The (Roo)te from Sydney to Melbourne

Trip Start Nov 12, 2007
Trip End Aug 01, 2008

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Monday, December 24, 2007

So Tuesday 18th saw us head South out of Sydney to follow the long coastal drive down towards Melbourne for Christmas.After a longish trek out of the Sydney suburbs it was back onto long quiet roads.(Now driving some sort of Mitsubishi which was programmed to beep every time we got to 100kmh which was novel for the first 5 minutes but kind of waring when the speed limit was 110) We stopped for a pleasant lunch at Kiama which has a wave driven blow hole in the cliffs which can be quite spectacular apparently and wash people of the viewing gallery. Once again Emma thought I was taking a long time to take the photo as she stood there but as it was a sunny summer day the spray was gently cooling rather than dangerous!

Our first overnight stop was at Murramurrang National Park chosen because we were told kangaroos were guaranteed and unlike the koalas at Port Stephens  this time the marsupials did come out to play. There were plenty at the site where we were staying in local gardens and on the roads. They were great to watch boinging around from larger males to a young baby peeking out of her mother's pouch. There were also kookaburra birds which we have seen and more often heard all round Australia. They make an amazing noise like a demented monkey who has just been told a joke. It is quite spooky at night.

We headed further south with more good Pacific views before stopping overnight at Mallacoota right in the bottom south east corner of the country which we were promised was scenic and quiet. It was quite pleasant on the lakeside with plenty of bird life but loads of flies and not too much to do. There only seemed to be one restaurant open and that had a limited menu (there seemed to be 5 items on the menu and after we ordered the next table only had 3 options).

We then headed along the South Coast heading west to arrive at Lakes Entrance which was a livelier town based around a 90 mile beach and various lakes and rivers. We had a good walk round but unfortunately rain set in during the afternoon limiting our options.

Our final stop was at Walhalla. We finally left the coast to head in land to this small town in the mountains. It was the site of one of the richest gold mines in the gold rush and a thriving town in the late 1800's but became a ghost town when the gold ran out at about the time of the first world war. There are now only 20 permanent residents. The old gold mine is open for tours and we headed there on our arrival. The saturday before Christmas is obviously not peak time for this and we were the only two people on the tour! At least we got individual attention and Emma got to hold one of the tools as the guide wielded a sledge hammer explaining how people got killed or maimed. The miners' working conditions almost made me nostalgic for work (but not quite) and we felt really sorry for the horses who were lowered into the mine shaft with no way of getting them up where they saw out there days. It was a scenic area and there was even a cricket pitch carved out of the top of the mountain(when money was no object) though the cricketer's must have been out of breath when they got there as it was a steep climb and if anybody hit a six there would have been a long wait for the ball to come back. The hotel was based on the original and the lounge made you feel you were in an Agatha Christie novel. It was still raining though as we left for Melbourne where we are spending Christmas. The sun is forecast to come out on Christmas day so fingers crossed.

Best Wishes to everyone for Christmas and the New Year
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