Central Victoria

The ducks quack happily and waddle around in troupes looking for people who will feed them. The town lake is beside the caravan park and is home to ducks, swans, and turtles. The lake level rose as the rain continued to fall. Fortunately, not as much as was currently falling in Queensland and New South Wales where flood emergencies forced people out of their houses.

Maryborough is a pretty town with beautiful heritage buildings and located in the Victorian Goldfield’s region. The railway station is a huge, beautiful heritage building with a daily train service operating. I have written about Maryborough before as we stayed here at the beginning of our travels in January 2020.

Central Victoria

Mick set off fossicking again taking his detector out into the state forest areas. While I stay in the caravan happy to be out of the rain. I read Possession by A.S. Byatt! I download the new Libby app then borrow emagazines on my iPad from the Melbourne Library Service. I listen to music on Spotify and the Rich Roll podcast on Apple Pods.

We are happy to watch some AFL football on TV as the 2021 season begins. We plan to be back on the Mornington Peninsula in time to watch our youngest son’s first game of the season.

It seems that all of the caravan parks in Victoria are full of Victorians at the moment, finally allowed to go travelling, but not wanting to go interstate just in case there is another lockdown. Big groups of noisy caravanners fill the parks. It is not pleasant after our year of free-spirited travel around Australia.

We leave planning to go to a free off-grid campsite somewhere and we find a lovely green grassy space at Glenpatrick just at the foothills of the Pyrenes Ranges. There are large firepits and firewood here, so this must be a popular place on weekends. There are no showers, TV, power, water, and the Internet is spasmodic. But it is quiet and we are the only campers here. We share the campground with a large mob of kangaroos. It is nice to enjoy a campfire under the stars and moon for a change. We haven’t had many fires on this trip. The local policeman visits and chats about how the nearby town of Elmhurst is dying.

Central Victoria

The next day we drive further west to St Arnaud. The little caravan park is full of a group of people from a caravan club, but we are lucky to get the last site. We walk around the town, discovering yet another dying regional town. It is sad to see. I think these towns were dying before the virus and now they are just about dead.

At Melville Caves we walk to the lookout and gaze out westwards towards the Grampians and the hills and plains. The caves are really just large boulders that are stacked to form some human-size gaps beneath. It is a nice place and there is a free camp on top of the hill that we take note of for another time.

The drive back to St Arnaud takes us through Tarnagulla. Our family spent one extremely hot Christmas Day in a shop here and so we have fond memories of this place. This town has been a ghost town for many years and the shops are either empty or used as residences. It is a pretty main street, and the shop buildings are quaint. Here too gold was the reason the town grew, and then died.

The main arterial roads in Victoria fan out from Melbourne, so when you travel across the state the roads are minor backroads. We drive from St Arnaud further westwards to Horsham, back to our relative’s farm. It is a year since we had to retreat to this place for the first lockdown., but we were here just eight weeks ago during the Christmas break. We will park our caravan and drive back ‘home’ for Easter.

Acheron VIC

This landscape heals my soul. The towering gums, bird calls, fast clear rivers, grazing cattle, ducks, blue mountains, and round yellow hills.

Acheron landscape VIC

The walk to Ned’s Peak takes about an hour but is steep. The view is worth it, the valleys stretching out below, rugged Cathedral Peak, with more dark ranges beyond. I see a lyrebird. Mick sees a Red- Breasted Finch of some variety. We hear Currawongs, Kookaburras, Lorikeets, and Cockatoos. The white trunks of river gums stand tall and healthy along the Acheron River.

Mick at Ned’s Peak Cathedral Ranges VIC

At Eildon Weir we drive across the wall, then stop to look down at both sides. While Mick scopes the pondage for fishing spots, I reminisce about my youth spent water-skiing on the flat green expanse of the weir. No luck with catching fish at the pondage or at various spots along the Goulburn River. Mick eventually catches a nice size Rainbow Trout. He sees two platypus swimming in the river, and we both see a large water rat swimming under the bridge. It is the same size as the brown ducks that it chases away.

