Benalla, North-East Victoria

After the long drive from Melbourne and the checking out of the wheat silos, I decided to leave the exploration of Benalla to the morning.  I came out of my motel on the edge of town early to discover an almost solid wall of fog. Still, intrepid traveller that I am, I headed in and I’m glad I did. I don’t know why I’ve never been here before but I have to say, it’s a lovely town, built around Lake Benalla.

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Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula

A short time ago, I had a couple of days free and I made use of them to get away from the city and into some fresher air and less noise. The Bellarine Peninsula was the best place to head to make full use of just two days.

I hadn’t been through Geelong for many years, always turning off beforehand towards the Great Ocean Road. I was very pleasantly surprised. The waterfront area in particular is just lovely.

Stuff for the kids.

No shortage of dining along the waterfront.

I hadn’t realised there’s a ferry service from Geelong into Melbourne. How convenient to avoid the drive along the busy Princes Highway and the parking when you get there.

Geelong is Victoria’s second largest city, with a population of over 250,000. It’s situated on Corio Bay, just 75 kilometres south-west of Melbourne. It’s had its ups and downs over the years but looks pretty comfortable at the moment.

I wandered for ages around the streets, searching out the colonial buildings from its earlier days.

St. Mary of the Angels Basilica

Well-to-do homes overlooking the bay
Original cottages
Old Post Office
Town Hall 
Court House
Art Gallery
Very impressive library

The theatre was closed but it’s a busy place from what I’ve heard. Billy Connolly began his final Australian tour here.

I’m sure you could make a perfectly good life in Geelong. It has everything: shopping, entertainment, sport (it’s the home of one of Australia’s premier AFL football teams, the Geelong Cats, along with many other sports) and Deakin University.

Kardinia Park, home of the Geelong Cats.  photo:

I stayed the night at Rippleside Park Motor Inn on the edge of town (a mere $88 last minute), opposite a park and a very short drive from the beach. It wasn’t new by any means but it had everything I needed. I find older motel rooms are generally bigger, even to the point of having case racks. Why don’t newer motels have case racks, even when they’ve got space?

I left first thing in the morning, heading for Portarlington on my way to Queenscliff and the car ferry across to Sorrento and home. I’ll keep that for next time.


Revisiting Port Campbell National Park

I hadn’t been across to the west of Victoria for twenty years. The last time, I was in between houses. I had left one and had space before getting into the new one, so to fill in the time, I took the Great Ocean Road and then the Princes Highway across to Adelaide, coming back inland. It was an interesting experience: no address, no mobile phone at the time; floating free.

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Revisiting Marysville

Years ago, I drove up to Marysville, situated in the Yarra Valley, two hours north-east of Melbourne. It was a very pretty place then, but was caught up in the devastating bush fires of February 2009. Forty-per-cent of the Murrindindi Shire, of which Marysville is part, was burned, with the loss of 101 lives, and the destruction of  homes, properties, animals and wildlife. The day the fire started, 7th February, is now known as Black Saturday.

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Emerald and Puffing Billy.

There comes a time when you absolutely have to get out of your house away from routine and what feels like duty and into the real world. Last Thursday was one of those days.

I headed up into the hills, to a nice little village with the delightful name of Emerald. It’s one of the stopping points for the Puffing Billy Heritage Railway. The century-old steam train runs for 24 kilometres on its original track through the forests and farmland of the Dandenong Ranges, from Belgrave to Gembrook.

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The Edge of the World: Next Stop Cape Horn

This week, I’m blatantly using my blog as an advertisement. My ebook, The Edge of the World: Next Stop Cape Horn, has been for sale on Amazon for two years and at last I have it available in print. 

In 2006, I set out in my little hatchback to begin the first of four road trips around the island of Tasmania, south of where I live in Melbourne, Australia.

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Chichester to Canterbury

I dragged myself away from Chichester and caught the train to Canterbury. At least, I caught the train to London and then back to Canterbury. Why I thought trains would  be waiting to take me exactly where I wanted to go, I have no idea, but I did. Never mind, I saw some lovely scenery on the way.

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