Wednesday, December 12, 2007

DAY 68: Nelson to Portland

The road from Nelson to Portland is not too great scenically - just commercial forestry for most of the 70km.

Pic of Portland on promenade.

DAY 67: Mount Gambier to Nelson

Tue 11th December 2007
39 km @ 17.2 km/hr
Showery, cool, sunny later
Distance to date 4455 km (2784 miles)

Today I crossed the border from SA to Victoria - my third state so far - woohoo!!

Yet another leisurely start as I am booked onto internet at the library 0900 for an hour. I wonder if Victoria also offers free internet at libraries - I’ll find out soon enough.
Updated blog, did a bit of surfing, then quick coffee and cake and on the road to Nelson only about 2 hours away. The road from MG to Nelson is undulating but no hills too steep or too long. Very light traffic, and mostly lorries, especially logging trucks. It was drizzling lightly, just enough to make me put on my Sprayway jacket for the first time in over a month! Trouble is one starts to get sweaty with it on, and then cold when it's taken off.

I was in Nelson by 1400 and setting up my tent at a $10 site. No kitchen unfortunately so have to get my own stove out tonight.

Nelson is a very small place and very peaceful by the look of it - certainly the huge caravan park is pretty much deserted, and I was told to pitch anywhere I like. Things will be different in a couple of weeks after the schools have broken up for the long summer holidays and the whole of Oz hits the road for holidayville. Things might get a bit more rowdy then, but on the other hand it could be more sociable than it can be at the moment at times. Many caravan parks get full it seems and you'd normally have to book, but they can usually find room for a tent.

I checked out the TIC where there was lots of info as usual, and they also had a good selection of books - I bought the Birds of Australia Green Guide and a map of Victoria. There’s only 1 general store and a hotel here, and at the former I got coffee, pastie and a few bits and bobs that would would have been cheaper in Chelsea Hight Street - definitely absolute essentials only!
I’m presently sat by the River Glenelg where a large number of birds are enjoying the sunshine and splashing about - Ibis (first I’ve seen this trip); Black Swans, Purple Swamphens, Eurasian Coots ( 1000’s of ‘em), Mallards (the only succesful non-indigenous duck in Oz); Brown Ducks, Pacific Black Ducks (very common), Silver Gulls, and there’s a bird stood on a rock hanging out it’s wings to dry that’s either a Cormorant or Darter - they’re very similar. This one had a white lower face and thrao if anyone can advise me.

Later on I went exploring by bike and found 2 beautiful beaches about 5km away - Estuary Beach and Ocean Beach - as you might expect the first is calm and the second is a surf beach with the Southern Ocean thundering in loudly. Both stretch far into the distance; pure white sand and vivid blue sea and hardly a person to be seen. This whole area is very quiet and unspoilt, a real find - I’m glad I stopped here instead of ploughing on to Portland today. On Estuary Beach, well, out on a sandbar, Pelicans mingled close up with what I believe are some Great Cormorant, along with a Black-winged Stilt and a Pied Oystercatcher or two. Over on Ocean Beach three old local men were off gathering cockles at low tide, and we chatted briefly. The roads around these beaches were utterly deserted and I had this idyllic place to myself - I imagined days like this during the planning of this trip.

I’m keen to spend another day here, yet from what I understand from others there are lots of nice places between here and Melbourne. There’s also a boat trip up the Glenelg River tomorrow afternoon that I wouldn’t mind going on, and I also fancy hiring a canoe to explore the river myself. A Dutch lady was telling me about lots of kuddly koalas to be seen at Kennet River, 4 or 5 days east of here, for example. It seems the wildlife is prolific in Victoria! It’s all just too exciting!

As I was cooking dinner some Wallabies wandered around grazing on the patches of grass I managed to get within 10 metres of one without any reaction .and took the pic - note the Joey in her pouch. On the roof of the camp office a dozen Lorrikeets were showing off with a burst of multicolour and their usual racket, but swarmed away screeching as I approached, as if it was the end of the world.

Yippee - I managed at last to open an account with Gotalk so should now be able to call the UK at about one twentieth of Telstra’s exorbitant rate - for 1.7 cents a minute. I am aware that Lyn and I have not spoken as much as I would like. All I have to do is ring an Oz number, punch in my pin code, and then dial the number. I'll also have to pay for the call from the Telstra call box but with a local number this should be a flat 50 cents (20p).

Well, what started as a damp squid of a day turned out to be a bright and sunny one, a very enjoyable day all round.

The watch went yet another half-hour ahead as I entered Victoria today, meaning I’m now 11 hours ahead of the UK.