooden passenger cars plus guards van were hauled by a little tank engine steam locomotive that puffed along rarely exceeding 20 kilometres per hour. Past the bay, the into the rolling hills of the countryside, sheep, horses, cattle, olive trees and even a flower farm. It was a slow ride, but a relaxing one. Alex slept for about half of the 45 minute ride.