Rather than taking the major highway north all round Melbourne I decided we would go down to Queenscliff and take the ferry to Sorrento. From there we could pick up the South Gippsland Highway and eventually the Princes Highway keeping close to the coast all the way to Sydney.
After a reasonable breakfast and a chin-wag with the motel owner we set off to Queenscliff arriving just in time…. to watch the stern of the boat moving off from the jetty. We would have to wait for an hour for the next boat. Finally at 9:00am we were aboard and on our way. We had Port Phillip Bay on one side and the Bass Straits on the other. I left Bridget on the car deck and went up to the first passenger deck to watch the dolphins. A pod was playing in the ships wake all the way over to Sorrento and they fascinating to observe.
From Sorrento we made our way through Flinders, Hastings, then down to Korumburra and Leongatha. I decided we should stop for petrol in Leongatha and just as we did Bridget’s engine almost died on me. I wasn’t sure what the problem was but it wasn’t petrol as we still had around a quarter of a tank full. Anyway I pulled up to a pump and got out of the car. The attendant was talking to another customer who looked over and having seen the new signs on the bumpers said “How far have you driven so far?” I told him and he said “Oh you’re serious” We then chatted for a couple of minutes and he went on his way. I filled the tank and went into the station to pay. The attendant asked “Have you got some time to spare?” I replied that I could take half an hour and he told me that he had rung the local newspaper whilst I was filling the car and they wanted to interview me if I had time and could pop up to their office. It was only two minutes away and so I duly did an interview and a quick photo shoot for them.
The new signs are garnering attention and several people during the day have come over and asked where we started from, which countries we have been to, etc.
After all the excitement I had forgotten that Bridget’s engine had almost stalled at the garage and we went on our way. After about twenty minutes I suddenly noticed the needle of the temperature gauge was almost in the danger area so I slowed down and the engine almost stalled again. I maintained a steady 40mph and the temperature gradually dropped but as soon as I increased the speed it rose rapidly again. We pulled into a Public Barbeque area and after the engine cooled for half an hour I checked the water level. Sure enough it needed filling which I did. That appears to have been the problem and the remainder of the journey was uneventful.
We arrived at Lakes Entrance at just after 4:00pm and found a motel. The town is a pretty holiday resort with an apparently healthy fishing industry. There are several sea water lakes that make for a picture postcard landscape with an interesting bird population. I walked down to one of the many pontoons where the fishing boats, and some private yachts, are moored and there were seven pelicans preening themselves and taking life generally easy. On land these are quite comical, ungainly birds but in the air they glide with poise although looking almost pre-historic.
Friday morning and we set off towards Sydney although I didn’t expect to reach there until the following day. Once again we drove through a lot of forested areas bordering the coast with glimpses of the sea seen through occasional breaks in the trees. Sometimes the forest gives way to beautiful rolling green hills on the landward side very reminiscent of the UK.
Late morning and we arrived at the town of Eden. Like Lakes Entrance this is a resort town and a great deal of pride is taken in its appearance. Eden is also a centre for whale enthusiasts with a ‘Killer Whale Museum’. Most of the whales seen in the bay however are Humpbacks and unfortunately most have left by mid-November so I didn’t see any.
I thought I heard a screeching noise from Bridget several times on route and did a visual check to see if anything was visibly wrong. There appeared to be some oil leaking from one of the wheels and so I jacked the car up in the middle of Eden’s main street! Once I had removed the wheel it was apparent that the ‘leak’ was no more than some grease from the hub that has liquidised due to the heat and escaped from the hub cover. Everything else was fine and later in the day having heard the noise several more times I decided to stop. Then I heard the noise again and realised that I had been fooled by some Australian bird with a screeching call. Although relieved I was not amused.
Once again Bridget’s engine overheated even though the water and oil levels are fine. I am beginning to wonder if the water pump may be sticking as the temperature suddenly climbs and then recedes again. I cannot think of anything else at the moment and I don’t think it’s just hard work in high temperatures because she handled that well in both Pakistan and India.
We spent the night at Batemans Bay yet another of the numerous coastal towns, but we are now in New South Wales having crossed the border early in the afternoon. Again picturesque and with an interesting bridge over the River Clyde that runs into the bay. The bridge consists of five steel truss spans and one opening truss span of the vertical lift type. The opening lift span is 90 feet long and can be lifted 75 feet. It was officially opened in November 1956.
The penultimate day of November 2008 and we arrived in Sydney. The last 200 miles from Batemans Bay was straightforward until the final 5 miles and once again Bridget’s engine spluttered and almost stalled. I managed to coax her over to the side of the road for a visual check and I removed, cleaned and checked the points. I still believe there is some sort of problem with the fuel supply. After allowing the engine to cool for half an hour she started up again and we continued to the Sydney Olympic Park where I checked into a hotel. I must resolve this problem whilst I am here.