A Travellerspoint blog

Port Melbourne – Deloraine

Day 242

sunny 25 °C
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Got an early start. Midget enjoyed an hour’s walk around Albert Park and the beautiful houses of the area. She was thoroughly tired when she got back to the van. We then headed on down to the huge que forming several blocks away from the ferry. 8:45am we left the car deck, happy that Midget didn’t have to go in a cage and that she could stay in the van. We took her down for a walk to see what fate she’d suffer if she didn’t behave and she wasn’t interested in any of the inmates except the cat. She happily jumped back into the van and went straight to sleep on her bed.

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9:20am we pulled out from the jetty; hoping we’d get into Devonport before the wind picked up. During the journey the captain announced they had a new weather forecast for gale-force winds. Luckily we got in before they hit and had a great trip. They had 3 free movies to watch on the boat and also a short doco on the sad demise of the Tassie Devil. One part I was really concerned about was the fact that the logging industry may be responsible! Apparently the toxic waste they poison the land with after they’ve cleared it, infects the animals that feed on the insects, and smaller animals. As they move up the food chain, the Tassie Devils being at the top of it, are getting mouth cancers possibly through this horrid act!

The other interesting part we discovered is that they make noises much like Midget. They eat everything they find – bones and all (much like Midget), and their poos are white as they consume so many bones (I think Midgets are many and varied colours due to her bazaar eating habits. Actually I found a plastic wrapper in a poo the other day. She has discovered she can eat the wrapper and all! So Midgets new name is Devil. She’s just larger than the Tassie variety.

Arrived at 8pm and discovered that the Wooden Boat Show is on this weekend in Hobart. We hit the road immediately! Made it to the delightful town of Deloraine for the night. The brand new Woolies car park provided us with the food that we had to eat on the boat because we couldn’t bring it with us, and a comfortable quiet parking bay for the night.

Posted by cssc 15:01 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Williamstown – Port Melbourne

Day 241

sunny 39 °C
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Slept in a very windy spot on the waterfront overlooking Brighton-Sorrento. The TV is raving on at this Saturday being the day that may break the February heat record for Melbourne with 43 predicted – depending on when the wind arrives. Luckily our boat leaves 9am so we should be out of here in at least air-conditioned comfort if nothing else…

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Took a walk back into the main street of Williamstown. Wandered around the shops and enjoyed a lovely crapes at our fave Breizoz – the lovely French crapery. We wandered back to the van and headed off to Port Melbourne. Found Sharon & Wayne in a great spot right on the waterfront.

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We all then decided we needed to do some warm up exercise before climbing the Tasmanian mountains. We walked from Port Melbourne to St Kilda, around the brand new baths on the waterfront and then down a few streets and then back through the houses of Albert Park, South Melbourne and Port Melbourne back to our vans. It was hot stuff in the hot afternoon sun. It was quite muggy when the wind wasn’t blowing, but the wind was the only thing stopping it from being 43o.

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the super hot weather has shocked the trees and they've dropped thousands of them around town - a usual autumn sight

We then had showers and then headed off to dinner over the road. We pulled out the maps and started to make a sort of a plan of where we were going to go in Tassie. Wayne & Sharon only have 10 days on the island, so unless then can feign a breakdown, they will pretty much dictated what we see. We haven’t booked a return trip as yet, so will have plenty of time to view things later. Cradle Mountain was the must of the trip, as far as walks go, but its weather driven. You need 2 clear days without rain before you can go – otherwise its really muddy.

Must get some sleep as the ferry boards in the morning at 7:30am…

Posted by cssc 14:26 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Werribee – Williamstown

Day 240

sunny 35 °C
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The bed was a huge kingsize one. The mattress was topped with a huge feather doona. When we woke the next morning, our bodies had sunk into the soft feathers that had formed a well around us during the night. It was difficult to get out of bed in more ways than one!

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Main Entrance to Sofitel Mansion & Spa

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The beautiful indoor pool

Steve took Midget out for a drive and stroll around a park for half and hour. I took in some much needed exercise in the indoor swimming pool before taking a lovely bath.

At breakfast they also had some interesting food and it was beautifully presented. Steve had smoked kippers and I had lovely fruit salad with king island yoghurt with cinnamon in it. We also got free entrance to Werribee Mansion and gardens while staying at the hotel so we decided to take a walk around.

Werribee Mansion was built by a couple of Scottish brothers in 1877. It’s the largest mansion we’ve ever seen in Australia. They must have done really well out of their 900,000 acres they originally had in the area. Apparently they only come out in the 1850s and managed to make their fortunes quite early in the piece. In 1927 it was sold to the Catholic Church who decided to turn it into a seminary. They built the large section to the right of the photo that’s more grey than the sandstone colour of the original mansion. This is the section that has been transformed into the Sofitel hotel.

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the Werribee Mansion (sandstone section) and to the right the later addition of the church wing - now the Sofitel section with new 1990s additions behind that

The grounds have been whittled away over the years. The church advertisement showed some 900 odd acres for sale at the time that either the church bought it, or sold it. National Parks now run the site. Most of the grounds are a top quality equestrian facility and there are 1080 baits everywhere so hence no dogs allowed.

The grounds of the Mansion are still really large and we still managed to get lost trying to find the grotto. We were glad we did find it as it was exquisitely decorated by the family. They had collected shells and knuckle bones from the sheep and made beautiful patterns on the walls and floors of the grotto. It was beautifully preserved with only a few missing.