Goulburn River Acheron VIC

It is Autumn so the days are sunny and warm and the nights are cold. We are snug in our caravan staying at the Breakaway Twin Rivers Caravan Park just metres from the clear and fast flowing Goulburn River. The brown ducks love it here. We walk to where the Goulburn River meets the Acheron River taking in the quiet and looking for platypus and fish.

We drive around the area visiting Alexandra, Thornton, Eildon, Rubicon, and Taggerty. We dream of owning a farm in this area.

Eildon Weir Pondage Eildon VIC

The weekend is busy at the caravan park with big groups of loud Melburnians crowding the space. Unfortunately, they stay an extra day despite it not being a public holiday; do children and teenagers ever go to school nowadays? Our last day is quiet with only six caravans left.

Goulburn River Acheron VIC

This is a beautifully situated caravan park, and very well managed, but the majority of the park is taken over with the ‘permanent’ and scrappy huts that seem to fill most of the caravan parks in Victoria. I realise the economics of the business, but caravanners are not being served adequately in my view. The permanents detract from the ambience and turn away other business. I have seen so many negative comments on Wikicamps about this. It is no wonder that caravanners are seeking the off-grid free camps as a better alternative.

Neighbouring permanent caravan/hut at Welshman’s Reef VIC

We drive the backroads west to Welshman’s Reef which is situated on the banks of the Cairn Curran Reservoir. This caravan park is in total contrast to Breakaway. It is dry. The water level is low and dead trees stand exposed in the lake. Water skiers come here regularly, and the caravan park is managed (very poorly) on a not-for-profit basis by a water-skiing organisation. Again, the permanent shacks fill the park. It is midweek and off-season, so no one is here except for two or three other caravanners. We prop in between two of the permanent shacks. Mick fishes but finds too many snags. Mobs of kangaroos sneak down to the water’s edge in the afternoons but are quick to bound away if they see a person.

Cairn Curran Reservoir Welshman’s Reef VIC

We drive around the region visiting Maldon, Castlemaine, Newstead, Sutton Grange, and Emu Creek. Lunch at Castlemaine is disappointing. The town feels dirty and in great need of cleaning and maintenance.

Shop in Maldon VIC

Our next stop is at Maryborough and we book a week. https://micksuesaussieadventure.home.blog/2020/01/18/the-golden-triangle/ This is one of the first towns of our big trip of Australia. We were here in January of 2020 before the virus invaded and made us change our route. It feels like a full circle heading back to this location in Victoria.

Trip route crisscrossing Victoria 2020 – 2021

Chiltern VIC

The cowboy comes charging out of the gate holding on to the unhappy bull, and my first sight of this sends my adrenalin pumping. What power and brute energy! The cowboys are worse off for this ride. They line up and try their luck to stay on, but no one scores a point at this event in Chiltern.

Cowboys riding bulls at Chiltern Rodeo VIC

Next the cowboys try to ride an untamed horse. They buck and jump, twisting this way and that, trying to shake off the cowboy. It’s no wonder a local medical clinic is one of the sponsors. Some are slow to stand up or they crawl out of the arena.

Cowboys riding horses at Chiltern Rodeo VIC

The women show off some very good skills on quarter horses, lassoing calves, and running a short obstacle course. They look awesome at speed, as their hats fly off.

Another cowboy bites the dust at Chiltern Rodeo VIC

I have never seen so many cowboy hats in one place at one time. This is a whole lifestyle that people choose to live every day. The rodeo event had been on the previous day in another town nearby. We’ve seen enough and leave early not wanting to get caught up in the crush of cars trying to leave the rough paddock at the racecourse.

