We headed further into the Snowy Mountains on Boxing Day, the weather had turned overnight, and the sky was now grey and full of rain. As we looked up where we thought that Mount Kosciuzko should be somewhere in the clouds, we were thankful for the perfectly blue skies we’d had over the previous days. The steep winding road took us through rain soaked, fern filled gullys. As Alisha said “It looks like we are driving back to the Jurassic Period”. That night we shared a bottle of wine with a couple on holiday who had been thinking of getting an overland vehicle and starting of long term travelling themselves. They reminded us so much of us a few years ago, so keen to make the leap to a different life but still thinking through all the possibilities. Hopefully we inspired them, rather than put them off.
The following night we climbed to the beautiful but basic campsite, Raspberry Hill, on the saddle of a hill in the Alpine National Park. It was a beautiful clear night as the temperature dropped to 2 degrees. The following morning at 7.30, we were hoping for an early start for a busy day. As Steve turned over the engine, nothing happened. It sounded like diesel wasn’t getting to the engine, after a quick check of the filter we came to the surprising conclusion that the diesel had waxed due to the cold conditions. We couldn’t believe it! At only 1500m and 2 degrees we were experiencing something that we had only had problems with when over 4000m or below -15 degrees before. So much for good Aussie diesel, I suppose there usually isn’t much need for an added de-icing agent in the middle of summer. Eventually after 40 minutes of the sun shining; both cab and back diesel heaters (their exhausts come out near the tanks); and a kettle full of hot water under the filter the truck coughed into life.
The rest of the day turned out beautifully though as we continued to Mount Buffalo National Park. The drive up the mountain was very twisty; scenic; and made even more exciting by the huge numbers of cyclists and motorcyclists who enjoying the speed of the curves were getting carried away crossing the central white line and were surprised when they found a 10 ton truck coming the other way round the blind corners.
We were planning on passing nearby the site of the last siege of one of Australia’s most iconic folk heros, Ned Kelly. Famed for his homemade suit of armour made of ploughshares. The small town of Glenrowan is stuffed full of Ned Kelly sites. The museum was all very interesting and educational. I’m still not quite sure why he is hailed as a hero rather than a criminal, still it created lots of interesting discussions with the girls.
After over a week in the mountains it was time to head back down to the coast. Nicely for us, Steve had picked a route that went via the Yarra Valley. So we popped into a couple of vineyards on the way to the Mornington Peninsula.
We were excited to see old friends from England: Richard, Janet and their son Joseph at their lovely beach house. We just about squeezed onto their drive, completely blocking it. Anyone wanting to get in or out of the property had to leap over the agapanthus hedge. Hopefully the agapanthus, so pretty and evocative of this region at this time of year, will recover. We hadn’t seen the family since Alisha was a baby but Steve and Richard, friends from their early 20s, were soon chatting like they had never been apart. They had prepared a sumptuous “Christmas dinner” for our first night, we walked off our feast on the beach as the most marvellous sunset developed.
The following day, the boys “hunted and gathered” back at Melbourne’s Victoria Market for that night’s New Year’s Eve celebrations while Janet took us to explore the beach and the charming village of Flinders. To cool off that afternoon we went pier jumping, lots of fun. Amazingly Lucy decided to join in, jumping 4m into the sea.
Over the following couple of days we ate lovely meals; stayed up late talking over bottles of wine in their “lighthouse tower” with great views over the coast ; took long hikes along the beaches; went cherry picking; dug sand castles; boogie-boarded; wine tasted and generally had a wonderful time with them. Jo is a lovely young man and was great with the girls. We got to experience a bit of Aussie summer beach life and loved the Mornington Peninsula. We thought Flinders was wonderful and a really fun place to hang out for a few days with such great people.