Corowa, NSW

After two years that just seemed like ten, it was great to be back on the Hume heading north to that forbidden border. I had spent the months prior looking for somewhere different to go, but within relative driving distance for a Friday night to Sunday afternoon. Whilst I do have family history in the Rutherglen/Corowa region, I havent been since maybe I was ten years old. So by 9pm on a warm November night we had arrived at CIRCA 1936, located on the Corowa main street in the building that once upon a time housed the Rural Bank of NSW. CIRCA 1936 would have to one of the most beautiful places I have ever stayed, from the art deco surroundings, heritage architecture to the warmth and interpersonal service from its owners Jen and John. On arrival we were seated in the lounge and treated to a night cap then shown to our room.

There are only three rooms in the hotel, each with its own feature. I opted for the North Suite with its superior king bed and stained glass windows. In the morning we were served breakfast again down in the lounge by the original bank vault, which now serves as the wine cellar.

Waking up to clear air and blue skies on Saturday, we took a walk down to the Murray River down behind the Corowa Lawn, yes lucious soft green lawn, tennis club and across to the convieniently named Ball Park Lagoon.

For lunch we headed over to Wahgunyah and sat out on the lawn at Cofield Wines.

Now, I mentioned I had some family history in the region. My grandfather left Italy when he was 15 years old and landed in the sleepy rural town of Rutherglen, in particular All Saints Winery. Working and living on the winery, playing tennis at the local club, fast forward a few years he meets and marries my grandmother, a young woman from Corowa. When the young son of the owners returns from Adelaide to live in the house on the winery, they built my grandparents a small cottage just over the road. At this time, my grandfathers parents had moved on from the winery and were on their journey to eventually establish themselves in Melbourne. The cottage still exists today and is now operating as an AirBnb. Unfortunately I can’t say their wine suits my tastes, however the grounds are beautiful and those alone are purely worth the visit.

We finished off the trip on Sunday by visiting the Corowa Distilling Co ( and Chocolaterie), stocking up on an uneccesary amount of boutique chocolate, scotch and tshirts.

Followed by a quick fish at the border where I caught more rays than fish, rounded out a really pleasant reset weekend with clean country air and calming surroundings.

Corowa is known as the birthplace of Australian Federation.

Beachport SA

The highs and lows of four wheel driving

Beachport, South Australia. A beautiful small ocean side town approximately 520kms from Melbourne. My only gripe, we didnt get to see enough of it. Writing this post, I am going back just over two years ago when we were invited to headover to SA with some friends to do some four wheel driving along the beach.

This trip, I experienced some of the best of what this country has to offer and one of the more serious incidents of what can happen when the land decides its had enough.

Leaving after work on a Friday (which tends to be our usual pattern), the route the GPS took seemed to have a lot of ‘back roads,’ and once night fell, most of the journey over was straining through the pitch black single lane roads for any signs of movement. We arrived at around 10pm, where our friends had set up our cabin and left some lights on.

We stayed at Southern Ocean Tourist Park (Caravan Park | Southern ocean tourist park Beachport | South Australia), located in town and close to the beach road access. Sitting at the top of the park, the cabin was brand new, generous in size and extermely clean. At the time we went, the park was having some work done and a childrens playground was being built. The cabin stay was very affordable and the fees overall were not excessive. The park itself has been one of, if not the best caravan park I have stayed at, however I did find communication pre and post booking to be difficult.

Day one we headed onto the beach to do the Beachport to Robe drive. We were behind some friends who had been previously and were much more experienced on the routes, so I cant advise of the entry and exit points we took, however the views immediately were spectacular. We aired down and hit the sand, and was it soft! We tackled Beachport in a 1997 Holden Jackaroo, standard apart from slightly bigger tyres (all terrains). The others in the convoy had Ford Rangers and a Nissan Navara, and whilst the Jack was down on power being much lighter had us keeping up with the big boys.

Did I mention the landscape? If only photos did it justice. This part of the coastline, especially the parts accessible by four wheel drive are pristine. We stopped for lunch in the dunes and had a bit of a ‘play’ if you like, this was alot of fun. Being in the middle of the dunes, seeing nothing but sand for miles, you forget where you are. There is an eerie yet peaceful feeling about it.

After a big day we came back via road from Robe back into Beachport and were keen for another big day in the morning.

Day two, remember I mentioned my gripe about how little of the town we got to see? Here I touch on a low point of four wheel driving.

We started out as we did the previous day. A warmer day and a different starting point with more amazing views. Out on the sand for approximately two and a half hours when we came up against a decision on whether or not to take in land tracks or remain out along the cost but remain vigilant on the incoming tide. A decision was made by the group to remain out on the coast.

In all honesty, I havent really spoken about this much and I have moved on. I am also eager to get back out on the sand, revisit Beachport to do more of this, plus explore more of the surrounding areas. Before I get into the incident, I will also stress this did not happen as a result of reckless behaviour. Unfortunately, this was part of this trip so in writing about the good, sometimes the bad and the ugly has to come with it.