Spectators at the Chiltern Rodeo VIC

Despite the fact that I went along to learn how to use my DSLR camera prior to taking this trip, I found that my skills and knowledge fall short when trying to capture great images at an event like this rodeo. Complicating factors are the fast action, heads and bodies of spectators getting in the way, the fading light at dusk, other obstacles such as large amplifier speaker boxes, and the necessary fence. My automatic focus kept catching the things closer than my subject. Everything happened so fast and I was just one of a few thousand spectators keen to see the action. My iPhone managed to capture a few good videos that I posted online. So, I was juggling cameras in search of that elusive shot, that I didn’t get this time.

Holding the gate at Chiltern Rodeo VIC

Back at the caravan park we are camped next to a lovely town lake where ducks live. It looks calm, but we can hear the constant drone of traffic from the Hume Freeway nearby, and the train line is in between and trains thunder past regularly. It is the long weekend, and we have an unpowered site as the caravan park is full. Many Melburnians are escaping the city after a year of lockdown.

Around the lake at Chiltern VIC

The Tuan Track is nearby and winds through the forest. This bushland is quite boring and dry. The walk is exercise for us and we enjoy the solitude. Like wobble-headed dashboard dogs we look up and down, watching for koalas in the trees and snakes on the ground, but see none of either.

Is this the last telephone box found in Chiltern VIC

Chiltern town is pretty with heritage buildings lining a quaint main street. We enjoy an excellent chicken parmigiana at the Telegraph Hotel. The local market is in the park on Sunday, but it is small and uninteresting.

Chiltern VIC

On Monday, the caravan park empties. We move on to our next spot the following day.

Snapshots of Victoria

Myrtleford and Surrounds VIC

Was it wishful thinking by William Baker when he named this area Eldorado back in 1840? Gold was found here ten or so years later. We visit the disappearing town that nestles nicely against a rough ridge line, seeing the mounds of discarded rocks where mining took place. There is nothing to keep us here, and the caravan park is closed indefinitely, so we drive across to Milawa to sample some wine at the Brown Brothers estate. We enjoy lunch and buy some liquid gold to take with us.

Myrtleford is a perfect central location for exploring this area and there is a lot to see and do. The pretty Ovens River flows through the town and valley, with plenty of fishing and picnic spots along the old rail trail, now a popular bike trail.

Mount Buffalo can be seen in the distance, grey rocks beckoning. We drive to Porepunkah, then another thirty kilometres winding up the mountain. It is a popular route for keen cyclists, and you need to be wary on every bend.

At the top we drive on to The Hump and The Cathedral. We have walked this trail in recent years. It is one kilometre up along a nice rocky path to the granite eyrie where you can prop to look at the 360-degree view, Mt Bogong in the alps nearby. The Cathedral is a solitary monolith that is popular with abseilers. Once on the top they stand unsupported with nothing to hold on to.

Mount Buffalo VIC

Mount Buffalo Chalet has passed its Hey Day, what was once a beautiful luxurious accommodation place, now houses ghosts. Peeking through the windows reveals beautiful original furnishings, as if you could just go on in and sign in to stay awhile. It is heritage listed and now a museum relic unfortunately.

Mount Buffalo Chalet

The carpark is full of daytrippers, teens learning how to abseil, lots of leather-clad motorcyclists, a few lycra-clad cyclists, and emergency service crews practicing rescue drills off the edge of a cliff.

At Bright we stop for coffee. It is a popular and busy place at the base of the ski mountains. Autumn is its busiest season as the leaves on the trees turn to red and yellow and people flock from Melbourne to see this. We drive over the mountain to Mt Beauty and walk out to the Gorge. It is an easy and pretty walk with a clear stream running over rocks that are easy to traverse. At the gorge there is a swimming hole, and someone has cleverly stacked river stones into a tower.

Mount Beauty Gorge

Mount Beauty is a sleepy town that snuggles at the feet of the alps, but unlike Bright it was not busy or bustling with tourists. We try to have a counter lunch at a pub, but the pub isn’t serving meals. This region has too many European Wasps and an infestation of blackberry bushes. Where are the environmentalists?

