The end of our Australian Road Trip – The Great Ocean Road, Grapian National Park and Home

A mother and two little girls about 7 and 10 sitting behind us on our plane home from Australia on Wednesday. As the Qantas 747 lifted off the Melbourne runway the mother told her girls to tell Australia good-bye. They called out "Good bye Australia! Good-bye Australia! We love you!" I wanted to join in with them. We had a marvelous trip and although it is wonderful to be home, I do love Australia.

We flew home on Wednesday. In my last blog post Sunday night we were in Apollo Bay, Victoria on Australia's Great Ocean Road.

Almost every small town in Australia has a bakery, a butchery, and a fruit and veggies shop. Most days on our trip we stopped at a bakery and picked up bread and a treat for lunch. The bakery in Apollo Bay had signs in its windows saying it had won awards for being one of the best bakeries in Australia.

They had what looked like some wonderful big cinnamon rolls. I asked the shop lady what they were and she said "they are cheese and Vegemite rolls".That would have been a shock to my mouth if I thought I was biting into a cinnamon roll and instead got cheese and Vegemite! We bought one and had it for breakfast. It was really good.


Monday we continued our drive along the Great Ocean Road. We climbed down Gibson Steps to the beach. You can just see me in this picture.


We stopped at several view points along the road. We saw the Twelve Apostles rock formations.


The London Bridge Rock formation used to be like a two arch bridge. The first arch collapsed in 1990. At the time there were some people out on what became the island. They had to be rescued by helicopter.


After our drive along the Great Ocean Road we headed inland and spent the night in the town of Halls Gap in Grampian National Park. We stayed in a cabin on Monday night. The lawn in front of reception was covered with kangaroos.


There were also several cockatoos on the table outside our door.


Tuesday morning we hiked in Grampian National Park. This formation is called the Balconies.


Grampian National Park also had a lot of pretty wild flowers


Tuesday afternoon we headed back to Melbourne found a motel near the airport and spent the night there before flying home on Wednesday.

All of my pictures from our trip are on Flickr here. I'll be adding titles and descriptions to the picture over the next week or so. I'm also planning a summary post with info about the cost of our trip, a map, and what I consider some of the highlights and low-lights of the trip. If there are other things you would like to know about our Austalian road trip please leave me a comment or drop me an email.


Victoria, Australia

Everyone we have talked to in Australia has had a snake story. Our Lonely Planet Australia Guide Book says of Australia that snakes are “abundant”. Last Wednesday night when we were walking round the Vermazen property near Eden, New South Wales I was commenting on the fact that we hadn’t seen any snakes during the three weeks we had been in Australia.

That changed on Thursday. Duke and I drove from Eden, New South Wales to Lakes Entrance, Victoria. Along the way we stopped to hike in the coastal forest on The Cape Conran Nature Trail. I was walking down the trail in front of Duke enjoying the scenery when something moved. I almost stepped on a very large brown almost black snake. I yelped, jumped, said several loud words and did a very fast U-turn. Apparently the snake was scared too because he quickly headed off the trail into the underbrush.

I forgot to mention in my last post that as we were pulling into our B&B in Eden we had another flat tire! This time we had a nail in our left rear tire. We stayed in Eden two nights and got the tire fixed the next morning. We are getting quite good at calling roadside assistance and then getting the spare fixed.

As we have been driving through Victoria we have seen lots of signs reminding people about the dangers of falling asleep while driving. I liked this sign because I have always beena big proponent of the power nap.


In Lakes Entrance we stayed in a B&B. We went into the town and walked up and down the Esplanade deciding where to eat. We decided on the local sports club.

Meals are very expensive here in Australia. We have decided that although the breakfasts in B&Bs have been wonderful. We don’t need that much food or the additional $60 or so they add to the price of a nights lodging.

From Lakes Entrance we drove along the south coast of Victoria and then north to Drouin where some more of the Australian Vermazens live.  The Australian Vermazens immigrated to Australia in 1955. We stayed with Gerard and his wife and went out to dinner with them and Gerrard’s sister Elizabeth and her husband.


Saturday morning we got to visit with the the immigrant Vermazen, Hendrik who is 86. He is a fascinating man with a magnificent memory. He well remembered Duke’s Dad who visited them in the 1980s.

From Drouin we drove into Melbourne. We found a hotel and went for a walk in the rain. We visited the Immigration Museum where we saw Hendrick Vermazen’s name on the wall of remembrance.  



