We thought that we might have been in for a wet day today but the rain seemed to dissipate as we headed further east. There was one weather system coming from the west that dumped 35 mm ( 1/12 “) overnight at our home but it seemed to lose strength in the east of the state. We might still cop some rain tomorrow, however, as another weather system is moving south after it was responsible for dropping 80% of the annual rainfall of Brisbane in just two days (over 1000 mm). It has also flooded parts of Sydney.
We were up bright and early this morning and this gave us more time to potter along and take our time. We began with a look around the town of Wonthaggi where we stayed overnight and then we drove to the nearby site of the old State Coal Mine.
The State Coal Mine and the town of Wonthaggi came into being in 1909 to supply coal for the locomotives of the Victorian Railways. At first, Wonthaggi was a makeshift “Tent Town”, but it eventually became the active town as it is today. The mine extracted coal from the only black coal deposit in Victoria.
Victoria has one of the largest deposits of brown coal (lignite) in the world but it is unsuitable for producing the high temperatures required for steam power. Operating from 1909 to 1968, the State Coal Mine produced almost 17 million tonnes and at its peak in 1926 the mine produced 2,474 tonnes of coal per day. The railways bought 90% of the mine’s production. It was also one of the largest and most dangerous collieries in Australia.. By the 1930s, with industrial actions and coal in the larger seams running out, production had dropped, but the mine was subsidised and operated until 1968 when regular steam locomotive usage was phased out. It is now a museum and local tourist attraction.
There are a number of quite dramatic coastal scenes along the coastal road between Wonthaggi and Inverloch. We stopped at a number of them to take photographs.
Further on, we travelled through the town of Foster with its usually bright floral displays in the streets. The local council has a very imaginative approach to their plantings. Along then road we found a spot with a splendid view across Corner Inlet to Wilsons Promontory. I have always been very fond of ‘The Prom’, having hiked across almost all of its area on bushwalks ranging from overnight trips to others that were five days long.
At one point, we made a small detour to visit the town??, village?? locality?? of Buffalo. This was where my friend Bob Neal’s family came from. His Grandfather owned the store (and probably the entire commercial resource of the town). Buffalo was originally settled as a part of the rail-line link between Foster and Leongatha during the late 1800s. Because of the advent of the motor-car, the township never progressed beyond being a small village. Bob’s Dad briefly took over a part of the business after returning from WW2 where he served with the 39th Battalion on the Kokoda Track. All that exists now is the old General Store. There is little else in the town.
Our lunch stop was at a quiet place near the river in Yarram but it had a strong ‘Essence of Sewage’ so we didn’t hang around for long. I think that the effluent from every dairy farm in the area has flowed into the river with all our recent heavy rain.
Yarram has some very interesting old buildings with distinctive architecture. The old Court House, for example, is now the Yarram Visitor Centre. The building has a distinct Edwardian architecture, is roofed in slate and built of Northcote bricks. The building’s main feature is a high, centrally located, octagonal courtroom, which is highlighted by clerestory windows above eye level.
The Yarram Club Hotel which was built in 1912 is a distinctive hotel that dominates the main street of the town.
We were expecting rain as we approached the city of Sale but even though the skies were grey, the weather held off and we stayed dry.
Near Sale is an historic Swing Bridge. iIt is located on the South Gippsland Highway at Longford and spans the Latrobe River at its junction with the Thomson River.
The bridge was designed by John Grainger and built in 1883 by the Victorian government. It was the first movable bridge built in Victoria. Its wrought-iron structure, 45 metres long, pivots on cylindrical steel columns. At its peak, the bridge was opened up to 20 times a day, allowing the movement of steamers between Sale and Melbourne.
The Port of Sale is still busy with many small boats.
We could see some wet areas nearby. At first, we thought that they might have been natural wet lands but on closer inspection, we could see fences that traversed this flooded area. We assume that these inundated areas are a result of natural flooding on the flood plains near the river mouth.
We reached our overnight destination of Lakes Entrance by late afternoon. This town was once a little fishing village but is now a metropolis of motels and tourist attractions. It is where the Gippsland Lakes empty into the sea.
Australia’s largest inland waterway, the Gippsland Lakes are a network of lakes, marshes and lagoons covering over 600 square kilometres. The Lakes are formed by water being trapped by coastal dunes along the Ninety Mile Beach. Bird and marine life thrive here, with lake dolphins and pelicans frequenting many locations.
Beginning at Sale on the Thomson River, there are three main lakes: Lake King, Lake Victoria and Lake Wellington and they are all joined and fed by rivers that originate in Victoria’s High Country,. They include the Mitchell, Nicholson, Tambo and Avon rivers. Another small body of water, Lake Cunningham, sits further to the west of the main lakes.