Day 5 Monday April 22nd 2013 touring Gellibrand and Johanna, Vic
It rained during the night, but the morning is clear and bright. With the Muster now officially over, the camp starts to break up. Two vans are headed to Perth for the winter and they’ll meet up with a few other vans from our club along the way. We all stand on the roadway and wave them off, shades of “wish me luck as you wave me goodbye”. Some leave to join the Muster of another chapter of the ACC at Lake Bolac, others head for home. This weekend has shown us a multitude of ways of travelling in our caravan and we’ve met a great bunch of like-minded people.
With more rain threatening we decide to drive to Colac. We stop at Johanna Beach which is wild and beautiful. The National Park campground is free, has about 60 grassy sites and the dunes and trees offer plenty of shelter from the wind. The toilets are new, but there are no showers.
Returning through the Otway Ranges, we chance upon the sleepy little timber town of Gellibrand and stop for lunch at the Gellibrand River Hotel. It’s a case of kicking the dogs out of the way to get to the tables, but I guess that’s country pubs for you. There has been a pub on this site since 1898. This area once boasted a narrow-gauge railway to haul timber down from the forest. There is a photo on the wall of a hollow tree trunk so large that several men and a horse are standing inside it! The butt of one felled tree was so large that it was used as a grandstand at the local sports ground and in fact, in the early 1900’s the visiting Victorian Governor and his official party danced the quadrille on it. Now that’s a tree.
The pub menu lists many variations of parmigiana, so we order the Gelli Schnitzel and get a meal that probably would have fed all those timber cutters and the horse. A huge schnitzel covered in avocado slices, melted cheese and a Hollandaise sauce along with a salad and chips on the side. Arriving with the meal was a small fox terrier that proceeded to stare up at me pleadingly until I eventually relented and gave him a chip, at which he turned up his nose and left. Obviously, it’s parmi’s only for this little bloke.
We visit Colac and then walk through Mait’s Rest fern gully before returning to camp for a bracing walk on the beach. We stragglers finish the day around the fire.
2022 Note: Not only were our eyes and ears opened to the many touring options, but our heads were spinning keeping up with everyone’s favourite spots. The long trips, the short. The weekend musters and tag-alongs to places further afield. But above all we liked that there were no muster rules in this club dictating that we should all do ‘this, that and the other’. There were some fun activities and exploring but if you felt like kicking back with a cuppa and a good book or losing yourself on a long beach walk then that was ok. In other words, there was company when you wanted it. This is the way our little club continues to operate and it makes travelling together easy and relaxed.
Johanna Beach campground is now maintained by Parks Victoria and fees apply. Why on earth didn’t I take a photo of the beach? It is one of the best in the country!
The Gellibrand River hotel had closed the last time we passed by.
Mait’s Rest fern gully is a delightful short walk.