Monday, 27 July 2009

Marlo to Yanakie - 24th July

Today was going to be a big drive. We had planned on staying at Port Albert but on advice from my friend David in Melbourne, we decided to look further afield. After looking at various B&Bs around the national parks, I consulted the Lonely Planet which recommended some cabins outside a tiny place called Yanakie on the way to Wilsons Promontory. At $130 a night, they were slightly over our budget, but they sounded fantastic. When I called however, the woman who answered told me they were having a winter special and that it would be only $110. Sold and sold - we were booked in.
Leaving Marlo reasonably early (9.30) we avoided Lakes Entrance (again on a friend's recommendation) and again headed back up into the hills to a town called Bruthen where we filled up, checked out the local op shop and tested the quality of the local bakery's baked goods. From here you can head up into the Snowys however, as was explained to me by the service station owner, you need to stop and fit chains to the car tyres. Hmm...
Port Albert was going to be our lunch stop as the fish and chips there were not only recommended by Alf and Jane but had won awards. Where and what awards they had won wasn't clear, but we had to try them. The drive from Bruthen through Bairnsdale and on was again, lovely forest country with very few people on the roads. It was only spoiled by entering the town of Sale where we stopped briefly and departed as quickly as we could. The Lonely Planet puts it diplomatically - "has little to excite the traveler".
Next stop was Port Albert which seemed practically deserted. Perhaps it was the cold wind coming off Bass Strait, or perhaps it was because hardly anyone seemed to live there. We found the aforementioned fish and chips and they did live up to their reputation. Toughing out the cold, we found a table and ate our food under the watchful glare of a gang of rather forward seagulls. After lunch, we drove past the accommodation I had been looking at online and were both glad we'd decided to look further afield. I'm sure Port Albert is lovely in Summer but in Winter, it's pretty much a ghost town. A windy, cold ghost town.
After a small detour to check out Port Welshpool, another possible stay and another deserted coastal town we were happy we weren't staying in, we hugged the coast road around to Yanakie. In Toora we took a quick detour up a rather steep hill to check out a rather impressive wind farm. Obviously they knew what they were doing when they chose the location - the wind was blowing hard and the noise from the windmill blades was incredible.
I had programmed the location of The Black Cockatoo cabins into the TomTom and we had been using it to guide us around. When I asked for directions it asked me if I wanted to avoid unpaved roads and I said 'no', assuming that the cabins might be on a dirt road. What it then decided was that the quickest way to get to where we were going was to get off the Princes Highway and follow a gravel track called Black Swamp road. As we drove along, surrounded only by farmland, cows and hedges, meeting no other traffic and with no mobile phone reception we wondered what the TomTom was thinking. Still, we didn't break down and it was a very pretty drive. Eventually we met the main road we probably should have come in on and in no time we were at Black Cockatoo Cabins.
After 7 hours on the road we were looking forward to a lie down and possibly a hot bath however there was nobody in the reception area which seemed to be the back door of the owner's house. Two bemused dogs watched us through the window. After leaving a note, I found a receipt for our night's accommodation which had the cabin number so we headed down, found the key in the door and unpacked.
The view was stunning. The front of the cabin was all glass and looked out onto Corner Inlet on the eastside of Wilsons Promontory. Neither of the two other cabins were occupied and with nobody in the main house, we were completely alone looking out over farmland and water. It was a little bit odd, but liberating and absolutely wonderful. We were even more glad that Port Albert and Port Welshpool had been avoided. I really was quite tired after the drive and had a bit of a lie down while Yvette filled up the bath for a long overdue soak. We collaborated on an easy dinner of pasta and finished the night with watching So You Think You Can Dance before crashing out.

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