Swimming With Seals and Cows

Swimming cows and seals. We had already decided that Genoa was to be one of our stops and it was a mere 62 kilometres from our hilly campsite in Eden so we had no motivation to hurry. We refueled at the top of another very steep hill (in Eden? Who would have guessed?) and headed further south on our Travel Australia adventure.eden fuel

I don’t think Genoa in Victoria has much in common with its namesake on the Mediterranean although I haven’t seen the Italian version. The closest we came was visiting the villages of Cinque Terre about 50 ks east of Genoa, which is Italy’s biggest port and a very large city.

I must admit to having some misgivings with its highway position a couple of kilometres into Victoria and a long way from the coast. It was, we were told, a lovely spot by the river (the Genoa River, which I had never heard of) it was clean and access was by donation or not as one saw fit.

With such a short drive we were there by lunch time even with a few diversions and coffee breaks. What we saw at this early hour was the usual batch of half a dozen caravan combinations in a large park only half a kilometre off the highway. We discovered it leans between empty and overflowing from mid morning to late afternoon.

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Just a short distance further one could take the turnoff to Mallacoota, population 800, which we were told had a rather large caravan park. I guess that answers the question of where the other 8,000 people live over Easter and Christmas.

Genoa is almost spot-on halfway between Sydney and Melbourne has a local population of 300 people but some time back it was home to considerably more tetrapods. Mind you, that was some 350 million years ago but apparently they liked the place well enough.

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I’ll be writing more about them in the Diary of the Universe but that doesn’t happen until about essay number 95 so it is still a long way off, maybe by Christmas. In the meantime number 5 is alive, …… the formation of The Milky Way ….. which is kinda important to us humans.

We selected a site close by the river and near an old bridge that once served as part of the Princes Highway, that ribbon of civilization upon which we were making out inexorable way to Melbourne.Genoa 02

The place was every bit as good as we had heard, quite, cool, peaceful, lots of bell birds, a beautiful stretch of river and set in a wonderful rural background.

Late in the afternoon I wandered across the old bridge and found myself in the bar of the dishevelled hotel in the company of three, presumably local, men and a dog. From the general look of the only occupied space, a skinny back bar, it seemed unlikely there were any frivolities planned for this particular Saturday night, or any other for that matter. Genoa 04

After quenching my thirst I wandered back across the bridge ‘home’ ruminating on lost opportunities. I am fairly sure the caravan park, which by now was packed with travellers, held more than a few who would have gladly seized upon the opportunity for a diversion this evening.

The next day arrived cold, blustery and all ‘Sunday-morning-ish’ so it was not difficult to make the decision to remain snug in our protected environment and wait for the afternoon to bring some sunshine. The pull of Mallacoota was insufficient to lure us from our lair.Genoa 03

As the weather cleared in the late Sunday afternoon sun, I walked the river to inspect rehabilitation efforts posted near the bridge. The most visible and interesting aspect of this work that has been on-going for many years is the presence of tethered logs anchored in the old river bed which creates obstacles that promote the growth of trees and slows the flow of water, bringing the river back to a more natural form.Genoa 06 There were at least dozens, maybe hundreds of logs tied into the river and a couple of before and after shots displayed on the notice boards near the bridge showed what wonderful improvements have been made in the last 20 years.Genoa 05

Monday morning and it was time to move on. Gossip around the camp suggested there were many free-camp sites south along a 10 kilometre stretch of the famous Snowy River just east of a nice town called Orbost another 123 kilometres south west towards Melbourne.

Along the way our deck chairs, which had been enjoying the fresh air bungy-strapped to the front wall of the trailer, decided to stop off for a visit somewhere without telling me. This ensured that we spent a little time and money in Orbost and took the opportunity not only to replace the deck chairs but to refill the spare gas bottle and our tummies. (I’ll spare you the gas similes.) In the afternoon, as we had been advised, we took the road under the highway east towards Marlo, a fishing town at the mouth of the Snowy.orbost to marlo

The first prospect for a camp site turned up within minutes, a very attractive flat grassed area right on the bank of the river and empty. (The bank, not the river). Several more appeared as we drove along, including one already occupied by our neighbour for the last two days in Genoa.

Twenty minutes later and a few kilometres before Marlo, we crossed the small Brodribb River, which flows into the Snowy. Along its banks we found a boat ramp and the ‘river-boat port’ for the steam powered paddleboat Curlip II. The replica was launched by local enthusiasts in 2008 and runs with volunteers a semi-regular cruise from the Brodribb into the Snowy and down to the Snowy River estuary at Marlo.

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This was an even better campsite than those we passed along the Snowy as there were clean toilets and fresh water to service the boat ramp users and it was a flat river bank area of short green grass. A dairy farm adjoined the camp area and on the other side of the fence a house boat was pulled up on the bank.

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Aside from a few boat trailers, the lonely-looking paddleboat tethered to a couple of piles and a one bloody big seal, the place was deserted.marlo 01

A few cars eventually arrived, mostly couples stopping by to try their luck fishing, which was out of the question with a huge seal camped under the jetty. I’ve seen people swimming with seals. Two of our grandchildren, Sophie and Oliver did just that on a trip we did together to New Zealand’s south island some years ago. Through chattering teeth they told us it was fun. So I was tempted to jump in the river and have a swim too only I didn’t want to interrupt his seemingly perpetual lunch.  marlo 08 If you believe that, I’ve got some wonderful striped paint you might like to buy.

Later in the day we had company in the form of a camper van pulling a large trailer combination much like ours, only much bigger. Gary and Vee were permanently on the road, working a little here and there and mainly concentrating on seeing Australia and living a gypsy life.

The caravan set up was standard issue. Cath and Brian(?) were retired and mainly used their rig for holidays. Very late in the day a young couple, clearly internationals, set up a tent a little further along the bank.

Sundowners (sans the internationals) lasted until a magnificent sunset passed, with most of the cheese and biscuits gone and all the cans of beer emptied, followed by dinner and time to watch the news on TV. Free-camping seems to engender the most convivial attitudes and one meets people they would be most unlikely to encounter otherwise.marlo 04

Given our spot was just so good, we had time and the ease with which we fill it, there was no contest to stay another day and night.marlo 05

The caravan moved on the next morning but the campervan stayed too and was witness to the unusual sight of a passing cow, which had obviously fallen into the river at least half a kilometre further upstream and was making her way along the bank until she could walk out, which she did about half an hour later. Lucky she doesn’t live in northern Australia or it would have been short walk indeed.marlo 07

Wednesday morning dawned slightly overcast and a breeze had begun nipping at our extremities while we packed up and said our good-byes. marlo 06

After a short drive into and around the village of Marlo, we returned the way we came to Orbost to re-join the highway.

Maybe we will be able to find another quiet, comfortable spot for the night. Maybe. You can forward this article to a friend by clicking on the little envelope below.

If you’ve just blundered in and not already on the list see to the right, near the top of the page.

Dan

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