Bruce Stainsby's Blog: Muttering from the mo

Hierarchy.

October 31st, 2021

I have been trained in typography and that can sometimes lead to a lot of frustrations.

Badly kerned type (the space between letters) is one of my pet gripes, as is over leading (the space between lines of type) and an incessant use of capital letters in headlines.

Just look at any American newspaper and you’ll get my drift regarding the last complaint.

There are many more that annoy me but these are a hinderance to legibility and therefore communication, and that pisses me off.

All this training has its downfalls.

I am so used to reading a page, according to the rule of hierarchy. And when it’s not applied properly I misread things.

Hierarchy is the order in which elements are placed on a page. It’s another technique typographers and designers use to aid comprehension.

When pages of type are designed by people who have English as a second language it becomes even more frustrating for me.

By not fully understanding the language, the designers place the elements in the wrong order and that disrupts my comprehension.

I spent five minutes looking for a particular item on a menu, until I discovered it was there right under my nose.

This isn’t their fault, it’s mine.

The problem is that it doesn’t follow my rules and I was blind to it being done another way.

It’s time to throw the rule book out and start to see things for what they are, not what I expect them to be.

Plan Z.

September 30th, 2021

August 5, 2021. Melbourne to Warrnambool. 

This trip was yet another attempt to escape the city and do a bit of travelling.

Just prior to the last lockdown, number five, we had planned, and booked to go to South Australia. It was called off at the last moment, leaving us with paid-for accommodation in Adelaide.

This was going to be an opportunity to try and redeem that expense.

Rain started on the way from Melbourne. Well we were driving, so it didn’t matter that much

Rumours of another lockdown started coming through Thea’s grapevine.

We met Jenny and Neil, Steph’s parents, in Inverleigh for a coffee. They had the same idea; to escape for a few days.

After checking into our motel, Eight Spence, we went for a walk around Warrnambool. It was still wet but we managed to dodge the heavier showers.

We found what looked like a good pub for dinner and decided to book a table. Unfortunately they were full. I then went back in again to try and book for the next night and discovered that there was to be another lockdown, number six for the state.

It was starting at 8pm that night, which meant we needed to organise an early dinner quickly.

We desperately searched for a new venue and found The Whaler, another of Warrnambool’s iconic pubs. After making a booking we hurriedly returned to our room so Thea could quickly charge her phone. 

It was then back to the pub.

I think the the last time I had dinner at 5.30pm, I was still living at home with my parents.

By now the pub was filling up and we noticed that one of the other tables was occupied by a couple we had seen at our motel. 

Word about the new lockdown had spread quickly.

After dinner, which ended at 7.45, we popped into the local supermarket to get supplies for breakfast.

The motel room was going to be our home and restaurant for the next few days.

 

August 6, 2021. Warrnambool. 

It rained overnight and there was more rain in the morning.

We had been told that the coffee was good at the Foreshore Pavilion, so after breakfast we headed there.

I met, what turned out to be the owner of the cafe, on the way to get our coffees. John showed me where to go and ordered our coffees from his barista.

I think John appreciated that we had brought our reusable ‘ThinkCups’ and he was also glad to see tourists back in town.

It was then back to the car to drink our brews, which weren’t too bad. The front seats of the Subaru was to be our new morning coffee spot for the foreseeable future.

At least we could move around in the car and the front console does have good cup holders.

Unfortunately the rain was blowing in and the view from the ‘cafe’ wasn’t much.

The walk along the breakwater looked good, but it was far too wet to attempt it today.

It would have to wait.

We wanted to get a feeling for Warrnambool, so went for a drive around town. It’s not a big place and we discovered that we were very close to the centre of any action – not that there was any now.

It was then a drive to the Logan’s Beach Whale Nursery, sadly no whales but lots of orange foam. We were told that this was caused by storm water flowing from the mouth of the Hopkins River,  which is very sandy and close by.

In the afternoon we had a strange walk around Lake Pertobe.

The area was once part of the sea and then became a swamp. Ever since Warrnambool was first settled in 1847, there have been plans to turn it into something useful.

In 1974 a project was started by the City Engineer, Edward ‘Johnny’ Johnson to preserve the bird-life and turn the area it into recreational lake and parkland.

It was largely completed by 1980.

