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"Rockytoo"
 Part 5
The travel adventures of
Geoff & Margaret Clifton
CMCA Member

 

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Thursday 18/03/04
5.3/14.5  24.7/-26

We  took the Drummer Rainforest Walk yesterday morning, 1Km return.  Not quite TV stuff, looked rather scruffy with flood debris decaying in the lower growth above trickles of creek and river grown with algae and almost stagnant from drought.

10Km down to Cann River which is the Post Office center in an area of logging industry.  We had a short walk around and Margaret questioned that there must be more to the town down the road.  ‘Nothin’ there, it’s a shit of an ‘ole’, voiced a local lady within earshot.  I asked if she knew the road down to Point Hicks and another local sitting across the road called out that the National Parks opposite the Caltex would know.  No secrets in this town.

The Vic Parks office was open 3 days a week and closed for lunch 12-12.30.  We got lucky, the day was right and he was 15mins late back from lunch.  Young Phil turned out to be very pleasant and helpful.  We spent an hour chatting about the effort it had taken to get part way in to VP’s with years of summer volunteer work and now occasional short relief contracts he was hoping to be offered one of the least popular office vacancies in another unwelcoming logging town.  Phil told us that the 100Km in and out round trip to Point Hicks may not be what we wanted as the coast was similar to what we’ve done but with the addition of a light house plus it was marine park and no fishing.  Reckoned the run further down to Cape Conrad, down the coast and back in to the hiway at Orbost might be better.  We chatted about our trip and he let us use the magic phone plug.

Down at Cape Conrad we found a beaut spot in a car park on the beach with a tap and gas bbq.  Unfortunately a bit too close to a camping ground and while I was out feeding squid to the seaweed the camp manager tapped on the door and invited Margaret up to the camp as it was no camping where we were.  Subtle but effective.  Being too late in the day to keep looking further we headed into the camp ground.  Office closed, catch you tomorrow, we had been told by one guy on the beach it was $7 but our neighbours have told us it’s $14 for up to 4 people.  Oh well, gotcha.  Only the third pay on the trip.

One thing about a camp site is people to chat with.  Two Canadians in a renter doing Melborne to Brisbaine in 10 days had a lot of interest in R2’s electric’s comparing it to their 35’ sailboat they had left in NZ.  They want to come back to Oz and do a long trip.  Our other neighbour lent his ear to electrical discussion.  He was towing a caravan and had two vented type deep cycle batteries in black plastic slightly vented boxes inside his vehicle and up against the vent and fan of his 60L Engel.  Had never checked the water in 12 months as they were too hard to get at and was surprised when I mentioned enclosed hydrogen adjacent to a cheap fan motor had potential.  ‘Done by an auto electrician so it should be OK’.  Maybe I should have left him blissfully unaware but I introduced Ray to ‘motorhome electric’s’ and Wolf to the CMCA.  (Note- Lead acid batteries give off hydrogen gas when charging and electrical devices are potential sources of ignition –KerrBangggg.  The batteries must be well vented outside the vehicle.  Sealed gel type batteries that do not vent gas can be used inside.)

Shall cruise the coast south this arvo.

 

 

Fri 19/3/04
4.7/12.1  24.6/-31

Coldest morning yet on the Snowy River bank south of Orbost. 12 deg in R2
but the radio reports 7-8 deg down the road at Bairnsdale.  However we were greeted by a glorious sunrise of burnt gold down the length of the river and a low thin fog hovering on the paddocks.  It bettered the silvery greys and pinks of last nights sunset in the other direction.  Rob Gray would do some good work here, my little digital Kodak went flat and is charging.  Have had a shocking failure rate with Jaycar rechargeable AA’s and am down to one set of four from ten.

Left Cape Conran late as usual, about 2pm.  Called into the managers hut to pay on the way out but no one home.  Walking back to the truck a young girl came running over from am adjacent building.  $14.70 for parking under a tree, don’t hold your breath till I come back.

