A Nightmare Followed by Paradise.

16&17/3/16. The campsite in Cann River was right by the highway and all through the evening there was the occasional rumble as a big truck went past. This was a foretaste of what was in store for us on Wednesday.

When we woke the cloud cover was higher than the previous days and the forecast said it was going to brighten up, so we got under way as quickly as we could to get some miles under our wheels before it warmed up. Although it wasn’t long before the sun broke through, we were still passing through beautiful forests so there was a lot of shade.

Our words and pictures really do not do justice to how lovely it is along here. This part of Victoria is known as the Wilderness Coast with huge swathes of bush and coast broken by only a very few little towns and villages. The highway cuts through the forest and the roads down to the coastal villages are mostly “dead ends” so we didn’t see the sea until later in the day when we finally escaped the highway (after 2 full days and 2 half days on it).

In the meantime we had traffic to deal with! The road didn’t seem to be any narrower than previously but many of the drivers seemed more reluctant to give us even the minimum of room when passing. Christine had a contre temps with a lorry driver who refused to move even an inch off line when she was pushing up one of the steeper hills forcing her to scurry onto the bumpy, gravelly verge while Stephen had a close encounter of a frightening kind with a coach which overtook him on a blind bend and was suddenly confronted by a vehicle coming the other way. An email has been sent to the coach company but we didn’t get any details of the lorry unfortunately.

This carried on for 45 km and for much of this the road was as “ up and down” as we have experienced in Australia. It was not a pleasant morning and early afternoon.

All that changed when we reached the Marlo turn off. Perhaps it was psychological but as soon as we got onto the minor road it was as if a great weight had been lifted off us. And as an added bonus the incline became a predominantly downwards one with only minor rises! The trees thinned out and were less tall. Also there were the occasional fields with cows and horses.

After 12 km we reached the coast and Cape Conron Coastal Park and turned west with a strong tailwind that had appeared since we left the highway which sped us along the 18 km to Marlo and our bed at Dave and Lucia’s (our Warmshowers hosts) house. We had originally made arrangements to stay the following night intending to camp close to the highway turn off or at Cape Conron. However, we had made better time than expected (to get the horrible traffic over as quickly as possible?) so we had phoned to ask if we could come a day earlier. In typical Aussie fashion, Dave was totally relaxed about this (once he realised that “Steve Smith” was not the Australian cricket captain calling him!) and even rustled up a delicious vegetable pasty and a couple of beers for us.

Dave is a total bike nut with more than 30 bikes in his shed (although it must be said some of them are for the bike tour business he runs) and there is even a bike hanging on the wall in the lounge! Lucia was out of town for a couple of days so unfortunately we didn’t get to meet her.

Dave was happy for us to stay for a second night even though he was going to join Lucia, leaving us in charge of the granny annex where we were staying. We caught up on the laundry and then walked the 4 km into town. Marlo is located at the mouth of the Snowy River which flows south from its source in the Snowy Mountains in NSW and there are massive sand dunes where it meets the sea. It is another lovely spot.

At the jetty we saw one of the seals that Dave had told us live around there and in the walk home we saw an echidna, which is a bit like a porcupine. In between we indulged in a lunch on the deck at Marlo Hotel which has a spectacular view of the estuary.

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