Travelling Australia - Journal 2010
5 March 2010 - Peterborough to Hamilton
The overnight weather forecast was for rain continuing for the next several days. We heard light rain on the caravan roof at 2 o'clock in the morning lasting for an hour or so then heavier rain began and lasted until sunrise, continuing into the morning. But the morning was not cold, just wet.

We connected the van in the rain, only the second time in several years of travelling that I have had to put on rainproof clothing to connect the van; at least it was not cold or windy as well. Leaving Peterborough in the rain we drove along the Great Ocean Road towards Warrnambool. Initially the road ran along the coast and through the rain we caught glimpses of possibly interesting rock formation along the coast but the rain was too heavy to make out very much. Then the road turned inland passing through remarkably flat pastoral land where cattle dominated including some large dairy herds. Farmers made heavy use of large mobile irrigation spray rigs which trundled across their paddocks on large rubber tyres; these rigs are so big that when not in use they sit at one end of the paddock.

Traffic on the Great Ocean Road was light in both directions. Water on the glass obscured my view from the external rear vision mirrors but the rear-view television camera on the back of the caravan gave some indication of what was behind, especially for vehicles with their lights on; unfortunately water on the lens blurred the view a little. The road varied in quality; too much of it was bumpy with depressions full of water which was sprayed up by passing vehicles.

Near the junction of the Great Ocean Road with the Princes Highway a few kilometres east of Warrnambool we passed a cheese factory making use of the milk produced along this stretch of coast. Passing through Warrnambool was straight-forward as we remained on the Princes Highway continuing on to Port Fairy. Rain was moderating a little but did not stop until we were in Port Fairy where we turned off the Princes Highway to go to Hamilton along the C184 road.

This C class road was better to travel on than the Great Ocean Road; the surface was smoother with fewer puddles and bumps. The road climbs unobtrusively from sea level to Hamilton's 187 metres elevation. The surroundings are mainly pastoral land; initially some cattle were grazing but sheep soon dominated and became very widespread as we approached Hamilton which describes itself as the "Wool Capital of the World"; shearing sheds set a little back from the road re-inforced this claim (subsequently we discovered that Hamilton's days of producing vast amounts of wool are in the past).

On one stretch of road we passed a roadside sign with the simple message "Wild Animals". It looked like an official black on yellow road sign but we have never seen that message before and still wonder what animals we missed seeing there.

Some blue-gum plantations lined the road; we were later told that companies such as Timbercorp rented pastoral land for up to twenty years to grow hardwood trees and there had initially been a number of land-owners around Hamilton ready to do this deal but landowners had begun moving away from tree-farming even before Timbercorp developed severe financial problems a few years ago. One reason given was the difficulty of resuming normal farming on the land after trees had been growing on their land for twenty years. According to some reports the best way of dealing with the stumps left after the blue-gums were harvested was to let them rot away and that takes year during which the land cannot be used for cropping.

Traffic on the Port Fairy to Hamilton road was light; there were a few touring cyclists which often caused a problem because passing them safely while towing the caravan required moving onto the opposite lane and that was only possible if that lean was definitely clear.

Approaching Hamilton the C184 joined the Henty Highway from Portland then we entered Hamilton going via a signed route around the edge of the CBD to the caravan park where I was offered the choice of three or four sites. We set up on a large, level site then went for a look at Hamilton.

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