Brrr – minus 2 when we awoke in Ballarat this morning. A long drive was planned, so we departed at 7am, as it was becoming light.
We followed the Western Freeway from Ballarat towards the Melbourne Western Ring Road freeway.
At about 7.40 we stopped for petrol, and, asking the attendant for directions, he brought out a map to show us, and then even photocopied it for us! Here we were, about half an hour from Melbourne, and he told us he hadn’t been there in 10 years.
Back on the road, the Western Ring Road freeway…
then to the Hume Freeway in the direction of Sydney. It was a perfect sunny day, with very little traffic, and an excellent road, so it was easy driving.
At one of the short breaks we took a girl was throwing water on her tyres. We were mystified – she told us she had been advised to do so to cool her tyres.
At 11.38 we took the turnoff for the B500, The Great Alpine Road. We had had four stops – two for petrol, two for refreshment, so we’d driven about 3.5 hours, and covered half the distance we had planned for the day.
Taking The Great Alpine Road was the purpose of today’s route…
and the first stop was the first of many wineries we saw, Gapsted Wines, for a little tasting.
Soon it was back on the road, driving through beautiful autumn scenery, sometimes groves of maples with red leaves.
We’d driven through a few nice country towns, and at about 12.45 we reached our planned stop of Bright, the loveliest of all with its autumn colours.
So far we had been traversing gentle rolling hills, but after Bright we began our ascent to Mt. Hotham on a steep winding road. Halfway up we stopped in the forest just after 2pm to eat the lunch we had purchased in Bright.
The road becomes steeper, the trees more stunted and bare…
until we get above the treeline
and it’s a little foggy with some snow beside the road.
As the town of Mt. Hotham wasn’t blanketed in snow it didn’t look pretty.
It was all downhill from here. But the road was wider, straighter, with gentler inclines, for a while, and we made better time.
Then the road narrowed and became more windy, and many of the bends in the road had their own names. We negotiated Hell’s Gate, Haunted Creek, Dead Horse Flat, Wild Dog Creek, and drove through the town of Smoko at some stage. Our theory was that the council had accidentally over-budgeted on signs, and so an imaginative sign writer was let loose to name every bend in the road.
By the side of the roads we saw quite a lot of dead animals, and there are certainly a lot of signs warning of animals – kangaroos, wombats, cows…
Our destination was Lakes Entrance, and we saw a sign to it, took that road, hit the A1, and followed the A1 to Lakes Entrance, the last half hour being in the dark.