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Bendigo to Great Otway National Park

...via Kyneton, Ballarat and part of the Great Ocean Road

semi-overcast 31 °C
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After a relaxing short stay in Bendigo, we made our way to Kyneton to see our friends Maxine and Nicky. It was Nicky who had an operation which resulted in a change to our plans. She was still recuperating but issuing instructions to anyone who would listen nonetheless! However, we and Maxine escaped to the paddock so that she could show us her little flock of rescued sheep which were very friendly.

Maxine's sheep see her and know food is on the way

Maxine's sheep see her and know food is on the way

Steve watching Maxine with her sheep

Steve watching Maxine with her sheep

Judith watching Maxine with her sheep

Judith watching Maxine with her sheep

Nicky relaxing - also just watching?

Nicky relaxing - also just watching?

Our friends' property is actually a little way out of town so we only got to see a little of the town passing through. This was a pity as it has some interesting history. The town's name may have arisen from the suggestion of the wife of an early settler that it be named after a family property in Kington, Herfordshire. I prefer, and find more likely, the idea that the name was adopted from the name given to it by prospectors 'Cow Town', in their dialect, Kyne Town (kyne being an old term for cattle) and thence Kyneton.

When we were travelling through Queensland, we found many references to places being named by the explorer, Major Thomas Mitchell. He also travelled through this area and gave the name Campaspe to the river he crossed at or near the site of the present day town. Campaspe was one of Alexander the Great's courtesans - very apt!

In 1859, the Kyneton Mounted Rifle Corps was formed, one of the earliest such units in Victoria and in 1870, Ned Kelly was tried at Kyneton Courthouse for robbery under arms. Apparently many of the old buildings remain so with those and the history (Caroline Chisholm also lived here) it would have been an interesting stop over had time permitted.

As it was, and as usual, we had too little time in the area before we had to wend our way through lovely countryside and pretty towns like Woodend and Daylesford, on our way to Ballarat. Here we stayed at the Big 4 Windmill Caravan Park and, apart from slightly tight parking, enjoyed our stay there. The name, Ballarat, is thought to originate from two Aboriginal words 'balla' and 'arat' meaning 'resting place'. From what we saw of the town, a very appropriate name.

The Beast tucked in nice and tight

The Beast tucked in nice and tight

A view of the eponymous windmill and the park area

A view of the eponymous windmill and the park area

Our only full day in Ballarat was spent at Sovereign Hill and we could easily have stayed longer. It was a pity, photographically, that it was overcast for most of the day but if it hadn't been, I suspect it could have been uncomfortably warm. For anyone not familiar with Sovereign Hill, it is a large area, on the edge of Ballarat, on which old buildings or recreations have been erected with some three odd streets running through, to give a picture of life around the mid-19th century. Along the street there is a variety of shops and manufactories typical of the era, mostly (cafes and restaurants excepted) demonstrating various craft and selling the produce. There are two mines, at one of which one can try panning for gold, and also a very interesting Chinese Camp. As if the buildings were not enough, there are many people who stage street theatre or give demonstrations of, for example, musket firing. It is a really interesting and educational experience.

Selection of old buildings

Selection of old buildings

Some of the characters we encountered

Some of the characters we encountered

The shops had a huge variety of goods for sale

The shops had a huge variety of goods for sale

On our way out of Ballarat, we admired their Arch of Victory with the Avenue of Honour or Remembrance Drive stretching away from it.

Arch of Victory, Ballarat

Arch of Victory, Ballarat

We then headed south towards the outskirts of Geelong and then to Torquay which had large signs proclaiming it to be the start of the Great Ocean Road but the road westwards then took us inland out of sight of the coast! Between Torquay and Anglesea, we turned off to Point Addis (named after Lieutenant Edward Brown Addis, an early Crown Lands Commissioner) where there was some quite attractive coastal scenery.

View from Point Addis

View from Point Addis

Bay and cliffs below Point Addis

Bay and cliffs below Point Addis

Beyond Anglesea (originally called Swampy Creek then named after the town in Wales), we started to drive along the Great Ocean Road actually with views of the ocean then on an inland stretch found a chocolatier where we had a good lunch and, of course, indulged in some chocolate buying.

Almost too good to eat

Almost too good to eat

Colourful display of amazing selection of chocolates

Colourful display of amazing selection of chocolates

The views as we drove along were beautiful but not quite what we had expected after all the hoopla about the GOR and, unfortunately, as it was mainly overcast we did not get the best experience - physically, emotionally or photographically! At Lorne (named after John Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll and Marquis of Lorne, on the occasion of his marriage to Queen Victoria's fourth daughter, Princess Louise), we turned inland to see Erskine Falls which were very pretty, although I didn't get to the bottom as my knee was playing up rather painfully. Luckily, Judith soldiered on and took some good photographs. Our journey from Torquay through to the Twelve Apostles (next blog) was made less enjoyable by the traffic. We were surprised to find so many Chinese tourists, evidently new to touring as they tootled along at about 40kph seemingly oblivious of other traffic and clearly not used to driving on the left, hence the many signs we saw in English and Chinese exhorting drivers to drive on the left! . There were so many of them (Chinese tourists, not signs!) that we wondered if there was a Chinese holiday season into which we had driven!