Then we walked up to the Victoria parliament buildings and back through China Town. We had a wonderful Chinese dinner in China town.


It is easy to see why people like Melbourne. It is full of interesting little alleys and lots of intriguing restaurants and shopping. On the way back to our hotel we stopped to have a beer and listen to a jazz group playing outside one of the restaurants. By the time we got back to the hotel we were quite damp in spite of our rain coats.

This morning (Sunday) we went for a walk along the Yarra river in Melbourne.


I had a croisssant and a small bottle of water from a shop and they cost me $8. Then we checked out of our hotel and drove out of Melbourne to explore the Great Ocean Road south west of Melbourne.

Most of the coast roads we have driven along on our trip have only been within sight of the ocean if we are in a town. The Great Ocean Road is right along the coast and it is stunning. We stopped for the night in a small town called Apollo Bay. I think the rain is keeping some of the tourists away. We were able to enjoy the town which seems very quiet. We walked along the main street to pick a restaurant for dinner. We ended up eating at La Bimba. We had a whole Dory fish with wonderful seasoning stuffed with couscous. Oh my! It was delicious. It was one of our top 5 meals of the trip.



Eden, New South Wales

Duke and I are on a month long vacation in Australia. We are finishing up week three. Right now (Thursday morning) we are in Eden New South Wales. Eden is just north of the new South Wales, Victoria Border.

We left Sydney Last Saturday and spent the night in Woolongong. Sunday we drove from Woolongong to Huskisson on Jarvis Bay. Monday morning was beautiful and sunny. We went for a walk along the coast before leaving Huskisson.


The raod does not always exactly follow the coast so as we drove south on Monday we made some detours over to headlands and beaches. We eventually stopped in Narooma and spent the night at the Whale Motor Inn. Narooma has a wonderful boardwalk along the Wagonga River just before it empties into the Pacific. We walked along the boardwalk down to the ocean and saw thousands of fish, some really cool jelly fish and a couple of stingrays.


It was starting to rain again and we even saw a rainbow. After our walk we ate dinner at the Whale Inn overlooking the bay.


Tuesday morning as we headed south again we stopped at a little village called Central Tilba. It had lots of tourist shops and an old Cheese factory. We bought some cheese and browsed a bit.


 We stopped for a picnic lunch in Bermagui. Here I am looking for whales with the binoculars.


In the afternoon we stopped to hike at Mimosa Rocks National Park. We hiked out to Wajurda Point. We have seen whales at almost every overlook we have stopped at. At this overlook we saw some whales crossing the mouth of the bay below us. For about twenty minutes they put on quite a show, breaching, diving and sticking their flippers up. It was awesome.


We spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Eden. That's where we are now. We found this absolutely wonderful B&B, The Snugcove B&B. We have a room overlooking the harbor and each morning we have eaten a fantastic breakfast on the deck watching the boats and the birds on the bay.

Tuesday night we walked down to the wharf, bought fish and chips for dinner and ate them sitting on a bench watching the sunset.

Wednesday we explored around Eden walked out on the Navy Pier. We also visited an old light tower built by a Ben Boyd an 18th century entrepreneur and schemer. We visited the old whaling station and the whaling museum.

Tuesday night was special because we went out to have dinner with a distant cousin of Duke's and his wife and son. They showed us all around their  property and gave us a fantastic dinner. We had a wonderful time.


 Eden is my absolute favorite coastal town we have visited. Most of the shoreline of the harbor is park land. The town is a real fishing town and not too touristy, and the Snug Cove B&B is my favorite place we have stayed on this trip and now we have friends as well as relatives here. I'd like to come back.



Wandering Along the New South Wales Coast South Of Sydney

Sunday morning we began exploring the cost of New South Wales south of Sydney.We stopped at the blowhole on the point in Kiama.


From Kiama we continued to meander south along the coast. This coast is really gorgeous.


We eventually ended up in a motel in the little town of Huskisson on Jarvis Bay. The weather was cold and windy. We walked down to pick up a pizza and enjoyed it on our balcony overlooking the bay.


Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates have been in Australia this week so it has been really interesting to watch the coverage of their visits.

I have been whining a bit about how most places we stay charge a lot for internet. But Monday night we are at the Whale Motor Inn in Narooma and they have free fast internet!! Thank you Whale!! I have uploaded all my pictures so far to Flickr. They are available on Flickr here. I probably won't get them all labeled until I get home.

