Australia

The Road to Melbourne: Day 2

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Day Two dawned beautifully – sun shining and a perfect breeze to keep the temperature from overpowering us. We were really getting into the true countryside now – farther south than I’d ever ventured before. And the payoff was spectacular: wildflowers accompanied the road without a break, and the rolling hills seemed to stretch out in unending waves in every direction. Our first stop was a small town called Mogo for a quick bite and some coffee at a quaint roadside cafe.

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That inevitably led to exploring the nearby craft and furniture shop that was packed full of incredible handmade items. We marveled at side tables carved out of solid wood and coffee tables from appropriated farm equipment. Though we desperately wished we could bring everything home, we continued on. Until I nearly careened Big Al off the road when we saw a big barn with “Bodalla Dairy Shed” on the tin roof. If you know me at all, you know my unhealthy obsession with anything dairy-related, but especially cheese.

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We wandered through the shed (okay, I made a mad dash from the van that I’d haphazardly parked up the road), sampling cheeses made with indigenous Australian plants like saltbush and bush sage. Each taste was a creamy explosion of amazingness and flavor, none like the last. This one was savory and salty, this one had a serious spicy kick, this one was earthy. We promptly purchased three of our favorites for an appetizer later that night, claiming there was no way to choose just one.

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After touring the unique little country shops in Bodalla for a bit, it was back to Big Al to continue the journey. Hunger struck when we were near a town called Tathra, so we stopped off at a cliffside cafe for a sandwich and an incredible view of the far south coast of New South Wales. After that, there was no stopping til Victoria.

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Victoria welcomed us to the state with a wild storm, tossing hail, lightning, and a driving rain that reduced visibility to nearly zero as we crossed the mountains at the state border. After a harrowing 45 minutes navigating the storm and the mountains, we made it out the other side into a dripping, sodden caravan park near Lakes Entrance. Our ideas of visiting the beach were dashed, but we set up camp, ate most of our cheese, cooked some burgers and shared another bottle of wine, ready to get into the city the following day to celebrate Beth’s birthday.

And thus the day ended in the direct opposite manner from which it began, soggy and worn out, like a switch was flipped when we passed into Victoria and she promised us that we were going to have to earn our time in this great state.