Day 13 (November 21, 2017 – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia): “Lonely Road Of Faith”
It was 5:25am when I awoke. I took some time to get dressed, brush teeth, and have some breakfast in the room, where my meal was composed of kefir, smoked salmon over old gluten free bread, and some fruits. It appeared that the sore throat that I had yesterday was no longer there. Even still, when Julie momentarily got up to make some brew, she refused to let me have the now-three-day-old brownies and cookies from Apollo Bay until she was convinced that I completely fought off any virus I might have contracted.
So by 6:10am, I headed downstairs with all my gear on me, and I patiently awaited the valet to retrieve the rental car. Five minutes later, I got the car and I was now driving the streets of Melbourne.
It was already a bit on the chaotic side even though it was still early in the morning. This time, the GPS had me take some toll route on the CityLink leading towards the Melbourne Airport. I was wondering why the GPS had me go northwest instead of northeast, but I guess in its wisdom, its algorithm aimed to get me to where I was going the quickest.
Yesterday, I avoided the toll and took the Ferguson Rd until I got to the freeway entrance past the toll. This time, however, I managed to avoid all the traffic lights. There was still traffic even on the toll portions of the freeway though, and I wondered how much time did I really save in doing the CityLink to get out of the city.
Anyways, it didn’t take long before I went onto the M31 (Hume Highway) that eventually led me to the northeast in the direction of Sydney. At this point, the speed limits and the speed cameras were kept at about 100km/h with a few road work queueing along the way, but it would eventually get really bush once I got past the Broadford area (which we drove to yesterday for Strath Creek Falls) and the speed limits were then 110km/h.
It was quite smooth going, and eventually I’d get off the freeway in the Wangaratta vicinity and then took the C315 east towards Beechworth. I was amazed that throughout this freeway, the gas prices remained at the exorbitant $1.49 AUD per litre. The worst it got for me at the Great Ocean Road at $1.34 AUD per litre, and I thought that was supposed to be the expensive part.
Anyways, the driving was pretty smooth, and by 9:30am, I made it to the Newtown Falls, which was in the southern end of the town of mining town of Beechworth. And like 11 years ago, I made a three-point turn to pull over near the lookout for the waterfall. There was a one-way road that went the opposite way so I couldn’t drive that way though I wondered how to get in at the other end.
As I had anticipated, the best lighting was in the early afternoon, which was when I showed up the last time I was here. Since it was now mid-morning, the sun was kind of on top of the falls so it made the lighting harsh. Still, it wasn’t terrible, and I was still able to bring out the colors of the rocks flanking the waterfall, which was flowing much better than the first time.
After having my fill of the falls at 9:45am, I then continued driving towards the town centre. However, before I did that, I was curious to see how to get to the entrance of that one-way road and so I went further up Pritchard Lane, which led me to a separate road that wound up going some other place.
And so I went back the way I came to the C315 and then I turned left to go through the town centre. I saw that there was a gas station serving up unleaded gas for only $1.29 AUD per litre. So I made a mental note to fill up here before going to the next place once I was done with Woolshed Falls, which I was about to do next.
After driving some 3km north of town, I did notice along the way that there was a Scenic Gorge 5km drive. That must be the road that out eventually exit at the Newtown Falls. So I made a mental note to do that drive after visiting Woolshed Falls.
It didn’t take long before I got to that lookout deck, where I got that familiar look at the Woolshed Falls. This time, it had very nice flow though the lighting wasn’t quite as good as the first time I was here when the reds in the rocks were showing a lot more given the early afternoon light back then. Mid-morning light wasn’t best, and the sun was quite hot and intense already.
Still, the lighting wasn’t terrible and I managed to get the shots and videos that I was after.
Ten minutes later, I moved the car over to the main car park, which had a toilet facility and some signage as well as some picnic tables. There were lots of choices of tracks, but I opted to go with the short descent leading to the top of the Woolshed Falls.
I could scramble onto the rocks and get as close to the water as I wanted, but I was quite content to get my videos and shots and try not to bake in the intense sun as it was beating down on me.
By about 10:30am, I was back in the car. I didn’t do the Reids Creek Track, which I heard you could pan for gold or something like that over there. And besides, just as I returned to the car, there was a ranger-led group of kids that also rocked up to the car park via that track.
As I was driving south back towards Beechworth, I saw signage (actually more for drivers facing north as they were leaving Beechworth) leading to my right towards the Scenic Gorge Drive. So I went ahead and did that drive, which was actually bi-directional at the beginning, but then for the final 4km, it was one-way. So I kind of knew that I was going the right way and that it would eventually output me at the Newtown Falls on Pritchard St.
The narrow road eventually led me down to a bridge over the same creek as that of the falls, and I noticed that there were even more smaller but attractive cascades upstream from that bridge as well as some pipes that were probably for water diversion.
After having my fill of that as well as a view back down towards Beechworth, I then went past the Newtown Falls and went back into town for a few quick shots to get a flavor of the historic gold town of Beechworth. It had a nice Post Office building next to the roundabout in the centre of town, but that was about the extent that I toured the town.
On the way out of town, I then filled up at that cheap gas station, where I had a brief discussion with the proprietor there about the fallacies of the Pay Wave thing we kept getting asked about (basically an RFID mechanism for paying without needing the chip and pin nor the swiping of the card).
By about 11am, I was finally on my way towards the next attraction, which was the Snobs Creek Falls.
Again, it was a pretty long drive to get there (since it was a very long drive to get all the way to Beechworth from Melbourne). I backtracked my way to the M31 then drove for nearly another hour on the high-speed highway before taking one of the C roads in the direction of Alexandra, Yea, and eventually Eildon (though there were intermediate towns along the way but their names escaped me).
