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19 March 2014
Bairnsdale to Yarram
We left Bairnsdale along the Princes Highway heading west with Stratford-on-Avon and Sale as immediate destinations. The road is generally straight and flat with a reasonable bitumen surface. This is the major (and only) road connecting Melbourne and West Gippsland with East Gippsland (East Gippsland is that part of Gippsland east of Bairnsdale - including Bairnsdale) so traffic can be quite heavy but on this occasion traffic was light in both directions.
Between Bairnsdale and Sale the country-side is pretty flat, open, lightly wooded and devoted mainly to grazing cattle with some sheep. There were some signs of cropping visible from the highway, including plastic covered rolls of hay in paddocks waiting for collection.
We left the Pacific Highway at Sale on the South Gippsland Highway bound for Yarram. This is nominally the A440 but isn't really at the standard of an A class road, nevertheless the bitumen was reasonably good and the selected route was mostly long, straight and with few hills. Traffic was very light.
The South Gippsland Highway south of Sale runs through extensive pine plantations; a few front onto the road, others have a ten metre band of native vegetation (mainly gum trees) between the pine trees and the road, but most are well back from the road. The topographic map shows the full extent of the pine plantations, some of which can be seen along valleys.
Approaching the village of Woodside we passed the Omega transmitter tower set back only a little from the road. Given the strength of opposition to building the transmitter in the 1980s I had expected it would be slightly more difficult to get to. The Australian Omega transmitter began operation in 1982 as part of a global network of navigation transmitters and was switched off on 30 October 1997 after satellite navigation equipment had proven to be better and cheaper. Much of the Omega transmitter equipment is on display in the Port Albert Maritime Museum.
Arriving in Yarram we drove along the main street to the caravan park and set up on a large, well-grassed site.
After lunch we drove towards the Tarra Bulga National Park following the brown and white road signs. Several signs along the road warned that the road was closed ahead but gave no indication of where the closure was so we kept going expecting, correctly, that we would probably get quite a long way before encountering the closure. We drove along the Tarra Valley crossing the Tarra River several times before reaching Tarra Falls, still without finding the road closure. Tarra Falls was well and truly in the mountain ash forest and was as far as we went. The road along Tarra Valley was a single lane of bitumen, narrow and winding, and not unreasonable in itself but vehicles coming the other way were driven around bends with no regard for other traffic and it seemed silly to share such a narrow road with poor drivers. So we turned around and returned to Yarram.
In the Tarra Valley we passed a caravan park which concentrated so heavily on being "dog-friendly" that it appeared people were only grudgingly accepted. Judging from Internet and paper advertising of the park it appeared that people without dogs to vouch for them would be barely tolerated.
Weather all day had been good but after dark the temperature dropped to begin a cold night as yet another front crossed Victoria; this one didn't have any rain for us but it did have low temperature.