The Wild, Wombat’s Wonderings!
17 October 1999 – Went out with Susan & Graeme to the Norman Lindsay Museum. It is a remarkable place. Well worth a visit. His paintings, sketches & sculptures are something else. I appreciated the fact he appreciated the nude female figure. :-)
18 October 1999 – I finally contacted UPS to be told that they had received my card on Friday, but didn’t deliver on weekends. Their getting it to me on Monday was proper & right. I finally did get the card today. When I called to activate it, I found that Citibank had sent my card to my home. I pointed out I wasn’t there. The lass promised to send another one to the Batho’s address immediately. After getting some petrol I got a haircut [I can hear again.]. Took Susan & Graeme out for dinner. Good steak.
19 October 1999 – I headed south today to Moss Vale. I drove along the old Hume Highway as much as possible taking my time & enjoying the scenery. It drizzled, but the sun came out by the time I reached Moss Vale.
20 October 1999 – Wandered about Bowral checking out the town. As I didn’t have the name of the solicitor for Upfield’s estate, I couldn’t find Upfield’s home. Oh well, on the flip side. I drove over to Kangaroo Valley. This is supposed to be the town/area Upfield uses in Bony & the Kelly Gang. It is a pretty little town set in a marvelous valley. The road down the side of the escarpment is something else.
21 October 1999 – Up early for the drive down to Bermagui. When I got to the road down to Kangaroo Valley, the valley was filled with clouds. It was gorgeous. Dropped by the beach where 5 persons disappear in the late 1900’s. It may have been the idea for The Mystery of Swordfish Reef. When I walked into the Tourist Centre, I noticed a painting of Upfield on the back wall. The centre is also the historical museum. Upfield had lived there for about 8 years in the 50’s. Upfield loved fishing. I was introduced to Rex who might be able to take me out tomorrow. His boat was down so he introduced me to Paddy. The bar at the hotel was a most interesting collection of folk.
22 October 1999 – I dropped by the library & did some email. The weather was turning filthy. Paddy’s boat was having problems & the other chap he mentioned wasn’t going out again today. Decided to drive by some of the places mentioned in the book. It was mainly unsealed roads. The drive to beaches & inlets along the coast was neat. It began to rain, but not heavily. I really didn’t want to drive on & in mud. Not a good thing. Stopped in Bega for lunch. It was early so I headed inland to the foothills of the Snowy Mts. On the Snow Mountains Hwy. At the junction with the Cann River Hwy I headed south to Bombala. It was just about at the junction in a very cold rain I saw a couple of snowflakes hit my windscreen. It would be my only exposure to snow while in Oz. The Snowy Mts. did receive a heavy snowfall from the storm. I drove thru some very nice countryside. This was upland country well above 600 m getting close to 1000 m in some areas. I turned back at Bombala gong over Candelo to Bega & back to Bermagui. I spoke to Rex on my return & we discussed my coming back in FEB for another go at getting out to sea. It would be fishing season then & boats would be ready.
23 October 1999 – Before I headed out, I met up with a few folk who knew of Upfield. We discussed my coming back & the possibility of crash space. As I had the time, I drove slowly enjoying the scenery down to Eden. After checking in at my motel, I went over to Boydtown. Unfortunately, while on the tourist maps, it was merely a hotel. There was no signs or info on the old town. Heading back I went to the Whaling Museum. It was an excellent museum & bigger than expected. I didn’t finish going thru the place, but the woman doing tickets told me to come back tomorrow morning to finish the tour. I tried out one of the many seafood restaurants in town. It was pretty good.
24 October 1999 – Up early to head over to the Museum to finish tour. I then headed for Orbost but took the long way. It was a dreary day. Just south of Eden I turned inland going thru a state forest. I met 2 cars along the 60 km stretch. The drive was pretty. Lots of tall trees. Turned south at the Cann River Hwy. Lots more forest to drive thru. Eventually came to grazing & farmlands as I approached Hwy 1. From there it was a short drive to Orbost at the mouth of the Snowy River or what is left of it. Most of its waters are diverted. This is a big political hot potato here, involving at least 3 states. I got a room & then wandered along the coast in the rain. Even so it was pretty.
