A Travellerspoint blog

February 2012

Cottage By The Sea

Our time spent at the Cottage By The Sea deserves its own blog entry...

We arrived in Queenscliff as the cottage was preparing for 50 kids from a community school south of Ballarat. The three day camp for these primary school kids (years 3 to 5) was starting just after lunch. From the moment we parked the van within the cottage grounds we were made to feel very welcome. Despite lots to do Fitz the ground keeper saw us loitering and was only too happy to show us around and share stories about the cottages history, as was Bill the Ops Manager who was our point of contact and did a great job looking after us.

The concept is so simple. Kids are given the opportunity to be just that and have fun. In the process they form stronger bonds with each other and their teachers and escape hardships they might face in their everyday lives. The kids from this particular school were from a low socioeconomic area with high unemployment. It was great to chat with the teachers and cottage staff about the realities of these kids lives; the overwhelming sense we received was that everyone was in partnership to help make a difference. The cottage is also involved in leadership programs for smaller groups to show these kids they have options. All inspiring and all great stuff. 

A few fun stories and highlights:
- Many of the children struggled to settle and sleep on the first night (up until 11pm after many tears). After an action packed day two including surfing, swimming and long walks, the kids were sound asleep by 9pm and had to be woken up the next morning. 
- The staff; we would have been happy to help behind the scenes but to be included in all kids activities was quite special. We have so much admiration for these people. They were all so happy to be at work and you could see they loved their jobs.
- The kids faces learning how to surf and seeing one in particular overcome a fear of the ocean. All kids were keen on surfing, other than one sudanese girl stayed on shore, very nervous. With a little encouragement to try the shallows her confidence grew quickly until we discovered a natural.
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- Seeing many of the shy kids come out of their shell... A little boy on day one was often sitting by himself didn't want to be spoken to and didn't want to participate. By the morning of day three we were playing in the surf together, he was holding my hand and beaming the biggest smile I have ever seen.

The Cottage has been in operation for 120 years with no government funding; this allows flexibility to try different things and tailor their programs, however they have a strong reliance on donations, contributors and volunteers. If you would like to make a donation please visit their website Cottage By The Sea.

There is no doubt we found great satisfaction spending time with these kids. It made all the difference that we were given a real experience of what the cottage was all about. Thanks to everyone (too many to name) for making us feel welcome and part of the team :)

Next blog, Great Ocean Road!..

Posted by Jenandbrad 04:19 Archived in Australia Comments (4)

Leaving the (NSW) shire

View Our Travels on Jenandbrad's travel map.

After a slow morning on Mystery Bay and meeting other young nomads from Perth (heading in the opposite direction) it was time to continue further south. Our plan was to get to Bermagui but we got as far as Wallaga Lake, a gem of a place for kiting, up there (dare I say) with Old Bar! The inlet is waist deep at middle tide and you can ride out to the mouth to hit the waves. The NE wind was up 25 knots, perfect to get a good session out of the system!
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Next stop was Merimbula, another inlet town protected on the south side from the NE winds.
We took the kayak, surf board and dive gear down to the river and made our way out to the ocean. The views were spectacular...
We could have stayed all afternoon but it was time to hit the road again, this time leaving NSW & heading into VIC. First stop, Lake Tyres. 4 hours from Melbourne and what felt like a lifetime from civalisation (for Jen anyway). We found an interesting "free camp" site in our camping guide book. 16kms down a dirt track and "interesting" turned into "Wolf Creek scary". But... by 7pm with the sun threatening to set we decided to stay. Thankfully the only creeper overnight was a huntsman the size of a taranchula!

By Friday afternoon we hit sunny Albert Park, Melbourne to spend time with good friends Mick and Chelsea Tobin. We jumped on our new bikes and followed Mick as he showed us around... Tobin Tours thoroughly recommended :)
Jen suggested we take a break and as luck would have it, in front of a women's beach volleyball match...

A little boys time was spent learning to kitesurf on St Kilda beach. Mick was a natural...

It will be hard to leave Mick and Chelsea, thanks for the memories guys!

The slight rush through east coast VIC is to get to Queenscliff, Cottage By the Sea by Monday. After this we will take more time to coast around starting with the Great Ocean Road :)

Posted by Jenandbrad 03:39 Archived in Australia Tagged vic Comments (1)

Heading south...

View Our Travels on Jenandbrad's travel map.

Our first week in and it was great to catch up with some family and friends in Vincentia, Gerora and Sussex Inlet. Back on the open road it was time to drop back into Tilba to soak up what we missed the first time around.

Tilba countryside is beautiful. As soon as you drive in you start to feel relaxed which is one of the reasons we've come back. 1UploadedFile7.jpg
We have been staying with our friends Virginia and Norm who were kind enough to put us up again for the night. Thanks for your warm hospitality and generosity; if you were a B&B we'd give 5 stars :) We had such a great time with you and meeting your friends, neighbours, animals and WWOOFers! (about WWOOFers for anyone interested).

Yesterday we walked up Gulaga Mountain. Gulaga is a sacred site of the Yuin people who cover much of the south coast. We've been reading a book called My People's Dreaming, stories about aboriginal culture from Elder Max Dulumunmun Harrison, known to the locals as Uncle Max. The book has caused a stir as some of his people believe indigenous knowledge should be kept within the community. We think it's worth sharing... Each of the stones you see in the photos has a sacred story; we felt privelaged just to be there.

Last night we had our first full bush camping experience on Mystery Bay. Our campsite was on a cliff overlooking the ocean. The location just outweighed the cons of bush toilets and showers.

This place still beats the bush toilet!...

Next stops are Wallaga Lake, Merimbula and Lakes Entrance VIC where we'll welcome powered sites and proper showers.

Posted by Jenandbrad 04:15 Archived in Australia Tagged nsw Comments (4)

And we're off...

semi-overcast 25 °C

Finally the day has come, our 'coasting around' officially begins.

Goodbye Mum & Dad, goodbye East Ryde, goodbye Sydney!


As we crawl through the Sydney Harbour Tunnel heading south, the nuisance traffic doesn't worry us for long. The excitement has well and truly taken over!

This first week is a slow cruise down the south coast stopping in to see family and friends near Gerroa, Vincentia and Tilba. We hit the open road Sunday afternoon.

Posted by Jenandbrad 19:04 Archived in Australia Comments (6)

Our new home...

A few people have asked about the caravan, here are a few pics for those interested...


Pat and Heidi Bourke, thanks for installing our storage box. What would have taken me a few days was done in a few hours!...


Posted by Jenandbrad 19:02 Comments (1)

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