Day 2 Sunday 16/6/19, Geelong to Mitre, cool… the weather that is.
We have a good night’s sleep. The diesel heater warms the van and the birds are singing. We bid our farewells to our hosts The Truckers and hit the road.
Thanks to lashings of recent rain everything is as green as green. We take the road to Ballarat past small farmlets bordered by old dry-stone fences and sheep. Lots of sheep and pure white lambs. Mt Buninyong rises high above the road ahead and the township of Buninyong is bigger, older and prettier than we can remember.
At Ballarat we join the Western Highway in the heart of the city and on the very next corner we see hundreds of ribbons tied to the fence of St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral in support of those affected by sexual abuse from the clergy. It’s a heartbreaking sight as Ballarat was severely affected and citizens tormented for decades. We pass under the World War One memorial arch and become so engrossed in a discussion about the 14miles of memorial trees to lost soldiers that we miss the ‘new’ highway on ramp. Thankfully El Prado calls us back on the radio and we only lose a few kilometres.
We stop to stretch our legs in Beaufort, there are some well-preserved old buildings and a tempting shop sees Elle with a new cape and Madam Secretary sporting a bright winter scarf. By lunchtime we find ourselves in Ararat and I’m wondering what disaster has caused all the shops to be closed. Oh, that’s right it’s Sunday! Another grey nomadic moment. Thankfully we find a bakery, the pie is filling but fails to make our Top Ten list.
We’re having problems with our left-hand caravan turning indicator. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t which is frustrating. Woody takes a different approach and says “In a coupla days we won’t need it anyway” (it’s a straight run of 2,700kms from Port Augusta to Darwin).
The small wine town of Great Western lures us off the highway for a quick tasting and Madam Secretary slips a half dozen in the back of the ‘Cruiser. This place must go on the list for a caravan club muster, I’m sure that a tour of the 3km long historic underground champagne drives would be a hit.
Getting a wriggle on we sail past the Big Koala and turn off at Horsham for Natimuk. By now Woody is getting edgy and wondering why I’ve taken us off the Western highway but I’ve found a rather interesting spot just past Mt Arapiles. The town of Natimuk is quaint and picturesque. Natimuk is used as a base for climbers visiting Mt. Arapiles, the country’s premier rock climbing location. Mt Arapiles and nearby Mitre Peak is quite stunning.
A few kilometres further on Duffholme Cottage bush camp is easily spotted by the bright yellow picket fence. Rob gallops out to greet us and direct us to sandy but level bushy spots in the scrub. Our fridge decides to play up and it takes about ten minutes of cursing to get it started on gas. Oh, here we go again, not another trip with a faulty fridge. Out in the scrub Rob has built a large fire and his dogs have settled in to get warm. Rob tells us a little about the history of the area. In the winter of 1864 three children, Jane, Isaac and Frank aged 9, 7 and nearly 4, walked into the bush to pick broom for their mother and became lost. In nine days and eight nights they wandered an estimated 60 miles before being found by aboriginal trackers. Rob’s wife Denise shows us their old hall building and takes an order for fresh eggs in the morning. It’s a 700 acre sheep property and there are chooks, ducks, geese, goats and a few alpaca wandering about. We warm ourselves by the fire and settle in for a peaceful night in the bush. Except for poor Elle, her new TV has given up the ghost and we know that she does have a serious reality TV addiction.
Summary Day 2 – 320kms, Toilets, Showers, Camels = 0