Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bairnsdale Motel Bliss...and KOALAS!

A night in a hotel sounded especially luxurious after 5 nights in a tent.  All of our clothes had been worn, reworn, and smelled like campfire.  We pulled into the first motel, a Comfort Inn, in Bairnsdale, Victoria.  I hate to be snobby, but motels are usually a little on the downtrodden end of things.  As the man brought the rollaway bed across the parking lot to our room, we caught a glimpse of the shabby, darkly stained carpeting and immediately nixed that place.  I didn’t even notice if they had the Yucky Hotel Blanket, but I’d place my money on a Yes.

Money refunded, I did some quick internet research (thank you, iPhone and Tripadvisor!) and found the Bairnsdale Motel.  Yes, a motel, but a lovely little boutique motel run by a delightful man named Bernie.  The $30 higher price than the Comfort Inn was worth it in spades simply for his kindness, but the lovely room with a giant corner jetted tub was a sight to behold. I asked Bernie if there was a laundromat in town and he told me there was a washer and a dryer right. in. the. room.  I almost wept with gratitude as he handed over a complimentary baggie of detergent; if I have another child, I will surely name him (because of course, it would be a boy) Bernie after this man.  If you ever find yourself in Bairnsdale, Victoria, please stay at the Bairnsdale Motel.
You’d think the kids had never been in a hotel room before; they went a little bonkers (culminating in Kenyon severely bashing his shins on the bed in a bounce gone wrong, just after I had put the kibosh on the bed bouncing).  Luckily, there were no major injuries and we all delighted in having freshly cleaned bodies, shampooed and conditioned hair, and a night’s sleep without having to set up a tent.

On the way out of town the next morning (after choosing a few gems from the used bookstore and splurging on an audio book for the kids for our own sanity), we took a quick detour to Paynesville and hopped on the Raymond Island Ferry (just when I was thinking that Bernie could not get any nicer, he told us about this destination as we checked out).  Raymond Island boasts a lovely nature reserve, and right there in people’s quaint front yards, NOT KIDDING, right up in the gum trees, are fluffy, snuggable, real live koalas.
the obligatory tourist photo...
the real thing!
FOR REAL.  A beautiful nature reserve on the ocean with cute houses that come with their own resident fluffy koala?  Put my house on the market right now; I’m moving to Raymond Island. 
I’ll admit that koalas are not the most action-packed creatures; the most rigorous activity we saw muster up the energy to do was yawn and look at us, unimpressed, from his perch in the tree.

The rest slept. 

We also saw cockatoos and parrots, and there are kangaroos and swamp wallabies as well but we didn’t see them during our brief look around the island. 

That animal experience was the highlight of my day, but for Sam it was the echidna he spotted ambling down the side of the highway.
He honestly, and I’m not making this up, exclaimed, “An echidna!  I’m not kiddin’ ya!” as he gleefully pulled over and hopped out to get a closer look with the camera.

The elusive wombat is the animal I most want to see; I fell in love the first time I read the witty kids’ book, Diary of a Wombat.  As Sam drives, I look out and imagine wombats gingerly frolicking over the grassy plains, or peeking out from a cluster of gum trees.  We saw one dead on the side of the road, but I’m just going to pretend I didn’t see it because that doesn’t count at all.  A nice lady we met at Mimosa Rocks National Park said she’d only seen one or two her whole life, so I’m not counting on seeing one outside of a zoo but I’d sure like to.

A good chance is coming up shortly, as we are currently spending the night in Foster, Victoria, which is right on the edge of Wilsons Promontory National Park.  Normally bookings are made months in advance for camping during this time, but a couple of spots are reserved for international visitors (hey, that's us!).  We're heading out bright and early in the morning to hopefully snag a spot in the park for a couple of nights.  We could see a whole host of animals there, including kangaroos, wombats(!), echidnas, emus, and a number of small marsupials.

Here's hoping we get a spot; I'll write again whenever I next have internet access.


  1. Forget having a dog. Get a pet koala. They are adorable!!!!

  2. I am happy to see y'all are animal loves. That makes travel and camping so much more enjoyable. I see you are getting a great look at the Aussie animals. During my year there, I never saw an echindna in the wild and I was in the center at Alice Springs and also in Darwin in the Northern Territory. This post brought back many memories. I'm emailing a few pictures to you. I'll make sure to include a wombat just in case you don't get to see one on this adventure trip. Once again best of luck with a spot at Wilson Promontory. Camping is great fun but it can make a hot shower feel like heaven :-)and there is nothing else like that camp fire smell in you clothes.