Good trip from home to Devonport. When you go through the ticketing area for the boat (two lanes) the ticketing staff have already read your number plate so greet you by name, you show your drivers licence for identification purposes and they give you your ticket. Not this time though, all we got was “pension cards please”, first time ever we had been asked for them but no problems we supplied them. Then “I’m going to measure you” well I was a bit over what I had booked but this lady was determined to charge extra however she had no idea how to do it so spent 20 minutes on the phone trying to work it out. Anyway we eventually finished with “miss grumpy” went through security and waited to be boarded which is a very speedy process.
The weather forecast seemed to indicate a smooth crossing, which was in contrast to Tuesday night which was very rough. Had a bite to eat and a drink at the bar. Didn’t seem to be a full ship as the bar area was not very busy. Listened to a guy at the bar voice his displeasure at not being able to watch the footy on TV and when told it would start at 8:30 because it was a Queensland broadcast then wanted to know why he couldn’t watch a local broadcast. The bar staff were very patient with him explaining that all TV on the ship was received from a satellite signal which did not include a local (Melbourne) broadcast. No pleasing a die hard footy fan!
Anyway the crossing was smooth, a bit of a roll developed about 1:00 AM but by 3:30 we were inside the heads and steaming up the bay. Wake-up call at 6:00 and because vehicles towing and high vehicles are garaged on the two main car decks we were first off at 6:30. Navigated our way around a dark and cold Melbourne, thank heavens for the GPS, however because it was early Saturday morning the traffic was light (by Melbourne standards).
Called Bob and Heather and Darkie (the dog) who went over on the boat on Wednesday night and were at Ballarat. We arranged to meet about 40 kilometres west off Ballarat at the Trawalla State Forest Rest Area. As we came near Ballarat we were enveloped with fog and light rain which lasted until we passed Ballarat. Speaking with Bob and Heather later they said they had several very cold days at Ballarat. Anyway we had sun whilst we waited for for them. We had planned our first nights stop to be Lochiel Rest Area 6km west of Dimboola which was about a 360 kilometres drive for the day. Arrived there around 3:00PM and made camp. A good camp, the rest area was on a slip road off the main highway and we drove of the slip road into the bush. Plenty of dead She-Oaks so in no time with the aid of Bob’s chainsaw we had a fire going. Bob then serenaded us with a rendition of Summer Holiday on his saxophone. By the way Darkie has his own camping chair!
A few wines, and a meal cooked on the fire completed our first day of the 2011 trip. Not exactly an early rise in the morning, but then we are not known for them. Had baked bean, cheese and egg jaffles on the camp fire for breakfast possibly my favourite camping breakfast. We had a 460km trip planned for today with a detour to catch up with friends in Bordertown so by 9:30 we were on the road. We had meet Jeff and Sue last year and camped with them several times so it was great to catch up with them. Sue had made morning tea which we had in a park in their home town of Bordertown. We hope to catch up with them on the road later in the year. We then headed north to Loxton then north west to Waikerie and our next camp was to have been at Hogwash Bend on the Murray River just before Morgan however a “road closed” sign prevented entry so after 460 kilometres we had to find another camp site. Only 10 kilometres further on we camped at the Cadell Recreation Ground where for a small fee we had the use of hot showers.
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Cadell – Monday 27 June