Sunday, 8 June 2014

Lollygagging no more - Last days in the Gippsland Lakes

JUNE 8th..

Today was to be our last day in Lakes (for now) before we moved further along the lake system to Paynesville and so, because the weather was nice, another bike ride was on the cards, this time on the other side of town just to see what we could see. Cycling around Lakes is easy if nothing else. Flat with relatively wide roads, some bike lanes and bike/pedestrian paths it was easy to get around and by the time we got back to the boat, we'd ridden about 12 kilometres. Ah …. doesn't the distance fly when you're having fun? Yet although interesting, with a lot of little jetties and hire boats, it wasn't quite as interesting as the main drag. 

Welcome to a really beautiful part of the country.
Round round wheels goin' round round round, down up peddalin' down up down......
Hey Jason.... they say hello from Lakes
There are heaps of small hire boats on this side of town as well as foot pedal boats.
We took a little rest at the halfway mark at Lion's Park
Beach fishing along 90 mile beach.
Almost all of the bottle brush trees are of the golden variety.
Yet another of those silly pelicans.
Just some of the birds we have met around Lakes

By the time we stepped onto the boat and put the bikes away it was starting to drizzle and so, to end another energetic day, the obligatory Nana Nap came into effect.

Tomorrow we leave for Paynesville.

JUNE 9th...

The weather this time was fairly nice as we made our way further into the Lakes system past Metung and towards Paynesville. 
Past the Metung Hotel, this time in better weather.
On the way to Paynesville, everything was dull and in shadow except for this solitary little island.
The lakes are actually very expansive. We only saw such a small part of them.
Because it was in the lakes, and there were fairly shallow bits at times we motored the four hours to Paynesville, but part way through we found there was a big problem with the engine (go here for reference as Dave's already written about it... )

Dave had a week's work to do and Paynesville had good facilities without having to worry about showers that froze the wobbly and sticky out bits. They also had free washers and dryers, a kitchen with free tea and coffee, a microwave and a lounge area. Okay, I say free but it wasn't really. The berth still had to be paid for but at this stage it was worth it.

When we eventually got to Paynesville Slip Bight Marina, which is actually located on Burrabogie Island, we knew we had been relegated to Finger 5 but had no real idea where on that finger we were supposed to be so we just picked an empty berth that was absolutely covered in gigantic piles of bird muck, thus giving a subtle indication that it was likely not being used at the time, and tied up. Luckily staying at this berth was not a problem and, after we'd hosed off the bird goop, it remained our 'home base' for the next couple of weeks. 

Our noisy neighbours and poop machines.

The town itself was a couple of kilometres away and so we had to ride in each time we needed something (although Dave did make an almost daily trip to buy warm, fresh bread from the awesome bakery). We also went to town a few times via the waterways, which gave a completely different aspect of the dock areas. It was easier to do this when groceries were needed simply because we could fit more into the dinghy than onto the small bike racks.

For the next few days the weather came in very ordinary, cold, drizzly and pretty much downright icky and since Dave had work to do anyway and since we didn't have a complete engine in the boat, I spent my time doing the mundane and boring stuff like cleaning, and spent a lot of time doing pretty much not-a-lot. I was beginning to feel quite hemmed in and the chilly weather was starting to get to both of us. Mind you, it would have been a whole lot worse if we didn't have such an awesome air conditioner.

JUNE 19th

On this particularly nice day we loaded the bikes into the dinghy and puttered across the river to Raymond Island, a small conservation island that apparently has more than 200 koalas living on it. The koalas were introduced to the island in 1953 and it is considered a very safe environment for them. 

A Little History


Raymond Island was established and named after William Odell Raymond, originally a magistrate from New South Wales who established himself as a squatter in Gippsland in the 1840s The island is 6km long by 2km wide, and is just 200 metres off the coast and has a population of around 500 people. **
Seriously.... there are just SO many way to die in Victoria.
Land care and conservation is an ongoing project on Raymond Island.
Someone's train signals, but not a train in sight. :)
For the most part, we kept off of the main roads and opted for the more rural, rutted variety that makes your teeth rattle and your voice sound funny as you're riding along. We had intended riding around the entire perimeter of the small island but unfortunately our navigational skills were somewhere east of Mars that day and so we ended up going straight through the guts, and also somehow ending up riding a couple of kilometres along a no through road that was clearly marked on the street sign, but which we somehow both entirely missed. The compensation of taking the dead end though, was that we saw the only 2 koalas that we were going to see that day.

In parts, towards the centre of the island, the gums had died off. There seemed to be a big effort to stop the spread of whatever may be killing them
The rutted roads along which we rode, and jarred every bone in our bodies.
One of only 2 koalas we saw that day, but still it was worth it.
We did see a bonus kookaburra just hanging around.
Signposts. Many of them were hand written.
No Through Road.... there in red and white and yet we missed it completely. D'oh.
After cutting through the back roads, we made it back to the small town area and the ferry that shunted back and forth all day long. We hopped the Raymond Island chain ferry which, apart from boat, is the only way to access Raymond Island . We went across to Paynesville for a coffee and a bit of a sit (oh and cake... big, fat, sweet, gooey lemon meringue pie and awesome cheesecake.... droooool!) and then had to hop the ferry back again as the dinghy was still tied up on that side.
We'd ridden a long, long way overall.
Ferry between Raymond Island and Paynesville.
The flap was closed!!!! What was the emergency? Tell meeeeee!!
A poor little one legged seagull waiting for his fair share of chips.

Looking across towards the northern tip of Paynesville from Raymond Island
The view from the Raymond Island Ferry looking towards Paynesville.
Flocking birds. This was a regular thing. We think they were following schools of bait fish.

Dolphins frolicking near the ferry
JUNE 22nd >> JULY 2nd

Our meanderings on this day were a little different as we left the bikes behind, hopped the dinghy and tootled around the various waterways to take a look at how the other half lives. 

Just one of the beautiful waterways around the many islands that dot the Gippsland Lakes
One of the houses that juts out over the waterway.
How the other half live
Footbridge between islands
Well, I have to say, they live pretty darned well. We puttered up and down and around the islands looking at the oversized boats at their private jetties, marvelling at the size of some of the houses, playing chicken with swans and ducking around ducks until eventually we came to a low bridge. In fact a VERY low bridge. So low that the only way we could get beneath it was to hunker down on the floor of the dinghy. We emerged from beneath the bridge with a big 'aaaarrrrrr me hearties!!!' along with a big high 5 and a couple of funny looks from the locals.

There are swans all over the place, and they love to play chicken with the dinghy.
Low bridge coming up!!!
The view of the underside of the bridge.
The rest of our time in Paynesville was spent waiting for the engine parts to be ready, washing the brown gunk off of the sides of the hull, Dave did even more extra work that was given to him and we filled in the days as best we could. Towards our last weekend at Paynesville, we discussed either catching the bus or hiring a car and going to the snow for a day or two, but in the end that plan fell apart as Dave's work had him revising reports etc. In the end the engine was fixed and running sweet, Dave's work was done and we left once again returned to Lakes for just a couple of nights until the weather window was open. It had been a nice stay even if we didn't end up seeing even a fraction of what the Gippsland Lakes has to offer. We'll be back one day.

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