Oops, I just discovered this didn't publish (well over a week ago)....
The locals keep telling us it shouldn't be like this: so cold in December that people are still wearing their winter woollens and sleeping under blankets, but in the (5?) weeks we've spent in Australia's southern state (not most Southern) have most been cold with intermittent days of pleasant weather. Now it's finally turned 'hot' (yes, one day it was coat and hat, next it was shorts and sandals) and it's time for us to head back to Queensland. Sunny Queensland that is. While we've been down here complaining about the cold (along with the locals, who frequently apologised to us and asked if we had enough suitable clothing), sunny Queensland has endured a heatwave.
Anyway, enough about the weather! What have we done?
Well after travelling the Great Ocean Road we came up through its hinterland: 'the Otways'. The Otways is pretty farming country and forest. The farms are dairy, berries, vineyards, some beef cattle, sheep and a few alpacas too. I wonder if alpacas have replaced Shetland ponies as the 'I have an acreage and I'm going to furnish it with an animal I have no use for' pet. Alpacas are quite useful of course (and Shetland ponies are too if you own a circus or petting zoo) but I don't think many I've seen lately were being farmed for any practical reason.
We enjoyed the Otways. It's a place of gourmet stops: cheeses, wines, whisky, chocolate, berries (in season, which due to the cold weather the berries weren't yet ripe), ice cream, and lots of places with tea and cake. I do like travelling through farmland and seeing what the land, and its friendly people, are producing. The ocean is exhilarating, or sometimes calming, but I find a lot to be enjoyed in countryside touring.
It our countryside touring two places really stood out. In a back room of the pub at Panmure there is a delightful (big and pretty) collection of teapots and items associated with the serving of tea and cake. The owner told me it was only part of her collection and that one day she hoped to show more to passing tour groups. Maybe because I hadn't expected to find such a collection in a pub it was all the more delightful.
The other standout for us was a visit to a snail farm. We thought it was very interesting.
Then just as we were leaving the Otways and heading for a few days exploration of Ballarat (famous for gold mining) we had a break down. I'm not going to write much about it now but we had our engine battery explode and we are very lucky that the only real damage the explosion caused was to the battery itself (the battery lives in a compartment under the bus below the drivers seat). This meant that our Ballarat experience was mostly to do with fixing that problem. The battery needed replacing but we also needed a proper diagnosis as to what went wrong and to fix it.
Then it was time to meet up with my father on a property down here, so that sums the end of our cold days in Victoria (we had a few more days but they were warm).