Yackandandah VIC

We drive back via Yackandandah. There is family history for Mick here too but we are tired of the fruitless search, and instead enjoy afternoon tea in a charming shop full of olde worlde charm.

Samplings the beverages of the region

Back in Myrtleford we walk around the town. The Big Tree was a very big tree once. We walk along the trails of Reform Hill where gold mining ran its course back in the 1850’s. Mick tries his luck fishing in the Ovens River, seeing some big fish but not catching any.

Myrtleford and surrounds VIC

Old Stories at Tallangatta VIC

Do we ever know the real story? Our story, history, current stories in the news, are always subject to interpretation.

While we try to find answers to the mysteries of our own family history in Tallangatta, in the news the Australian Attorney General is accused of a story of rape from 33 years ago, when he was just 17. The girl/woman now deceased. What hope do we have to know the truth?

While the Crepe Myrtles distract us with their gaudy magenta blossoms in new Tallangatta, we discover that in Old Tallangatta the secrets washed away with the manmade Hume Weir during the 1950’s.

There is history here, but who knows what lies beneath? The foundations of Old Tallangatta lie exposed with only 55% capacity of the lake, while in the new town, the caravan park perches beside the new lake, with old lean-to “permanent” huts destroying what ambience might exist otherwise.

I am uneasy here despite the calm lake, quiet surrounds, active birdlife, and pretty town. I wanted answers but find nothing.

Tallangatta Cemetery VIC

Pearl Matilda (nee Newman) Bentley told us when she was alive of her childhood years in Tallangatta helping out in a large family. Did I remember that right? We only knew her as the blue-haired, much-loved, truth-speaking, Grandmother who could cook to satisfy many children and grandchildren. The story has gaps in it. Born in 1910 she would have been a girl in Old Tallangatta. But where?

Many years ago, I found online a family history titled “From Cornwall to Eldorado” written in 2010 by Peter Prevos and Sue Brewer-Prevos. In chapter 6 they mention in passing only, Lilian Christina Higgins who married William Joseph Bentley.  William is Mick’s paternal Great Grandfather. Lilian was born in Tallangatta in 1887. But these are not Pearl’s family. Pearl married William’s son Edward Lawrence Bentley. How did they meet? Where? Edward was born in nearby Stanley in 1909.

Lilian Christina (nee Higgins) Bentley, William Joseph Bentley (to her left), and Edward Lawrence Bentley (at far right).

Many were in search of gold back then. What did they find? How did they live? We can’t hope to overlay the 21st century living conditions onto these early settlers. Beside each old timber shack there is a newly constructed dwelling.

We traipse around the cemetery at Tallangatta but don’t see any names from the family tree.

A lady in a store tells us of a walk in the state forest nearby and we drive into the untouched Aussie forest, walking uphill along a leaf-laden trail, to Conic Rocks. These granite monoliths form a convenient veranda where we eat our lunch and gaze out across the panorama towards Lake Hume and the mountains beyond. Mick startles a family of three lyrebirds in the bush. They cry out with a strange sound then fly up onto low branches before scurrying off into the scrub. The old trestle bridge near the highway once carried trains. At Koetong Pub we quench our thirst with a beer while sitting alone under the leafy trees.

Mick at Conic Rocks near Koetong VIC

We drive around the lake to Bethang and Bellbridge, inadvertently crossing into New South Wales. Here the weir was formed with a large wall that channeled the flow into a turbine to generate electricity before belching it out to flow as the Murray River once again.

The wall of Hume Weir

The next morning, I wake to the cry of a Black Cockatoo as it flies out across the lake in the morning light. I get up to see the moon set in a sky striped with blue and pink. It feels good to finally leave the Murray River behind, but I feel disappointed that I didn’t find whatever it is that I was looking for here.

