The Final Chapter…

Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
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Trip End Nov 15, 2012


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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Friday, November 16, 2012

Whilst we still had a few weeks left on the road we wanted to join friends for our annual Derby Day outing and so we eased our way back into the city by spending a couple of nights down on the foreshore at Rye. We had driven past this area so many times and envied those taking advantage of the location and now it was our turn.

The weather was perfect when we arrived, not a breath of wind and the water was so still it was translucent. We drank in the brilliant views from our site which included the jetty around to Mt Martha whilst planning the following day of kayaking and snorkeling. 

Unfortunately these plans were soon put paid to when we awoke to a windy, drizzly and overcast day. So rather than paddling we spent the day pounding the pavement stocking up for Derby Day.  We were so disappointed, you would think by now we would have learned to 'make hay while the sun shines' and put them in yesterday afternoon!

The wind had still not abated the following morning, it was in fact, blowing a gale as we hitched up and headed over to Williamstown.  Here, once again dear Pat and Jeff were kind enough to let us stay behind the pub.  We were so delighted to see everyone again and spent the evening catching up on local news; it was like we’d never been away!

Derby Day is a ritual, and Rod was eager to go out to Flemington early to help Gary and Charlie set up.  We nominate for three sites in the ‘Rails’ section each year and apart from one year in the Nursery we have never been disappointed.  We love that we can self cater and it is never over congested, with totes, bookies, a big screen and the track right before our eyes we can settle in and enjoy the day. Whilst the boys were out early setting up everyone else met at the pub and boarded the bus at ten.  Thirty or so people all done up in their finest attire, excited and exhilarated by the opportunity to be part of the Spring Racing Carnival. 

This year we also had the added pleasure of having friends from Perth join us, Kym and Narelle along with Belinda and Clay.  Everyone was in fine form and made the most of the day.  As the afternoon wore on a few in the group added to our entertainment with tantrums for chocolate and a little slip over here and there… With the day drawing to an end and the bus awaiting us the marquee was pulled down at which time someone (no names!) lost his balance and fell into a container full of ice and freezing water!  There are always lots of entertaining shenanigans and funny stories told for days afterwards and this Derby Day was no exception!

Meanwhile having had a frustrating rattle under the car for some time our dear neighbor; Noel, had a look at it and said our rear universal joint was ‘stuffed’ and that we shouldn’t be driving it because when they go we would be in a world of hurt…  As luck would have it, another of our dear friends, Merle was walking past as we were discussing where we could take it to be fixed and recommended a mechanic, long story short, he was fabulous and had us back on the road Wednesday afternoon.

We bid farewell to Pat, Jeff, Dean and Paul once more, driving off without the unnerving rattle we had become so accustomed too.  With plans to meet up with Kym, Narelle, Bel and Clay on Friday night along with Rupert and Jules at their country estate we filled in a night on the waterfront at Barwon Heads.

The following morning we headed towards our country escape where Kym met us at the front gate and escorted us up the driveway, lined with liquid ambers it makes for an impressive entrance.  Surrounded by lush gardens the house came into view as we rounded a bend, we felt like we had arrived at Downton Abbey!

A majestic grand house, she oozes charm and character.  With her wide verandahs of gorgeous tiles downstairs, timber and wrought iron upstairs, she offers up sweeping views of the surrounding farmland.  A large old pepper tree sits to the right of the house behind which a stunning rose garden branches out across the lawns.  Here the most amazing old world roses thrive, oozing such rich perfumes and petals of velvet.

Greeted upon entry by a grand staircase we enjoyed a tour of the house drinking in the different lounge rooms, grand dining room, ballroom, billiard room, cellar, an array of delightful bedrooms and of course the business end of the house which housed the kitchen, china room, laundry and servants quarters. It was lovely to listen to Rupert’s childhood memories as he showed us around.

A walk down to the stables offered yet another insight into this magnificent property, now covered in ivy these stables are on a grand scale with over twenty stalls, fading print outs of horses lineage attached to the stall doors a faint indication of the breeding quality of the time.

After heading into town and enjoying a lovely lunch, back at the estate we strolled around some more before reconvening for drinks and dinner around five o’clock.  It was a lovely evening and we enjoyed everyone’s company and ensuing conversations.  We feel so incredibly privileged to have been invited to capture a glimpse of this most amazing piece of Australian history.

Awaking to a glorious morning it was such a shame to be saying goodbye. We left the estate with Rupert, Julie, Kym, Narelle, Belinda and Clay all waving us goodbye.

We stopped in charming Camperdown before taking the scenic cross country drive up to Dunkeld.  Our timing was perfect to meet a friend, Louise, for lunch at the Royal Mail Hotel before continuing on to Halls Gap.  Here we opted to set up in the park right in the centre of town as it was actually less commercial than those on the outskirts.  Dominated by the towering ranges surrounding us we were delighted to find wildlife grazing through the grounds making for a tranquil setting. 

A glorious day in yet another paradise it was so nice to step out in the morning and be greeted by such amazing views of the mountains.  With a hot and sunny day before us we headed off on a walk up to Clematis Falls and on to Chataqua Peak.

