Cranbourne to Lakes Entrance

Our reason for coming to Cranbourne was to visit the botanic gardens that we had seen in the ABC gardening program a few weeks ago. Among other elements the show had featured the arid garden. 

Because the gardens open at 9:00 am we had no reason to move early and enjoyed sleeping a little late again. There was still plenty of time for breakfast and packing before we left the motel shortly before 9:00.

Maps directed us to turn left past the cemetery a short distance along the street from our motel. According to the map that should have taken us directly to the entrance to the gardens but our way was blocked by roadworks. Majella u-turned and we tried again. This time we went several km west, then south, and then east, eventually arriving at the gardens entrance via what was marked as a dead end road with no obvious signage about the gardens. We wondered why such an attraction was so secret but then discovered we had come the back way which was closest to our starting point but not the main access.

Entry to the gardens was free and because they were opening as we arrived there was no delay and few other patrons. The entry fronts the red sand garden with its circles of green representing the often arid Australian landscape. 

We went right from there, following the numbered sequence of garden areas. The first had thin strips separated by thick cables representing the 85 biomes identified across the continent with typical vegetation of each. It was interesting to see the diversity, especially where contrasting biomes were adjacent.

From there we moved on through a succession of different gardens demonstrating how different water regimes could be applied, the historical development of Australian domestic gardens, the variety among different related species and across different environments, and much more. We saw a variety of birds and at one point some small animals that may have been marsupial rats or similar.

It was almost 2 hours between when we entered the gardens and when we emerged and sat down to enjoy coffees in the cafe area. We could have spent much more time, especially if we had followed every pathway and delved into the minutiae of different plants.

Majella drove us out of the gardens using the main entrance which took us quickly to the South Gippsland Highway which we followed for a while before taking a turn to head east and then north to the Princes Freeway which took us east toward our destination. The route between major roads took us through a flat and damp, perhaps partly due to overnight rain, area of market gardens. We saw people working in the fields and large expanses of what looked like asparagus and other crops.

Over the past few days we have seen roadside signs offering ‘poo’ of varying origins at different prices. A few days ago we saw horse poo offered at $1 per bag and a day or so after that we saw it at $2 per bag. Yesterday we saw sheep poo on offer at $5 per bag and this morning that could be bought for $7 per bag. We wondered if that was indicating inflation, different sized bags, or something else. Our last sighting this morning was for unspecified poo, free. Not sure what to make of that.

Once we reached the Princes Freeway Majella drove us east through farmland with crops and grazing animals until we reached the area of the Latrobe Valley around Moe and Morwell that is best known for its power stations. As we approached Morwell she noticed a sign for the centenary rose garden and we decided that might be worth a look. It was. The rose garden is an expansive area close to the centre of town and split by a major road. It has a wide variety of roses and most were in bloom so we spent some time wandering among them.

By then it was approaching 1:00 pm so we drove a little way up the street and found a cafe where we ate lunch. Majella had soup and I had prawn twists.

I drove on from there. Our navigation app directed us around Sale but we drove through some smaller places and had some delays with roadworks before we reached Lakes Entrance a little after 4:00 pm.

Once we had checked in we drove a little up back up the esplanade and parked near the footbridge that crosses the inlet to the surf beach. We walked across the bridge and onto the beach. Majella walked down to put her feet in the water but proclaimed it cold and we were soon back across the bridge and walking toward town.

That was a couple of km and took us about 30 minutes. Our motel manager had recommended Sodafish, a floating restaurant at one of the piers in town that served seafood which I expected Majella might want. We reached there around 5:30 pm, a bit earlier than we might usually eat. Majella asked and found they could accommodate us then or late. She preferred ‘then’ so in we went. Majella had a gin, honey and citrus cocktail and the whiting. I had sirloin and a glass of shiraz. It was after 6:00 pm by the time we were eating so not too early after all for us old folks.

We strolled back to the car along the other side of the street checking out the shop windows as we went. We were back at our motel in time for the 7:00 pm news but I slipped out toward the end of that to see the sunset which was muted by cloud cover.