However, with all the rain that had fallen over the last few days we found it hard to negotiate some of the grassy paths around the lake and we had to turn back.

It had reverted to the swamp. 

Takeaway food isn’t something we are used to buying, so we were on a steep learning curve. Especially considering that this was how things were going to be over the next few days.

Images Restaurant, was another place we had been told about, apparently their takeaway was good.

We figured that a pasta meal would be the easiest to reheat and consume, especially with the limited equipment and utensils we had in the room. Fortunately we did have some extra bowls, cutlery and condiments in the car.

Outside it was still raining.

 

August 7,, 2021. Warrnambool. 

We were back to the Pavilion Cafe to get our morning coffee. The weather was a bit clearer, so we could actually see the breakwater from the car. Then afterwards we walked along it, desperately trying to avoid the waves crashing over the sea wall.

Adjacent to the pavilion, is the Merri Marine Sanctuary, with Merri and Middle Island.

Warrnambool has been made famous by the Middle Island Maremma Project. The operation was started in 2006 when foxes invaded the island during the breeding season, and decimated the Little Penguin population. 

Allan ‘Swampy’ Marsh, a local chicken farmer, suggested that Maremma guardian dogs be used to protect the penguins. Swampy had successfully used the dogs to protect his chickens. This was a world first and became known as ‘The Warrnambool Method’.

Maremma is an Italian breed of livestock guardian dogs, indigenous to the central part of Italy.

In the afternoon we went for a walk along Granny’s Grave Track. Granny was actually Agnes Ruttleton, the first European woman buried in the area in 1848.

There was some confusion over her name, as she was originally thought to be Mrs James Raddlestone, the wife of a local crayfish farmer. In 2014 the Warrnambool City Council corrected the mistake.

That evening we had a dusk walk around the Warrnambool Botanical Gardens, which were only about a ten minute stroll from the motel.

The gardens were designed in 1877 by William Guilfoyle, who was at the time the Director of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. 

The gardens are set on a gently sloping area of land, encircled by pathways. Visitors to the park were far outnumbered by the birds and bats in the surrounding trees.

This is certainly the upmarket area of Warrnambool, as the streets around the gardens are lined with  well maintained Victorian and Edwardian mansions.

It was then time to organise another takeaway dinner.

We had planned to have Thai from Cattleya, but ended up getting Mexican from Cactus Jam. This was just next door, and also on Timor Street, which was very easy to get to and park when we picked up or meal.

The reason we didn’t have Thai was that when we phoned to order our meal we were told the wait would be an hour and a half – well it was a Saturday night in lockdown.

After dinner and before we settled in to watching TV from the comfort of our king size bed, we went for a walk around town.

The hoons in Warrnambool are a lot more upmarket than in many Victorian country towns. Here they drive hotted up BMWs, as well as the customary Commodores and Ford or Holden Utes.

There was yet more rain overnight, which did add to the gloominess of our forced retreat.

 

August 8, 2021. Warrnambool.

We were told that the weather was going to improve, so we decided to stay an extra night, putting off the inevitability of returning home.

And sure enough, in the morning, the rain had finally cleared.

Our first adventure for the day, after breakfast in the room that is, was to get a coffee. 

Today it was coffee from The Beach Kiosk Cafe, near Lake Pertobe, and then a short drive to drink it overlooking Thunder Point. 

The clientele at Beach Kiosk were very different to the those at the Pavilion Cafe. It was a younger group with lots of teenagers, children and dogs.

However the coffee wasn’t as good.

The sun was shining, so after coffee in the car we did the walk from Thunder Point to Breakwater Point. This was another wonderful walk, mainly on a raised boardwalk. We ended up at the Merri River, overlooking Merri and Middle Islands. 

Later on Thea got some lunch and I an espresso from 2 Tarts Baking. Again we were sitting in the car. 

‘2 Tarts Baking’ are they two local ladies with dubious morals, or just country humour?

We then returned to Logan’s Beach Whale Nursery, still no sightings.

Before dinner we went for a brief walk around James Swan Reserve, which was just over the road from the motel.

The reserve is a dedicated native garden that was established in 1970. Unfortunately it’s a picnicking spot for the locals, who clearly don’t understand the concept of a rubbish bin.

There were at least two huge piles of rubbish, from the nearby Maccas and KFC.

We did do our civic duty and cleaned up.