The drive along the coast down to Marlo was really a bitumen tunnel between coastal scrub & trees punctuated by a couple of beach access car parks.  Point Ricardo and we had lunch at Mote Beach.  Yawn, miles and miles of more golden sand and surf J.  They luv their ‘camping prohibited’ signs along here.  Marlo was a tidy tiny town at the end of the coast run.  Nice Triangle Park with a free gas bbq and a tap from which I replenished a nearly empty rear tank.   It’s a good feeling to have a weeks water on board as having driven thru so many dry areas with brown bore water, suspect tanks fed from the dunny roof or still dirty creeks you really don’t know where your next clean fill will come from.  Half an hour teaching a piece of squid the art of survival off the Marlo jetty and we said thanks and farewell.

The 14Km run from Marlo to Orbost took on a dramatic change of landscape as we came along the side of the river and coastal scrub gave way to pasture.  Went into the town and visited the licensed IGA for a few groceries.  VB stubbies $32.99 … yeah OK, I’ve gone 4 days without a beer in protest against $38.

Chatted with the nice lady at the IGA and told her we were planning to head south and stop at a rest area on the hiway but did she have any local knowledge of a good overnighter.  ‘Just between you and I’ she said, ‘there’s a lovely little spot behind the slab hut on the river at the bottom of the shops’.  We checked it out but c’mon.  It was as prominent as the Opera House steps and no way.  We drove out south towards Bairnsdale, crossed the long floodplain bridge and turned immediately left to check out a narrow road.  Bingo.  We are parked up on a high grassy bank of the legendary Snowy River.  Black swans, bulls over in the paddock, views for miles and the opposite bank mirrored in the water.  Compensation for the scruffy fireplace we paid for last night ha ha.

Sat 20/03/04
5.3/14.9  24.6/-30

Dropped back into Orbost yesterday morning for eggs and a thermometer.  Yeah right.  Going near shops will be the end us J.  I nominated a late birthday present from Margaret. A 15’, 3 piece, rod and reel combo.  Reasonable quality, $116 which I thought not too bad.  Trying the other supermarket we found Margaret’s bread for the first time on the trip.  She does not eat wheat so 99% of bread is not on her menu.  Curiously there was quite a large stock and variety so the Orbost community has some wheat free inhabitants.  Add a book and some butter knives from the Op shop (must remember them as a source of books), a pipe rod rest and some bits from the $2 shop and we were away. 

I also paid for a Vic fishing license at the rod shop.  I strongly disagree with a license for each state.  You can only fish in one place at a time so there should be a reciprocal agreement like with driving licenses.  Dream on Geoff, this is revenue.  Anyway, the lady in the shop recommended Corringle Beach and Lake on the south side so we turned in to check it out.  About 10Km down a dirt road we passed two beach access signs and further on come to a large signed campground on a jetty and surrounded by swampy sand flats.  I presume that some walking may have found the Snowy estuary.  Not greatly liking the campsite, the fees or the crowd already there we backtracked to the access sign.  Got R2 in more than half way to the car parking area and found a tailor made clearing in the trees.  Thank you, that’ll do.  A quick lunch and out with the new toy.  How does the song go?  Felt shiny and new in his hands.   I hadn’t noticed that the line the reel was pre rigged with was best suited as a hawser (mooring rope) for  the Queen Mary But I was too keen to fish, not change tackle.  Armed with half a dozen smelly salted pilchards and a bit of squid I set out down the 300M walk and over the sand dune.  Pilchard on a big 2 gang, nup.  Squid on same, nup.  Clean up the beach (couldn’t you drown the bastards).  Pilchard on smaller 3 gang – bang.  A very nice 50cm+ salmon which fought and tugged and jumped out of the water all the way in.  Rod blooded first time out, you can’t beat that.

The $2 thermometer snapped when I tried to fix it to the back of the cab so we still don’t have outdoor temps. 

Browsing Rigby’s fishing book (full of b&w pics of 70’s longhairs with huge fish) I saw filleting instructions which differed from the way I was told to do the flathead and as I have seen others do, cut straight down behind the gill and saw towards the tail.  Rigby said to make an incision along the backbone and with long shallow cuts using the tip of the knife to peel the fillet off the bones down towards the belly.  This I tried with great success.  Big fillets, much bigger than the flatty, and not a single bone.  Margaret had packed arrowroot instead of flour which forced me to try it on the fish.  Very well it worked too.  Seasoned with a little s&p it produced a crisp golden coat.  Cooked the 35cm thick fillets for about 6+6+6 minutes turning in hot butter.  I think I preferred the flavour of the flatty but still very good.

