The Mornington Peninsula

Melbourne is often described as having four seasons in one day and Monday lived up to that with  strong winds, then pouring rain and then sunshine.

Less than an hour’s drive south of Melbourne, we could see why the Mornington Peninsula is a popular getaway for people in the city.  We stayed at the Marina View Caravan Park in Hastings on the East Coast as this was the only place we could find that allowed dogs.  The coastal walks starting at the camp site were dog friendly.

Luckily Tuesday was gloriously sunny all day and we couldn’t have had better weather for a drive around the Peninsula.  It was a morning of sculptures.  First up was the McLelland Sculpture Park which gave us the opportunity for lots of photography and it also allowed dogs which was great.

Winston the Spoodle meets Winter the Spoodle and blags a treat off her mum!

The park was bustling with visitors and school groups.  The park has a mixture of sculptures from quirky pieces to interactive installations.

‘Tree of Life’
‘Alexander the Great’

 

‘The Mickey’

The enormous sand sculptures at nearby Frankston were impressive and part of an exhibition over the summer.

The coastal drive from Mornington to Rosebud was very scenic and we bought some local mussels from a fishmonger along the way.  There are several vineyards on the peninsula and the region mainly produces Pinot Grigio.  We picked up a bottle from the T’Gallant vineyard to go with the mussels.  A rustic baguette from the excellent Red Hill Bakery finished off our dinner plans.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne

(Between Phillip Island and Melbourne)

You can spend an hour or so walking around The Australian Garden which is a landscaped space that showcases the diversity of Australian flora or you could spend several hours walking or cycling along the bushland tracks.

                                                                    

 

Phillip Island

A bridge connects the mainland town of San Remo with Phillip Island.  We stayed just outside the main town, Cowes, which is on the north side of the island.  The best thing about the caravan park was that it was right beside a dog friendly beach.

I’m sure Winston must have lost a couple of kgs.  He’s certainly getting a turn of speed up now when he’s chasing rabbits.

                                     These long beach walks are exhausting

Phillip island is famous for two main things – penguins and motorsport.

The Australian Grand Prix was originally held on the island’s public roads between 1928 and 1935.  It is now home to the Australian motorcycle Grand Prix.

The penguin parade takes place each night at sunset at the south west point of the island.  Groups of Little Penguins come ashore to return to their burrows and viewing is strictly controlled from a viewing platform by the rangers.  The name of the penguins was changed a few years ago from Fairy Penguins due, I believe, to political correctness.  This was another no-go activity for people with dogs of course.

Ann’s eyes lit up when she saw the ‘Amazing World of Chocolate’ sign and she headed off excitedly for the Phillip Island chocolate factory tour.

It felt a bit like Willy Wonka’s factory except this one is run by Panny who is of Malaysian/Indian descent.

                       An Edna Everage mural made from 12,000 truffles
               The world’s largest chocolate waterfall

Lakes Entrance, Victoria

                                    Driving into Victoria for the first time

Lakes Entrance is a popular lakeside resort and fishing port.   A walk over the footbridge took us to 90 mile beach and our first view of the Bass Strait.

                                           Buying fresh prawns from a trawler

We also had a fish and chip supper with battered gummy shark which seems to be a popular local fish.

 

Bombala country show

We always like to go to agricultural shows when we’re travelling as it’s something we can all go to and you learn about the local area too.  So when we saw the Bombala Show was on, we decided to stop over in the town.  Sheep seemed to be the primary local livestock.  Who knew there were so many categories you could judge a sheep in?

                        The strong wool ram champion.
                         The flower competition was fierce

Winston watched his first bird display – he was used to most of the birds but wasn’t sure about the wedge tailed eagle.

We also watched the small dog high jump competition.  They tried to persuade us to enter Winston but I didn’t want the embarrassment.

Bombala was another beautiful place to camp, with a walking track along the river.