Dinner was in the room again, this time we had the Thai we were going to get the previous night.

Then another evening in front of the box – at least the Olympics have given us something interesting to watch.

 

August 9, 2021. Warrnambool to Sorrento, oh no, Ballarat now. 

Time to return back to Melbourne, well we were planning on going back to Sorrento and had booked the ferry from Queenscliff.

First we drove to Cobden for coffee and then on to Lorne for lunch. In Lorne we found out that regional Victoria would be coming out of lockdown at midnight.

We figured that as we were in regional Victoria already and had been since before the Melbourne lockdown started, we could continue to travel in the country.

We briefly considered staying put in Lorne, but it was so quiet and half the places were shut, so we decided to move on.

The most lively part of the town was the cockatoos squawking on the beach.

So another change of plan and we were now off to Ballarat for two nights.

There were a number of restaurants that looked promising for our evening ‘takeaway’ However the best looking ones were shut, so we had to settle for Nandos. The other choice was Maccas and that really wasn’t an option.

On our after dinner walk, we discovered that the Ballarat hoons were out. They were not nearly as well off as the ones from Warrnambool, as they were driving the more common hotted up Commodores and Utes

The nightly Ballarat news was asking the local shop and cafe owners to check everyone’s ID, especially if they didn’t recognise them. This was to make sure that there were no people sneaking in from locked-down Melbourne.

This was cause for concern.

August 10, 2021. Ballarat to Melbourne. 

Yet another change of plan.

That morning, after careful consideration, we decided to do the right thing and return to Melbourne. An added incentive for us to return home, was that if we were breaking the law we could incur a $5,000 fine – each.

However, before we left, we did have an excellent breakfast from Yellow Espresso, on Sturt Street.

We actually got to sit down and our Avocado on Toast and a great coffee was served on proper crockery and cutlery – the simple joys travelling.

Interestingly no one in the cafe asked where we were from, they were just happy that people were out again and spending.

Then it was into the car and back to Melbourne.

Over the last few months we have had so many plans to escape, that the alphabet isn’t long enough to label them.

I am now going designate our plans numerically, as it is infinite. 

The future is here.

August 27th, 2021

While escaping to Spain during lockdown number six, ie: watching the Vuelta a España, we were peppered nightly by the limited range of commercials on SBS Viceland.

This commercial for the Hyundai Tucson stood out.

With amazing special effects, it’s beautifully written, directed and filmed. It also has something that’s sadly missing in most ads these days – an idea.

I hope this is the future of ads.

History.

August 15th, 2021

Yet another lockdown (number 5) and we were back in Sorrento again, having arrived there the day before it was announced.

The one thing we are continually discovering about this seaside town, is its history.

In 1801 the first British settlers, led by Lieutenant John Murray arrived on what is now the Mornington Peninsula and claimed the area for King George III of Great Britain.

Before that the land was inhabited by the Boon Wurrung people for tens of thousands of years. They were what has been called ‘Saltwater’ people, who’s land occupied some 3,000 square kilometres around not only the Mornington Peninsula but Western Port Bay as well.

The British returned in 1803 and set up the Collins Settlement at Sullivans Bay. This was the first British settlement on mainland Australia outside of the Sydney area.

They hadn’t really done their homework regarding the peninsula, as there was no readily available fresh water, and it was abandoned after a few months.

The infamous convict, William Buckley, escaped from the settlement and lived with the aboriginals for over 30 years.

In 1869 the Collins Settlement was zoned for housing development and then became Sorrento. It saw many firsts, such as a magistrate’s court, public hospital, postal service and government printing service.

Sorrento also witnessed the state’s first wedding, christening and funeral and in the subsequent years, grand homes, hotels and public buildings were built in the area. Many of these were constructed from the local limestone and today have historical importance.

There was even a horse and steam powered tram, that was built in 1890 and ran from the front beach to the back beach.

And Sorrento Park, established in 1870, boasts an Allepo Pine that was grown from a seed of the Lone Pine of Gallipoli.

So in many respects this sign is correct, as nothing did happen on this site in 1782. All the recorded history happened after that.

However the Boon Wurrung people might disagree.

Hot Dog.

July 25th, 2021

I spotted this little Long Haired Dachshund, or Sausage Dog, on one of my recent beach walks.