25 October 1999 – Up early to the drumbeat of rain. It was starting out to be a rotten day. After sorting out which road I wanted I headed up country to Buchan & its caves. The twisty road wound thru forests & the occasion paddock climbing up to a respectable elevation. What towns I found were small & quickly driven thru. At Buchan I did a tour of the Royal Cave along with 2 young couples from Melbourne. It was quite nice. The chap leading the tour used the word “cockie.” This is generally used to describe a farmer or owner of a small station. The 2 young couples from Melbourne didn’t know the term. I laughed to myself. I was the one who should have asked after its meaning. After the tour I continued north in the drizzle. However, the sky was lightening up. The road wound thru some beautiful hills and dales. I would come around a corner to find myself overlooking a wooded valley with a house or two in it with smoky clouds floating in it. Really neat. I drove thru the locales of Gelantipy & Wulgulmerango. At the Seldom Seen Roadhouse [There is a Mt. Seldom Seen & considering its location, you can understand the name.] I ran into the chap running the roadhouse. He proved to be a character. He did give me some good advice on what to look for as I headed on down the unsealed road. His offsider joined us for coffee & a natter. I pushed on down the road. As promised, I drove into some outstanding scenery. Deep valleys, cliffs, views into tomorrow. As I was driving into a rain shadow, the sky cleared up as well. The road continued to get narrower until I got to the stretch where there was a notice that there would be few places for passing on the one lane track. Luckily I didn’t meet anyone coming or going on the track which lead down to McKillops Bridge. The drive was worth the effort. On the way back I honked for the chap at the roadhouse to let him know I had made it back safely. I then continued on to my motel.
26 October 1999 – Up & at ‘em! The weather was still iffy with clouds & the occasional spit of rain. I headed west to Traralgon. Once I got my room, I rang up The Lawn’s. I had met them in Wentworth, & they had told me to contact them on my way across. I went over to their home & we took a drive up to the gold mining town of Walhalla. It was set deep in the valleys of the Victorian Alps’ foothills. It was being restored as a tourist attraction. It was a pretty little town. We didn’t walk up to the cricket pitch set on a flat spot up on the hillside.
27 October 1999 – Now for the dash to Melbourne. The day was pretty good. I stopped in Bass to visit the “Giant Earthworm” museum. The earthworms grow to a length of nearly 4 m. Yup, some have measured over 12 feet in length. I didn’t see one in the exhibits, tho the films about them were fascinating. I did get a photo with a young wombat so all was not lost. I continued on to the Melbourne suburb of The Basin where I was staying with Morte & Craig Oakley. The area they live in is well u in the Melbourne hills. It is a beautiful site.
28 October 1999 – Up early & off to catch Puffin Billy, an ancient steam train, into the hills. You ride in open coashes & get ash in your eyes. ;-) It was an enjoyable ride up & back thru the forest and a fine walk in the park were the train stopped.. I was also getting my first real look at fern trees. They are amazing. Some of them grow to 5 or more m. Standing in a stand of fern trees I could imagine myself back about 200 million years. The fronds are gorgeous & delicate. I wonder what conditions allowed for them to grow to heights of 50 or 75 meters? After a delightful day in the park I headed into Melbourne for dinner & good conversation with Sue Bursztynski, my roommate at AUSSIECON.
29 October 1999 – A lazy day, sunny & warm. Went into Melbourne for lunch with Joe Kovess, Bill Mathews & Stuart Mayne. We had a nice e2-hour lunch mainly chatting about Upfield. It was good to put faces with names. I spent the afternoon with Bill discussing Upfield & books among other things.
30 October 1999 - It was a pretty day so I took off for a drive thru the Dandenongs. These are the hills in the area. They are very pretty & the ride enjoyable. I found a couple of used bookstores along the way & picked up a couple of books. I also picked up NPR’s Weekend Edition on the radio. The ABC’s new station carries it. A touch of home. That evening I went over to Carey & Jo Handfield’s home for dinner. Good food & lots of loverly conversation.
31 October 1999 – It was a lazy Sunday. I went over to meet Bill Routt, who was at the UC about the time I was. We had a nice chat. He is into gaming in a big way as are his kids. He teaches media at one the of the universities in the area. From there I headed over to meet with Bill Upfield, the grandson of Arthur, & his wife Francesca. The name of his land is “Windee.” We had a most delightful chat. He gave me photocopies of several of Arthur’s articles & the pin for a slouch hat. I owe him a cap when I get back. It was a delightful visit. He had all sorts of books & “stuff” relating to Arthur. It was neat.
1 November 1999 – I headed out thru Melbourne only getting a little bit lost. South of Geelong the road turns reaching the coast at Torquay. This is the beginning of the Great Ocean Way. The GOW hugs the coast with beautiful vistas of the ocean & incoming waves. There is nothing between the coast & Antarctica. There are numerous scenic turnoffs. However, the folk driving along the road are much like tourists in Vermont during Foliage season. Instead of looking at every leaf they look at every wave. The thought of stopping & looking never seems to occur to them. Hence, the GOW is glacially slow. It was also the Melbourne Cup long weekend. This resulted in heavy traffic & hotels rates being tripled for the occasion. I found a bed in the YHA in Apollo Bay. $13 a night sounded pretty good.
2 November 1999 – I drove down to the lighthouse in Otway NP. It was a beautiful day, sunny & warm. From there I hiked west along the coast. There were beautiful views of the ocean. The wind was up & blew spray from the tops of the breakers. I did much of the hike with a couple of tourists. After I got back, I drove over to Aire River East. There I climbed the trail to the escarpment. It was neat. You didn’t come out at the escarpment until you were practically on it. Suddenly there was the view.
