We’re dry again! What a difference a day makes, emerging from the rain and wet of Kosciuszko we came down into the sunshine of the Murray Valley, although this area had certainly seen all the rain of the past few days too, rivers are up and Lake Hume was still rising (albeit controlled by the dam) for the few days that we were camped beside it at Bonegilla. Bonegilla is just out of Wodonga so we crossed the NSW/VIC border three times in our stay with a trip into Albury. I really liked this area; both Albury and Wodonga seem to be really nice towns. We stayed at our first “Big 4” park in Bonegilla (Boathaven Holiday Park) on the shores of Lake Hume. The additional cost of the Big 4 parks are often hard to bear, but the facilities are generally brilliant, as they were at Boathaven. The kids love the giant jumping pillows and I love the clean facilities. So now we’re Big 4 members and get 10% discount at all the parks… I’m sure the $50 fee for 2 years will well and truly pay for itself.
After three nights of civilisation we headed bush again, travelling through the gorgeous town of Beechworth. The Beechworth Bakery, Sweet Shoppe and Honey shop all benefitted from the Malpass’ passing through! The Honey shop was brilliant, it had a video display of the honey making process from caring for our environment to ensure there are flowering plants right through to the supermarket shelf and they had the obligatory bee frame in a glass case so the kids could see the workings of the hive.
The GPS took us on a meandering route to our next stop at Cathedral Range State Park. We’re not super confident with the choices that the GPS makes at times, often choosing a route that differs to the road signs and although we will always get there in the end it’s perhaps not the easiest way. We’ve become perhaps a little too reliant on the little screen at the front and need to get our sense of direction back! (Irene and George know this only too well). We camped at Cooks Mill Campground (Site 212 in Camps 5) in the Cathedral Range State Park which was a decent enough spot to camp, near a little stream, although if we’d had our chance again we probably would have headed to the numerous campgrounds around Lake Eildon.
We were camped right on the edge of where the bush fires went through on Black Saturday. It is almost two years to the day since those incredibly tragic days. It takes your breath away to realise the enormity of the fires. When driving to Marysville all you could see either side of the road was miles and miles of forest that is trying desperately to regrow. There are large chunks of the bush which look as though the trees will never recover, they are just bare skeletons in amongst all the low-level scrub which has made a vigorous return. We all saw the television images at the time – of the houses that were burnt to the ground and the neighbouring houses untouched, but seeing that in the flesh is truly astounding… one side of the road are all newly built houses (many of which are still not complete two years on) and on the other side of the road are older houses surrounded by plants and bush which were obviously not touched at all. We didn’t make it further west into the Kings Lake area, but just looking at the map to see the vast area affected is quite overwhelming.
Ben has been nursing a dodgy looking rash on his foot for the past few days, he must have been bitten by something when we were in Bonegilla. It came up in a swollen red, weepy rash and was a bit sore to walk on for a couple of days. Emergency averted though, no need to amputate, it’s clearing up now. It has been said before “put your shoes on!”
Much to the delight of the children (and probably more so Ben and I) we have completed the first fortnight of school work…. Yippee! This first lot has been a bit of a struggle as we all come to grips with how the work is laid out and just what volume of work we need to get through each day. At the moment we are working for 3-4 hours each morning, which is more than we had expected to be doing, but we’re continually assured by Sydney Distance Ed that the first month to six weeks are the hardest and that we’ll settle into it after that. So we are confident this is going to get easier and we’ll persevere through these longer sessions.
Hands up who has tried to get cheap accommodation near the Spirit of Tasmania ferry terminal in Melbourne? Do you have any good tips? We have a no-so-good one! To be fair, all we were looking for was a camp ground fairly close to the ferry terminal that was cheap and we got that at Hobsons Bay Caravan Park in Williamstown, but it was certainly no 5-star accommodation. More a caravan park for permanent residents than a holiday park with all the personalities that go along with a park like that! But it was close to the train station which allowed us to travel into Melbourne to spend the afternoon.
We were up before the sun on Sunday to get to the ferry terminal for check-in. We had a perfect sailing, thank goodness for that… my tummy is not the sea-faring animal that Ben’s is! The Spirit of Tasmania has loads of entertainment on board for the children (movie theatre, playground, face painters, wildlife guy and other children!) so the nine hours passed without too much problem. The return to the car was not without problems though… POINT TO REMEMBER: Unplug the Andersen plug to the trailer if the car motor is not running for extended periods. We arrived back to an extremely flat car battery – but fully charged trailer batteries! After a little panic we realised that this is obviously a common occurrence and the stevedores rolled up with their battery pack and jumper leads more than happy to help out and pose for a photo. Ben was less happy for photographic evidence to be taken!
We’re all really excited for our Tassie adventure to begin now.