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Saturday, 27 January 2018

Australian Travels Part Two: Canberra to Melbourne

Our short stay in Canberra was over before we knew it and soon we were heading south. Eden was to be our destination but we couldn’t resist a stop off at ‘the snow’ en route.  The green landscapes turned to the brown more commonly associated with the Australian outback before entering the lush mountain area. A brief pause at Jindabyne was necessary to buy passes for the Kosciuszko National Park. It was a very brief stop which was a shame as the mountains and lake (which covers the previous site of the town) shimmering in the sunshine were begging to be explored.

We arrived at Thredbo as the first flutterings of a snowstorm were floating through the air. An obligatory snowball fight later and we were back on the road again. Even the skiiers were moving away from the mountain as visibility had decreased so drastically.
A seemingly interminable drive along dark and twisting roads followed until we finally arrived at Eden Beachfront Holiday Park where we passed a chilly night (a natural hazard of winter travel). With the rising of the sun the next morning we realised what beautiful views we had stretching out to sea. Our first tourist stop was the Killer Whale Museum where we learnt about how whalers and killer whales worked together to trap humpback whales that entered Twofold Bay. I admit boats and whaling don’t exactly get my heart racing but it told a fascinating tale, and I skipped through the rest of the exhibitions. A walk along the beach to stretch the legs and soak up some fresh sea air made a welcome interlude before heading to Boyds Tower.

The tower is a short walk from the car park along an accessible path lined with melaleuca trees, signs of bush fires apparent. When built in 1847 it was one of a number of similar structures, many of which did not survive as they were made of wood. Boyds Tower was built of sandstone so weathered the years better. It does show some damage from its age however, part of the top missing from a lightning strike in the 1860s. Unfortunately, visitors are unable to climb the tower but any disappointment will be washed away with views from the lookout. Eden is very aptly named.

Green Cape Lighthouse is a 31km walk away but alas the sun would begin to fade before we could cover such a distance and so had to rely once more on the car. When built in 1883 it was the tallest lighthouse in New South Wales but lost this title shortly afterward with the construction of Smoky Cape in 1891. Green Cape was replaced by a solar power light tower in 1992 but the original structure still stands and if you time your visit right you could be treated to a tour.

The very nature of a road trip means there’s never much time in any one place and soon we were on our way to Lakes Entrance, our first stop in Victoria. Unfortunately, everywhere seemed to close by 8pm so we struggled to find anywhere for dinner (our only choice in the end was a takeaway pizza place which turned out to be satisfyingly tasty). The benefit of arriving in the dark is the pleasure of waking to unexpectedly beautiful views in the morning, especially after another cold night. The water with boats floating gracefully atop was serene as the sun glimmered off the still surface.

A walk along the sunny esplanade led us to Esplanade Mini Golf, a wonderfully fun course which is just how I imagine crazy golf should be and yet very rarely is. Just across the road is Charnwood café, a charming little eatery
attached to a gift shop. The perfect place to warm up and toast the victor. A few more stops to look at various of the Gippsland Lakes and we were back on the Princes Highway heading for Melbourne.

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