Sydney and Beyond

We spent Friday night in the Hunter Valley Wine Country. Saturday morning we drove into Sydney and across the Sydney Harbor bridge.


We parked on the street in Sydney and walked through the Botanical Garden and around the Sydney Opera House. Sydney really is a beautiful city.



It was raining off and on all day. When we were inside the Opera House it started really pouring. We were glad to be inside. Outside they were setting up for the Australian Record Industry Awards.


After our walk around downtown Sydney we got in the car and headed south again. The town of Wollongong is called The Gong, even on the street signs. I almost bought an "I Love the Gong" souvenir.

With the help of the Visitor center in Wollongong we were able to find a room for the night. Being near Sydney and a Saturday night the accommodation was our most expensive of the trip (although not the nicest).

We walked in the pouring rain to the waterfront and had one of the best meals we have had on this trip. At The Dunes Brasserie in Wollongong we ordered the seafood sampler for two and had a mouth watering feast of crab, fish, chips, oysters, smoked salmon, prawns, calamari and scallops. It was fantastic! As we walked back to our hotel the rain had stopped and we could see stars. it was a wonderful end to a great day.

WineTasting in the Hunter Valley

Duke and I are on a four week vacation in Australia. We are driving from Cairns in Northern Queensland to Melbourne on Australia's south coast, exploring along the way.

Last Friday we drove to the Hunter Valley north west of Sydney and tasted wine at a couple of wineries.


We were having a hard time finding a place to spend the night because a big concert was happening Saturday night (Peter Frampton, Chicago and America).

We stopped at the Hunter Valley Wine Country Visitor Centre and got some help finding and booking a room. When we came out of the information office 15 minutes later we had a flat tire on our rental car! It had been raining all day and was still raining hard so we were very happy to call road side assistance and have it changed. We ended up spending about three hours of prime wine tasting time getting the tire changed and repaired. 

Finally we checked into our Guest House and went to find a couple more wineries before they closed their tasting rooms at 5.  The Hunter Valley is a beautiful region. It is just too bad it was rainy and cold. It would have been nice to sit outside, sip our wine and enjoy the view. The guest house was on top of a hill and our room had a whole wall of windows. We did get to enjoy the wonderful view over breakfast in our room.


Our Australian Adventure – The Gold Coast and into New South Wales

Wednesday we drove down to the Gold Coast, on the Queensland coast south of Brisbane. The Gold Coast has beautiful beaches and has lots of high rise condos and hotels. What a difference 40 years makes. When we lived in Australia we spent a Christmas at the Gold Coast and there wasn’t even one high rise.

This picture is one we took on the Gold Coast on Wednesday


This picture is one of my sister looking out at the Gold Coast 41 years ago!

Gold coast

From the Gold Coast we drove south, left Queensland and headed into New South Wales. It was interesting to listen to the American mid term election results on Australian radio. At one point they were talking about “accused witch Christine O'Donnell” being defeated.

Wednesday night we stayed at Darlington Beach Holiday Park in a small villa. We saw lots of resorts like this one where families could have a reasonably priced vacation on undeveloped beaches.The resort is located just north of the town of Coffs Harbour. Our villa was about a quarter of a mile from the beach so we walked to the beach. It was empty and beautiful. We collected some rocks and shells for our turtle and fish tanks.


Later We went into town and picked up beer  and a pizza. We took it back to our cabin to enjoy it.

On Thursday we made a lot of progress in our drive towards Sydney. We stopped briefly a few times. Once at the Big Banana in Coffs Bay where I got an Australian hat to replace my Sun Microsystems baseball hat which I lost in Cairns. I am a bit upset about losing it since Sun (my former employer) is no more and the hat is irreplaceable. But I love my new Australian hat.


We stopped in Nambucca Heads and went out to the Captain Cook Lookout. We were able to see hump back whales migrating south for the summer. They were very close to us and put on quite a show.

We also stopped and had a picnic at a Smokey Cape Lighthouse. It was stunningly beautiful.


We spent Thursday night in Nelsons Bay.

I am behind in posting pictures to Flickr because almost every place we have stayed recently charges a lot for uploading. What a pain!  Anyway I will upload my picture when I get home or when I can do it without spending a  fortune.

The end of our Brisbane tour and heading South

Duke and I are having a wonderful time exploring Australia. One of the things we are finding is that you pay for Internet everywhere (if they have it) and sometimes it is pretty slow. As a result I am a bit behind in blogging. This post picks up on our last day in Brisbane as we complete our tour of the locations where my family lived 40+ years ago.