We ran out the first 9Kg gas bottle yesterday.  Exactly 3 weeks cooking and showering.  I bet the next fill costs a bit more than the $15.90 we pay at BBQ’s Galore in Nowra.

No fish this morning.  Time to shower and go.  Wonder how far we’ll get today.

Sunday 21/03/04
5.6/15.9  2.6/-32

Happy anniversary to Margaret and I.  23 years.

Drove back up to the hiway and west thru Nowa Nowa where just south we took a 3Km dirt road out to the old (1916) timber trestle railway bridge.  An impressive piece of bush engineering using local trees to carry steam engines 60’ up across the flood plain.  Like all flood plains we’ve been thru, this one hasn’t seen water in a long time.

Turned into Lake Tyers just north of Lakes Entrance.  Found a Lions Park, Fisherman’s Clubhouse and sports ground on the way in which had bbq’s and taps, some big parking spots and no contrary signs.  Rinsed our laundry and made a note.  Cruised down to Lake Tyers beach which had a few shops, caravan park and huge sand flats.  A little way back out we checked out ‘The Red Bluff’ lookout and beach access.  Great spot.  Big parking spots, toilet, fab views and beach.  Caught a small (legal) salmon this morning.  The beach sand is coarser down here and there are a lot of big clear jellyfish washed up.

Have been told that ‘where we shooda gon’ was Pepperman’s Beach down the Lake Tyers Forest Drive back towards Nowa Nowa.  Laurie S just rang and said Buchan Caves was a must see.  OK.  We’ll have a look at Lakes Entrance, head back for Pepperman’s Beach tonight then up to Buchan tomorrow.

Monday 22/03/04
5.9/14.1  24.6/-29

Walked and cruised around Lakes Entrance yesterday.  Went into those dreaded shops for 4 things and came out with 24.  I picked up a bit of fishing tackle in GoLo including 3 spools of bulk line.  6, 12 & 20lb.  I’m starting to appreciate the casting advantage of lighter lines tho I’m not planning to set any records by landing a fish many time heavier than the line.  If I hook him I want him.  I bought a little $12.95 fixed spool reel and loaded it with 6lb line to try as a dedicated lure caster.  Worked very well getting a 1/4oz spinning lure about 25 meters with a light 2 piece 10’ rod.  The theory was good but nobody told the fish this morning.

We headed north west to find Pepperman’s Beach.  Turned into Lake Tyers Forest Park on Burnt Bridge Road but concurred with another camper that the road we wanted was further out.  Drove all the way to Nowa Nowa without finding it so came back to give the first road a go.  Burnt Bridge became Petersen’s Road which met South Boundary Track where we turned left and followed it to its end.  Nice spot.  An elevated picnic spot above a tidal backwater.  Good GSM phone reception and snowy TV.

Cooked up yesterdays salmon for dinner and it’s getting better.  I took a bit more time with the filleting and got more from a 35cm fish than I expected.  Floured with arrowroot and fried in olive oil, 4.5mins with the phone timer skin down, flip for 3, flip for 1.5mins.  I’ve found these salmon have a brown wedge of soft flesh down the sides under the skin.  Easily removed by lifting off the cooked skin then lifting out the wedge but I want to know if I’m maybe not bleeding the fish properly when caught. 

Today we will find Pepperman’s Beach.

Tuesday 23/03/04
5.9/14.1  24.6/-21  (sundown 24.7/-21)

Arrived at PETTMAN’S breach Monday arvo after two lots of crook directions.  Our last lot told us 10 mins north of Nowa Nowa it was sign posted from the Princes Hiway.  Be buggered it was.  We drove past Tyer House Road and I remembered our first tipper had said something about a building but as there was no beach sign we continued.  Half way back to Orbost I turned back and pulled up at a cockies house to ask.  He had plenty of time for a yak about the drought, his sheep and cattle, making feeders for oats to try and fatten the lambs etc. and my feeling about the road was right.  Now that we’ve found it it’s a gem.  Free camp, pit loo, 90 mile beach and I’ve been rewarded with two big fat salmon.  Anyone wanting to find this place take Tyer House Road (or take Lower Tostaree, right on Old Tostaree and left on Tyer House) for half a dozen Km’s then left at the Pettman’s Beach sign.  Along the way there are a lot of other tracks leading to Tyer Lake arms and beaches worth checking out. 