I kicked myself afterwards for not grabbing a snap of him in his wonderful winter coat.

Then, after the walk, when I was having a coffee, there he was.

It was meant to be – just like the coat.

Selling a speed limit.

June 18th, 2021

Driving around we see dozens of speed signs every day. 

But how much do we take notice of them?

This particular one, on Kerferd Avenue in Sorrento, is just down from the local primary school. 

I noticed it, as it gave me an emotional reason to slow down.

It was more than a traffic sign, it was a pull on the heart strings as well. 

The marketing of a road.

May 26th, 2021

 

 

The day we returned from our Back to Yack adventure we took, what’s now known as, The Great River Road. 

The website describes the road as:

‘Set between two of Australia’s most beloved landscape icons, the Murray River and the Snowy Mountains, the Great River Road showcases 155 kilometres of beautiful high-country in Victoria’s North East – perfect for exploring at any pace.’

We started at Corryong, in the east, and then drove westward to the edge of the Hume Weir. The scenery was spectacular and there were many points of interest along the way. These included lookouts, odd bits of sculpture and historic markers.

The road was originally not one designated drive but a number of different routes.

The logo that has been recently developed is used for both The Great River Road and the Upper Murray region.

Although there isn’t much information about the development of the Upper Murray marketing program, it seems to be a joint venture between the local councils, community groups and even Upper Murray Health and Community Services.

It’s clever marketing that can take something, that many people already know about, and turn it into a new adventure and experience.

However, the idea isn’t original.

The Great River Road was first created in the United States in 1938 and was used to market the Mississippi River.

The US website describes it as:

‘The Great River Road is a collection of state and local roads that follow the course of the Mississippi River through ten states of the United States.’

The US road also has a logo, which is a little outdated. I much prefer the Australian one, as it actually has an idea.

Nonetheless, I do think that a trip up, or down, the Mississippi River road would be great – especially considering they have a craft beer trail already mapped out for me. 

It’s an epic craft beer experience that takes you to 43 breweries in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana.

It does seem an odd combination of drinking and driving. 

Back to Yack.

April 30th, 2021

April 22, 2021. Melbourne to Milawa. 

This short break was very much a family affair and built around another return trip to Yackandandah or Yack, as it is affectionately known.

Yack holds a very special place in the hearts of Thea’s family.

Her father, although born in Melbourne, spent much of his early childhood in Yack after his mother died when he was only 8 months old. He was then raised by his grandparents in this quaint country town.

Yackandandah was a former gold mining centre and has its origins in the 1850s. Immigrants from around the world flocked to this area when gold was discovered.

We had visited Yack at this time of year in the past and were taken by the spectacular display of Autumn colours.

We were certainly not disappointed this time as well.

Our first night’s stop on the way to Yack, was at Milawa, an area is known for its wineries and food. 

We had booked into the Gamze Smokehouse and Restaurant for dinner, which was just 200 metres from our motel. 

As the restaurant name suggests, there were lots of local cured meat on offer. We therefore started with the Charcuterie board. 

We should have stopped there, as it was huge. 

They even had Bridge Road Brewery Pale Ale, from Beechworth, on tap as well as many local wines.

 

Brown Brothers of Milawa (1889)

April 23, 2021. Milawa to Yackandandah.

It was only a short 50km drive to Yack, so we decided to visit some of the famous gourmet food manufacturers that are in the region.

After breakfast at the motel we went looking for a coffee and popped into Brown Brothers.

This celebrated winery, dating back to 1896, was at the forefront in the creation of the Milawa Gourmet Region.

Established in 1994, this food and wine area was the first to be developed in Australia.

As well as wine there are many other culinary delights manufactured in the region, such as mustards, cheeses, breads, olives and, as we discovered, smoked meats.

We did manage to do a bit of shopping before continuing our journey.

Another side trip on the road to Yack, was a stop in Myrtleford. There we walked through the Rotary Park, where we discovered the historic Log Tobacco Kiln that was built in 1957. 

From the 1930s to the 1960s tobacco growing and curing was a major industry in this region. Much of the land was owned and worked by Italian immigrants.

It was then time for a walk and along the Ovens River.

We were accompanied by a group of young adults with disabilities. They were having a great outing and delighted in discovering a series of mosaics that had been created along the river walk.

In the heart of Myrtleford, we discovered Coffee Chakra. It was officially closed but they still managed to serve us. 

