The road home begins on the South Gippsland Highway as we drive toward Melbourne, St Kilda and the Spirit of Tasmania. Temperatures here in South Gippsland are low and the feel of winter is definitely upon us.
Good old Melbourne – lots of traffic even on the weekend. It is comforting to see the faces of St Kilda and to know that we are close to Bass Strait and the journey home.
Sunday morning and we offload in Devonport. Winter certainly has arrived here in Tasmania with a temperature of -6 degrees from Devonport to Campbelltown. The landscape is so magnificently beautiful in a thick, sparkling coat of mega-frost.
As we drive into heavy fog it is possible to look into and photograph the face of the early morning sun – not often something one can do.
The full face of the rising sun above the Bass Highway – taken through morning fog
For us, the best sight of all after such a long journey is the final turn in the road to home in the wonderful hills of Lachlan. Have to love living in Tasmania.
Moss Beds Road – the final turn in the road to home!
Wodonga to Hedley – over 500 km drive, however the scenery has to be some of Australia’s prettiest, especially through the high country.
As the road leads into the Victorian high country, we pass through magic white eucalypt stands, so iconic to this area of Victoria. The township of Yackendandah is truly spectacular and so too the nearby towns of Myrtleford, Harrietville and then on to beautiful Bright where the spectacle of the last of the autumn colour is magnificent.
Beautiful autumn colours of Bright, Vic
The ascent of Mt Hotham takes us on a winding road which drops off spectacularly into the valley below. However, approximately halfway up the mountain we drive into low cloud which becames so heavy that visibility is reduced to one/two metres and brings our driving speed down to 30 km/hour in some places.
The descent from Mt Hotham opens out into another gorgeous valley.
Once we enter into the Shire of East Gippsland, it is another three hours before we reach our destination and friends in Hedley in South Gippsland just in time to watch the sinking of the last light of day.
Hedley on South Gippsland Highway, Victoria
Our departure from Armidale yesterday morning was wet, wet, wet. We drove in and out of rain all day long en route to Dubbo.
We drove through vast plainlands of cattle country and enjoyed some magic cloud formations along the way. Outside of Parkes the roadside was littered with cotton bolls – enough to make a spinner’s heart weep. If only the driver would stop so I could collect a bag full!
Once again, it was with a sigh of relief that we reached our destination of Dubbo, home of the great Western Plains Zoo. Tomorrow we are hoping to drive in finer conditions.
Today, Tuesday, began hopefully as we drove southward from Dubbo through cattle, sheep and cropping country which has benefited enormously from the rains which have fallen. The first rains were falling as we drove northward to Queensland three weeks ago – at that time this country was dry and parched. Pastures have been sown since those first rains fell and the new seed heads are looking beautifully green and healthy.
Road to Gundagai
Rainfall earlier this morning lies in the table drains alongside the road as we take the road “along the way to Gundagai”.
Unfortunately for us, just one hour north of today’s destination of Wodonga (Vic) we drove directly into a severe electrical storm. We were engulfed in the storm for a distance of 20 kilometres. The rain became so torrential at one point that we were forced to pull off the highway and sit it out as visibility became negligable. Once we were back on the road, just a little further along, we saw large patches of ice beside the highway and were thankful that we had missed the hail.
We rest in Wodonga tonight and can only hope for better driving weather tomorrow!
Today we exited Brisbane and took the Ipswich Highway to the Warego Highway on to our destination of Armidale in New South Wales, via Warwick, Stanthorpe and the New England Tableland.
The Warego Highway took us on a nostalgic drive through the areas of our youth where, in our Rural Youth Club days, we camped and socialised with the Muttapilly, Harrisville and Rosewood clubs – many a marriage resulted, as did our own.
A little further on we caught our first glimpse of the Scenic Rim before climbing up and through Cunningham’s Gap and out onto the mightly Darling Downs.
The Scenic Rim
Coming off Cunningham’s Gap
As we neared Stanthorpe rain began falling – this trip has been plagued with rain. Across the border and into New South Wales as we climbed onto the New England Tableland, it was apparent that the beautiful autumn leaves, which we so enjoyed just three weeks ago, have fallen and the tableland has readied itself for the starkness of winter.
Tonight we rest in Armidale.
