Day 2 of our mini-holiday

Day 2 arrived bright and clear but didn’t take long to cloud over and for the tops to disappear completely!  The plan for today had always been to get over to Yarrangobilly Caves to get around at least one of the caves and with any luck to use the thermal pools there as well.  But the plan was also to explore a touch as well, and with that came a visit to several viewing points because often you don’t get to see anything unless you stop at these viewing points!

The autumnal colours are now really beginning to show. Looking down across 2 states and the Murray River
The autumnal colours are now really beginning to show. Looking down across 2 states and the Murray River

Then it was onwards and upwards and into Eucalyptus rainforest again.

One advantage of quiet roads even if it is part of the Alpine Way, is that you can stop pretty much anywhere and reverse back to that corner where you spotted the photograph that you wanted, wander to the front of the car, take a few photos, review them, decide that you should have been standing in the exact middle of the road instead and move there, now take another few photos, review those whilst standing in exactly the middle of the road, decide they are ok, wander back to the car and get back into it, all the time knowing that the likelihood of meeting any traffic in any direction is approximately zero…  oh course should you be needed help in an emergency – well this is Australia.  You are expected to be able to look after yourself or simply not be out there anyway!

Then after a number of kilometres and a reasonable amount of height gained, we met this…

… low cloud.  We had driven into it and we had well over 100km to travel at or above this height.  And then we met this…

… and it wasn’t to get any better until we were to suddenly find ourselves in the middle of a massive carpark marked out in yellow road markings.  It had us utterly confused until we exited it and realised that we had entered the ski resort from the ‘unplanned’ entrance.  Not the one that they expected you to use but that had existed presumably long before the ski resort had.  Luckily it was too early in the season and the car park deserted.

From there it was to the visitors’ centre at the caves and lunch and a hot drink.  We had forgotten to even pack the flasks let alone bring them with us today.

We made arrangements to be taken around the cave that has wheelchair access.  There is a special narrow wheelchair that they can use and I needed this because of the steps, and the continual staring at the ceiling which currently sends my arms numb making using crutches rather difficult.

Whilst we were waiting for our ‘private’ viewing, (there was an extra member of staff that day and she volunteered to take us around before the 3:30pm scheduled guided tour) I had a nosy around some of the eucalyptus trees around the car park.  I love the colours of the bark and the patterns and several of the trees caught my eye but one in particular was extra special.  On one side the colours were like this

No enhancements made, no extra saturation, nothing.  Just as it was recorded.  Magic isn’t it?  And on the other side of the tree…

… were these wonderful greens (which might not be coming through as well as they could be!)

Then it was onto the caves.  The area is a limestone and I gather that there is not a lot of limestone around in Australia generally because this patch is something like only 11km by 1.5km.  Water erodes the limestone, which makes the caves and then also drips back into the caves making the most amazing shapes.  Not just stalactites and stalagmites, but shawls and straws and corals and more…

The brown is caused by iron oxide in the calcium carbonate.  In places the calcium carbonate is pure white, in other parts it is covered in a layer of ‘soot’ and in other places, many other places it is stained with the impurity of iron oxide.

A pool with water in it
And another that is dry, but reveals the wonderful pure shite crystals that are below the surface

This cave is famous for its corals, shawls and straws that have formed.

An example of a coral that is soon to join up
A fantastic example of a shawl. No-one knows why they form like this.
More wonderful formations
General cave view
General cave view
General cave view

Now can you spot the crocodile teeth and the set of dentures?

In the background are also the ‘straws’ that form abundantly in this cave.  They are hollow.  Examples are available to be seen in the cave.

Finally, there is a stalagmite that was cut through when the cave was first opened back before the WWI and it shows a remarkable history that would probably not be available nowadays.  Those black lines are soot from massive bush fires back over 400,000 years ago (the soot has been carbon dated).

We thoroughly enjoyed the tour, stayed inside longer than we should have done (we were meant to be out by the timing on the next scheduled tour in case the wheelchair was needed, we weren’t but it wasn’t!)…. we can really recommend the guide gave tours.

2 years on and time to leave the state

Its been slightly more than 2 years since we arrived in Australia having never set foot in the southern hemisphere let alone having been Australia before.  So with that in mind and with one other little tiny fact, we decided several months ago to book a holiday away, train the chooks to look after themselves (harder than you realise) and for me, to finally leave the state of New South Wales.  Yes, you read it correctly.  I haven’t actually left NSW (ACT doesn’t count).

Now when we booked this holiday, we had no idea that we would have moved house or obtained a second vehicle, or that I would have be back into hospital for an emergency operation!

Fast forward a few months, Mum & Patrick have been and gone, we are sort of in the new house – we’re not yet fully unpacked, something I have been working on hard but we do finally have most of the chooks looking after themselves long enough for us to go away.  There are still a few complications, mostly relating to no water in their compound…. so we had to purchase a 30L water container, a tap and jubilee clip to try to get around that issue.  Luckily the weather has cooled down a lot, so the flock are not drinking anywhere near as much water as they were previously.  Now the above, with a hose pipe attached and the water container at the top of the hill, meant that there was just enough pressure in the system for their water trough to work.  That had been the biggest hurdle to getting them self sufficient for a few days.