Once I got to within 5km of Eildon, that was when I turned right onto Snobs Creek Road, which started off paved, then went unpaved for the last 2km before the waterfall’s familiar pullout or trailhead on the side of the gravel road. It was a very dusty road because logging trucks would pass by and throw up so much dust that it had to have taken at least a couple of minutes before the dust settled.
The fine particles thrown up in the air couldn’t have been good for the lungs if I was outside the car.
Anyways, at 1:20pm, I went down the first 75m path to a lookout of the cascades on Snobs Creek. There wasn’t anything special here other than I could appreciate how much volume was in the creek by its rush. Another logging truck passed by above me so I could see all that dust like clouds back up at the trailhead.
After going up then down the 220m path to the Snobs Creek Falls, I was back at the familiar top of the falls where there was an attractive view looking downstream. However, it looked like they built a new metal staircase that only got you part of the way down and too close to the falls to effectively photograph it. I knew that in the past, I had gotten clean photos of the front of the main part of the falls, but this view seemed to be even worse.
And like I remembered before, there were still more of the falls further downstream, but for all intents and purposes, you couldn’t really get to experience those other aspects of the falls. And so this visit was kind of a disappointment (especially when you consider the detour I took to get here).
So I did what I had to in order to capture the experience, then get back up to the car, where it was baking in the hot sun.
By 1:40pm, I drove off. Now, I was headed towards Marysville, which was within the massive Black Saturday bushfires that happened in February 2009. I was very curious to see how the town and the Steavenson Falls had recovered since that time. I can only imagine with Global Warming that more wildfires like this would flatten other mountain communities as changing rainfall distributions and extreme heat become more commonplace.
At least the drive to get to Marysville wasn’t that far from Snobs Creek Falls. So by 2:30pm, I got to the familiar car park for the Steavenson Falls. The drive through Marysville wasn’t as bustling as I remembered from back in November 2006, where I swore there were tour buses, lots of activity in the town, and even some place that sold award winning meat pies.
Now, the town seemed a bit more subdued on this visit, and I wondered if it had to do with the decimation resulting from the Black Saturday bushfires, and now it was on the slow road to recovery.
At the car park, there was a fee for $3 AUD to park for cars as well as other rates for other categories of vehicles. Unfortunately, the machines there only took coins, and I didn’t have coins with me. So I couldn’t put any money to feed the machine, and I risked it.
After walking by a shelter (crowded with lots of tour bus folks that appeared to be Aussie elders), I then walked the familiar path towards a junction where I could see the Steavenson Falls in pretty much its entirety.
The paths going closer to the falls reduced the visibility of the upper part of the falls illustrating how much it sloped. It was quite hot on this visit and the lighting was harsh. There were also hints of thunderclouds that were budding near the area.
But it didn’t take long before I got my fill of this falls, and then I walked towards the turbine before going up the steps and finally returning to the car, which didn’t have a fine.
At 3:05pm, I returned to the car, and I spent 10 minutes to eat the prosciutto and gluten-free bread that Julie bought but wasn’t well enough to eat. Ten minutes later, I headed out and back to the Melbourne CBD.
Along the way, I found a cheap gas station at $1.22 AUD per litre (just a block or two before it went to $1.49 AUD per litre for the rest of the way) in Healesville. But for the rest of the drive, I pretty much followed a twisty mountain road eventually leading to the Ringwood suburb, and that was when the GPS took me onto the EastLink toll road, which got me onto the M3 towards the Melbourne CBD.
And by 5:10pm, I finally dropped off the rental car with the Hyatt valet in the Melbourne CBD. I managed to get there sooner than I expected, and now I looked forward to having dinner with Julie and possibly twilight touring the Melbourne CBD.
But it wouldn’t be until about 6:20pm when we went to this place called Sezar for dinner. It was some kind of Armenian-Australian fusion place. And we opted to go there in lieu of the French Brasserie, which looked very pricey and a suit-and-tie type of place.
The dinner consisted of some kind of interesting lamb belly appetizer before we got our mains of beef cheek and barramundi along with a side of cabbage noodle salad. It was a satisfying meal, and it was solidifying in our minds that Melbourne was quite the foodie place.
It also reinforced our theory that when you go to countries that are known for having their own cuisines like in Italy, France, Japan, and even India and China, among others, you wouldn’t want to have food from other ethnicities. Like you wouldn’t want to go have Chinese in Italy, for example.
However, if you visit USA, UK, Australia, and Canada among others, where they aren’t known for having their own cuisines, then you wind up with interesting fusion between cultures that’s done well. And this was certainly the case here with the Sezar as well as Coda (with more of an Asian fusion) last night.
Anyways, after the dinner, Julie showed off to me the places that she went while I went solo waterfalling. So she took me to the graffiti alleyway on Hooser Lane as well as a different smaller alleyway next door to the Grand Hyatt that we were staying at.
After going through the alleyway (where it was clear that there was some tagging in addition to the artistic graffiti), we then walked towards Federation Square. At that square, we saw the Melbourne Rail Station (though there was lots of scaffolding covering up its otherwise historic-looking exterior) and across the street was the St Pauls Cathedral, where there was some music festival going on right next door to it.
Then, on the way back to the Hyatt, we checked out the Atrium of the ACMI building, which was right across from the very interesting facade of the Forum (with its minarets).
By 8:35pm, we were back at our room to wind down the evening. With so much energy and buzz for a Tuesday night, it would have been nice to stay out later in the night, but I guess we’re getting old and we were just looking forward to unwinding on this otherwise very long day.
Tomorrow, I was going to take a break from waterfalling and just spend the whole day touring the Melbourne CBD. This day was earned after fitting in all the waterfalling in the state’s northeast today. I was going to punt the Gippsland touring for our last full day in Melbourne before flying over to Tassie.
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