Travels Downunder – A Reminiscence – Part 8

Our explorers have just spent some time in Tasmania, and are on their way back to the mainland

Our return boat trip from Tasmania went without a hitch. Now, this was 2005 and we were navigating using good old fashioned paper maps. So on arrival back in Melbourne I knew that basically we just needed to turn left and head west. Simples! Needless to say this went terribly wrong. It was Friday evening and we ended up, towing our caravan, right in the heart of the city. The traffic was a nightmare and at one stage we ended up outside the casino where a large number of limousines were causing traffic gridlock and were disgorging people for what was obviously a black tie event, evening gowns and tuxedos everywhere!
Eventually we managed to extricate ourselves and found our way to Geelong were we had booked a campsite for the night.
The next morning we headed off again knowing that the next few days should include some very spectacular scenery as we were about to travel the length of The Great Ocean Road. It’s regarded by many as one of the world’s great road trips. It starts in the small town of Torquay and runs for about 240km and, as its name implies, mostly hugs the coastline. It certainly lived up to its reputation and we stopped frequently to take in the spectacular scenery. Just past Apollo Bay we stopped for two nights at Cape Otway in a lovely woodland campsite. It is memorable to us as this was where we saw our first koalas in the wild, a very special moment.
Back on the road we completed The Great Ocean Road and passed from Victoria into South Australia at Mount Gambier, where there is a spectacular blue lake in a volcanic crater, and it really is a deep shade of cobalt blue. Continuing to follow the coast we passed through Kingston where we saw The Big Lobster (see previous chapter on Australia’s “Bigs”) and came to Wellington where we caught the ferry to cross Australia’s longest river, the Murray. The management of the Murray, and its tributary the Darling river system, is politically very controversial. The Murray Darling basin suffers both drought and flood, and because it covers such a vast area there is great competition for the water when it is flowing. Communities, farmers, and First Nation cultural needs, and the environment generally all compete for the water and it is always a political hot potato as to who should be allowed to take water from it.