The beautiful state of Victoria gave it’s all and spoiled us with great coastal towns and a valley with lots of wineries. Unfortunately we had to cancel some things we had on our to-do list due to bushfires. But let’s start in the beginning:
The Yarra Valley was not on our to-do list, but our friendly Melbourne hosts Betty and Chris strongly recommended to make a detour here. They also gave us a list of wineries that are particularly worth a visit. But before we went to the mountains we had to buy some groceries in Melbourne. Given the 41°C, that was quite exhausting. While I was driving, Christiane tried to find a camping site. Our first choice was already completely booked, so we had to drive a bit further and finally found a nice (and even partly shady) place on a Big4 camping site in Healesville.
As we settled in, the first thunderclouds formed. Like two months ago in Tasmania there was only very little rain, but all the more lightnings. Not a good sign for the prevailing drought in the whole state.
The next morning we had bright sunshine again. Ideal conditions for a wine tasting in the Valley 😁
We visited a total of four wineries and Christiane did a tasting at three of them and our credit card started to break a sweat. After all, I also wanted to do some wine tasting during the next days and check whether Christiane’s and my taste still agree 😋
From very big wineries like Rochfort (with its own stage for big events – Elton John and Robbie Williams have actually performed here) to smaller ones like Dominique Portet (who supposedly offers the best rosé wine in Australia): Yarra Valley had everything.
The Forest Drive from Healesville to Marysville was recommended to us by Bettie and Chris and the drive through the dense eucalyptus forest was really impressive.
We wanted to spend the night at a free camping site near Marysville, but already at the beginning of the Forest Drive we could see dark clouds of smoke on the horizon. Shortly afterwards there were also warning signs at the roadside. Because a lightning strike had triggered a fire near Marysville, we decided not to stay at a campsite far off the road in the forest and instead drove back to the Big4 campsite in Healesville.
Things we couldn’t do
Bushfires did not only affect the Marysville area, also further on our route through Victoria areas have been damaged by the fire. This is why we had to cancel our visit to the Wilson Promontory National Park as it was closed due to the fire. We visited the information center in Forster and got updated information about the situation. The woman who worked here was so kind and marked all “crisis areas” on a map, so we knew which areas to avoid.
As there was no chance to go to Wilson Prom, we decided to just go ahead and use the day for driving instead, leaving the bushfires behind us as far as possible.
Golden Beach Campground
We stopped at the free Golden Beach Campground and could at least take a short walk along the beach. In the background the smoke clouds were still present and the sun appeared orange.
Lakes Entrance is a tourist town with many campsites. We fell immediately in love after stopping at the first lookout and found a cheap place to stay overnight on the parking lot of a motel.
The owner gave us some great tips for activities in the area. Among other things you could watch very rare Burrunan dolphins from the jetty after a 45 minute walk. There were also a lot of sea lions 😊.
Bye bye, Victoria
Our last two stops in Victoria were at Sydenham Inlet where we stayed on the beautiful Bemm River Caravan Park. Here we had a powered site for our campervan and we were able to fill up our fresh water.
Before we finally crossed the border to New South Wales we stayed a night at the free Genoa Rest Area campsite. The trips of the last days were not that long. Because of the bushfires we arrived at the border faster than planned and would have left Victoria. But, we had already bought fruits and vegetables in Melbourne for a corresponding number of days. And as we are not allowed to take them across the border, we stayed one more night in Genoa.