It was both a coffee roaster and cafe so the brew was excellent. 

Myrtleford seems to have become a haven for Australians of Indian heritage, as we saw many around the town. They were not just visiting but active in local business as well. In fact the barista, owner and coffee roaster at Coffee Chakra was of Indian origin but with a broad Aussie accent.

On the way out of town we visited The Big Tree. This giant Red River Gum is one of the largest of its kind in Victoria and over 200 years old.

That night there was a large group of 12 for dinner, which was at the Star Hotel.

The Star is also known as the Top Pub, being at the top of Yackandandah’s High Street. It was also very close to the motel where most of us were staying.

 

Yackandandah Creek

April 24, 2021. Yackandandah. 

We all had a quiet day in Yack, punctuated by a group walk to Yackandandah Creek.

The main purpose was to visit the spot where the ashes of Thea’s father, mother and brother have been scattered.

That night it was dinner at the Yackandandah Hotel, or the Bottom Pub, which, understandably, is at the bottom of the High Street hill.

 

Lake Hume

April 25, 2021. Yackandandah. 

It was Anzac Day and Yackandandah, like many country towns, had a parade.

High Street was blocked off and the local returned service men and women, as well as others wearing their relative’s medals marched up the hill. After them came the children of the town’s sporting groups, clubs and school.

All this was accompanied by a marching band. 

It was a very short parade that lasted less than 10 minutes. There was then a wreath laying ceremony in the Memorial Park.

In the afternoon we drove to the Huon Reserve car park and did a return walk, along the Lake Hume and High Country Rail Trail to the Sandy Creek Rail Bridge. 

Lake Hume, formerly Hume Reservoir, was constructed between 1919 and 1936 by damming the Murray River downstream of its junction with the Mitta River.

The dam has many purposes, such as flood mitigation, hydro-power, irrigation, water supply and conservation.

There are hundreds of dead trees partly submerged in the lake, giving it the eerie feeling of a tree graveyard. 

That night dinner was back at the Top Pub and being a Sunday night it was much quieter than it had been on Friday.

Friday seems to be the night that country people hit the town.

 

The grave of George Henry Backhaus (50 years) and John Henry Backhaus (42 years) Who died September 23, 1915

April 26, 2021. Yackandandah to Corryong. 

This was our last morning in Yack, before the shortish drive to Corryong, where we would stay for two nights.

It was a day of ghost hunting for Thea as we meandered towards Corryong.

We stopped at Yabba Cemetery where George and John  Backhaus are buried. Tragically these two brothers, great uncles of Thea, died in a house fire on September 23, 1915.

It was the strangest cemetery I have ever visited. Out in the middle of nowhere, we had to go through a farm gate then walk across paddock to get the cemetery entrance.

Once we reached Corryong I had some work to do and the best place was in the bar of the Corryong Hotel, which is where we were staying.

Well it did have good internet and a bench to put my computer on.

In town the Corryong Hotel/Motel is also known as the Bottom Pub. What is it with this top and bottom thing?

The food was ok and they did have Blowhard Pale Ale from Bright Brewery on tap.

As the kitchen closed at 8:30 so it was an early night, made even more interesting by the size of the room we were in.

You could barely swing a possum in there.

We found the best place to get out of each others way was to sit on the bed and watch TV.

 

Blue-tongue lizard on the dam wall

 April 27, 2021. Corryong.

Breakfast at the motel wasn’t great but it was included in the cost of the room.

We then had a coffee at the Cafe Corryong Brew, which is next door to White Owl Coffee Roasters.

The coffee was great, that’s after giving the barista a few instructions as to the size and strength of what we wanted.

Today we were searching for the source of the mighty Murray River and not looking for ghosts. 

That was until we discovered that the spring, which is the source, is in an inaccessible wilderness area 

The weather was beautiful with a high of 23°C+ – time to drag out the shorts from the bottom of the bag. 

We did stop at Bringenbrong, which crosses over the Murray River on the border between NSW and Victoria.

From there we drove into NSW and on to Khancoban Dam, where we walked across the dam wall. Halfway across we found a rather large blue-tongue lizard, sunning itself on the side of the road.

The views from the spillway of the Khancoban Pondage and the Swampy Plain River valley were spectacular.