Moonset at sunrise over Lake Hume Tallangatta VIC

Our next stop is Myrtleford and we will visit nearby Eldorado.

Further Along the Murray River VIC

Follow the water! What is it about humans that we are always attracted to water?

The Murray River is not that attractive really, just brown water with stranded dead trees and muddy banks. We continue our journey following the Murray River Highway that runs in a parallel fashion along the route as the river worms along the border.

Lake King Rutherglen VIC

At Lake Moodemere Estate Winery the unique Murray River water essence we tasted in the wine and the perfectly cooked Murray Cod. The cod was bathed in a butter sauce with capers and macadamia nut slivers. The Riesling was crisp, the Rosé paired nicely with the Gnoochi and chestnuts, and Mick enjoyed the bold Shiraz with the Wagyu steak. We sat in the shade of a tall conifer on the high banks beside the lake near the old homestead. When in Rutherglen a winery visit is a must.

Lunch at Lake Moodemere Estate Rutherglen VIC

Being released from lockdown we head East and stay at Cobram. The caravan park on the highway was small, busy, and noisy. It was full of tourists and the trucks decelerate as they reach the town limits. The small pool enough for a dip on the hot days. We explore the quaint town and Thompson’s Beach near the bridge. This must be a popular place on hot evenings for locals as there is a café / wine bar with lots of shade and grass with a large sandy beach providing easy access into the river.

Thompson’s Beach Murray River Cobram VIC

Our next stop is at Rutherglen and we stay at the caravan park beside the small lake which teems with birdlife and turtles. A family of four Tawny Frogmouth live in the tree beside our caravan. The heritage public swimming pool is next door, and we enjoy a lovely swim there. It reminds me so much of the old Belgrave Pool where I spent my youth. There is a diving board and “diving is permitted”, so I dive in joyously, reliving days gone by. Mick plays golf at the local course which is a bit rough and not ideal for putting. Rutherglen town is beautiful with old heritage buildings showcasing the early settlement years.

Tawny Frogmouth birds Rutherglen VIC

We drive through Wodonga not wanting to negotiate the larger towns while towing a caravan. We find Ludlow’s Reserve on the banks of Lake Hume (Hume Wier). It is a free off-grid RV park with lots of space to camp near the boat ramps. The spot we claim has thick green grass and nice shade with a panoramic view of the lake and the hills beyond. Mick fishes and catches nothing but sees more small turtles.

Ludlow’s Reserve Lake Hume VIC

I take more photos at sunsets and sunrises enchanted with the changing colours of the sky reflected in the waters.

Ludlow’s Reserve Lake Hume VIC

Next stop is Tallangatta.

Travelling around Victoria

Murray River VIC

“How’s the serenity?”

It is quiet; too quiet! At night you can hear your heart beating. During the daylight, the birds talk all day. Meanwhile the brown water sweeps silently westward.

The Murray River is Australia’s longest river at 2,520 kilometres, and the third longest navigable river in the world, after the Amazon and the Nile. It is unique in that there are no major cities situated along the route. Although Albury Wodonga is a growing city.

We wake at midnight startled, sitting straining to hear anything unusual; like cats with fur standing on end, our senses are heightened. Nothing, but we are spooked. There is no one else about and it’s too quiet. Eventually we settle back to sleep until daylight.

We are camped alone at Masters Landing on the Murray River. It looks well used and has fire pits, some firewood, and drop toilets. There is a rope tied to a high branch so people must swing out from the high banks into the river. Water skiers must love this spot on the weekends and during the summer holidays.

Mick fishes and catches an 80 centimetre Murray Cod. He calls to me from the bank so that I can take a photo, but I don’t hear him. The cod does a lazy flip, shakes the hook free, and swims away casually. Mick intended to release the fish anyway, but we have no photo proof of the catch. At least he knows. I go for a swim, reliving days of my youth when I swam in the river at Tocumwal. Once I squelch through the thick mud I glide out into the strong current, not game to venture out too far from the edge. As a teenager I would have swam across and back without thinking twice.