The other related to a sick chook I had been desperately nursing back to health.  We think she had a stroke because she was found much weaker on one side of her body that the other, but when we first found her we very nearly euthanised her immediately.  Another one we had found in a similar condition had died the first night and we didn’t fancy this ones chances much either.  But she survived both the first day and the first night and there were tiny signs of improvement each and every day at first.  We set a deadline for euthanising her if she hadn’t made any significant progress.  But she surprised us going from not being able to stand, eat, drink, sit up or even hold her head up (on the first day) to recovering sufficiently to be able to fend for herself for 3 days whilst we were away.  Each and every day she made leaps and bounds despite having very poor balance when we left.  She was left in the IKEA wardrobe in the mud room with a heater on.  Right up until the morning we left we were wondering about her chances, but her progress had been so good… enough said, we risked it and on our return she gave us that look that pretty much said, what were you worried about?

So, leaving the state of New South Wales.  It is actually an enormous state.  It is bigger than Texas and that is a pretty large state.

We had chosen an Airbnb in a little place called Corryong in Victoria.  Now for all of the restrictions on what can and can’t be taken into and out of the state we were expecting something along the lines of a border crossing.  But more on that shortly.

We decided to stop at the Dog on the Tuckerbox rest stop, and failed to see the dog.  But the food at Oliver’s is fantastic.  I was expecting to not be able to have anything more than a packet of crisps or just a drink.  I didn’t expect to find that they had a ‘vg’ option on their menu for vegan and I certainly didn’t expect to find that over half of their menu (and produce) would have that symbol.  I actually had a choice and was spoilt for it.  We ate in instead of the picnic I had packed and thoroughly enjoyed it!

Then we had a decision to make about our route.  We had three options

  • stick with a road we had driven several times before and see the same things again until we turned off…
  • take a totally new route, cross country and risk finding more dirt roads and arriving in the dark and having the hardest route to drive.
  • stay on the highway for as long as possible then stick with main roads for a slightly longer distance journey but probably the easiest to drive.

In our usual style, we opted for the middle option, totally new roads and the possibility of dirt roads and a longer, slower journey.

First of all, we were to come across a memorial to Australia’s first civil aviation disaster but only in Australia would the memorial not actually be where the plane crashed!  Southern Cross memorial site is on the top of a hill with a view.

Looking back up the valley. We had just driven along the ridge, but you don’t see much.
The light was great and somewhere out there is Australia’s (mainland) highest peak. Honest!
At the memorial for the air disaster. Only the plane didn’t crash nearby. It crashed some 30km away as the crow flies!

Australia’s highest mountains, or at least they would be if you could actually see them!

Looking towards Victoria and our route to come.  It was time to move on.

So, that border crossing and the great moment.  I’m going to leave the state of New South Wales and enter into Victoria.  We’ve looked into what we can and can’t take into Victoria and unlike a lot of other states, we are only entering a rice control zone.  Something to do with a disease.  That’s OK.  We are not carrying any rice with us… I’m still some form of formal border crossing for all of the hype around what can and can’t be moved around Australian states.

The big moment. Time to leave NSW and enter Victoria. I’m finally leaving the state after more than 2 years in Australia!

Yeh, and that really wasn’t exactly what I had had in mind.  So much for the ‘moment’.  We went to the right by the way.

Towong reminded us of a small town we had cycled through in Lithuania (we think).  There, in one of the many parks, the Autumn colours were showing on the trees just like this and there were youths everywhere with brushes doing their civic duty, brushing the leaves into huge piles to be taken away and burnt.  Here they were collectors with a large ride on mower presumably, but today, it was just a day to admire their colours (apologies for the quality of the image, it was taken through the windscreen of a moving vehicle).

It was almost sunset when we entered the town of Corryong and after a quick stop at the local supermarket – a surprisingly well stocked IGA, we proceeded to try to find the Airbnb.  Then we decided we would much rather look at the view and stopped at the viewing spot for some fresh air and to look at the view across the flood plain.  It was clearly a flood plain but missing rather a lot of water!

The view from close to the Airbnb we had chosen

It was a good view and worth the stop.  The light was great, but it was getting cold and we knew that the Airbnb only had a slow combustion stove and that the owner wasn’t around that day to have lit it before we got there.  So we had to leave.

With the fire lit, I proceeded outside onto the veranda to have a look at the last of the light and see if there was a sunset.  It was disappointing with only the tiniest of pinkness around the edges of the clouds, so I wandered off to have a look at the fruit trees in the garden.  In particular at the lemon trees which were huge.  There were a lot of very noisy birds in and around the garden as well and I was hoping to get to see some of them.  I didn’t, but we did find several Sharon fruit trees which took a bit of identifying to be honest!  And whilst I was doing that, the top layer of the clouds started to turn pink and we had a great sunset after all!

Sunset from the veranda. The entire sky lit up, but only the top level clouds. Still it was nice.


It turned out to be a great sunset after all.