Sugar cane – Maryborough
This morning Tim brought Jodie and new baby son Jackson home from hospital before Dallas and I departed from Hervey Bay. It was not easy to leave with having had so little time with baby Jackson, but at least we have counted all his toes and fingers and know he is safe and healthy. We left both Alexis and Mackenzie clucking around their new brother, although Alexis was beginning to show some signs of denial! She is not too sure just what having a new baby in the house might mean. Southward bound once again through the sugar cane fields of the Maryborough district, and into the pineapple plantations and cattle country as we drive toward Scarborough and Moreton Bay to meet up with son Liam and his family before we depart Queensland tomorrow.
Can’t believe that we are passing through rain again as we drive through the Pomona area. However, it is a comfortable feeling to be travelling through areas of Queensland which we have grown up with and know so well.
More heartfelt goodbyes tonight as we farewell Liam, Brooke, Tait, Aidan and little Tynan. It never becomes any easier to say goodbye, especially with the little ones. Aidan and Alexis have both pleaded with me to take them home to Tasmania with us.
This morning on the 15th of the 5th month 2015 at approximately 9.00a.m. (with the assistance of medical intervention) Jackson Patrick arrived weighing 7lb 1oz – a fine, handsome little man looking out with wonder at this new noisy, bustling world he has entered.
Both mother and baby are doing fine and today it was smiles, ooohhh’s and aaahhh’s all around. Jackson’s two older sisters are vowing to love and defend him – probably until he is old enough to totter into their bedrooms and rearrange their treasures.
The birth was just in the nick of time for Dallas and I as we can no longer delay our departure from Hervey Bay tomorrow morning for our southward journey home. Of course, holding such a precious and new life makes one wish to remain close by, but for us it has been a joy to sight and hold Jackson close and to welcome him into our family. I daresay it will not be too long before we are back to spend more time with him and our other beautiful grandchildren.
It will be two weeks tomorrow since Dallas and I arrived in Hervey Bay to await the birth of Tim and Jodie’s third baby and our newest little grandson. The baby has not joined us yet and we all wait patiently. Mother and baby are doing fine, but mother is wishing and hoping for her pregnancy to end. Most of our time has been spent with our two young grand-daughters Mackenzie and Alexis – yesterday we painted a tea-set together to fill in time.
We have accompanied expectant mum on long beach walks and yesterday even resorted to taking her yabbie pumping – alas, all to no avail. Tim cooked a hot curry in the hope for some result, but that did not work either!
Pumping yabbies at Point Vernon, Hervey Bay
Medical intervention is scheduled for tomorrow morning and we all have our fingers and toes crossed for the cry of a newborn babe. It is our last hope for seeing this little boy before we must leave Hervey Bay on Saturday morning to return southward.
All I can say is that he is following in the footsteps of all Baker males who take life at their own pace and in their own time!
Another perfect day in Hervey Bay! The weather here remains lovely in the mid 20’s. No news on the baby front and we all wait patiently for a development. The midwife predicts no action for the next couple of days which is concerning for us as we are scheduled to depart Hervey Bay on Tuesday. It is looking like a delay in our departure date if we are to see the new baby at all!
Today we took the girls down to Urangan and walked out on the pier which is over 800 metres in length. The seas were glassy and calm once again as they have been since our arrival – quite a difference from the seas to which Dallas and I have become accustomed in Bass Strait and around coastal Tasmania.
Mothers’ Day tomorrow – who knows, it may bring a new baby into the fold.
Since arriving in Hervey Bay last Friday, in torrential rain, the weather has abated and we have enjoyed ideal weather conditions here on the Fraser Coast. Staying with our younger son Tim and his family, we await the imminent birth of Tim and Jodie’s new baby son.
Our grand-daughters have kept us totally occupied and we had the joy of spending a lovely three day weekend with the visit of our older son Liam and his family. Our entire family spent many happy hours on the beaches of Hervey Bay swimming and playing on the sand. Jodie is doing her utmost to convince the baby to join us with long walks on the beach and building a sand castle city for the children.
Feeding the turtles, ducks and eels in the local lake was a huge hit with our grand-daughters and grand-sons – they went through four loaves of bread!
Having the whole family together in one place gives Dallas and I such pleasure, especially to see the grandchildren all playing and laughing together.
Each day we wonder if the new baby will be born – but, as we all know too well, babies have a mind of their own! More news on that front soon, we hope!