The grotto sat on a lovely lake. It was covered in succulents and was a huge dome shape. It also had stone steps you climbed up and walked around the dome and over the top. The grotto was accessed by a wooden jetty out from the land.

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the Grotto on the lake

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the inside of the grotto

The trees on site are spectacular. 90% are European imports but are still getting watered in the water restrictions that Melbourne is inflicted with, it’s a lovely sight to see.

The Mansion was spectacular. They found the inventory of the house and most of the furniture was still there or was bought back. They even found scraps of fabric on some of the chairs and sent it off to London to have more of the original stuff made and sent back to out to recover all furnishings and curtains for the room. The did the same with some wall papers too! In 1891 one of the brothers returned to England and purchased masters artworks at an auction and bought them back to the house. 75% of these are still in the house.

The rear of the gardens finds a really interesting art sculpture park, the original polo field – still in use today, and the original farm house that was built prior to the mansion being built.

The weather was hotting up, so we decided we should head back to Geelong and see what’s going on there since we last passed through. They had done a great deal of renovations to their waterfront and had started converting their old factories into apartments and building some new ones too.

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the new Geelong foreshore

We then decided we should head back to our old favourite Williamstown to spend the night. We wandered around the shops and were really surprised to find so many dead gardens. Geelong had Level 4 Water Restrictions. Williamstown has only Level 3a Water Restrictions. I haven’t been able to find out about Level 4 – but its more severe than 3a. With 3a in Melbourne you aren’t allowed to water lawns. Gardens can be watered by dripper system or hand held hose from 6am to 8am each morning or midnight to 2am. No car washing etc. A lady in the supermarket was complaining to her customer that her neighbour was washing his car and hosing his driveway on a regular basis. I can’t believe people will do that when everyone knows how precious it is.

Sorry for the delay in posting the blog to our avid readers. The weather has been reeking havoc with sleep and just being able to sit somewhere cool and type has been difficult. Its amazing how time consuming writing the blog is; on top of getting the photos off the camera, resizing them for the blog and saving them to another file, uploading them to the blog site then inserting them into the text. Its really easy to loose hours on a few pages, but its really great to hear so many people are enjoying reading them. I know we’re going to have a great record of our trip too! Thanks for your comments!

Posted by cssc 14:11 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Wagga Wagga – Werribee

Day 239

sunny 39 °C
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After a better night’s sleep, we got the van in and the work was done by 12:30pm. With about 325kms to Melbourne and our usual powerful engine back, we hit the road. Decided to splurge with our Accor Advantage Card and booked in at the Sofitel Mansion Spa in Werribee. We arrived at 7:30pm to find no dogs even allowed on the grounds, so we were really lucky Midget didn’t make a noise – well at least we didn’t hear her.

After lovely long showers and clean clothes (luxury) we made it downstairs for dinner at Joseph’s. They do a 2 course or a 3 course meal. The choices were exquisite. When the waiter bought out each course he pointed to each item on the plate and mentioned what it was as there was a long and varied list of interesting items we’d never seen or eaten in some cases. We finished with the cheese fondue for 2 for desert. It came out with a dish of truffle honey (as thick as treacle) and tiny 5cm long French sticks and at the other end was a huge wheel of bree that had been softened. We sliced open the lid of the cheese and dipped the bread into the honey then into the cheese. Wow what a gastronomic delight! After a bottle of Jantz Rose bubbles, we were ready for bed.

Posted by cssc 14:09 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Wagga Wagga – Day 2

Day 238

sunny 40 °C
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Arrived at Ford at 8am sharp. Then we walked the 1.8kms back into town to enjoy walking up the main street. By 10am it was hot and quite unbearable to be out in the sun. We stayed on the shady side of the street and found a café and had breaky and read the paper from cover to cover. We then continued down their lovely tree lined manicured main street. There were clipped shiny green hedges lining their main street along with large deciduous trees. There was a park bench usually in the shade every 50m or so and it was really pleasant. Their main street ran about 4-5 blocks – quite long in fact. They had many shops, and had cleverly hidden the larger and more usually ugly ones behind a small shopping mall front or something quite unobtrusive. They had a Harris Scarfe as well as a Myer store. I was surprised to see a Myer in town of this size, but there you go.

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Reading the local paper we discovered that Wagga was very high on the list of contented towns. We were actually listing to a radio program about this a few days ago and according to the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index, they found that the magic number is supposedly less than 40,000 people. Once you reach that sort of number, you’re large enough to have the services people require and small enough for people to feel part of the community. In the newspaper article they mentioned they measured many factors in the personal assessment, including; standard of living, health, achievements in life, personal relationships, how safe you feel, community connectedness, future security and spiritual/religions health. Apparently they interviewed 28,000 people around Australia and based on their answers came up with the magical number of 40,000… www.australianunity.com.au/wellbeingindex for more info.

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Also learned some interesting (useless) information. NSW does not supply poo bags for the dogs that we have taken for granted as supplied in WA and QLD. Amazing. I don't know what people do, we've been told to buy our own! Luckily we still have some of the three thousand odd that dad pinched for us on his trips to WA and while we were in QLD.

We walked around till 3pm when they called to say our exhaust manifold was split and the seal to go with it. A part needed to be ordered from Melbourne and should be here till tomorrow.

We took no time at all to get to a caravan park and got a powered site for the night. What relief to be cold and need to put a blanket on to sleep!!!

Posted by cssc 14:03 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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