Being in the heart of the Snowy Mountain Scheme we then drove the short distance to the Murray 1 Power Station.

This is just one of seven power stations, sixteen major dams, 145km of interconnected tunnels and 80 km of aqueducts in the Snowy Scheme.

Completed in 1974, it took 25 years to build and today is regarded as one of the seven engineering wonders of the modern world.

It was then back to Corryong where we did a bit of local sightseeing.

The Man from Snowy River, a poem by Banjo Peterson, (1864-1941) is immortalised in a statue by the artist Brett Garling. The statue sits proudly next to the Corryong tourist information office.

The poem was first published in the Bulletin magazine on April 26, 1890 and is one of Australia’s most famous pieces.

It is believed that the The Man, is the legendary local stockman, Jack Riley, who migrated form Ireland to Australia, as a 13-year-old, in 1850.

Another local hero, this one of the canine variety, is Horrie the Wog Dog. His statue is in the memorial gardens, which is next to our favourite coffee shop, Cafe Corryong Brew. 

It’s no coincidence that Horrie’s statue sits near the war memorial celebrating those locals who lost their lives in times of conflict.

Horrie, an Egyptian Terrier, was the unofficial mascot of the 2/1st Machine Gun Battalion of the Second Australian Imperial Force. He was befriended by an Australian soldier, Private Jim Moody, while they were fighting in Egypt during the Second World War.

He served as an air sentry and was promoted to rank of corporal.

Horrie moved around with the Battalion and was finally smuggled back to Australia when Jim Moody was repatriated in 1942.

Due to Australia’s strict quarantine laws it’s believed that Horrie was put down in 1945. However there is an alternative story, that has become local legend, that Moody substituted another dog for Horrie and he lived on in Corryong.

Dinner was at the Corryong Hotel again as there wasn’t much else open. 

That night it was a Super Moon or Pink Moon as it’s described in the northern hemisphere. This has nothing to do with the moon’s hue but the colour of the spring flowers that are found during this Spring moon event. 

 

Murray Grey cattle in their original habitat

April 28, 2021. Corryong to Melbourne. 

After another good coffee at the Cafe Corryong Brew, we set off on what was to be a long day’s drive home.

The first part was an exploration of the newly named Great River Road. This took us from Corryong through Towong, Walway and Jingellic to Lake Hume.

The scenery was spectacular as we drove west, with the Murray River coming and going on the right hand side.

We even came across the birthplace of the Murray Grey at Thologolong, as well as a small herd grazing on the roadside.

This iconic breed of cattle was discovered by accident in 1905 by the Sutherland family. It can now be found throughout Australia, New Zealand, Asia, North America and Europe.

After the meandering drive along the Murray to Lake Hume it was then onto the Hume Highway and back to Melbourne

Bushfire relief drive: Take 2.

March 31st, 2021

After the devastating bushfires in south eastern Australia last summer, we decided to visit some of the worst effected areas.

Not to gawk but to spend some money and give back something to these communities that had been so badly hit.

That was not to be.

Once the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic became obvious and we went into lockdown, no travel, even so close to home, was possible.

Now, twelve months on, we decided to deliver on our promise and make our bushfire relief drive.

March 16, 2021. Melbourne to Lakes Entrance. 

Our first day away consisted of a rather longish drive to Lakes Entrance. This was broken with a coffee and lunch stop in Yarragon. This is a cute little ‘Coffee break town’ that’s just off the Princes Highway and set up for passing tourists, truckies and also the Gippsland Railway.

On the first night of our break, at the suggestion of the motel owner, we ate at the Kalimna Hotel. 

We needed to get a taxi there as it was a long walk, up a steep road, heading out of town.

This was a basic pub with a stunning view over the lakes.

Having become used to getting craft beer in many pubs these days, it was rather disappointing to discover that Great Northern Bitter was the most exciting brew they had on offer.

Believe me, this is certainly not a beer to write home about.

 

Stony Creek Trestle Bridge (1916)

March 17, 2021. Lakes Entrance. 

As we had two nights in Lakes Entrance, and the weather was fine, we decided to make this a day of walking.

Our adventure took us from the Log Crossing Picnic Area in Colquhuon State Forest to the Limestone Box Forest Track, then Armstrongs Track to the Gippsland Lakes Discovery Trail and Tramway Walk.

