CAMPING ALONG THE PRINCESS HIGHWAY PART 24/20/2018
The first day of travel, we never got out of Victoria. If my memory serves me correctly, we made it to a place called Golden Beach. Who can forget a name like that? My memory is not good enough to remember where we stopped to camp, but we certainly ran and walked along 90 Mile Beach and got our feet wet in the Pacific. The first leg was only about 250 km, but the roads then were nowhere near as good as they are now albeit the traffic was non-existent. This holiday we took was not in the summer; it was a school term holiday in either autumn or spring as I remember the cool to cold weather at some of the places we stayed. We also never went swimming anywhere. Summer holidays we spent at Ocean Grove anyway, not tootling half way around Australia.
Our journey took us through Lakes Entrance, the town of Orbost and just before NSW a place called Mallacoota which was a charming holiday resort. If you look at pictures of the caravan parks and holiday villages in Mallacoota today, you would probably plan an extended stay. Sadly, I don’t remember it all that well.
We travelled up the coast and stopped at one more place overnight; I just don't remember where. What I do remember vividly, is that my folks had good friends who owned a hostel in Sydney. Guess where? Would you believe King's Cross? The hostel was situated on the second floor, directly above a nightclub and within spitting distance of the recently constructed El-Alamein Fountain. We arrived late in the day and dad parked the van, and we were given a room to sleep in. This is why I remember the nightclub below. The bloody noise from the music was filtering into our room, and I have a memory of it being difficult to get to sleep that night. The fountain next day was certainly the centre of attention, and there were lots of people wanting to get photographs of themselves and with friends. No ‘selfies’ in those days.
After leaving Sydney, and after visiting Sydney Harbour Bridge, which overlooked a large construction that was later to become the Sydney Opera House, we headed north, still on the Princess Highway, our next stop being Port Macquarie. When I look back on the parts of the trip that I remember, I wish there were off road camper trailers around then. You know why? Back in the early 60’s, there weren’t many rules and regulations about camping and places where you were allowed to pitch a tent or stop your caravan. You could, if you had a 4WD (not many did, by the way), drive onto any of those amazingly beautiful beaches and set up camp. Nobody would bother you, and I am sure they didn’t even have Park Rangers then. I know that it’s not a practical idea today and would spell disaster environmentally with the amount of people that would want to camp on the beaches, but the thought of total isolation when you are camping is the ultimate goal. Later in this series of blogs, I did find such a place in Western Australia almost 40 years after this trip.
A lot of the journey remains a blur. Probably because, like normal kids, travelling with the parents was not a cool look, even back in the 60’s. Instead of being interested in the towns and scenery we passed by, my sister and I had our noses buried in comic books. Walt Disney and the old War Comics. It was Mickey, Daisy, Donald, Scrooge, Goofy, Gyro Gearloose, Gladstone, Huey, Dewey and Louie along with the Nazis, commandos, tanks, Spitfires, England, and General Rommel that captured our interest and imagination. Do you know what? Not a lot has changed either. Instead of comics, the kids have their noses glued to iPads, smartphones and DVD’s playing their favourite movies. Sigh! Do any of you have similar memories of early day camping and travelling?