We got to Ararat in the afternoon and, ulp, no vacancy sign at the Southern Cross Motor Inn. Glad we’d booked in advance. Looking around, almost all motels showed a no vacancy sign. Here and other nearby cities and towns on the way in.
We got a beautiful room here; king bed, fridge, microwave, 50 inch TV, big comfy room. The owners thought of everything. A major highway goes by 30 feet from where I’m typing with tons of truck traffic. And you can hardly hear a truck go by. Maybe feel some vibration. Open the door into the parking area on the opposite wall and, large amount of noise from that truck comes in from the courtyard through the entry door! How did the owners do that? I’ll tell you. Quadruple pane glass on the windows and thick walls. Glass panels are one-way glass.
In all my years of travel, both for pleasure and for work, this is the second best motel I’ve ever stayed at. The best, in Bremerton, Washington, has changed hands at least once in the last 25 years so I don’t know what it’s like now. The Oyster Bay Motel. High praise.
That is a PILE of nights in motel rooms. Early in my career with the fisheries, I’d be on travel for 4-6 months of the year.
Couple this with a spectacular restaurant around the corner. The Blue Duck, a family owned and operated business. We tried it on the second night in Ararat. I had duck shanks with mash and steamed veggies. Praxy had the roasted pumpkin salad with the optional chicken. 5 star dining, every bite was perfect. I’ve got to figure out that dressing on the salad. Amazing!
Stay here if you pass through Ararat.
Why did the Oyster Bay beat out the Southern Cross? Two reasons. Fabulous restaurant on site, and a hundred thousand dollar view of Oyster Bay from my room. Room was not as nice, but damn good. The other two things made up for that and then some.
Up the next morning to visit the park. I chose a route that brought us in from the southern end.
The road sign was a bit confusing. The wind had blown all the direction signs to the same direction. Thanks to a map, I figured it out.
There’s the park. See the clouds on the mountain tops? That was the previous days of rain evaporating. Made for sucky scenic photography in the park later that morning.
First stop was the drive up, then the finishing 2 mile hike to the top of Mt Williams. The view was great, but the weather made the sky not good for pictures. Here is a brief sample…
This was a steep road. I was huffing and puffing going up. Just fine coming back, of course.
It’s about 300 feet strait down just to my right. Awesome!
Off the mountain and a short hike to Silverband falls.
Not a ton of water, but very pretty nonetheless.
Back in the car and down to the Brambuk Visitor’s and Cultural Center at Halls Gap. And…I was able to buy something I truly wanted. Mancave item. A genuine Australian carved, wood-burned, and decorated, didgeridoo. Local Aboriginal artists have rights to sell there and I just couldn’t resist. Touristy, yes, but NOT MADE IN CHINA. That and the favorable exchange rate made this purchase a slam dunk.
It’s only a short one. I didn’t want to try to pack a big one all the way home. I’d have to carry the big one on. Would it be allowed as it kind of looks like a club? What if some moron throws his carry on into it in the overhead bin? I’d have to guard the hell out of it, like I do my camera. So, this one fits in my luggage. I would have gladly paid the $400 AUD for a big one if I could have figured out how to get it safely home. I truly thought hard about it. The price was no deterrent. Maybe some day when I can afford first class air fare…
Through the tourist trap called Halls Gap and up the hill to the Boroka Lookout. Better weather for photos in the afternoon.
Halls Gap with Lake Bellfield in the back ground. Can’t see the crowds of tourists from here!
Looking towards Ararat.
Across the canyon that we drove up. Very odd looking sandstone formation. Must be some hard stuff on top protecting the more erodible layers.
This was the last stop in the National Park for the day.