We had heard about a camping ground near the Fitzroy River outlet at Tyrendarra, so while camping nearby in Narrawong, we went for a drive to check it out.
What a beautiful surprise awaited us.
The camping area is large and well organised. The camping itself is basic – there is no power, and there are drop toilets very discreetly hidden among trees but no showers. That doesn’t worry us – we’re set up with solar panels and have a solar heated camping shower that we can rig up.
That scenery, though. Who wouldn’t want to spend time here?
On our way back down the hill from the Sawpit camping area yesterday, we stopped at the Narrawong Cemetery, where there are some beautiful historic graves.
The rural setting is beautiful and tranquil, and I can’t help thinking it is a lovely spot to be laid to rest.
It’s easy to see who were the founding and/or prominent families of the area, simply by observing the number of very old headstones bearing the same surname.
Separate from the other graves and marked by an obelisk rather than a headstone is the grave of William Dutton, who built the first house in Portland in 1828. Portland, now only about fifteen minutes’ drive away from Narrawong and the main city in the region, is the oldest European permanent settlement in Victoria.
Dutton died in Narrawong in 1878 at the age of 67, having made a name for himself as a master mariner, sealer, whaler and farmer.
One of the things I always try to do when I am out and about on a road trip or holiday is to see something new or visit a place I haven’t visited before.
Even though we are camping at the same place we’ve camped at every January since 2014, there are still new things to explore. Last year we visited the wonderful Bay of Whales Gallery nestled in the hills above Narrawong.
Today we ventured up to Mt Clay in the Narrawong State Forest to check out The Sawpit picnic and free camping area. It’s only a short distance from where we are camping by the Surrey River at Narrawong.
It’s really gorgeous up there. The natural bush forest is beautiful, a glorious natural canopy above the blackened tree trunks, reminders of bushfires In years past.
The camping area is well designed, providing numerous sites for campers to spread out from one another.
Walking tracks enable visitors to immerse themselves in the environment on walks of different lengths, and the historic lumber cart and log display are reminders of the history that gave the area its name.
Everything is clearly signposted, including a reminder for campers to take their rubbish home: given that everything was clean and tidy, it’s really encouraging to see that most of the visitors have been conscientious in that regard.
Still, it seems that things are not always easily understood, as demonstrated by my own friend’s response to the following sign:
Friend: “20 minutes one way. Why would you only go one way?” Me: ”It’s a loop…” Friend, after a few moments of thought: ”Oh. Yeah.”
What surprises me most is that many people don’t even know it’s there. It really is a hidden gem.
Queenscliff is a town on the southern end of the Bellarine Peninsula, near where Port Phillip Bay enters Bass Strait.
Queenscliff has a lovely small-town feel to it, even though it’s only a half hour’s drive from Geelong. There is a very real sense of leaving the rat-race behind and stepping into a friendlier, more relaxing existence.
It is a town with lovely old buildings and churches, and a wide main street lined with boutique shops, cafes and restaurants, including two ice-cream parlours, two old-fashioned candy stores and — best of all — two book shops!
On the cliff above the beach is a lighthouse built from local basalt in 1881, and a historic fort that is still in use as the base of the Air Force Cadets.
There are some great spots to sit and watch the boats, including the ferry to Sorrento at the southern end of the Mornington Peninsula, just across the bay.
It really is a delightful spot, and I am already keen to visit again.
Whenever I am on the road for pleasure, one of my aims is always to go somewhere I haven’t been before. I have found this to be a good principle for travelling, although it doesn’t always mean going very far out of the way.
Last week I went to Bendigo with friends. I have been there many times before, but I still managed to do something I haven’t done there before: I visited the Sacred Heart Cathedral which is a significant landmark in Bendigo, and one of the largest cathedrals in Victoria.
There are some large and beautiful churches in some of the cities and towns across the state, and many smaller ones, but a cathedral is a special thing indeed.
I have often expressed a desire to visit this beautiful church rather than just admire it as I drove past, so I was very glad to take the opportunity to make that hope a reality.
It really is beautiful. Rather than attempting to describe it, I will let the pictures do the talking. Enjoy.
Please note: I am not Roman Catholic. My visit was an aesthetic one, not a religious one. I understand that some people have been grievously hurt and damaged by the actions of some Catholic priests. I neither condone nor tolerate their actions. This does not mean that all Catholics, or their places of worship, should be shunned.
There are many resorts that dot the coast of Viti Levu. We stayed at the fabulous Warwick Resort at Korolevu, on the Coral Coast, where a family wedding was being held.
The most beautiful wedding backdrop.
The reception venue.
The amenities are beautiful and nothing is ever too much effort for the staff who work there, comprised mostly of Fijians from local villages. This is a valuable source of employment for them, but their willingness to welcome and host their visitors goes way beyond that. As ambassadors for their country and local communities, these people are among the best.
The central building of the resort is the epitome of island luxury. Dark timber contrasts with creamy white walls, accented by comfortable couches and armchairs. The building opens out onto the beach, capturing the refreshing breeze and providing a backdrop that is to die for.
The beach is dotted with shaded lounges, and the coral reef that runs along the coast ensures that this beach is safe for swimming.
Further along the beach, just beyond the boundary of the resort, are “shops” run by friendly villagers who sell sarongs and tee shirts, braid hair, do henna tattoos and paint nails, or give massages to folks staying at the resort.
Everyone talks about that dream vacation on a tropical island, don’t they? My visit to Fiji was my first, and it was absolutely beautiful.
On entering the airport terminal, you’re greeted with a welcoming song – and oh, wow! Can they ever sing! Everywhere you go, you’re greeted with a friendly “Bula!” and a genuine smile.
The islanders of Viti Levu call this mountain ‘The Sleeping Giant’.
The mountains become more prominent in the scenery as you travel inland from the coast.
The scenery is dramatic. Farms and fields of sugar cane and corn give way to mountains dotted with villages.
The people are vibrant and friendly, the colours are bright and vivid, and the hospitality is warmer than anywhere else I’ve been. Their houses and shops are not like those in Australia or the US – these people don’t place a high value on being fancy. Their values revolve around faith, family and community.
Among the colourful buildings and homes, the police stations are all white and blue so that people can identify them easily.
The sand on the beaches is golden and the water is clear and almost magically turquoise.
Many of the beaches feature palm trees that sway in the light breeze, which is almost constant.
Golden sand and turquoise water make a very inviting vision!
As we drove into the mountains, the beaches gave way to forests, rivers, and more closely settled villages.
These photographs were taken at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on Australia’s Gold Coast.
While these little guys are in captivity, they are given a comfortable and safe environment that is as close to nature as can be achieved. They are usually rescue animals who cannot safely be returned to the wild. It does mean that they are safe from feral animals, natural predators and drivers who won’t slow down for them on the roads.