Belle is having a little break from the blog posting so I thought I would step in to fill you all in on our latest adventures, we have nearly been on the road traveling for a month now so I thought it to be a good time also to give a little insight into the trip from the drivers point of view!
Saturday the 27th of Jan we woke in Ballarat in good time to have breakfast pack up the van and hit the road earlyish heading south for our next port of call, Phillip Island. As a kid growing up Phillip Island to me says Mick Doohan and The Australian Grand Prix so I’ve always wanted to visit one day, and I’m glad we did what a beautiful place it is.
The drive down for me personally was probably the smoothest towing the van so far it was a really still day with not a breath of wind so What A Little Beauty didn’t really put up much of a fight against the Hilux. The roads for three quarters of the drive were double lanes and pretty bloody smooth compared to some I’ve experienced along the way but I still think Britton Swamp Straight back home is top of the list for worst road so far!!
The thought of driving the van through the heart of Melbourne on the Saturday after Australia Day to be honest got me a little nervous but Belle smashed the navigating and it was all smooth sailing, we even drove a few blocks past Albert Lake behind a Lamborghini I made sure I had a good and I mean good 3 seconds between us on the freeway would have hated to knock all the bugs off the hilux bullbar I’ve been collecting since we left home.
Frankie was way more excited about the yellow taxi, thinking it might be Cruz from Cars 3.
About 40 minutes north of Phillip Island we stopped at Caldermeade Farm and Cafe for a milkshake, they were $9 each nothing to rave about but obviously catering for the sheer weight of numbers in tourists driving past during the peak season. They also had a working rotary dairy a stones throw from the cafe with a viewing platform with heaps of info on the workings of a dairy farm it was a brilliant idea. I did feel sorry for the workers in there dealing with heifers in the cow shed bit hard to get the poly pipe out when theres busloads of tourists watching from above.
Driving onto Phillip Island was a bit of an eye opener, I’d say a good 10kms out from San Remo the little township before the bridge onto the island the traffic was backed up. I thought there might have been roadworks but it was just the sheer weight of numbers, cars trying to get on fighting against traffic coming from the opposite direction simply turning into San Remo it was crazy. I said to Belle you would hope they had a better set up the weekend of the Grand Prix or V8 Supercars it would be bedlam! We were moving snails pace for a good 20 mins but once we got onto the bridge it opened up and we were away!
We arrived at the caravan park in the little township of Cowes on the island simply named Cowes Caravan Park. We were originally only booked for the one night but once I unhooked the van and went for a walk, looked at the beach the park backed onto I looked at Belle and said go book us in for two more nights! It was magic! Being the Saturday of the Australia Day long weekend though it was still fairly busy, lots of kids on bikes and blokes with no shirts and cans of beer in their hands, I was one of them!!
Once we set up the van we hit the beach for a couple of hours. The water was like a bath, there were people everywhere but it was just what we had been craving after over a week inland in the hot temperatures.
On the drive in we spotted a show/carnival on the outskirts of Cowes with free entry so after tea we decided to take the girls for a few goes on the jumping castles before bed. We convinced them they were allowed to go on one condition they could look at the toys but couldn’t buy any because they simply won’t fit in the caravan! After $20, 30 mins and a go each on two seperate jumping castles it was home time, a good end to a great first day on the island.
Sunday we woke to another pearla of a day with the forecast saying it would reach the low 40s again, so we got some quick breakfast in to us and hit the road to do some exploring of the island before it got to hot. Our first stop was the Nobbies centre at Point Grant on the western tip of the island. The centre itself had an interactive zone all about the antarctic and marine life around the island but same old story the prices were just ridiculous catering for the rich international tourists. I said to Belle there should be a middle class Australian citizen card you show at places like this! So we let the girls look at the teddies in the gift shop, stood in there aircon for 15 mins then made the most of their free coastal boardwalks and viewing platforms in front of the centre itself. The outlook was unreal and we got to see two juvenile penguins right next to the boardwalk hiding in the opening of their hole, the girls were in awe! We spotted a few more hiding in the nesting boxes scattered all over the cliff faces along the boardwalks it was great no need to pay money to do penguin tours, we just find them ourselves.
Our next stop was Penguin Parade just a few kms back down the road. This was the location of Phillip Islands Penguin Viewing station which you pay to see the penguins arrive back from sea just on dusk back to their burrows. It was a massive building with heaps of info inside and free entry during the day so we made the most of their aircon aswell, learnt abit about penguins but after seeing a few ourselves earlier we had no intention coming back that night.
Our next stop was the Grand Prix Track which happened to be holding the International Island Classic, we ventured up to the visitor centre and learnt that for the price of an ticket in to the racing museum we could also get free viewing of the action out on the track aswell, bonus! We decided to get a bit of racing action first and headed out the visitor centre onto the grassed viewing area, it had an awesome outlook of the track right next to the starting grid just up the inbankment. The temperature was getting pretty warm at this stage, we watched a few laps and decided to get back into the aircon of the museum. It was pretty cool to witness an actual event on the track but I don’t know if it was an senior citizens race or what but they didn’t reach any great speeds, they sounded alright but it wasn’t the super bikes. I’d love to get over and watch them one day, its on the to do list!
The racing museum was really cool, I’d love to go back again one day without two four year olds. Some of the info about the Linfox company buying the track and bringing it back from the brink of disrepair was cool and how the track got its start back in the early 1900s, back when you use to have to ferry over to the island. It was amazing and the bikes and cars they had were awesome just a shame 4 year old girls don’t find this stuff interesting.
