It was freezing cold this morning! The heater warmed the van up quite quickly but outside it was a different matter with frost on the ground and ice on the Ute’s windows and tourneau.
Our plan had been to make a very early start today so that we would miss the traffic in both Bendigo and Melbourne, but the ice changed our minds about that. The sun soon came out and made quick work of the frost and ice and it was looking as though we were going to have a good day for driving.
Barb had given us directions to get to the Calder Highway without having to go through the middle of Bendigo, which we greatly appreciated as we had left later than planned and would have encountered school drop off traffic otherwise. We were soon onto the Calder and enjoying the scenery and dappled sunlight through the gum trees along the road. As we neared Harcourt we transitioned to the new section of the Calder which is a lot more modern and a lot more efficient. Ann and I had been regulars up and down the Calder some 25 to 30 years ago and it is amazing how things have changed. We remember the highway going through small towns like Gisborne, Macedon, Woodend, stopping for fuel at the big servo at Carlsruhe, and other places like Malmsbury, and Harcourt. Now all those towns are bypassed and the trip is a lot quicker. In fact from the traffic lights at Lansell Plaza in Kangaroo Flat, Bendigo, we didn’t hit another set of lights until Springvale Road! Unlike the Hume Highway though, there are no pull offs or rest areas on the new section of the Calder and if you do need to stop for any reason you need to divert off the highway into one of the towns along the way. There are numerous bridges over the highway that provide access to these towns.
We chose to stop for our morning coffee at Kyneton, which is about 85 kms from Melbourne. This is a beautiful little town full of old timber and bluestone buildings – bakeries, antique shops and so on. It has always been a great place to stop and explore, and the Botanic Gardens are especially worth a visit. We suspect that Kyneton may be suffering a bit from the highway now bypassing town but this is perhaps a bit hard to tell from driving through on a Wednesday morning. Presumably it is busier on weekends.
We stopped at the Kyneton Mineral Springs Reserve, and I can remember stopping here at weekends many moons ago and watching people fill up all sorts of bottles direct from the mineral spring here. This was way before bottled mineral water was so freely available. The springs are still there, and this is now a designated 48 hour stop for travellers, with several large sites, toilets, dump point, and access to potable water. Kyneton has recently been granted “RV Friendly Town” status by the CMCA (Caravan & Motorhome Club of Australia) and having this stop and this accreditation makes perfect sense for the local council. There is no caravan park in Kyneton so this way some travellers will be attracted to stay in the area – at no charge – and hopefully make a financial contribution to the local economy by purchasing food, fuel, etc.
From Kyneton we continued down the Calder enjoying the scenery.
After a stop for a hot snack and a leg stretch at the servo near Calder Park we braced ourselves for City traffic. Things were going fine until we neared the Bolte Bridge and traffic came to a standstill. We turned on the CB radio and a lot of truckies were very obviously upset not only by the delay but also at the fact that overhead signs gave no warning or information about whatever the problem was. I won’t repeat any of the language they used! To cap things off we had to pay tolls for the privilege of enjoying the views. At least the wheel seemed to be working!
We finally made it home only to find a car parked outside our next door neighbours’ house that was going to make it extremely difficult to manoeuvre the van into our backyard. Ann went in to see Barbara and Len next door to politely ask if their visitor could move their car, but they didn’t know whose it was other than it had been there for about a week. After a bit of door-knocking the owner was identified as someone further down the street, and they eventually came and towed the car away! They had effectively dumped it in the street several doors away from where they live.
Barbara and Len invited us in for lunch to give us a chance to recover after our drive and before parking the van. Lunch was delicious hot soup and crusty bread and certainly did the trick. Once the car was gone we actually got into the backyard very quickly and were soon unhitched and getting unpacked.
Our next job will to clean the bugs off the front of the van and give it a thorough clean from top to tail, carry out a little maintenance, and prepare it for our next RV Adventure!
Still living the dream!