There is an old hut here. It is leaning sideways but remarkably intact considering it was built in 1860 by Frederick Masters using red gum and grey box eucalypts. He married Emma Taylor and they had thirteen children. Frederick worked as a deckhand on the paddle steamers, as well as selling fish he caught. It must have been a hard life here back then. Three of the children died, Charlotte drowned in the river when she was just two. Walking through the hut is creepy as old furniture remains. Apparently, descendants of the family lived here until 2010. It really needs to be cleaned up (inside at least) by Parks Victoria.

Masters Hut Murrary River VIC

We have camped at three places along this stretch of the Murray. First at Pental Island caravan park which is tucked away on a private cattle station. The grass is a thick green carpet and luxurious to walk barefoot. The bend in the river is a perfect spot for fishing and we walk under the river gums during the hot days. There are a few other campers here but not many and birdsong fills the air.

Pental Island Murray River VIC

The next stop is near Koondrook beside the Gunbower Creek. We camp off-grid alone right next to the full creek, although we can see other caravans nearby. Mick fishes from dawn to dusk. He catches shrimp and yabbies for bait. He catches and dispatches more carp. They are an introduced species and a pest in this environment. We see a turtle. The wind is strong, and we decide that we won’t light a campfire even though there are no fire restrictions at this time.

Gunbower Creek VIC

Our next stop is at the country town of Cohuna and we stay at the free off-grid 72-hour RV park in the town. There are about four other campers here. We go for a swim at the local pool. There is a caravan park nearby beside the lake, but the reviews on Wikicamps are enough to keep us away. We head off the next day.

Murrary River VIC

Driving through the Gunbower State Forest with our caravan is a bit of a mistake. In search of the perfect riverside spot, we negotiate dirt roads with long deep ruts. In wet weather this would be a bog. We get our first pinstripes on the caravan trying not to get wedged between scraggly trees. Eventually we find Masters Landing near a boat-ramp not far from the small town of Gunbower. After our spooky night we head into town and book into the Gunbower Caravan Park. Here we wash the beige dust from the caravan and car. There is a nice swimming pool, relief for the hot days.

Murray River VIC

But then Victoria goes into a snap lockdown for the third time due to an outbreak of the virus at Melbourne Airport. The caravan park will close. We discuss our options: stay put; return to the farm at Horsham; or cross the border into New South Wales. After discussions with the caravan park owners, they allow us to stay because we are self-contained. Next Wednesday we will reassess the situation, hoping to move on.

The Wimmera VIC

Clouds skid across the sky in a kaleidoscope of colours: apricot, raspberry, smoke, and slate; white powder puffs disappear into blue. The sky is big out here above the dry flat brown ground of the Wimmera. At night, the stars and planets are easy to identify using the SkyView app.

The Wimmera VIC

We are glad to be back in our caravan, cosy in our small home on wheels once again, lucky to be camped amongst trees on private land with access to the swimming pool for those 40C degree days.

The animals remember and greet us: Sunny and Star the crazy Aplacas, Lily, Ebony and Jack, the black cats, Raj the peacock, and the two fluffy chooks Lady Gaga and Madonna. Jet, the 17-year-old black dog did not see the daylight of 2021. The pretty chooks were laying small nutritious eggs. The peacock was shedding tail feathers. The Alpacas roam and shake their ears. The cats laze in the house during the day then try to escape at night, Ebony, the master escapist succeeding regularly.

Sunny and Star

Mick helps with the painting again and runs along the rural roads. I read the popular novel Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and a clever science fiction Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson.

I complete a six-week course on Genealogy online through Future Learn and the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. It is interesting, informative, and current. It taught me how to properly document, validate, track, and reference my research. The information about DNA testing for genealogy was exactly what I want to know and has inspired me to get a test done in the near future. I feel confident I can continue my own family history research when I get home to my records.

