September 13, 2002 - Warrnambool 175k/105m*

After 4 days, this place is starting to become a little familiar. The people are “give the shirt off your back” friendly, they have an interesting vocabulary, and things are opposite here (September = Spring, drive on wrong side of the road, day = night (12 hours different from the US), swans = black). You get chased by birds, not dogs. They have giant roadside sculptures, mostly built in the 70’s and 80’s (when they sealed higher-speed roads and entrepreneurs wanted to stop traffic) like ours from 40 years earlier. The plants, insects and animals are all different. It’s a refreshing doppelganger effect.

(Before we get into the day, I need to www.motelblackwattle.com.au you, in case you’re interested. If it wasn’t for Lois, I never would have eaten Skippy.)

I left the Black Wattle in Nelson a little late, 8:30A, after working on the last two updates. It was straight into big rolling hills, a continuous maybe 50km tree farm that made what they have in South Australia look like practice.

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You probably can’t tell from the picture, but the trees on the right are relatively new, my guess is planted 6-8 years ago. The trees on the right are older, 25 years or so. Down the hill is a bunch of clear cut. Coming up the road is a truck. Big single and double trailer trucks own this road, and I was forced off the road numerous times. (I’m developing a technique for this which I’ll advise on when it is perfected.)

I just had groceries for breakfast and headed 70km to Portland for my first meal of the day. I forget the name of the little café, but I had an avocado, cheese and chicken crepe, with potatoes and cole slaw, and a coke, for like $A7. Another remarkable meal deal, both food and price wise!

There’s not been much in the way of scenery, and what there is is hard to photograph. Most everything is flat. The terrain, the towns. Portland was a combo tourist, working town, with four major attractions (sightseeing tower, tram, “walk inside the whale” thing, and a museum. I didn’t check out any of them. Here’s the scene outside the restaurant.

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And here’s the mileage sign, make that the kilometerage sign, to where I’m heading, immediately followed along the road and on this page, by the Koala sign!

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There were some discouraging headwinds early afternoon, but things turned out OK. All the way to Port Fairy was continuous sheep and cattle ranches. I did note, before I left the US, that there was a $10 bounty on foxes in Victoria, and along the way Lisa saw some strung up from a fence. Note the missing tails.

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The only thing in the 90km between Portland and Warrnambool was Port Fairy, another cute touristy town. In Victoria they call this the Shipwreck Coast (the co-branding of the coastal towns for tourism) and there are occasional markers where ships went down and people died cold, horrible deaths. Here’s the map on the wall of the General Store in Port Fairy, to give you a sense of the scale of these tourist towns. Note (Guy) the golf course in the northeast.

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The only scenic natural feature inland along the way was Tower Hill, east of Pt. Fairy

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Then it was into Warrnambool, which seems to be the biggest city since Adelaide. It has stoplights, McDonalds and everything. A nice main street with dozens of great restaurants (Lisa and I ate at Freshwater).

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That’s about it. Today, Saturday the 14th, should be the best day yet. The first day of the Great Ocean Road.

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