It was a delightful walk and whilst a snake was about to join the path it thought better of it and slithered back into the bushes as Rod walked past.  The falls were no more than a trickle; however the walk was well worth it for the views from the peak.  Toward the top it was a matter of scampering over rocks to reach the peak, lucky that Rod is so agile for we came upon rocks that were devoid of foot holes and simply too high for me to climb onto, with Rod making his way onto them he was able to give me a hand up. (He may prefer to say he heaved me up!)  For someone scared of heights it was a big achievement as we sat perched on a narrow ledge that simply dropped away into the valley.  The surrounding countryside and Halls Gap looked amazing from up there.

The afternoon was spent exploring Boroka Lookout before continuing on to Mackenzie Falls.  We found this to be a good walk to do after all the ups and downs of this morning.  There was ample water flowing down the falls which made for a visual delight.  The drive had been lovely as we wound our way around the mountains admiring the variety of flora as the last of the afternoon sun flickered through the vibrant green foliage.

Leaving the gorgeous Grampians behind, we enjoyed the drive out as much as we did our time there with the stunning granite ranges rising so abruptly from the paddocks below.  The drive through the quaint towns and farming properties had us forming a new found appreciation for country Victoria.

Whilst we had planned to spend our last few nights at Port Fairy (as that was our first stop) we had a change of mind and decided to finish off with a few nights at Barwon Heads where we could enjoy a site with water views.  We set off along the Great Ocean Road drinking in the stunning panoramas as massive sandstone cliffs and formations dipped into the unforgiving southern ocean.  The soft hues of terracotta and cream radiating from the sandstone were simply stunning.  This was contrasted significantly as the road drifted away from the coast taking us through lush ranges and rolling hills where sheep and cattle grazed comfortably in their scenic surrounds.

Before long we were back on the coast and winding our way through quaint seaside towns all offering stunning views along the rugged coast and out to sea.  After all the bends and curves we were pleased to arrive in Barwon Heads and relax.

Our site was fantastic with views over to Point Lonsdale and Portsea we could see the large cargo ships drift in and out of Port Phillip Bay.  We could see the bridge to the left and the bluff to the right and across the mouth of the Barwon River to Ocean Grove.

Our friends, Pat and Jeff managed to escape from work for a couple of days and joined us.  Staying in the original boathouse, they too had gorgeous views.  On their last night Gary and Louise joined us for dinner and we once again sat around entering into the usual amusing banter.  It had been lovely to spend our last few days with Pat and Jeff as they had been so supportive throughout our trip and opened up their back yard to us whilst we were in Williamstown as well.

How time flies… Our last morning had snuck up upon us and we were dragging our feet, we packed up for the last time, it had all gone way too fast and was already feeling surreal.  Had we really been traversing this amazing country for nineteen months?

It was three minutes to vacate time as we punched our code into the boom gates to exit the park, making the most of our stay.  Cruising along the freeway we mused over how nervous we had been when we set out on our adventure.

Arriving back to our quaint little street Rod reversed the van all the way along with such skill, so many kilometers now under his belt.  Before long we had the van unpacked and were settling in, amazed at the growth in our little back garden.  It was only fitting that we ventured over to the pub for a couple of welcome home drinks with the usual characters that make our time in Williamstown so enjoyable and why it will always be home.

So after five hundred and thirty four nights covering seventy one thousand, two hundred and sixteen kilometres we have folded up our maps and packed away the tent, however a fire has been ignited in us that we will never be able to extinguish, more adventures are sure to follow…

Highlights of our last chapter:

-          Camping on the Rye foreshore

-          Camping out the back of the pub!

-          Derby Day and then resultant shenanigans

-          A night at the country estate with Rupert, Julie, Kym, Narelle, Clay and Belinda

-          Catching up with Louise in Dunkeld for lunch

-          The Grampians

-          Great Ocean Road

-          Barwon Heads – catching up with Pat, Jeff, Gary and Louise

-          Arriving back in Williamstown

-          Receiving such a warm welcome home from our dear friends

We would like to offer a huge thank you to everyone for your support throughout this adventure.  Meeting so many delightful people along the way, catching up with old friends and getting calls from home, you all contributed to the fun we have enjoyed and we appreciate it more than we can express. xxx
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Comments

Jim Denton on

Another good tail. Well done guys, you might have eased us out of the lounge chair, and go and do the Lap. It was good to watch-on and catch up during the trip. Now it is our trun to lob up in williamtown. Cheers, Jim

Val S on

It has truly been an amazing time for you both and thank you for sharing it with the rest of us. I am sure it wont be long till we hear what is next in life's challenge!!!! Welcome home.

Mick Duffy on

Well it only seems like the other day you where in Mount Isa, thanks Lyndal we will be using some of the information from your blog for our adventure but it will have to wait a bit now !!! Ive taken a transfer to Geraldton WA to drive ore trains so Cynthia and I will be moving over there at the being of the year if we are ever down your way we will give you a call

Bill Houssenloge on

Its been great to read all about your trip.Hope xmas is great for both of you and maybe we`ll catch up again some where.
Regards
Bill and Alison

Flashmick from Jindavik on

Well done Team - great adventure and one few of us ever undertake.
Loved catching up during your twice rounds......now get a job and start contributing!
Mick&Ilonka xxx

Anne & Bob Forbes on

Well your trip has certainly taken you many places since we met you in W.A, our lifes have not been quite as eventfull but never the less full of activities. I am sure you will be a bit collar proud but welcome home to victoria.

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