A group (I shan’t bother to mention elderly any more as most living our lifestyle or having a picnic miles from nowhere for a Tuesday lunch seem to be J) I was talking to here knew the areas fishing well and I asked about the brown salmon flesh.  Seems it’s called the bloodline and is just that, the blood rich flesh that feeds the muscles of this high speed fighter.  Some eat it, some don’t.  It does taste a bit stronger than the white flesh.

A note on the power readings today.  We were charged at sundown on Monday so the –21Ah for this morning was overnight use.  The clouds cleared for sun around 1pm yesterday and by sundown we had only recovered daytime use leaving us 21Ah in deficit for the 24 hours.  IF we went to our 100Ah discharge floor in these conditions we could (should) last for 5 days without needing a driving charge or to fire up the genset for the bulk charger.

Wednesday 24/03/04
5.7/17  24.1/-45

Full sun by 9am today and tomorrow is forecast to be 31deg and probably the last warm day of the season.  11am we are getting 4.5A (24v) from our 6x64W Unisolars.

I learned a bit more about fishing from locals yesterday.  Changed the rig from a running tackle to a bottom weight with two hooks above on ‘droppers’ (loops or tails).  Chap I met the arvo before had given me his left over blue bait (like tiny pilchards 30-50cm long).  He had caught 3 salmon on them, I was getting nothing.  Two old couples arrived with whitebait (similar to blue but silver and white in colour) and starting reeling in fish.  I was damn frustrated.  A nice lady gave me half a dozen whitebait apologising they couldn’t spare more.  No worries thank you very much.  Three casts later whoopee, a bloody big fat salmon.  Strangely enough I did catch another and even bigger salmon in the evening on aging bluebait but it could have been a lure rather than bait.  These guys were using big star sinkers which anchored the bait better than anything I had plus it seems the freshest bait possible gets the most hits.  One other thing to add to my collection will be a rod bucket, like a money belt with a cup to set the butt of the rod into.  Handling a 15’ surf rod with 2 or 3Kg of fighting salmon has left my upper thigh sore and bruised.  The only bummer fishing here is lots of cotton wool fine weed which sticks around the line and bunches meaning many casts can’t be retrieved and the line has to be walked in, picking off the weed as you go.  So next beach and tackle shop, star sinkers, rod bucket and frrresh whitebait please.

Thursday 25/03/04
5.3/13.1  24.5/-25

Chilly start with a blazing sunrise in blue skies welcomed in a forecast hot day.  Yesterday we drove up to Buchan Caves tourist park which was all very civilised with footpaths, phone boxes, laundry, kitchen and fees.  We feel caves are caves and unless your super keen a couple will do so we passed on the tour, had lunch in the town park and moved on.  This area is dryer again by far than any drought area so far.  Fires went thru here in 2003 and I don’t know if that burned paddocks but all around is yellow stubble and bare sandy ground.  Stopped at Bruthen for a cake at the famous bakery, was nice but not unique, and continued to Bairnsdale.  We came in on the east side and being after 5pm decided to continue south towards Paynesville.  It took a while in traffic to turn right at the sign and as we made the turn Margaret saw a ‘high vehicle detour to Paynesville’ a little further down the main road.  Well done local authorities!  Round the corner we were confronted by a 3.2M high log barricade, no road room to turn around and double lines.  Ah well, some council grass got some 12 tonne footprints and judging by the chips in the kerbing at that point I was not the first.  Back on the main road, followed the detour and drove about 10Km along the river to a side road signed to a bicycle track along which we found a lovely spot by the water with a little boat landing and a seat.  Job No. 1, grab a bag and pick up the litter laying around the spot.  Mostly wrapping from fishing tackle, bait and drink containers.  The ubiquitous tissue paper. 

Today we plan to go east on the lower road towards Stratford via Bengwarden and Meerlieu with Holland Landing a possibility for tonight.

A few places recommended as must sees along the way are Sale and Golden Beach, Wilson’s Prom for an overnighter and on the other side Warnambool  and Point Fairy.
 

 



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