From Sapphire Coast to Dairy Farms

Trip Start May 01, 2010
Trip End Oct 03, 2010

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Wednesday, September 1, 2010

EDEN - last stop in New South Wales

After a couple of nights at lovely Batemans Bay, we drove on down Beach Road along the scenic route joining the Princes Highway once more at Moruya. The road took us close to or above spectacular beaches from where we could admire, the surf, blue seas, and white beaches, each with a little town, quiet now but no doubt very busy in summer. The back drop behind the towns are verdant hills and rich rainforests from where sparkling rivers and crystal clear streams flow constantly down towards the beautiful Sapphire Coast. We steadily climbed up into the green hinterland as the road veered away from the coastal area.

Along the Princes Highway once more, we travelled through dairy country and were surprised to see around a corner, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, a spectacular church with a great tower. We pulled over into the car park and found this magnificent church built in 1880 was at the entrance to an attractive rural town called Bodalla.

We walked up the church driveway and found the door open for visitors to enter and enjoy the inside of this marvellous building. On the plaque outside the church we read ‘To the Glory of God and in memory of Thomas Sutcliffe Mort’. In a leaflet in the church we read the interesting story of Mr Mort and why the townsfolk built the church in his memory. “Born in England at Bolton, Lancs, in 1816, ….a citizen of keen foresight and unselfish service, the soul of honour, a faithful and generous churchman, a neighbour of unfailing kindness to rich and poor alike, his simplicity of nature and largeness of heart gained for him the friendship and love of men of all classes. He died 9th May 1878 of illness contracted in ministering to the needs of one of his churchmen, and was laid to rest in the cemetery of the Bodalla Estate he so dearly loved.” The granite for the church was quarried on the Estate and all the woodwork is oak. The stained glass windows, the Chancel tiles, the unusual rerodos of marble mosaic, as well as the pipe organ, were brought from England. On the Chancel arch are Thomas Mort’s last words, ‘Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty.’ The beautiful hand embroidered furnishings were made by the daughters of Thomas Mort.

After admiring the church, we walked down the quaint main street of Bodalla graced also with other century-old buildings besides the All Saints Church, designed by Edmund Blacket who was the architect of the St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney. Bodalla celebrates it’s 150th birthday this year with a number of events with the highlight festival being next weekend with the Spring Dairy Festival as it is at the heart of beautiful dairy country. Mr Mort introduced cheese making here during the 1860s by bringing cheese makers from England to work in the cheese factories he built on his estate and selling the butter and cheeses in Sydney. By 1874, his estate covered 38,000 acres and Thomas set up selected tenant farmers to take care of his imported fine cattle. The dairy industry quickly became an important part of the village’s economy and Bodalla continues its tradition as being renowned for its cheeses and dairy products. This heritage is celebrated by all things to do with cows in the lovely coffee shop next to the church. At Bodalla’s original old bakery we found the most delicious cinnamon and apple bun we have ever eaten. Feeling well refreshed we set off through the Bodalla State Forest from where the Tuross River winds its way back through lush pastures to the picturesque village of Bodalla.

The scenery is so picturesque to drive through but no amount of photos would do it justice. The next couple of towns we drove through were Central Tilba and then down the road Tilba Tilba! From there, after a few kilometres of the Gulaga National Park Rainforest, we approached the Bega Valley. At the Look-Out, a short distance off the road, we could appreciate this vast rich fertile valley where the happy cows spend their days eating the lush grass around them. On the way to the Bega Cheese Co-operative, we passed the ‘Bega Cheese Training Centre’ - if elephants can be trained, why not cheese! At the Bega Cheese Heritage Centre, we took time to walk around the interesting displays of dairy farm implements used in the early days of the Co-operative. The Bega Pioneers Museum houses a history of the district’s pioneering days since 1850 when the cooperative began. The Bega Cheese Factory is now one of the most modern cheese making plants employing 60 people and 25,000 cows who produce 165 million litres of milk per year.

A short while later, we drove again alongside impressive coastlands before arriving at the Eden Caravan park where we had booked to stay two nights. Here again we were easily able to park the caravan as all the sites around us were empty. Another lovely peaceful park with tall gums from where the Magpies came as we enjoyed our lunch in the sunshine. Thankfully our honey sandwiches were nearly finished before the cheeky bird swooped and took the last little bit out of our hands.
The only other locals we met were the illiterate ducks who swam in the swimming pool which has a sign clearly saying it is closed, and the vain Mynar Bird preening himself in our car side mirror.

During the night it rained, but we were pleased that though it was cloudy the next day, the rain stayed away and we had a pleasant morning walking around the little Town of Eden and the Rotary Park near the wharf.

‘Eden’s history is bound with the traditions of the sea and New South Wales whaling industry. …The Eden Killer Whale museum houses the remains of legendary ‘old Tom’, a killer whale that reputedly guided whales to their prey…..Renowned for its deep water harbour, Eden is now a whale watching and fishing centre.’ We joined the other whale watchers on the platform, but the whales supposedly there, were reluctant to show themselves let along put on a show for us.

In the evening we found we were sharing the park area with two more caravans, both from Western Australia. It seems it is only mad dogs and Sandgropers who travel around these parts in a caravan at this time of the year! In the morning when we woke, the temperature outside was 1C and 3C inside the caravan - not easy to crawl out of our warm bed from under duvets, sleeping bags and quilts. Before we drove off in the morning, we chatted to our Perth neighbours who were hugging steaming cups of coffee to keep warm. The one couple lives in Chidlow and the other in Maddington and they worked together for many years at Midland Brick. Besides having our home towns in common, Kathy went to the Salisbury Convent and left Zimbabwe about ten years after us. By 8.30am, we had said good bye to our neighbours of one night and headed south towards Victoria. As the sun shone, the temperature quickly rose from the 4C when we left Eden. Lesley had told us that she had seen on the internet that we could not take fruit over the border into Victoria from New South Wales. We had already used our capsicum and tomatoes in the curry the night before and had eaten the box of kiwi fruit, apples, bananas and most of the mandarins. All that was left to finish off before we reached Victoria was one naartjie (mandarin) and half a cucumber. Our stop tonight will be at Lakes Entrance, in Victoria, before we head for Melbourne tomorrow morning.

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