Erskine Falls, near Lorne

Erskine Falls, near Lorne

Climbing the steps back up from the falls

Climbing the steps back up from the falls

We continued to just beyond Apollo Bay (named for the ship "Apollo" which moored in the bay in 1845, taking shelter from the weather) where the 'Great Ocean Road' then winds inland again through the Cape Otway area. We followed the GOR as far as the turn-off towards Cape Otway and our cabin in Bimbi Caravan Park (after Gladys had led us astray in the forest!). The cabin was a reasonable size compared with some places we have stayed but the water has to be boiled before consumption, there is no TV, no mobile reception and no internet. There are times when I would revel in being cut-off from the world but falling behind with the blog was a pain! The park was OK with some nice trees and shrubs but the roads were all fine dust, so a bit of a mucky place to be. In the early evening we went for a walk on the 'Bird Route'. We heard a few birds but caught only glimpses and the 'bird hide' turned out to be a rotting bench in a shelter in which the corrugated iron roof was rusted and falling through. At least it was a nice walk and when we got back to the beginning of the track we were directed by some visitors down another track where, with the help of some Chinese visitors, we saw a koala quite high in a tree. We went back to the cabin where thornbills and fantails were flitting around the cabin and nearby we spotted a woman with her camera pointed up - another koala, right above her campsite!

Cape Otway was named after Captain Albany Otway by his friend, Lieutenant James Grant, a Royal Navy officer and navigator who commanded the "Lady Nelson" and became the first person to sail through the Bass Strait. A replica of the "Lady Nelson" is to be found in Hobart.

The Beast outside our Bimbi Park cabin

The Beast outside our Bimbi Park cabin

The ramshackle bird hide

The ramshackle bird hide

The following morning, we both felt a bit under the weather (no, we had not drunk untreated water nor had we over-indulged in our consumption of alcohol!). As a result we had a bit of an 'admin' morning although we did get some photos of a koala in a tree behind our cabin.

Dozy koala at Bimbi Park

Dozy koala at Bimbi Park

The koala moved a tiny bit - really!

The koala moved a tiny bit - really!

We had a look at what there was to see in the area and decided to leave the local area until the next day and to take advantage of some finer weather to head inland to Colac and the Red Rock Lookout. A few kilometres from the park, just as we got onto the Great Ocean Drive, Judith had to stop as a koala was ambling along the road and then when our cameras came out, clambered up a roadside tree - a lovely close encounter. I have a nice little video clip of the koala but, annoyingly, despite trying to upload this several times in different ways, I have had no success so you will just have to believe me that they don't just sleep in trees!

Our road-running koala safely up a tree

Our road-running koala safely up a tree

Driving through forest and then out into open farmland, we found the drive interesting and the views from the lookout over the volcanic landscape really great. We had not expected to find this type of very different scenery in Australia as generally the geology is very old whereas volcanoes are relatively recent (big generalisation!). At the foot of the lookout we found an information board about William Buckley, an escaped convict who lived with Aborigines in the area for several years. Apparently, the expression 'you've got Buckley's', meaning no chance, arose from his exploits although I would say that having survived in the area with Aborigines and then being pardoned on his return to 'civilisation' showed that he actually had a number of chances! Maybe the expression is ironic? Other information boards provide details of the variety of volcanic activity that occurred and pointing out the ways in which the landscape has been formed by this activity - salt lakes, freshwater lakes, basalt hills, hollows etc.

Countryside near Colac

Countryside near Colac

Panoramic view from Red Rock Lookout

Panoramic view from Red Rock Lookout

View from Red Rock Lookout towards Lake Corangamite

View from Red Rock Lookout towards Lake Corangamite

View from Red Rock Lookout, showing some of the volcanic features

View from Red Rock Lookout, showing some of the volcanic features

The name Colac is believed to derive an Aboriginal word meaning 'sand' or 'fresh water' in reference to Lake Colac.

Having sunned ourselves at the lookout and soaked up the magnificent 360 degree views, we headed back into the town to a bird reserve which was an added bonus. There were lovely walking trails and a good variety of birds. We saw our first avocet (for this trip) and huge numbers of pelicans among the birds on offer. It was later than usual for us by the time we left and we stopped for a meal (pie & chips - ever the gourmets!) at Laver's Hill on the way back. The last stretch was in dusk and dark and we had to be very careful as there were quite a few kangaroos and wallabies close to or on the road.

Crested Pigeon

Crested Pigeon

Raft of pelicans

Raft of pelicans

More pelicans flying in

More pelicans flying in

Black-shouldered kite on the hunt

Black-shouldered kite on the hunt

Posted by SteveJD 14:08 Archived in Australia

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