Crossing the top of Australia

Victorian Alps, originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

The day after we left Melbourne the rain poured down and parts of Melbourne were flooded. We spent the 2 days of torrential rain with Jack’s niece in the Dandenongs.They say it is very unusual to have such heavy rain in summer. It was like a tropical storm. We slept in the house but when I checked Matilda next day she was as dry as a bone.

The sun came out on the third day and we set off for the high point of our journey, up and over the Alps. The highest mountain range in Australia. Would Matilda be up to the hard work….

We are now on the Great Alpine Way. Travelling slowly, as we always do, to take in the beautiful scenery, we stayed at 2 camp grounds before we finally reached the steep winding section that would take us almost 2,000 mts  to the top. Good old Matilda, I just dropped her into second gear and she slowly made her way to the top.

On the way up we stopped at the oddly named alpine village of Dinner Plains for a look around and a coffee and lunch. Most of the shops and cafes were shut, this is the off-season. But an army of tradesmen were busy building more chalets. It was a very 5 star looking place. We found one café open and had a delicious home cooked Quiche and coffee before getting on the road again.

At the top was another alpine village of Mt Hotham but this was all closed and again the tradesmen were painting and repairing and getting ready for the ski season but oh what a breathtaking view it was from the top. We stopped and took photo after photo, every bend we went round the view just became more incredible. The aerial perspective would be an artists dream to capture. Photos and words cannot describe it, it is a scene that you must witness first hand to appreciate the stunning vista that spreads out before you. This is all the more remarkable as in 2003 this whole area was devastated by a furious bushfire that razed all before it. At first it appears that the mountains have a scattering of snow on them but as you look closer you can see it is the naked branches of the snow gums that have been stripped bare by the fire. Very slowly the new growth is appearing but it will be years before it is back to its former cover.

Now was the daunting prospect of going back down…

It was a long slow trip to the bottom. The road was winding and in places quite steep. It was low gear and steady does it. I had to stop a few times to give the brakes and engine time to cool down. It was a bit scary, but I could only imagine how it would be in the winter covered in ice and snow, you would have to be a dedicated ski bunny to come up here in the winter…

The first camp ground we arrived at was Harrietteville, a charming little village with a deciduous tree-lined main street, how stunning it would look in autumn. Right next to the camp ground was the pub. You guessed it we went in for dinner and they served local grown trout.With a glass of wine it was a great way to end a very memorable day.

Categories: australian travel, National Parks, Victoria | Tags: | Leave a comment

Couch surfing again…

Inverleigh , originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

After the trip along the Great Ocean Road we had been in touch with couch surfers in Geelong. January is a difficult time both to get into camp grounds and CS people often have full house or are away on their own holiday. So we had to contact a couple of different people but we were very lucky that Keith and Christine said we could stay with them. We are 20ks west of Geelong they said, but we like to stay in the smaller country towns so we were delighted to have the invite.

What an interesting place. Keith and Christine had an acre of garden. It was a rustic blend of fruit trees, vegies, herbs, roses, sunflowers and many other flowers. Of course there was a chook pen with very healthy looking hens and a rabbit run next to where we were parked. Just outside we had a strawberry picking patch and could help our selves to strawberries to have with breakfast..

Keith and Christine also had a 6 acre block just down the road and this was to be a nursery business but first a lot of work is needed to build a house and sheds and establish a garden on the property.

All the couch surfing people we have stayed with so far have been gardening people and we get our garden fix and dirt under our nails as we stay with these welcoming people.I think there is some character connection with gardeners and generous people.

We stayed 3 days here and had the unique experience of joining in with the community breakfast to celebrate Australia day.

Categories: accomadation, couch surfing, Victoria | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Inverleigh Australia day 2011. Couch surfing again…

We were staying at Inverleigh, a small town 20km west of Geelong, with a population of approx 1500, on January 26th, Australia Day. Christine and Keith, our couch surfing hosts, were among the organizers of the community breakfast to celebrate Australia day. So we were invited to go along.

This is one of the very best parts of couch surfing, you get to join in with the family and community you become part of for a few days. This is a way of really getting to know an area. Seeing the tourist areas and Australian icons is an important and interesting part of travel but meeting and talking to people is what brings Australia alive.

I went along early with Christine to help set up the hall, chop fruit etc. It is a very friendly community and we were made to feel very welcome. Approx 300 people turned up. Last year was the first time they had run this event and this year more turned up so they had to rush off at one point to get more bacon. The children enjoyed face painting and the jumping castle. When every one had finished breakfast they rounded up all the cubs and girl guides and they sang “Advance Australia Fair” and every one joined in.

It was another of those special moments that happen when you are travelling and I felt quite emotional standing there sharing it with this lovely community.

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Categories: couch surfing, slide show, travel, Victoria | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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