Sadly, our friend that we were staying with had to get up early and drive down to Melbourne. But, we got to have a quick breakfast with them before they left.
Mt Buller, which I think is meant to be the biggest (or at least the busiest) ski resort in Victoria, is only an hour’s drive from Mansfield. It was really strange driving through Mansfield and seeing signs for ski rental, as even though it’s the gateway to Buller, it still feels like a small country town. It was a fun drive to the top of the mountain, still taking it nice and easy, not wanting to push Deli-chan too hard. I can imagine that it could be an absolute nightmare driving this road during bad weather – but, the sun was shining and the skies were blue, so no such problems today.
While Mansfield felt like a country town (which, really, it is), Buller really felt like a modern (and expensive) ski resort – so many beautiful houses/apartments/buildings. To our surprise, you could actually drive most of the way up the mountain, but unfortunately to get to the very top, you had to get out and walk… which we chose not to do. It’s common sense, but it was surprising how cool it was at the top of the resort – certainly not the t-shirt/shorts weather that I was dressed for (and in full effect in Mansfield). It was really beautiful looking out at all the mountains in the distance, and I can only imagine how amazing it is here on a clear day in winter.
I haven’t been to snow in Australia since the 90s, but one thing I remember were the snow machines that were working overtime to cover the mud/rocks, at least on the lower slopes at Thredbo/Perisher – it seemed that Buller had its fair share of them, too.
Driving north towards Albury/Wodonga (funny noise coming from the front-right wheel, which I think is just a brake pad rubbing/vibrating, so I’m taking it to the mechanic for an inspection), the fields were all so lovely and green. There were lovely rolling hills filled with cattle grazing away, becoming nice and fat. It wasn’t long until the green hills had been swapped for golden plains, and the grazing animals swapped for crops.
Yesterday as I was driving around with Dad trying to find a bolt for Deli-chan, he showed me a patch of trees with all their branches broken off. He said it happened during a tornado (his words – I didn’t know that Australia got tornados) that hit the area in March this year. He said if I found this impressive, then I should drive back in to New South Wales and see the devastation on the north side of Lake Mulwala. I wasn’t that bothered about it, but since he was so insistent that it was like nothing he’d ever seen before, which coming from such an incredibly well travelled man who has surely seen lots of things, we thought we should make the detour. It took a while, then suddenly as far as we could see where these haggard trees, with little more than stumps for branches. We could also see the caravan park that was completely destroyed, though there weren’t many signs of that destruction left now, other than giant piles of garbage.
We were an hour late getting to the garage (Pedders) in Albury, but thankfully they could still see us as soon as we arrived. I explained the noise (a mid-frequency, 3khz or so, coming from the front-right, which only seems to happen when we drive above 80kph for on hour or so, and goes away for a short while if I tap the brake. In short, infuriating) and sat in the waiting room watching the BBC coverage of the Phillip Island MotoGP (I love their pre-race show, and interviews). After 45 minutes the tradesman came out with a face full of sorrow – not what I wanted to see. He explained to me that there was a loose clip on the brake pads, and this could be causing the noise. Good news to me, as it wasn’t a safety issue at the moment, and that clip was cheap! …but not something that they had in stock, so it couldn’t be fixed today. We were going to have to continue to put up with that noise at least for a little while longer. But, at least a wheel/brake calliper wasn’t going to fall off. Probably.
We crossed the Murray River and were back in Victoria again. We made our way to Mount Beauty (which isn’t actually a ski resort, or up in the mountains) to stay with an old friend of Risa’s. So, for the eighth night in a row, we were staying in a house and eating dinner with friends. After playing with their two little girls for a while, we were treated to roast lamb, which was just amazing! I miss roast meat…