The aftermath of the bushfires was evident, but the regrowth had done a wonderful job of restoring the bush tracks.

The original Mississippi Creek Tramway was developed in the 1900s and used until the 1930s. It transported granite from a quarry in the area to the developing Lakes Entrance township, fishing port and tourist area.

In 1870 the town was originally called Cunninghame but became Lakes Entrance in 1915.

After the walk we then drove along the Uncles and Old Colquhoun Roads to the Stony Creek Trestle Bridge.

Built in 1916, when the rail line from Melbourne to Bairnsdale was extended to Orbost, it is the largest bridge of its type in Victoria and listed as an historic site.

Built from ironbark and grey box timber, it is 247 metres long and 20 metres high and was in service for over 60 years. Badly damaged by bushfires in 1980 it was finally closed in 1987.

That night we had dinner at Sodafish, a floating seafood restaurant right in the middle of the harbour’s fishing fleet.

Again, this restaurant was booked at the suggestion of the owner’s of the Sandbar Motel.

 

Suburu on Wheelers Hill (699m) McKillops Road

March 18, 2021. Lakes Entrance to Marlo via McKillops Road (C611).

Today we decided to drive one of the; ‘Most hazardous and dangerous roads in Australia’ as it has been described by the website ‘dangerousroads.org’

The McKillops Road drive is 80km along a gravel road, in the Snowy River National Park. Yes there are many narrow sections, with blind corners but it certainly isn’t the hairiest drive I have ever encountered.

We would have thought twice about taking the road if it had been wet, as there are many tight corners with steep drop-offs to the side.

The AWD capabilities of the Subaru were very useful and at no time did I feel as though we were in any danger.

In fact our drive from Beacon, in New York State, back to Harlem, in New York City in November 2017 was the the worst drive I have ever done – and that was on a sealed road in the rain.

A man made feature of the McKillop’s Road drive, is McKillop’s Bridge. This is situated about half way along the C611, near the confluence of the Snowy and Deddick Rivers.

The bridge is made of welded-steel trusses with reinforced-concrete piers and was built over the Snowy River between 1931 and 1936.

It is 255 metres in length and originally constructed as a stock bridge.

From there we drove to Marlo where we were booked into the Marlo Hotel.

There isn’t much in Marlo and the hotel seems to be the go-to destination, as that night the restaurant was full.

 

Kookaburra at the Mallacoota Coastal Reserve Caravan Park

March 19, 2021. Marlo to Mallacoota via Cape Conran.

The clouds have increased and the skies are much darker. This is all part of a large weather front that is developing over NSW.

Today we were driving the rather short distance from Marlo to Mallacoota, with a diversion to Cape Conran.

We had a good breakfast and excellent coffee in Marlo at the Snowy River Tackle and Cafe complex. There you can get live worms for your bait and Avo on Toast for your breakfast.

Just out of Marlo we could see, what is described on the map as, the mouth of the Snowy River.

This now appears to be blocked by a sand bar, as no exit was visible.

Steph, Ev’s partner, has spent many holidays camping at Cape Conran with her family, so we decided to visit it ourselves. 

The bushfires have certainly left their mark here and blackened trees can be seen almost reaching down to the water’s edge.

We then drove on to Mallacoota and, by total coincidence, checked into Bruce’s Waterside Units.

We were staying in the Captain’s Cabin, which was in fact an old school house.

The rain was threatening and we decided to go for an afternoon walk to discover the area before it got any worse.

Mallacoota is a haven for campers and fishermen, with much of the town taken up with caravan parks. Many of the campsites had boats parked next to the tents, vans and motorhomes.

It was in the Mallacoota Coastal Reserve Caravan Park that we discovers some wonderful Australian wildlife, in the form of two Kookaburras and a Koala.

They were every cooperative and I managed to get some good snaps.

That night we ate at the Mallacoota Hotel, which was just around the corner from the Captain’s Cabin.

The food was typically pub fair with a huge variety and well presented. I managed to find Balter XPA on tap. This was also available at Lakes Entrance and Marlo and a great improvement on the Great Northern Bitter that I had to endure on the first night. 

 

Bushfire aftermath at Genoa Creek Falls

March 20, 2021. Mallacoota.

The rain has come.

The severe weather warnings for NSW have now moved south over the border into Victoria. 