3 November 1999 – Up early to head up a scenic drive to the north of the hills sheltering the coast. I went in search of a couple of waterfalls, stopping first to take a hike in a delightful fern tree forest. The hike down to Beauchamp Falls was thru a lovely forest of gums & fern trees. The trees creaked & groaned in the wind. Down the road was Hauptoun Falls reached by a steep descent. Both falls were sort of ordinary, but became jewels because of their settings. They were worth the walk. A little bit down the road, according to my map, were some redwoods. To my delight they really were a good-sized stand of CA Redwoods. They were beautiful & so different from gums. They had been planted in 1936. They were now about 30 to 40 m tall & some of the trees had diameters of a good 2 m. I would love to see them in 500 years. On the way back I stopped in a roadhouse for lunch & had a chat with some German tourists. Then on to Melba Gully & a walk thru more neat tree ferns with a young German couple. My German is much better than at the start of the trip. That night I called Sue Batho to see if my credit card had arrived. Nope. I called Citibank. Guess what? They had sent the 2nd card to my Albany address as well. I went ballistic on them. I was promised that they would go & pull the card out & get it to me in Oz. I had my doubts. What a bunch of brain dead.
4 November 1999 – I headed over thru the woods to join the GOW. Diving along a very scenic coastline I dropped by the 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge [which collapsed in 1990 stranding 2 persons on the far piece]& a few other lookouts. It was quite spectacular. I pulled into Warrnambool for petrol & found that Citibank had cancelled my card. It seems that one of the ones they had sent to Albany had been returned. After having to call them twice, it got sorted out. What incompetents. I was able to sneak in for a quick, relatively, 15K Service for my car. Then on to Heywood.
5 November 1999 – It was a drizzly day as I headed up to Dunkeld. I stopped in at the Tourist Centre to ask about the long gone Hotel Bellfield which may have been the model for the Baden Park Hotel in one of Upfield’s novels. They were clueless. I gave it up & pressed on. I took some back roads across to the coast. It was quite a pretty drive. Went thru grazing lands & pine tree plantations. I stopped in at Port McDonnell. It was supposed to be Cowdry in another of Upfield’s books. The town appeared to be bailed up. The Tourist Centre, museum & police station were all closed. Headed on to Mt. Gambier. I got squared away & did some sightseeing…in the rain. Blue Lake was actually Blue. The other lakes in the area were grey. I next went to the sinkhole. Some rich guy in the 1880’s had dressed u the sinkhole with gardens, etc. the pictures of it were something else. About 20 years ago the locals had decided to restore the sinkhole. The did a very nice hob of it. It was very pretty. Some of the ivy was 1-2 m thick draped over the edge of the hole. Began to pour so I headed back. Crappy weather. Called Citibank. They have supposedly sent my card to the Batho’s.
6 November 1999 – Up early on the Sunday morning. Drove thru Tantonoola, but the town was closed up. It was 0900. No real directions to the “Tantonloola Tiger. Darn! Took the Alt. Hwy 1 up the coast thru some sandy coastal scrub & park. The weather seemed to improve as I headed into Adelaide. With a little bit of help I was able to find Roman Orszanski’s place. I’d be holing up there for a few days. That evening we went out for dinner with Yvonne Rousseau joining us. A very pleasant evening.
7 November 1999 – Went out bookstore hopping [didn’t buy anything] & then went over to a party at the home of one of Roman’s friends. She had just gotten her permanent resident card. She was from Brazil; there were a couple of Russians, & a scattering of folk from other countries as well as some home-grown Aussies. Most were associated with the university where she was studying. It made for very interesting conversation.
8 November 1999 – I headed out to the Adelaide Zoo, but there was no parking. Along the way I got a very pretty view from a lookout. It showed well how Adelaide is surrounded by a green swath. I carried on to the Cleland Conservation Park where I spent a delightful number of hours. The view of the city, down below, while getting there was beautiful. Afterwards I met Roman in town & we went out for dinner with several friends. This was followed by tea & a gamed based on Scrabble at the home of one of other friends. A very nice evening.
9 November 1999 – After a slow start I headed off to Glenelg, a suburb on the coast, for a walk around town & out on the jetty, where the wind was quite cool – direct from the South Pole. That evening I sat in as Roman did his radio show, which was followed by dinner with another chap from the station.
10 November 1999 – Up & out early. I headed downtown to await my pickup for a guided tour of the Barossa Valley. It included 4 vineyards, a side trip to the reservoir where the curve of the dam allowed one to speak to a person on the other side without shouting. Thewine as I expected was quite excellent. I tended to stay to white, non-dry wines. The weather cleared up from early morning overcast & was excellent.