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Around the bend(s) with Ross, Jo, Carol and Bill as they caravan the Great Ocean Road

May 22, 2007
Around the bend(s) with Ross, Jo, Carol  and Bill as they caravan the Great Ocean Road

From: Ross & Jo Whitty

Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2007 1:24 PM

To: garth

Cc: Billy & Carolyn Judd

Subject: Around the bend(s)

Hi Garth,

We are sending this from Tailem Bend, (Westbrook Park River Resort), on the banks of the Murray, arrived here last evening from Penola, but more about that later.

Our first stop on the Great Ocean Road was Anglesea, the Top Tourist Park by the beach. It is a lovely park with lots of room and we pick a couple of grassy sights right beside the river.

We stay for three nights and the weather was mild enough for a swim in the pool, followed by a spa.

Bill and I managed to find time to throw a line in and although the bream were biting on prawns we could only manage to catch the babies.

The girls meanwhile went browsing the shops and stopped for a coffee at the Laneway which you had recommended and they agree that the coffee was great.

Saturday night, we trotted off to the local for a meal and a couple of drinks around the pool table.

It was a good night and we even attempted some limbo dancing under the boom gate of the caravan park on our way back to our vans!

Sunday, after a very late barbeque breakfast, was fairly quiet, but we went for a drive back to Torquay and Bells beach.

The  pool and spa area Anglesea Beachside Family Caravan Park
The pool and spa area Anglesea Beachside Family Caravan Park

Monday on the road, for one of the most spectacular drives on the planet, the weather was fine and sunny and we enjoyed the day. We stopped at Lorne for coffee and a walk and Apollo Bay for lunch. Then up over Lavers Hill and on to Port Campbell for the night after stopping at the 12 Apostles on the way.

The park there lacked the facilities one would expect for the $26 per night. Not all powered sites have water, but as it was quiet we managed to find a couple and were on the move again the next day.

As soon as you pull out of Port Campbell there are sights to be seen and we stopped at London Bridge, The Grotto and the Bay of Islands before heading on through Warrnambool to a little Park at Killarney Beach.

A quiet little park with brand new toilets and showers. No water on sites but a tank of fresh rainwater to top up our tank supplies on leaving.

Free laundry facilities and a great beach for fishing, swimming or that leisurely stroll just over the sand dunes and only $17 per night.

Great Ocean Road near Apollo Bay
Great Ocean Road near Apollo Bay

We spent three nights there and visited Warrnambool, including the Shipwrecked laser show which is a must to see.

We also took a drive and walk through Tower Hill wildlife refuge and dormant volcano and drove to Port Fairy for coffee and a stroll along the waterfront.

I must say that if anyone was hesitant about towing a van along the Great Ocean Road, do it.

The road is windy and with some spectacular cliffs but is wide enough and there are plenty of places to pull over to let the faster traffic pass and take a few quick snapshots of the magnificent scenery.

Just drive at your own pace and enjoy it.

Great Ocean Road cliffs face  pounding seas
Great Ocean Road cliffs face pounding seas

The scenic spots such as the Twelve Apostles and London Bridge all have parking for cars towing vans, so don't miss out on these.

Next stop was Nelson, just before the border with SA. Struck some torrential rain on the road from Portland to Nelson but were fortunate enough to miss the hailstorm that had gone through earlier.

We saw a lot of emus along the roadside and a magnificent eagle feeding on roadkill.

The Kywong Caravan Park is lovely, set in a little valley with kangaroos keeping the green grassy sites under control.

The Glenelg river is a great spot for boating or fishing or just enjoying and Bill and I almost caught a couple of legal sized bream but sadly we had to return them to the river.

London Bridge crashes 10 01 90
London Bridge crashes 10 01 90

While staying at Nelson we did a day trip to Mt Gambier and the Blue Lake and Valley Lake area before returning via Princess Margaret Caves but we were too late for the tour.

On the way back to the van park we stopped and picked fresh mushrooms on the side of the road at Donovan's Landing.

Saturday, it was on to Penola at the start of the Coonawarra wine region, again striking some heavy rain and strong winds, but arrived safely to discover there was the Penola Arts Festival on, with the wineries providing art exhibitions and live entertainment to go with the tastings.

The park is rather small, mainly cabins and ensuite sites but we were lucky to get the last two spots due to the festival being on.

Saturday afternoon was spent with the girls tasting a few wines and the boys just a couple being the responsible drivers and enjoying an arcapella group at at Wynn's.

Fortunately there is a cellar door for Koonara wines in town and after dropping the cars off at the van park we headed back for some serious pre-dinner sampling.

The staff there were great and have promised to deliver to us wherever we are in Australia, should we order any of the delightful, and reasonably priced wines. Then it was on to the Royal Oak Hotel for a good value meal, we stayed on for the disco but were disappointed with the choice of music and headed back to our vans for an unusual early Saturday night.

Mt Gambiers Blue Lake really is
Mt Gambier's Blue Lake really is

Sunday we went to Naracoorte fossil caves then back to the Koonara to pick up our dozen wine and thento the Royal Oak beer garden for some excellent music by a three piece band. The weather was cold but music was great and we stayed till the end at six before going back to the vans for some homemade mushroom soup from the mushrooms we had picked back in Donovan's Landing.

Monday our plan was to head across to the coast to Robe for a couple of nights, but as we got nearer the weather got worse and we were driving into gale force winds and torrential rain showers.

We stopped at Robe for lunch and a bit of a look around, but decided that as the forecast was not much better for a few days that we should push in the hope of an improvement in the weather.

Not to be! As we pushed on north through Kingston and on to the Princess Highway the wind got stronger and the rain showers got heavier with visibility down to about 20 metres at times.

To make matters worse for Carol, they had managed to pick up an unwanted eight legged hitchhiker and after she, Carol, tried to climb onto Bill's lap to avoid it, he decided it would wise to pull over and evict the uninvited passenger!

We thought we would stop at Salt Creek or Policeman's Point for the night but with no improvement in the weather pushed on to Meningie.

Naracoorte Caves SA
Naracoorte Caves SA

In normal circumstances the caravan park on the water would be a lovely spot but with not much improvement in the weather we pushed on further to Tailem Bend were the wind had dropped, the rain passed by and we were able to enjoy a well deserved happy hour on the banks of the river.

As I write Bill is sitting about two metres from his van, fishing, might go and join him.

Adelaide, next stop, then on northwards in search of warmer climes.

Regards

Ross, Jo, Bill and Carol

P.S. Regards to Allan

Editor's Note: Also see -



and www.discovertasmania.com.au

View from the Geist at Westbrook Park Tailem Bend
View from the Geist at Westbrook Park Tailem Bend
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