02 December 2011

11 November 2011 – Bairnsdale, Mallacoota, Home.

Sorry for the late . . . . . . .  . make that ‘very late’, update of the blog.  We are now at home, and have been for three weeks.
We spent Melbourne Cup day at the Bairnsdale racecourse and, firstly, had a really enjoyable time and secondly, were amazed by the size of the crowd.  Also of interest was the fashions worn by the different age groups. I assume that every Melbourne Cup Day race meeting holds a series of “Fashion Parades” and that most are conducted more in merriment and fun than in any seriousness.  So it was at Bairnsdale.
The clothes chosen by the majority of younger men were clearly from the cheaper racks, and those of the young ladies were selected by the amount of flesh that could be exposed (I don’t have any objection to this!).  As the people within the main category ascended to dais, it was obvious that a lot more money had been spent, and a huge increase in style was apparent from both genders.
Race Day crowd at Bairnsdale

We were fascinated to see just how many race meetings were available for betting.  Every major city and almost every provincial town had races that were being displayed upon the huge trackside screen.
We lost $70 on the Cup – although not to worry, we’ll just sell one of the kids into bondage.
Prior to leaving Bairnsdale, we took the opportunity to drive up to Omeo and revisit some old memories. 33 years ago we took the kids to Omeo, and other Gippsland places,  for their first big camping trip. The campground has changed in many ways, but is still quite recognizable as the one we stayed at. Where once there was a fairly wide and shallow river running beside the park, it has now become so overgrown with weeds that access to the water is almost impossible. Another change is the introduction of power and water poles to each site such that it now resembles every other caravan park. Gone is the rustic rural campground where there were no powered sites and water was carried from the communal tap.
 Omeo Caravan Park
 The Mighty River (now but an overgrown shadow of its former glory)
Shirl finally got a close-up photo of an Echidna
From Bairnsdale we moved to Mallacoota where, after booking into our chosen park, we did a quick drive around to discover the ‘lay of the land’. What we found must rate as one of the largest caravan parks in Australia. This park extends around the foreshore of the entire Mallacoota village – it has numerous ‘personal jetties’ that are rented out to those who are occupying a park site.  Mallacoota Inlet is quite spectacular in appearance in that it has many small sand based islands, together with larger vegetated ones. As low tide arrives, many sand banks are exposed which explains why the place is a mecca for the Flathead and Whiting fisherfolk.
I went out on a charter boat one day and was quite astounded by the vast sea grass beds and the relative ease of getting a few flathead (amazing how easy thing become when you do them the correct way!).  If you have a boat, this is a truly outstanding water way.
This Park extends for .................. ever.

On our last day we drove up to Gypsy Point (about 20km) and went on an eco style boat trip. The ‘Capt” was quite astounding in that he could locate tiny birds and water dragons from far greater distances than we could see. We had trouble seeing the log he was pointing to, let alone the 2 inch long dragon camouflaged upon it. Perhaps the biggest ‘party trick’ was where he fed the sea eagles – spotted a pair up in a dead tree, motored over toward them, grabbed a dead fish from a bucket, grabbed a BIG syringe and began injecting the fish.  When asked by a passenger “what are you injecting into it?”, he replied “Heroin, it keeps them coming back!”.  The reality is that he was injecting air into the fish so that it would better float.
The birds began circling above the boat until he tossed the fish about 5 metres away. The birds were swooping before the fish hit the water, and their attack had pinpoint accuracy and was awesomely spectacular. Something to remember.
 They start here!
and they hit with massive speed, accuracy, and vigour
Thursday was moving day – hitched up in pouring rain, drove off in pouring rain, continued driving in pouring rain until we were we up the climb towards Bombala. We stopped for the night at Nimmitabel (at 1100 metres altitude) – not the warmest location in Australia.  The campground is a self managed council one where you drive in, set up, ring a osted number and a guy pops over to give you the special key code to access the secure water key.
Nimmitabel is a bit sad really. Here we have a very old Aussie town that has some real history, but modern life is killing it. Even the pub has closed, and the one remaining club closes at 6:00pm – no meals!  Apart from having a great (make that a real great) bakery, the town has very little business remaining.
The following morning, Friday 11th, we arrived home after 8 months on the road.
The work of unloading and re-establishing life in a big house has now started.
Thanks to all those who have followed the blog – I’ll do one more post of the basic stats from our trip this year, then it’ll be bye from me, and bye from her, until next March/April when we head off again.

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