After a warmer and more comfortable night and a refreshing sleep, we were up reasonably early and prepared the van for departure. We decided, however, that we were too far from home to comfortably do it in one day, so we decided to add an extra night to our itinerary and go home via Bendigo. Although perhaps not an immediately obvious detour, that would leave us with a very easy final leg for our 2014 adventure of around 180 kms. We would also hopefully be able to catch up with our friend Barb, who lives in Bendigo.
On the Hume Freeway just outside Wodonga we were suddenly surrounded by a bunch of very large trucks. As we tend not to travel at the speed limit with the van, the trucks just seemed to suddenly appear all together and one by one overtake us. There was a large truck carrying pigs, another carrying cattle, a Coles truck, another truck loaded with cars and SUVs, and several other general cargo trucks. It was quite a strange sensation being surrounded like that and then having them all move off out of sight up the highway.
Our first coffee stop was at a new rest area just past the Wangaratta turn-off – it isn’t in the Camps 7 book. We hadn’t been to this stop before and we were very impressed. Vic Roads has been doing a great job down the Hume by adding new rest stops and upgrading existing ones. This stop is large and well organised with about 20 long drive-through sites so that caravans and trucks can stop for a break and park comfortably. The facilities themselves were quite good. Vic Roads should be congratulated for the quality of these rest stops as it really is vital that travellers of all kinds can stop and have a break in safety and comfort. The quality of rest areas in Victoria is so far ahead of what we have been experiencing in Queensland and NSW for the past several weeks.
As the pantry is just about empty, we decided to stop for lunch at the Euroa Service Centre where we both enjoyed a reasonably healthy meal – neither of us succumbed to Maccas! Just as we were finishing our coffees we recognised a couple of faces in the crowd. Our friends Joe and Denise had moved to the Euroa area about 4 years ago and it was great to see them again and to catch up on the latest news. Eventually we all had to go in our respective directions but we promised to come back to visit them in Euroa soon.
From Euroa we continued down the Hume before turning off onto the Seymour-Tooborac Road somewhere about Seymour. The quality of this road is not quite up to that of the Hume and in many places it was surprising that the speed limit remained at 100 kph! We eventually turned onto the Northern Highway and drove through a number of small towns including Heathcote and Axedale. At some point the Northern Highway changed its name to the McIvor Highway.
At Junorton we turned off the McIvor Highway into the Bendigo Park Lane Holiday Park. This is an interesting place with many brightly coloured cabins, quite a large number of powered caravan sites, and very good amenities. The internal roads could do with some work though. Just right for an overnight stop!
Ann had been in touch with Barb who, as soon as she heard that we had arrived, came around for a chat. We all then went out to the One Tree Hill Hotel in Spring Gully for a delicious pub dinner and more chat before calling it a night.
What a busy day we have had! The weather has been great and we got to see more of this beautiful country of ours. Not only did we catch up with our friend Barb in Bendigo, we also caught up with Joe and Denise in Euroa.
Who knows what surprises tomorrow will bring?