|Travelling Australia - Journal 2010|
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|27 April - Portland to Shepparton|
We heard the forecast overnight rain falling on the caravan roof but it had cleared by morning leaving five millimetres in the rain gauge. We packed up, hooked on
and left Narrawong without difficulty.
Our first stage was to Hamilton along the Henty Highway. There were a few trucks using this road but not as many as I expected. We passed several blue-gum plantations re-inforcing claims that the Port of Portland needs to expand its hardwood chip handling equipment to deal with an expected large increase in chip throughput. Approaching Hamilton we passed a sign pointing to a mineral sand processing plant; another product which the Port of Portland is looking forward to handling. The number of sheep visible from the road increased substantially as we got closer to Hamilton. We passed only one sign pointing to a nearby winery; there had been very few winery or vinyard signs in the whole Warrnambool, Portland region; this must be one of the few parts of Australia where grapes and vinyards are not major features of the landscape.
I had set the Garmin GPS to set the way to Shepparton; the route selected was pretty close to the one I had chosen on the map (unlike the inbuilt GPS on our previous leg from Hamilton to Echuca when the GPS was ineffective because it ignored B and C class roads). After leaving Hamilton we passed through Glenthompson, Ararat, Avoca, Maryborough, Bendigo to Shepparton. Our route was principally along the Pyrenees Highway which crosses the Great Dividing Range without climbing over hills; this was the route we had followed previously when going from Hamilton to Echuca. The region was devoted to sheep, cattle and cropping, with sometimes small variations such as llamas/alpacas or goats.
The weather became progressively wetter as the day wore on. Rain was nearly continuous after we passed Ararat and kept up until Shepparton; there was a spell of quite heavy rain just after we left Bendigo. Traffic all day was light to very light. The Midland Highway from Bendigo to Shepparton was probably the busiest but even that wasn't very heavy.
At Maryborough the Garmin GPS recommended we leave the Pyrenees Highway (B160) and use C class roads to get to Bendigo avoiding Castlemaine. Although it was a C class road the surface was better than the B class road we had been on earlier. This is not the first time we have found C class roads provide a more comfortable trip than supposedly "better" roads. Passing through Bendigo took a while; not so much because of traffic or the 50 kph speed limit but because of the number of traffic lights, especially those at pedestrian crossings being used by large numbers of school children.
Arriving at the Lake Victoria caravan park we were directed to a reasonable site fairly close to Lake Victoria and the Goulburn River. The lake is empty and being overhauled; the Goulburn River looked full and healthy after recent rain. The Information Centre is beside the caravan park so we went there for some local information before going into the shopping centre for a look around.