2011 March 3 – Day 57 – Orbost to Sale, Australia

When we are on road trips it is our habit to stop at Visitor Information Centers to pick up brochures and maps so I can get ideas for what things and places we want to see.  We intended to visit the little slab hut at Orbost before we left town but it was closed.  Since the seasons in Australia are opposite to ours in Canada, February is the beginning of the school year so it is ‘off season’ for tourists and the center was closed.  It was a cute building though.

We had woken early (well, early for us  – 7:30) so we could get on the road as we had a 50-60 km drive inland to Buchan Caves.

There had been some major fires in this area the previous year so we saw lots of burned forests as we drove along.The first tour for Royal Cave started at 10 and we arrived at 9:30 so we were able to book the tours for both Royal and Fairy Cave.  There were only nine of us in the group so it gave us a little more time to see things.

In many places there was no room to spare on the paths.  This was the first cave we had toured that allowed photographs so we were happy to click away.  It is the flash they don’t like since it can damage the micro-organisms in living caves.  Our digital SLR cameras have a high enough ISO that we can take pics without flash but the colour isn’t very true.  Being allowed to use flash inside a cave was a unique experience. The temperature was a constant 17°C (almost 63°F) with 90% humidity so we were very comfortable in our shirtsleeves. This was our first encounter with ‘bacon,’ the formation that very closely resembles a piece of bacon hanging from the ceiling. After 45 minutes walking through Royal Cave we entered Fairy Cave for another 45 minute tour.                                       More bacon

 As is normal for a lot of cave systems, the landscape outside would never have you thinking that there was a cave hiding in the hillside.

 We had driven up to the caves through a town called Nowra Nowra (I love the Australian place names) and just before we got there again on our way back to the Princes Highway we took a 3 km detour to see the 1916 Stony Creek Trestle bridge.  It was damaged in a fire in the 1940s and is no longer used, but it is 35-40′ high; which, of course, one must climb.

Back on the highway it wasn’t too far to the community of Lakes Entrance.  We took a walk to see some of the chainsaw carvings that commemorate WWI soldiers and services. There was also a really nice sand sculpture with amazing details. At Jemmies Point we stopped to photograph the view. Our stop in Bairnsdale was a successful map and brochure collection place.  We also took some time to look at St. Mary’s Catholic Church which has gorgeous hand-painted walls and ceiling.  Absolutely stunning!

There was a clock museum in town but it was also a retail store so no photos.  Really cool clocks though.  They had a great sign:After a few miss turns we found the road to the silt jetties at Eagle Point.  They have been created by the ocean waves leaving silt behind.  We drove straight down the middle of one of the jetties which was just a bit wider than our car.   On the way back John drove over a Brown Snake sunning itself on the road; which happens to a lot of brown snakes we later learned. He wanted to miss it but there was no where to go on such a narrow road.  He felt bad as he doesn’t like to hit animals, but the Eastern Brown snake is the second most venomous snake in the world and over 60% of Australia’s snake bite deaths are caused by them, which meant the local folks wouldn’t have been very upset. Back on the highway once again we completed the final 62 km to Sale where we spent the night.

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