With the intermittent showers we decided that the best thing was to go for a drive around the Mallacoota area.

We discovered the Genoa River at Gipsy point on the Mallacoota Inlet.

This is an area for kayaks, fishermen and bird watchers.

No sooner had we arrived than a flock of swallows swooped down to where we were standing.

I believe that the swallow is one of the hardest birds to photograph. No sooner do they land than they take off again.

Here it was different, they seemed to want to be photographed. Maybe they had missed the tourists over the last twelve months or they were just tired and needed a break.

Anyway, they did settle long enough for me to change to a telephoto lens and get some shots.

It was then off to Genoa Creek Falls, an area that seems to have been particularly hard hit by the fires.

The falls are just off the Princes Highway, on a small, easy to miss track. After you park the car, there is a short walk and a flight of timber stairs leading down to the falls.

As a result of the bushfires, the stairs have been rebuilt and are now brand new. The bush around the falls is dotted with blackened tree trunks, fallen logs and singed bark hanging from the branches. 

I imagine during the winter, or after heavy rain the falls might be rather spectacular, but the day we visited there was barely a trickle running over the large red boulders.

After our drive we returned to the Captain’s Cabin and then it started to pour down.

That night we returned to the Mallacoota Hotel for dinner, as we hadn’t managed to find anywhere better and the beer, wine and food was ok.

March 21, 2021. Mallacoota to Mirboo North.

There was more heavy rain overnight and now it has spread to Melbourne. It looks like a wet drive to Mirboo North. 

The main reason we were visiting Mirboo North was to break the long return trip to Melbourne. It was a bonus that within this very small community is situated the Grand Ridge Brewery.

Being established in 1989, Grand Ridge is one of the oldest craft breweries in Australia.

As the website ‘craftypint.com’ puts it:

“The elder statesman of the Victorian microbrewery scene, Grand Ridge began offering full-flavoured ales to a nation of lager drinkers more than 20 years ago.”

This was an old article in Craftypint and in fact the brewery has been in operation since 1989. They therefore have been challenging beer drinker’s taste buds for over 30 years.

I had booked at the restaurant, not knowing how busy it might be on a Sunday night.

I shouldn’t have bothered.

There were only about six tables in a space that could hold far more. We went to the bar for a pre-dinner drink and that was even less crowded, with only on other person drinking there.

We had been told that the restaurant had recently been taken over by new owners. It had previously been run by the management of Grand Ridge. I think that the loss of trade during the pandemic and the lack of available staff since, had forced them to rationalise their business model.

The food was excellent as was the service and the beer that I started with. This was a West City Neipa 7.5%. The ‘Neipa’ stands for New England IPA and it is now made in the Grand Ridge Brewery.

Like so many good brew pubs, Grand Ridge provides their drinkers with a wide range beer styles. There were three sets of taps, each serving six brews.

We were staying at the aptly named 1st T Motel, which was right next to the Mirboo North Golf Club.

According to Google Maps it was meant to be a 20 minute walk from our motel to the brewery, but we took a short cut through the golf course, and did it in ten.

March 22, 2021. Mirboo North to Melbourne.

The motel provided us with breakfast, of sorts. This consisted of four slices of plain white bread with sachets of Vegemite, jam, honey and peanut butter. There was also a choice of Cornflakes, Rice Bubbles or Special K. Which meant that our entire breakfast was totally lacking in any nutritional value.

After a breakfast like that we needed a strong coffee, before the relatively short drive back to Melbourne.

We found that at Lamezleighs Cafe and Bar, which was on the main street of Mirboo North. The coffee was good but they did charge us for a mug when we had only ordered, and been served, a cup.

In a way I guess we were still putting money back into the community, but not the way we had intended.

The weather was still threatening but the rain did hold off.

It was a strange adventure, initiated by the devastating bushfires of 2020, postponed by the world wide COVID-19 pandemic and then interrupted by the ‘One-in-100-years’ floods in NSW.

It does seem that we are lurching from one disaster to another. 

Dogs are my favourite people.

February 28th, 2021

I am a dog lover and a serial dog ‘patter’.

I believe that every dog is unique, even if it’s a pure bred. They have wonderful personalities and when they look at you, I swear, they can see into your soul. 

So, as part of my computer drawing exploration, I decided to explore dog’s faces. 

Here are a few.