Monday, April 9, 2012

Camping Trip...FAIL!

A few weeks ago, Erik and I started discussing what we should do for the Easter holiday weekend. After some deliberation, we decided that it would be a great time to go camping. However, once we started talking about the possibility of camping with friends and co-workers, we learned that Easter is essentially the most popular weekend of the year to go camping in Victoria, and that most campsites were already booked full for the Easter holiday. Not a problem, we thought...we will just delay our trip a few days and go camping for just one night instead of a few, since we were both off work for a couple of days after the holiday weekend.
We spent much of our beautiful Easter Sunday on a long walk near our house.
If only the weather had stayed this nice for Monday...
This past week, I found a book in the library that was helpful in identifying a few more "bush" (the Aussie equivalent to wilderness-based) campsites, though I learned that most sites within an hour or so of the city were larger caravan-type campgrounds. We planned out a few potential hiking and camping areas and packed the car last night. Unfortunately, when we woke up this morning, the weather had taken a turn from pleasant and sunny to cold and rainy! (I did hear on the radio on our drive back home that today was the coldest day in 5 months in Melbourne, which explains why even though the temperature was around 50F, it felt absolutely freezing). While we debated what to do, we caught the exciting end of the Masters, live from Augusta, which was absolutely worth getting a late start for, in my opinion. There seemed to be some patches of blue sky mixed within the clouds, so we decided to head out on some sort of adventure, though we were undecided about our final destination at that point. Sadly, the weather only got worse, and by the time we were in Frankston, a small coastal town on the Mornington Peninsula, it was raining hard and the wind was howling. We nearly turned around to go home, but after looking at the radar, it appeared that the further south we went, the better the weather would get. So we made our way down the peninsula, stopping at a few areas along the way to enjoy the scenery, and we did, in fact, counter some blue skies along the way. The drive reminded me a lot of the Great Ocean Road, though not quite as spectacular, but the road winds along the coast, providing scenic water and beach views.
One of the nice views along the Mornignton Peninsula.
We ended up all the way down at the end of the Mornington Peninsula at Port Nepean National Park. It was free to enter, and from the park you can witness beautiful views of both Port Phillip Bay and the open ocean. The wind was ferocious when we were near the ocean, with gusts so hard at times that I thought I would be knocked over! There are several walking trails within the park, most with access to different forts that were used by Australian soldiers in both World War I and II. In addition to the entrance of Port Phillip Bay being the most heavily fortified port of the Brittish Empire, the area has evidence of some of the earliest European settlement in Victoria, so this would be a great place to visit for history buffs.
In 1967, prime minister Harold Holt disappeared here while swimming.
Evidence of the former military presence.
We ate lunch at the former site of Pearce Barracks, which were torn down in 2007. The land in the distance is the town of Queenscliff, which is on the western side of Port Phillip Bay. A ferry provides transport between the two sides.
We spent a few hours walking around Port Nepean, and then headed over to Sorrento Back Beach to check out some additional ocean waves. Again, the wind was fierce and that made the cold temperatures seem even colder, but the views were worth braving the cold. There were even a few crazy kids in the water (in wetsuits, of course!)

At this point we had pretty much ruled out camping. There are spots to camp along the end of the Mornington Peninsula; however, they are all caravan parks, not the "bush" campsites we were hoping for. The closest bush campsite that I knew of was a two hour drive away, and home was less than a two hour drive away, so that was a pretty easy decision to make. This was sort of similar to our decision to leave the Great Ocean Road a night early to head home due to lack of good camping options. Hopefully we'll be more fortunate on our next camping trip in regards to campsites and weather!

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