Mick played golf a few times with his brother and another couple of blokes, while I scour the op shops of Horsham with three other gals. The Saturday market at the tiny town of Jung was fun and I bought homemade tomato relish, apple scrolls, and coffees.

The Wimmera VIC

We plan to continue our Aussie Adventure this year staying in our home state of Victoria. We briefly discussed travelling back to Western Australia as they finally opened the border after almost twelve months, only to slam it shut again after a scare of a case of the virus in Perth. Melbourne too is currently tracing an outbreak from quarantine of the highly contagious UK strain. It is a worry.

Mornington Peninsula VIC

Cars with trailers lined up along the main road causing traffic problems as their friends sat on jet-skis beached beside the small sandy boat ramp. We sat with friends beside a boat shed nearby, enjoying John’s homemade Asian prawn salad, as the sun set across Port Phillip Bay. The queue at the boat ramp was still as long when we returned home some hours later.

The Mornington Peninsula is a popular tourist destination in summer and the people of Greater Melbourne flock there. It is our home. The boat launching facilities are shameful, insufficient, poor quality, and cannot meet the demand. Mick no longer owns a boat and has not fished in the bay for over a decade.

We left the caravan parked at Horsham planning to spend the Christmas and New Year break with family on the Mornington Peninsula. Still “homeless”, we stayed with our son, daughter-in-law, and our two granddaughters. We helped them move into their new house, built by our builder son. We gave them some respite after the long period of restrictions and lockdown due to the virus, minding the girls, allowing them to spend some time to themselves.

Fun with family Mornington Peninsula VIC

It was great catching up with family and friends: a surprise 60th birthday party, Christmas lunch, a funeral, meals and coffees with friends, fine dining at Stillwater Winery, Italian food at Donna Maria in Flinders, a visit to the Rye Carnival, walks to the beach, and Mick played golf while I played with the little girls. It was festive and fun. Also, exhausting, and difficult negotiating the summer crowds and traffic.

Mick looked at real estate, shocked at the skyrocketing prices, everything far too overpriced. The few open houses we went to were like a feeding frenzy where #FOMO choked the air.

I wrote a formal six-page letter to the MPS Council describing how bad and expensive the caravan and camping facilities are there on the Peninsula foreshore in comparison to everywhere else in Australia! Of course, I have not received a reply and it has been about six weeks since I sent it to them. Not that I expect a reply. I hope they take my complaints seriously and actually do some work to improve the Rosebud Foreshore in particular. It needs a lot of work to accommodate all of the needs of residents, campers, day-trippers, and businesses.

We were relieved to leave the crazy Mornington Peninsula and return to our caravan in Horsham. In the next few days, we will resume our travel adventures.

Caravanning In Real Life #IRL

The realities of life on the road with a caravan can be ignored in Social Media (SM). What appears idyllic and glamourous has its difficult side that does not get promoted. In the interest of being authentic this list has some of the things not seen and must be faced:

– Free camps are few and far between and usually crammed full of RVs of every shape and size. The camera shots for SM carefully aim for their exclusion. What might look like a gorgeous spot in the middle of nowhere, may have fifty other RVs behind the photographer.