Last Monday morning we drove out to Brookfield to see the second house my family lived in back in the  60’s when we were here in Brisbane. Our house was still there and looked much the same. When we lived there the Macintoshs were our neighbors.  When Duke and I were there Monday the name on the mailbox next to the Robinson’s old house was Macintosh!  We walked up the drive way and knocked on the door. No one was home.  Back on the street I called Dad to update him on all we had seen.


Right after I hung up as we were driving away a car pulled into the Macintosh’s drive way. We went back up the drive way. When I told Mrs Macintosh who I was she gave me a big hug and asked me how that little brother of mine was. She invited us in for coffee and we updated each other on what has happened to our families over the last 40+ years.  She laughed about how my brother who was about four at the time used to come over to their house and climb in the window to visit her young sons.

Monday night we stayed near Brisbane and went for dinner at my friend Cathy’s house. It was so much fun to see her and meet her husband.

Tuesday morning we left Brisbane and drove to Lamington National Park south of Brisbane. From our tent cabin you could see the ocean and the skyscrapers at the Gold Coast. Lamington has mountains and sub tropical rain forest. We went for a hike and then had a picnic dinner on the balcony of our tent cabin.



Our Australian Adventure – Brisbane

My family and I lived in Australia from 1964 to 1969. Part of what I wanted to do on this trip was visit the four houses we lived in in Brisbane.

Sunday morning we left Noel and Mandy’s and drove into Brisbane. We did the Marion Robinson tour of eastern Brisbane including three of the four houses we lived in while in Brisbane. I showed Duke Ascot State School and Clayfield College, the two schools I attended.

As I was taking pictures of the last house we lived in a woman drove into the drive way. I told her I lived in the house back in the 60’s and she said “Oh the Robinsons!” It turned out she bought the house from my parents and raised 7 children there. She showed us around the house and told us how she had changed it. The house was built on stilts and she had added on a kitchen and living room under the house and put an inside staircase where my sisters room used to be.


We checked into a hotel in downtown Brisbane and went for a walk. First we stopped briefly to check out the Treasury Building Casino. It is a casino in the original government treasury building. Then we walked through the botanical garden where my sisters and I fed the ducks when first arrived in Brisbane.


 We walked over the Good Will Pedestrian Bridge to the south bank and along the south side of the river where there is a beautiful flower covered walk-way. We walked past an artificial beech called Streets Beech that is right next to the river. We watched the CityCat ferries on the Brisbane River.


After crossing the river again we walked past City Hall which until 1976 was the tallest building in Brisbane. It shows how much Brisbane has changed that there are lot and lots of skyscrapers now. 

For dinner Sunday night we walked through the Paddington area of Brisbane to a pizza place called Kookaburra café. It was a nice walk through an interesting neighborhood and we passed all the backpacker hotels and the pizza was great.

If you would like to see all the pictures from our Australian trip they are available on Flickr here.

My 40th Clayfield College High School Reunion in Brisbane, Australia

Saturday was the day of my high school reunion. I went to Clayfield College from 1965 to 1969. When my family left Australia I was in grade 11. I haven’t been back since then.

One of my other classmates Libby met us at Mandy’s house. Mandy drove us to Clayfield College for a tour.  When I was at Clayfield College they had about 300 students. The school now has almost 1000 students. They have a brand new primary school building. There were lots of other new buildings and the school has bought a lot of the surrounding property. The boarding school is in what used to be a hospital across the street. The gym is in what used to be a bowling alley. It is a beautiful impressive campus. We had a two hour tour.

Reunion 044

There were about 15 of us on the tour including many of the boarders from our class. I boarded for one term. I think we were all blown away by how things have changed. The old boarding school has been demolished. The boarders life was pretty Spartan back in the 1960’s. Boarders shared cramped dormitories and the food was basic. We washed our hair in basins under the old boarding house.

When our guide told us about things like restaurant quality chefs and private rooms with attached bathrooms for seniors the former boarders broke out in laughter. The buildings were beautiful.

Our reunion lunch was at a restaurant in a very nice area of Brisbane. The restaurant was great because they let us sit and talk and have a leisurely lunch. We picked up where we left off 40 years ago and didn’t leave the restaurant until after 5.

Reunion 082

Duke had a great day too with Noel, Mandy’s husband. They hiked and bought fresh boiled prawns on the beach then had prawns and beer for lunch.

My pictures from the reunion are on Flickr here.