                        In the bird hide but we only saw ducks

The one that didn’t get away

Dalgety is a historic little town on the banks of the Snowy River.  Interestingly, in 1904, it was shortlisted as a possible site for the nation’s new capital.

The holiday park had rave reviews and we were soon feeling very relaxed sat in the sunshine by the river.  Jonathan didn’t hold out much hope of catching a big fish here but went out early in the morning and late at night.  I was getting a bit fed up with eating late every night when he failed to catch dinner.  I told Jonathan we were going to eat before he went out fishing last night and would you believe it, within 20 minutes he was back, having caught a 40cm brown trout.

We baked it the following night, wrapped in foil, for 30 minutes with lemon, salt and pepper, olive oil and some fennel from the nearby community herb garden.  It tasted delicious and had a very delicate flavour.

Mt Kosciusko (nearly)

Jindayne Tourist Park was everything the 2 ½ Bradshaws could want from a campsite.  A camping spot right on the edge of Lake Jindabyne, dog friendly, walking tracks, Grade A amenities and a town within walking distance that also had a coffee roastery.  I’m sure the town must be much busier and have a different feel in the winter when it’s ski season.

This was the closest we could get to Mt Kosciusko, Australia’s highest peak, as once again, it was a National Park and no dogs are allowed.  There is a statue in Jindabyne park of Sir Paul Strzelecki, the Polish explorer who discovered Mt Kosciusko and named it in honour of the Polish leader.

 

“I’ve found a lovely quiet ‘day camping’ area on the Thredbo River,” said Jonathan.  “I can fish nearby while you relax in the van.”  Well he’d managed to pick the day when NSW Fisheries were holding a workshop at the site, on river flow testing, so we walked a fair way along the river until we were past them all.  There were some mighty gum trees and some mighty big wombat burrows too.  It made me wonder if wombat burrows had given JRR Tolkien the idea for hobbit burrows.

Jonathan managed to catch his second brown trout – twice the size of the first one.

Trout and about

We couldn’t leave this part of the world without heading west to the Snowy Mountains.  As we drove through the town of Adaminaby, we crossed ‘The Big Trout’ off our list.  Not the usual tacky looking big thing, but a high quality sculpture.

Joke photo with big trout

We camped up by Lake Eucumbene which is a very scenic and relaxing place.  The weather is still good, although cooling down at night.  I was able to sit and read peacefully, Jonathan went fishing and Winston loved chasing the rabbits.  The only downside for poor Winston was trying to shake off Betty, the manager’s blue heeler who took a shine to him.  She finally resorted to hiding underneath the van and jumping out at him.

This is the only photographic evidence of a catch – apparently the big ones kept taking Jonathan unawares and escaping the fly!

Not a joke photo with big trout

Say Cheese!

We were thwarted at the final stop on our oyster tour as Tathra Oysters were closed for the weekend.  However, there is plenty more gourmet produce in the area and we’re now in dairy farming country.  We stopped off at the National Trust village of Central Tilba and visited the ABC Cheese Factory which makes a wide variety of cheeses from its own Jersey cow milk.  Being a cheese connoisseur, Winston was a little put out that he wasn’t allowed inside to sample some of the award winning cheeses.

Incidentally, Central Tilba lies on the slopes of Mount Dromedary which was named by Captain Cook who thought it had a camel-like shape.

Winston soon cheered up with another beach stop though.

Our next stop was the Bega Cheese Heritage Centre where you can explore the world of Bega cheese.  Bega (for our overseas blog readers) is a major cheddar cheese brand in Australia.  The name ‘cheddar’ is not often used here though and it is sold by strength – mild, tasty, extra tasty, sharp, strong and bitey.  Bega cheese toasties were a must for lunch and delicious.

It was a lovely warm sunny day and we set up camp at the Bega showgrounds and were soon relaxing with a glass of white wine and some 3 Udders Brie from Tilba.  To round off the cheesy day, we had a fondue with locally made ‘Swiss’ cheese.