161225 Snowy River

With all the beauty in Australia, we chose to head east in the State of Victoria for Christmas. One of Lyn’s clients suggested that Marlo was a pretty place beside the ocean and well worth a visit in our gr8l1f motorhome (Ah!! the one that still has Queensland licence plates.) We set off around 12ish and after a stop for lunch, headed out past Bairnsdale and turned right at Orbost. Marlo is just a small village on the mouth of the well known and written about, The Snowy River.

We drove through the small town, and headed further east along the coast towards Cape Conran. Cape Conran has a lookout to view even further east towards Mallacoota, a well known lakes region 30-40kms off the Pacific Highway. Our main reason for the extra distance was to look for a nice free camp on the coast without venturing onto gravel roads. Yes, we did a U-Turn and back to Marlo.

There are great fishing facilities for the angler but as fishing is not our ‘thing’, we decided to stop in the local caravan park and try to enjoy the sunset from a motorhome parked in a caravan park. After dark, we sent Christmas wishes to many of our sites and friends. In the morning, we realised that we didn’t have any 240 power so checked out the power supply and switches, and had the wife of the owner check the power (with her trusty electric power drill). No solution, so she called her fisherman husband who was out in a dinghy for that elusive early morning fish. He returned, to even find out for himself, that there was another isolation switch that had tripped – problem solved.

Without too much discussion before deciding, we exited the caravan park and headed back towards Orbost where we had noticed a lot of small free camps along the Snowy River. Ah, found one that didn’t take much to convince us to stay. The reflections in the river were just so relaxing and inviting. So we set the motorhome up on its ‘pegs’ and extended the slide-out to make this 48 hour stay enjoyable. (The notice said 48 hours – the site needed our presence for just a little longer. It is Christmas and the authorities are having a long break. LOL.)

Breakfast was late but holidays for us, is commonly a two-meal-a-day formality. What a sight to enjoy breakfast at; the reflections were just superb. We have 4 still cameras and a movie camera with us and all of them were getting over-worked; in just the first two days, our iPhones alone took over 100 photos. A friendly lizard comes by regularly for his food supply of insects and foliage. I just wished he had an appetite for flies; millions of them reside here. The local kookaburras are joyful in the morning as he hunts for worms and other insects that may have died in the last 24 hours or so. The cicadas seem to switch on their ‘sound blaster’ around 7:00pm for an hour and then are gone. But they are not like the all day ‘music’ we had at Seymour a few weeks ago. We have to stop talking sometimes due to the close proximity of the main road to Marlo, but the scene before us and the nearby ‘friendly gum tree’ is in the right place for us to be shaded during the afternoon; we have a heat-wave happening.

Christmas Day was very quiet but there needed to be some gardening done. The shire has been regenerating the river banks by fencing off much of the vegetation along the Snowy. There are a number of spots along the banks that have been cleared, lawned and made beautiful for the Free Self Contained motor homers and caravaners. However, in the cleaning up, they had poisoned some of the large weeds just in the foreground of our view. These browned off weeds needed clearing, so I donned the gloves, shoes and gardening shorts to pull them out and move them to a pile for the council to collect at their leisure. The view is now more enhanced.

The only ‘real’ problem with ‘free camping’ is that the facilities in the motorhome need to be serviced. For the uninitiated, at free camping spots there are no water faucets, no toilets, no power, and no drainage. To service the power problem, we have 3 x 150w solar panels feeding into a pair of 100amp truck batteries. If there is no solar energy available, we have a 2.6kva generator to charge up the batteries and also run the convection/microwave oven and air conditioner, when needed. We have water storage to 250 litres and ‘grey’ water storage to around 100 litres. Leaving a neat and appropriate site with great reflective views, is hard. We thought we could find a site on the other side of the river, but first, we needed to drive into Orbost to empty the cassette and grey water at a dump point, and refill the fresh water tank. After a ‘hot’ breakfast of tea and toasted raisin bread at the local bakery, we drove the road on the other side of the Snowy River. Before we came to any free camp sites, we came upon a fallen tree that was preventing us getting any further. A year ago, I purchased a pruning saw in case I wanted to saw off some branches from fallen trees for a fire. The saw came in very handy clearing the way as if a chain saw had done the job – but a little slower and with more sweat. Each site was a little too difficult to get into so we drove back to the Marlo Road side of the river, and after checking all the vacant sites along the river, believed that we needed a further 48 hours in the site that we had left earlier in the day.