On the road in WA – pre pandemic 2020
  • That perfect vivid photo you see on Instagram has had a filter or two applied. Colours #IRL are usually not as “insane”. Even without the filters it can be hard to modify to a gorgeous clear still aqua sea from the ubiquitous brown dirty choppy waves.
  • Roads are bumpy – sealed and unsealed.
  • There can be hours and kilometres of boring scenery between the ‘good’ spots. In Australia this is absolutely true, and you often think to yourself that it might be a better option to fly there rather than drive.
Barkly Highway Australia 2020
  • Smells and sounds not seen in a beautiful picture can ruin the experience for those there #IRL. At 1770 the reek of dead fish sent us on our way not waiting to take those iconic sunset pics. Some locations smell bad.
  • Beware of the ‘waterfront’ site; when the storm hits waves might come crashing over your caravan.
Waterfront sites Lang Lang Victoria 2020
  • A beautiful native bird can startle you awake in the middle of the night with its blood-curdling cry. The Australian Bush Stone-Curlew is common in northern Australia.
Bush Stone-Curlew Cooktown QLD 2020
  • You might need to elbow your way through a crowd to get that closeup of a kangaroo, turtle, or crocodile in the wild. Often the numbers of people in the crowd outnumber the wildlife unfortunately.
Looking at crocs at Cahill’s Crossing East Alligator River Kakadu Northern Territory 2020
  • You will always need to find a public toilet, and a dump point for emptying the portaloo. These are usually listed on Wikicamps.
  • Not all towns cater for cars towing caravans. You might drive in and drive out without finding anywhere to stop. Thank goodness for the ‘RV Friendly’ towns.
  • Some places are too windy, too hot, too cold, or too dry.
Free off-grid RV park in NSW 2020
  • Some places are inauthentic and trying hard to be something it is NOT. Wave Rock in WA costs $15 just to stop, and above the rock, out of sight, is an ugly manmade concrete dam wall.
  • Swimming in Australia can be problematic due to sharks, crocodiles, currents, underwater rock formations, and jellyfish. Obey the signs for your own safety. Again, SM photos are deceptive.
Warning sign Esperence WA 2020
  • Internet and TV connection is spasmodic. Do not rely on either. Carry some cash.
  • Radio connection in your car is sparse and random.
  • Country music is everywhere.
  • Water pressure, toilet facilities, and showers, in caravan parks vary considerably. You need to drop your standards.
Free off-grid RV park in QLD 2020
  • You still need to do the chores. Food shopping, buying fuel and gas, finding a doctor or dentist or skin specialist, and laundry. It might be a holiday, but …
  • The car and caravan will need maintenance: tyres, service, new windscreens, fixtures refitted, wheel bearings, and regular cleaning.
  • Bare feet might look carefree, but you will need various footwear to protect your feet for different reasons: boots, sandals, thongs, runners, closed-toe shoes, etc.
  • Caravan parks are often full, crowded, cramped, and expensive. Some are difficult to drive in to and get out of.
  • You will hear and see your neighbours: talk, shout, sing, swear, cry (babies), fart (old men), cough, snore (old women), and give unwanted advice and opinions.
Free off-grid RV park in QLD 2020
  • Fares, fees, and tickets can be expensive. Many of these are not optional. The Jardine River Crossing return for a car with caravan was $130 in 2020 to cross about 100 metres of shallow, pristine, crocodile-infested salt waters.
  • School holidays are a difficult time to be on the road as all of the campsites are full. Book ahead for these times or plan to stay put for the duration.
  • Travellers vary and have different expectations and lifestyle habits: grey nomads, backpackers, families trying hard to be full-time ‘social influencers’, not-quite-retired couples, pets, homeless people, Europeans, permanent residents of caravan parks, drifters, motor-homers, expert and longtime caravanners, surfers, the regulars who come to the same spot every year, and many others.
  • Travelling in the Year of the Virus 2020 has had some advantages and disadvantages: restricted travel, less people travelling, closed attractions, less people at famous spots, safety measures such as distancing and hand sanitising, closed borders.
  • Sometimes you will become friends (and then SM friends) with your neighbours and at other locations you might not even speak with those camped next door.
Free off-grid RV park somewhere in Australia 2020
  • Missing family and friends. You will observe locals enjoying picnics with family and feel invisible and homesick.
  • Flies and mosquitoes.
  • Dust.
  • You will still need to lodge your tax return.
  • Trust your instincts, go with the flow, enjoy every moment, and be kind and friendly to everyone you meet.

Who knows what 2021 will bring? More travels? More restrictions? The vaccine rolled out?

Middle of Australia 2020