Before heading back to the caravan park for an afternoon at the beach I thought we would go for a look at Smiths beach first. Being 1 o’clock Sunday arvo I thought the crowds would be thinning out a bit, I was wrong. Every little street on the way down to the beach was filled up with parked cars and the carpark itself had cars actually parked in front of other cars it was crazy! Fairdinkum locals that just want to go for a surf must just curse when it gets like this it was bedlam! I said to Belle imagine if Marrawah got like this Max Ray would end up in prison, there would be rocks thrown at body boarders and through their windscreens. The road heading back to the caravan park resembled the road coming in on Saturday just on the opposite side with people trying to get off the island, it would have easily stretched for over 15kms it was just madness.
Back at the caravan park we had some lunch, blew up the inflatable whale and flamingo, packed the snorkel and flippers, camp chairs, beers and coke and headed for the beach. It was easily over 40 degrees and being the Sunday of the long weekend, the beach was no where near as busy as the day before which was brilliant. We pretty much spent the rest of the afternoon in the water and sand flat out doing absolutely nothing, it was magic.
After tea the temperature was still in the low 30s so we put the swimmers back on grabbed the camp chairs and a few more beers and headed back to the beach to watch the sunset. The water was even better than that afternoon, Phillip island was really turning on the weather for us. That night though was probably the hottest night we had so far in the van, the temperature just didn’t let up! I contemplated a few times in the early hours of the morning going and jumping back in the water.
Monday morning we woke to cloud cover and a cool change with a forecast of rain that afternoon. It was our last full day on the island so we spent it mainly exploring, but first had to buy Belle some new thongs after she had them stolen off the beach the night before. Turns out Phillip Island isn’t like Marrawah, you can’t just leave things unattended at the start of the beach! She wasn’t to worried though, because they were being held together by a breadclip!
After leaving the surf shop we stopped at the Vietnam Veterans Museum. Run entirely by volunteers, there was just walls and walls of information. We both could have stayed and read for hours but again, two 4 year olds don’t allow that! although they did do a really good job lasting a good hour before the I’m hungry and can we go now started playing on repeat. We left with a lot more knowledge about the Vietnam war though and an even greater respect for the veterans and what they went through. The volunteers were absolutely awesome and even let the girls sit in a helicopter for a photo. Made me feel very proud to be an Australian visiting the museum and excited to revisit the war memorial in Canberra when we get there in the next few weeks. I learnt the average age of Australian soldiers in Vietnam was 19 20 which blew my mind to think what these young blokes went threw at such a young age made me think how truely lucky we are my biggest worry at that age was whether to buy boags or Carlton cold stubbies from the bottle o on a Friday night! You just can’t thank them all enough, Lest We Forget.
There was a plane outside the Museum that had been restored, poor Lila-Rae wanted to get on and fly to see Grandma (Karalea) and Nanny (Margo) in Redpa. It took a lot of convincing and a few tears to get her into the car!
Our next stop was Rhyll Trout and Bushtucker Farm which was really cool you paid I think $30 for a family to hire rods and bait to try your luck catching a rainbow trout in the natural outdoor lake (not guaranteed to land a trout) or there indoor trout pond (guaranteed to catch one). We tried our luck in the outdoor one for a good half n hour until I got sick of Lila-Rae asking Dad when are you gonna catch a fish? We headed inside where Belle and I landed one each in the space of 5 mins. The girls had found the playground by that stage and couldn’t care less, the best thing was you could pay the onsite chef to fillet your trout and cook it there which we did. I got them done boneless fillets cooked in a thin batter with chips and salad which was brilliant because Belle hates fish so I got 4 fillets with chips and salad at it is honestly up there with one of the best feeds of fish I’ve ever had.
On the way back from the Trout farm we found a koala climbing out of a tree right next to the road, how awesome to experience one in the wild!
We went for another look at Smiths beach later that afternoon, wow you wouldn’t have even thought it was the same place! About 3 cars in the carpark, we went for a walk along the beach which is beautiful not hard to see why it was so popular the day before.
We did a few drive bye of the small townships dotted along the coastline just in awe of some of the houses/holiday homes around the island. You just can’t imagine the sort of money some people have for these to simply be holiday homes. After a fair bit of dreaming we got back to the caravan just before the rain hit. The girls watched a movie and destroyed the bus while Belle and I read for the rest of the arvo.
The 3 days on Phillip island were just awesome defiantly high on our list of favourite place so far will defiantly be back one day and could quiet easily pack up and move there aswell. Our next port of call is Morwell for a night to catch up with my good mate Amos his wife Kim and daughter Piper which we will tell you about in our next post.
We have nearly been traveling for a month now, man time flies when your having fun. I can honestly say this has been easily the best decision I’ve made in my life to go on this journey with Belle and the girls. If I had to start work again tomorrow simply watching the girls go from not wanting to be let go in a pool to diving under water by themselves in the space of 2 weeks, witnessing that alone has made it worth it. Let alone all the other added bonuses along the way and whats to come. Yes, it hasn’t all been beers and skittles we blog post all the good bits but living in a 2 metre wide by 3.5 metre long box with two four year old girls defiantly has its moments. I’ve threatened to leave both the girls on the side of the road or at caravan parks numerous times! Just lucky we love them I guess that it hasn’t come to that, but the good outweighs the bad ten fold.
This is definitely the longest blog post we have done due to cramming so much into Phillip Island and Belle falling behind. Hopefully its still enjoyable reading and if it encourages someone to take the leap like we have then man that would be cool!