Before starting our journey in Australia we understood that many of the roads, especially those around the main cities, were toll roads. So to save us online time and ‘overdue’ charges, we managed to get ourselves a little Roam ‘etag’ that sits on the windscreen of the motorhome and automatically deducts toll fees from your account as you accumulate them. It ‘beeps’ to let you know the deduction has been made.
From our arrival in Brisbane in June ‘13 and prior to our arrival in Melbourne on Wednesday, we had only heard the ‘gadget’ beep three or four times. However on the Melbourne motorways on Wednesday it seemed to be ‘beeping’ all the time. Goodness knows how many toll points we went through and what the final bill will be. But we have to say this – the motorways were flowing at a steady 90 to 100km at peak hour time. We have no aversion to paying tolls as long as we are getting what we pay for i.e. free flowing traffic, no delays and shorter distances.
There is no free camping in Melbourne so we ended up tucking in for the night at a Big 4 Caravan Park at Braybrook, a suburb about 9km from the central city. As we had a dinner date in the city that night, our goal was to find a stop on a good public transport route as we did not want to take the little jeep into the city and have to deal with parking and driving after a couple of wines.
We caught up with some of the family in a little Italian restaurant, Terra Rossa, in inner city Flinders Lane. It was a lovely meal with good wine and fine company. Thank you Tori for arranging the restaurant and taking us home. We will catch up with Penny again when we get to Perth toward the end of the year and with Tori in Melbourne around February/March 2015.
Thursday morning we departed Big 4 and headed south toward Geelong. We had both been to Geelong before so we did not spend to much time in the town itself but drove further onto the peninsula to Queenscliff. Now there’s a lovely little seaside town. We parked up down by the water, made lunch in the motorhome and then had a walk around the area. It is a bit like Whangamata but only bigger.
On leaving Queenscliff we followed the coast road around to Ocean Grove then Barwon Heads and made a decision to drive inland for an overnight stop as the coastal areas are still frantic with university and school holiday makers. We ended up in a little town called Winchelsea about 40km inland on a lovely free site beside the Barwon River. We really appreciate what the country towns provide for RVer’s. In our way of thinking, they are so in tune the baby boomer ‘bubble’.
This morning we had a relatively early start (9.30am!!) and drove about 40km towards the coast to Lorne.It was another coastal town frantic with holiday makers. After a leisurely stroll around the town it was back onto the Great Ocean Road driving southwest through Wye River, Kennett River, Wongarra and Apollo Bay. The Great Ocean road is a challenging drive but has stunning scenery.
About 20km past Apollo Bay we hooked a left and drove toward Cape Otway through the Great Otway National Park. There was good and bad about that decision. The good was that we saw our first koala in the wild. As we drove along we could see them sitting in the trees along the roadside. There were plenty of photo opportunities. The bad was that the trees along the National Park road were very low. While we did our best to ‘miss’ the low hangers, unfortunately one low branch hit our satellite dome and put a hole in it. Not happy!!! If anyone is coming over to Adelaide over the next couple of weeks and would be happy to carry a new dome over with them as luggage, please let us know.
We are currently parked up for the night behind the roadhouse at Lavers Hill, just on the edge of the National Park. It is another free park but it cost us a couple of beers at the local bar in the roadhouse. Tomorrow we continue eastward along the Great Ocean Road with planned stops at the 12 Apostles, the Loch Ard Gorge and the Port Campbell National Park. It is a long weekend in Australia this weekend (Australia Day on Sunday) so we will be doing our best to stay away from the popular tourist spots.