As we rounded a corner, the tide had started to come in and on looking ahead the options that presented were either, time your run and drive through the water OR, theres a small wide bank to the right. The two ahead in the convoy chose to go through the water. We were third up and the water did not appear to be retreating as fast as it had been for the two ahead, so we opted to stay up higher out of the water, there were tracks there so there was no reason to doubt this line. We proceeded along the high side, at a steady rolling pace but as I peered over the front corner of the car (I was front passenger) the edge suddenly seemed too steep and from there, whilst it happened so fast everything seemed to be in slow motion. I vaguely remember yelling out about the edge but it was too late and the bank beneath the left front and rear wheels of the car collapsed, tipping us on our side. After that there was a flurry of hands, doors being opened, everyone was taken out of the car safely. Apart from going into shock, everyone was OK.

A few hours later, the car was pulled back up onto all four wheels with some additional help from other Victorians in the area, started first time and driven back to the park, albeit with a whole lot of sand and some crumpled doors.

This was a FREAK accident. A judgement call was made to which we believed was the SAFER option, the tracks on the bank indicated a car had been through not long ago. Apart from being a little shaken all of us were fine. On a less important scale, the car only suffered cosmetic damage and had no issues with getting us back home (apart from being showered with sand everytime there was a bump in the road). We ended up selling the Jack about six months later, only due to the fact of the amount of work required to remove the sand and fix the panels whilst mid house renovation and the onset of COVID-19, it just wasnt feasible (mind you with no actual mechanical issues).

Loch Sport

This little seaside town is situated along Gippslands 90 mile beach, and when i say little, i do mean little. Its a beautiful quiet spot along the water, really untouched by a hurried lifestyle. The town has an IGA, fish and chips, cafe and a petrol station. Thats really it. If you are wanting a little more from your trip, this may not be for you. However, for a quiet, relaxed spot on a budget its a hard one to pass up.

We visited on a split decision to go on a quick little trip for the Queens Birthday long weekend back in 2018. We stayed in the Loch Sport Caravan Park (http://www.lochsportcaravanpark.com/) and at the time paid very minimal for a very small cabin for three. It suited us fine but I do think we would struggle now… again, was on a budget, split decision lets go here deal. Park owners were friendly, cabin was clean and running hot water and a heater.

Right on the water and boat ramp, the walking track went straight into the shopping strip and even though it was cold the sun made it a nice little walk. We stopped at the playground on the way back once we had our coffees and spent some time fishing off the pier. We caught a few crabs and a salmon down the road at Paradise Beach straight off the surf and had a coal BBQ both nights we were there.

Lunch down at the Marina Hotel was a nice standard pub meal with a great location and some nice views.

Overall, was a really nice spot to have a quick getaway and slow down.

3,447 kilometer’s in a ..Gemini?

Over the years we have been together we have had various trips revolving around cars and events, including skid pans and nationals and introducing ‘N’ to my childhood summers in Eden so our honeymoon trip was our first major road trip not revolving around car events.

However the Gemini still bore special significance to us and we were lucky to be able to do the trip in this car and create the memories that we did. As it would have it, luck is something this car did not have much of, it spent close to 6 years off the road, only to be involved in a serious front end accident the night of being registered (2 weeks before our wedding), front end rebuild to make the wedding in time and then losing the windscreen to a rock whilst in the Hunter Valley. Unfortunately its luck ran out for the final time earlier this year when we were rear ended stationery by a VE Commodore.

In summary:

Location: NSW Coast

Ettalong Beach – Ballina – Hunter Valley – Eden

Accomodation:

Duration: 24 days (28th Dec 2016 – 20th Jan 2017)

Approx accom cost: $6800

The ride: 1978 Holden Gemini

Highlights:

  • Gosford Motor Car Museum (which has unfortunately be sold as of 2019)
  • New Years Eve A – League game, Melbourne City (we support) vs Central Coast and then heading to the New Years Eve Fireworks & Carnival on the Brisbane Water front- if i’m honest here after the 9.30pm fireworks it went pretty quiet, we headed back to the resort to witness the ‘illegal’ fireworks down on the beachfront which was a little more impressive.
  • We had a Hinterland view room, the room was spacious and for the money paid value, however they had massive balconies with barely any furniture and so much potential!
  • Walked everywhere!
  • Ballina = Amazing
  • Ramada offers Richmond river front views and pool views, we had a pool view room but would definitely be booking a river front view room if possible
  • Saw dolphins whilst dining at the downstairs restaurant for dinner to accompany the already amazing views
  • Can fish off rocks right downstairs from the resort
  • Swim in the river, not the ocean
  • Beautiful walking tracks, again walked everywhere
  • HUNTER VALLEY = FAVOURITE
  • Spanish style villas, very private
  • Husbands 30th, surprised him with a helicopter tour (Slattery Helicopter Tours), picked us up from the Villa, tour of Hunter & Newcastle, lunch, tour & wine tasting at Leogate Estate Wines (absolutely amazing food) and return via helicopter to Casa La Vina. Value for money, worth every cent and reasonably priced
  • Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas lights display > highly recommend going to see this whether you are a group of friends, couples, families. I am currently planning to take my little one there..
  • Eden, I have been going since I was born so this is a childhood summer location for myself. Didn’t stay in the usual caravan park (Twofold Bay Beach Resort) however up the road at the boat ramp at Quarantine Bay. Cottages were cute, door opened right onto the sand and provided plenty of entertainment as to what happens at a boat ramp although Cottages were pretty basic. I love Eden, so I am pretty bias.
  • I’ll let the photos do the talking (these photos are just normal photos taken before I decided I wanted to write about our trips my apologies!)