Had a wonderful couple of days visiting in Alexandra catching up with family and the next stage of my journey would continue with more ‘catching up’.
On the way to Alexandra we stopped for lunch and a run for Jack at Peppin Point on Lake Eildon near Bonnie Doon.
That night Dot cooked a beautiful roast beef dinner – that’s one thing I certainly miss. My nephew Steve and his wife Judy were also there.
Ron, Dot and I also used the time to fill in all his family in the Family Tree that I have been working on. Dot is amazing as she had birth dates for their children, grand children and great grand children so I was able to enter all these. Now I’m inspired to continue with other family members.
We left Alexandra, spent a night in Bendigo with Ian, an old friend of Marion’s and left the next day for Avoca. I had travelled through this countryside when I bought Brutus home to the Gold Coast and knew Marion would love it – and she did! Lovely rolling green hills, sheep, pretty little towns.
I loved this pub in Avoca that had the bank attached to it. Apparently the bank no longer operated and the room is set up for private functions. We camped on the river flats which we found out we weren’t supposed to do, but you can stay overnight in the Lions Park on the other side of the highway. There is also a dump point here, a supermarket that opens 7 days and a good information centre.
We left Avoca and called into the Wool Cottage at Amphitheatre where they breed coloured sheep and spin the wool and also sell mostly locally made sheepskin and wool products. Here is a link to their website.
We also stopped at the old Amphitheatre Hotel, which is in the process of being slowly restored but they are currently famous for their ice-cream, which we indulged in and thoroughly enjoyed.
I rang an old school friend, Bob, who lives not far from here and we ended up parking the vans in his yard for the night and by chance happened to help him celebrate his birthday that day. Marion took a photo of us together and I thought I’d share it with you, but also the photos I had of when we first went out at school in 1962, and then again in 1964. OMG – look what the years have done! But how lucky am I to still have this friendship after all these years!
Marion and I went our separate ways the next day as she was booked on the ferry back to Tasmania the following day and I was heading further west. The weather was cold, wet and miserable so I didn’t go far and found a powered site at a Recreational Ground at Willeura and holed up there for a couple of days catching up on emails, blogging and reading. This is when I discovered Brutus is a very small van to spend a lot of time in. It’s the first time I’ve really stopped and thought “What the hell am I doing?”
My cousin, Heather, lives at Branxholme, just south of Hamilton so that was my next stop. The fire was going when I got there and it didn’t take long to thaw out, relax and catch up on what we’d been doing with our lives since we last saw each other. It was also a great opportunity to meet her daughter, Rose, who I had never met before. What a lovely night we had together.
My next stage was to head to Portland and do something about Brutus, who was travelling very rough, engine missing more and more particularly up hills and I was worried there was something seriously wrong. A very helpful man at the information centre gave me details about some of the rare free camps along the Great Ocean Road, and also the name of a mechanic to go and see at Cleary Motors in Portland.
The mechanic, Peter Cleary, couldn’t see me until the next day so I took a trip to Cape Bridgewater and enjoyed fish and chips at the beachside cafe. They always taste better in a location like this, don’t you think?
The cold weather didn’t stop these enthusiastic young surfers from enjoying their class.
A quick overnight stay at Narrawong (free camp), back to Portland the next day, and couple of hours later Brutus had new spark plugs and a new spark plug lead – and a new lease on life! I was accelerating up hills, something I have never been able to do!
Narrawong was a pretty campsite, bushy and not too busy.
This little lady visited me, complete with joey in pouch. When she stopped to eat, the joey would pop its head out of the pouch and nibble on some grass too.
With Brutus going like a dream I decided to head off along the Great Ocean Road.