The weather is overcast with a little rain falling making the atmosphere humid but cooler. In the morning, we decided to venture on towards Lake Tyers. I had researched the free camps at Nowa Nowa and one photo there of the site, provided by a camper, showed a suggestion on a tree, “why stay here when you can come on down to Lake Tyers Waterwheel Pub where we have power, water and en suites for free?” So, after checking with the pub owner, we took the last spot available for the night, so we thought.

While at dinner, a horde of little backpacker vans arrived and filled in the gaps. The ‘wide open spaces’ had become their kitchen, their clothes line and their socialising point. They are all good kids from Germany Belgium Switzerland and Holland. I say “good”, because they all cleaned up their sites well, before leaving. (Often that is not the case at free camps in the bush.) At 10:30pm, we heard a “Beep, Beep, Beep” of a vehicle reversing over the sound of our air conditioner. It was this Japanese guy in a hired motor home who ended up about 18” from our motor home. He had clipped his van on the roof of the en suite beside us, in the process of reversing. Karma, I say. No one should arrive into a free camp at that time of night, and trying to park on the side of the ‘road’ is not a good selection.

The beach is not too far away so we took a walk in the very humid overcast conditions for an hour or so. The main problem with the camping sites is that there is no TV reception, no radio reception, no phone connection and therefore no internet connection. Just near the pub you get a weak communication signal. If we want to know the cricket score, we have to find out inside the pub. So we feel like an arm has been taken off us. LOL!

A couple of days ago, I got a chill and have a tap-nose that won’t turn off. Many of you know, I am also an excellent sneezer. (I got that from my mum.) And so for me to have 3 or 4 sneezes is a disappointment for Lyn. She loves to count up to 7 or 8 before she’s satisfied.

After a morning sunrise that needed viewing, breakfast and another walk along the beach, we headed towards Lakes Entrance to fill up with diesel. I had noticed the price in Orbost was 135.9 cents per litre so was ready for a hike in the normal prices we pay, only to be surprised we picked up some for 115.9 cents per litre – a holiday period surprise. Lyn felt she was back in Melbourne and didn’t want to be in the ‘busyness’ of shopping so we quickly exited and made our way to Metung. There is a free spot just prior to arriving in the village, close to the water and the moored yachts. (I had seen a great spot for taking a morning sunrise if it was like today’s, so watch out for tomorrow’s sunrise shots.)

As I said, the village of Metung is not too far away, just 2 kilometres, and so we took the walk along a delightful boardwalk. Along the boardwalk, Lyn realised that we had brought our bikes for just such an occasion and they were still attached to the motor home. Metung is a quiet little village with quaint shops that overlook the Gippsland Lakes. An ice-cream is always on our list of an afternoon, before making our way back to the camp site. There are only 3 other vehicles here tonight, 2 of them are residents of Australia and we haven’t spoken to the third. The forecast, ‘lots of rain’, hasn’t hit us yet but looks like it is on the way for tonight.

Yes, it did rain over night. We noticed it when we brought the slide-out in. Some of the water on top of the slide-out came in and then ran down the sides and into the motor home, making a bit of a wet mess to soak up. Lesson learned? Brush the top of the slide-out before bringing it in; you may get rid of both leaves and water accumulated on the roof. The weather was looking promising for a short distance and then more rain to travel through. We headed to Bairnsdale and on to Maffra to do a little supply shopping. Not knowing exactly where our destination was, and the phone GPS not looking like it was doing a good job for us, we had to sort of guess our way to Cowwarr Weir. This is a very nice spot but only for self contained vehicles, which mean the vehicle should have storage tanks for waste water and its own toilet. However, there is a toilet block here.

What a great ‘hidden-away’ gem? The grass is green and mown and the weir is shallow and looks inviting to the kayak enthusiast. There were just 7 other ‘seniors’ in their caravans for the first night we stayed here.

The weather turned cold and bleak on New Year’s day so out with the warm jackets, even during the day. Finally, we decided to come home the day after, stopping for a meal at Yarragon along the way and arriving home early evening.

Author: Colin Spain

The Official Blogger for Grey Nomads Travel and Cruise and GR8L1F

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