Last time I updated, I just got to Melbourne. The two girls I’m traveling with, Hedda from Norway and Julia from Germany were both working around Melbourne. Hedda quit her job and had been in Melbourne for a few days, Julia was still stuck at her awful job and we arranged I’d come rescue her and her friend the next day. We’d all be in a hostel for one or two more days.
After a day we decided to just get going instead of spend money in Melbourne. Before we went, I wanted to meet up with the lovely Ninianne, a distant family member living in Melbourne. She hosted us for some tea and then took us to the Queen Victoria markets for some groceries before we left. I’m happy we didn’t rush out of Melbourne as it was really nice to be shown around a bit by her.
After we had left, I felt the car’s steering get sloppier again. A quick check revealed what I expected; the weld on the steering pin had started to break and steering was thus very imprecise again. Calling around and Googling revealed a specialised Hilux wrecker, sort of on our way, east of Melbourne. They had reconditioned steering arms for not too much. We got there right around closing time, so I’d have to swap the part myself.
We camped at a free spot not far from where I got the part. While the girls made dinner, I tried to swap the part (how emancipated of us). I didn’t manage to swap it since it was quite stuck and I figured I needed a hammer. That night turned out quite cold, my sleeping bag, silk liner and fleece blanker were just not enough to keep me warm.
The next day I set out to find a mechanic that could mount the part for me. Since it was Saturday this wasn’t easy, but after 3 tries we were pointed towards the guys at Star Motors in Pakenham who sorted it out quickly at a good price. I still wish I would’ve been able to do it myself, the trick was just to use a hammer and a punch in the right places.
We then headed for Wilson’s Promontory, the Southernmost point of Australia. We made a few short walks on Darby beach and decided to check out the Tidal River main camping. That turned out to be over crowded with Australian dudes and families, plus it cost 60 dollars for a camp spot, so we decided to move on.
We found a camping at less than half that price just outside of the park, where we got a spot next to the ocean even. It was nice to have some bathroom facilities after only having a smelly hole-in-the-ground toilet the night before.
It was a bit of a grey day as we drove back south again through Gippsland, towards Morwell. Robyn, a lady who is the admin of a Facebook Group in which I posted about the end of my farm work, had read my blog and invited us to come stay with her.
Robyn is a (mostly) retired teacher who lives with her dog in a nice house in Morwell. She often hosts backpackers like us and was excited to have us over. She had lots of plans for us, showing us around the area and taking us to some less touristic spots. I thought that all sounded fine, since despite leaving Melbourne only 2 days ago, I’d been scrambling to get the car ready and drive to Melbourne for the past two weeks.
We ran into an acquaintance of Robyn (we quickly realized she knows almost everyone in Morwell) who was really excited to hear I could offer him some advice regarding things I did at my old job. We met up with for some coffee and he showed us some of his graffiti and art.
We headed down to Robyn’s holiday house at Loch Sport, which turned out to be a very quiet little holiday town with a bit of a special old-fashion feel to it. It used to all be bush, until in the 50’s the owner decided to sell off plots of lands so the working man could own a house by the sea. Today there are still lots of old houses there, including one Robyn’s father built in the 60’s.
Robyn’s house was furnished and decorated with lots of original 60’s and 70’s furniture, and the radio played mostly old songs all day long. I love ending up in places like this, just going with it and not simply booking the easiest accommodation one can find.
There are lots and lots of kangaroos at Loch Sport, they move between the long stretches of land, across the Dry Lakes, at dusk and at dawn. We went for a small walk and saw lots. This was the first time I saw big kangaroos and not just smaller wallabies.
They really weren’t very afraid, one of them just crossed the road a few meters in front of us.
The next day we went for a small drive to the nearby Lakes National Park. We ended up on a “4WD-only” track for the first time. That was pretty interesting, the car did good but I didn’t get any pictures in my excitement.
Loch Sport is flanked by a freshwater lake on one side, and the ocean on the other side. We went by 90-mile beach on the way back. Me and Julia looked for sea-shells, it was amazing how many nice ones you can find compared to beaches in Europe.
We’d been with Robyn for about 5 days, but by then it was becoming clear Hedda had different expectations for this trip. Me and Julia are fine with taking it easy and sticking around longer if things are nice; no schedules or big plans. Once we got back from Loch Sport she decided to head off on her own, to the beaches and sunshine of Byron Bay where I was just over a week before. I hope she finds what she’s looking for there.
The next day Robyn’s friend Goldie took me on a tour of the Morwell area. The Latrobe valley, where Morwell is situated provides most of the power for the state of Victoria through several coal-powered thermal plants, situated next to open-cut brown coal mines. It was pretty interesting and saddening at the same time to see this country’s extreme reliance on non-renewable energy. There is so much potential here for things like solar power, yet there seems to be very little action to reduce pollution (Hazelwood station near Morwell is the most polluting station in the entire world.) and destruction of the landscape due to coal mining. We even passed by a few memorial sites that reminded us of townships that were destroyed to allow for expansion of the mines. On the other hand, the power companies put up picnic sites and placards about how sustainable they are, right next to the power stations. Only to abandon them quickly and not bother with staffing or maintenance…
Me and Goldie got lunch afterwards, he showed me his Morris Minor oldtimer project and we talked about his travels. It was interesting to hear from him since he’s been all over the world. He also brought up my name, Laurens, and I told him I was named after Laurens Van Der Post. This turned out to be one of his favorite authors. Reading the synopsis of some of his books made me realize it would be very appropriate to finally read some of them at this time in my life, as they are all about traveling and exploring the world.
So right now we are only two, me and Julia are still OK with each other and our way of traveling. Robyn shows us around, or we have a day off by her pool. I walk Robyn’s dog, Sheba, sometimes and catch up on my blogging and pictures.
We did however put out a message on Robyn’s Facebook group if anyone else would want to join us to take Hedda’s place, and have found two young German travelers that sounded quite alright. They’ll come to Morwell tonight, and then we’ll start the next chapter of our journey!