After a fairly laid back week in Mornington we were starting to prepare ourselves for the move from Victoria down to Tasmania. We’d been in and around Melbourne for a few weeks in several locations but our time in the Garden State was drawing to a close.
Last day in Mornington
The last full day at Kate and Mals Airbnb was supposed to be a quiet lazy affair but somehow it just didn’t end up that way. Not really sure what happened but we ended up walking down the Peninsula again, descending several hundred ricketty stairs and then stripping off and running screaming into the sea! Well, maybe not stripping. And perhaps not a lot of screaming, but we did go for a swim in the bay at Birdrock Beach.
Fabulously calm and sandy we spent ages swimming and building dams and digging holes and skimming stones (it may just have been me doing the last three to be honest). The day was crowned by a visit to Grumpys Pizzas on our way home. Now although the Barbeque Chicken pizza was a triumph of epic proportions, it was the repartee and incisive political discusion had whilst waiting that really made the visit special.
Friday was a little sad as we had seriously enjoyed our week staying with Kate and Mal, they had just made us so very welcome and are a lovely couple. The house was lovely with just one slight problem. Their cat, Babette, didn’t appear to approve of me staying at all giving me continual looks of irritation and sheer indifference all week. You all know me and cats though. Till we meet again Babette ….
Final Big Day Out
Our good friends Shelagh and Brian had kindly invited us to stay for a couple more nights before we left for Tasmania and they’d planned a big day out for us. Apparently there was a town up in the Great Dividing Range about 180 km away that we just had to visit. An early start saw us taking the Grand Ridge Road up into the range to a town called Walhalla.
It’s an absolutely fascinating place, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a film or at least a tv mini-series produced about Walhalla. It’s actually an old gold-mining town that sprang up in the mid 1800s when a former convict called Edward Stringer discovered gold in a small creek. He and three other explorers registered the claim but obviously as soon as word got out there was a major rush of prospectors to the area and the town started to spring up. Before long there were over 3000 people living in what was initially named Springers Creek. Large mines were dug as the area boomed and the town was renamed to Walhalla after one of the most successful companies.
The whole town has been remarkably preserved and is now a major tourist attraction in this part of Australia. It was just fascinating to walk up the main street past all of the original old buildings to the Long Tunnel Mine, everything has been amazingly restored. The weather was perfect too as we walked high above the town to the mine entrance. This is where we had a bit of drama.
Shelagh and I were walking ahead and approached the side of the Long Tunnel museum. It was beautifully quiet and you could hear the birds overhead and the light wind rustling through the trees. Jo and Brian were a few yards behind as we got to the side of the building. Suddenly a scream rang out! Language such as I had never heard! Shelagh leapt several feet backwards in a mighty bound. Pale of face and pointing at the floor. ‘SNAKE’. I didn’t react quick enough so got more information ‘SNAKE ……… THERE’. Looking down she was perfectly correct, there was a snake and it was actually pretty big. And moving. Fast. Like the winning couple in Strictly Come Dancing we both span around, took several large steps, and twisted back in unison to keep our eyes on the greeny greyish four foot long snake wriggling towards the grass. As my blood pressure returned to normal and Shelagh reclaimed her senses we were joined by Jo and Brian and all of the pointing and saying ‘snake’ started again. What excitement. Shelagh has lived in Oz for 18 years and never before seen one so I guess we were lucky. I guess.
It turned out that it was a Tree Snake of some sort, or a Tiger snake according to the museum lady (but she didn’t seem to know her **** from her elbow so lets ignore her).
The rest of the day went without incident luckily and we had a fabulous time exploring Walhalla and wondering just why it hadn’t ever been brought to the big screen. One of the most incredible statistics is that from the height of 3,500 residents in the boom years, the town went through a serious decline when the gold ran out and now there are only 12 people living there. Unbelievable isn’t it?
On the way home we stopped at the impressive Thomson Dam for a few photos and to marvel at the view before a slap up meal at Baxters Tavern finished the day in style. Fantastic. Brian and Shelagh really pulled out all of the stops to give us a brilliant last day in Victoria and mainland Australia, they’ve looked after us so much and we’ll never ever forget it. What amazing friends.
Next stop Hobart
So that was it, time to fly. Our friends kindly dropped us at Melbourne airport and we were soon on our way over the Bass Strait to the city of Hobart on the south coast of the island of Tasmania. Bit of a bumpy ride with Virgin Australia before arriving in the quaint Hobart airport. Our next Airbnb apartment was on the other side of the city so we’d booked the airport bus and were expecting a quiet dull ride across the bay. Wrong! The drive turned out to be one of the most entertaining journeys we have ever taken. Nothing really exciting happened however, it was all down to our driver. His name was Joe but if you don’t mind I will call him ‘Camp Joey’. He was a lovely friendly guy who just chatted for the whole trip about unrelated, ridiculous, unfunny events in a high pitched animated way. So entertaining. We loved ‘Camp Joey’.
We’ll tell you all about Hobart next time but first impressions are great. It looks like our sort of place.
19.11 – 22.11.2015