I’m back home after completing my 2,200km circuit of eastern Victoria and the southern New South Wales coast. I’m glad that I decided to take the winding coastal route, even though it added at least four hours to the journey.
I left the office in Sydney on Friday afternoon, hoping to get at least as far as Bateman’s Bay before dusk. Luckily traffic was pretty light after Wollongong and I managed to reach my planned stopover point, Narooma, by around 7pm. I had already booked some lovely beach front accommodation online, a real bargain at $99 per night. It was too dark to appreciate the location when I arrived, although I could hear the ocean from the bedroom as I drifted off to sleep.
Next morning I hit the road early, knowing that I still had at least 8 hours drive ahead of me. I had a quick look at the beach and town centre before continuing the journey down the Sapphire Coast, heading inland briefly through Bega, famous in Australia for its cheese. The highway rejoined the coast at Pambula and then, after the town of Eden, veered west across the Victorian border. I was hoping to grab some breakfast in one of these places, but decided I could wait for the next one — however I didn’t realise the next town, Orbost, was around 200kms away!
I was running low on fuel when I hit Orbost so had no choice but to pay an extortionate $1.69 per litre. Orbost felt like a real country town, where everyone comes from the surrounding farms at weekend to stock up on provisions at the local shops. I grabbed a coffee and a sandwich and planned the last part of the journey, already realising that I wouldn’t have much time to explore anywhere if I wanted to get home before dark, but I definitely wanted to see Lakes Entrance so decided to make a slight detour at Nowa Nowa. I’m glad I did, it looks like a really nice place to spend a few days. I couldn’t spare the time to explore Ninety Mile Beach, unfortunately.
It started to rain as I entered Bairnsdale which made progress through Sale, Rosedale, Traralgon, Moe and Warragul a bit slower than necessary, even though these were the best quality roads in the whole journey. I was soon passing through Pakenham, familiar territory at last, and reached Berwick by 4pm. At this point I ran out of MP3s, having listened to four audio books, a dozen podcasts and a couple of recorded radio series along the way, so I tuned into UK TalkSport radio and listened to the build-up to the England vs Norway game for the final half hour of the journey.
I’m pleased to have done this road trip, but it’s not something I’ll ever do again. Undoubtedly there are lots of lovely little places to see along the way but, at the end of the day, there’s just far too much monotonous driving in between with not enough varied or spectacular scenery to make it worthwhile. Being limited to 100km/h or 110km/h doesn’t help, either. I’m sure other parts of Australia offer a better driving experience, but I’m not keen to find out anytime soon!