Travel News – Victoria

Hamilton – Gulgong (Victoria – New South Wales)

25/04/19  Leaving Winchelsea, Di and I took a couple of backroads north to meet up with the Hamilton Highway and  follow it west, past dry, sweeping paddocks scattered with sheep, to the town of Hamilton. It was a pleasant drive until a light smattering of raindrops on the windscreen soon developed into a heavy downpour that buffeted the car and van with strong side winds. Once again, the weather had come along with us, and we were discussing going into business as Rainmakers. We set up at Hamilton in a caravan park by the lake, and headed around to catch up with our old friends, Ian and Lesley. 

We’d last called in on them in Hamilton in May 2016 on our way through to SA and WA, and it was great to again catch up at their place over drinks and dinner. Ian’s like me, he loves to cook with wine, and sometimes even adds it to the food. Needless to say, a few corks were pulled (doesn’t that sound better than ‘screw caps were unscrewed’; a little of the romance has been lost with the introduction of the wine bottle screw cap) and we settled in to nine enjoyable days of picnicking and being shown around the district, and evenings of good hospitality and conversation in the warmth of their fireplace.

Hamilton had a nice, comfortable feel about it, with its gardens and autumn-toned trees very reminiscent of Toowoomba where we used to live. And despite a reluctance to leave, inevitably our stay came to an end and we headed off to begin making our way back home to Queensland. 

We spent a very cold night in a pleasant recreation reserve on the outskirts of the small town of Glenlyon, near Daylesford, in a large area bordered by old oaks and river gums. The next morning, we continued north through bone-dry sheep country, through Shepparton, and crossed over the Murray River into New South Wale at Tocumwal. From the bridge over the river, hundreds of vans and motorhomes could be seen parked up on the Victorian side for the Easter long weekend. The riverside camping area looked more like an RV sales yard, and I reckoned I could have stepped from one van roof to the next for the whole length of the campground; they were so close together. Not my idea of getting away from it all to commune with nature. We were hoping to soon stay again at our favourite camp spot on the Murrumbidgee River, but guessed that it would be just as popular over the school holidays as the Murray was, so best to be avoided.

80kms north of the Murray, at Jerilderie, we camped at a quiet spot beside Billabong Creek, and had the place almost to ourselves apart from a family camping in a 4WD and tent. It had been a big drive that day, 330kms, massive by Tasmanian standards, but a good drive on mostly long, flat roads, non-existent by Tasmanian standards. Our travelling mojo was back and we were once again enjoying the road. At Jerilderie, we were deep in Kelly Country. Ned and his gang held up the bank and post office in 1879, burning all the mortgage documents held by the bank and shouting the bar at the Travellers Rest Hotel to the cheers of all in the room, before making a getaway with their ill-gotten booty on stolen police mounts. Our camp spot was only a 5-minute stroll along the creek to town where these shenanigans occurred 140 years ago, and it was easy to picture it as we looked at the buildings that still stand in the small town’s main street.

The Landy clocked up 200,000kms, of which 90,200 have been done on our travels since June 2014. We’d started to think the return trip back to Queensland was going to be fairly quick. Only two days out from Hamilton, we’d done some big distances, each day longer than the previous. We both weren’t feeling like doing much touristy stuff, just finding nice camps and taking it easy. Our focus was pretty much on getting back home to see everyone and having a break from travelling. Anyway, we decided we were coming back to the Daylesford area again for a longer visit at some stage, so will catch up with everything around there when we do. 

The small town of Canowindra was our next stop after an overnighter at The Rock, and we headed there through some very pleasant country that steadily became greener, paddock dams began to have water in them and paddocks carried healthy-looking sheep with tiny, white new-born lambs at their sides. We were fortunate to arrive at Canowindra during the Balloon Challenge held in the town each year. We woke in the morning to the roar of balloon burners and the visual spectacle of 30 or so hot air balloons taking flight from the paddocks nearby. Several floated slowly over our camp spot just above the tree tops, calling “Hello” down to us. What a great way to start the day. This time around, the free camp was much busier than last October when we came through on the way south to Tassie, but was still a good little overnighter located beside a flowing stream.

From Canowindra, we took the Molong Road to bypass Orange and connect with the Mitchell Highway that took us north to Wellington, where a turn east took us through the hills to Gulgong. We camped at the grassy showgrounds for three days in the shade of pepperina trees. The further north we travelled through New South Wales the warmer the days were becoming. Overnight temperatures were still pleasantly cool, but the days were regularly reaching the high 20s and sometimes into the 30s. So we took advantage of the available power at Gulgong to enjoy some relief from the midday heat, courtesy of the van’s air-con. It was also an opportunity to catch up with the laundry and take long hot showers. Let me tell you, a little glamping every now and then goes a long way.

There is nothing better than scrubbing the road off your skin and changing into a fresh, wrinkled set of clothes.

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - South Australia, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Smythesdale – Melbourne (Victoria)

3/11/18  Ian and Lesley, long-term friends who now live in Hamilton, VIC, met us at Smythesdale to camp overnight with us at the pleasant campground maintained by the local Progress Association. We’ve known them for close to forty years and, despite the two year gap since last catching up, it seemed like only yesterday. A lots happened in the meantime, including some health issues, but everyone was well and bubbling over about being back together again. Needless to say, many wines were consumed and we all had a great time.

By the end of our stay, the weather had turned nasty, with warnings of damaging winds and rain, and a temporary heat spell well into the 30s. We decided to go on power for a night at Treetops Camp outside Riddells Creek. Instead of taking the main highway to get there, I chose backroads instead – more peaceful, I thought. Anyway, the 118kms via the direct route blew out to well over twice that distance on the twisty network of backroads that took us up and down steep ranges (towns that start with Mount should have raised a flag or two). Blustery side winds and rain also slowed our speed. So, four hours after heading off from Smythesdale, we pulled up outside the pub at Riddells Creek and went in for a well-deserved drink and lunch. The drive had been OK; the conditions just made it a bit wearying.

So, after taking on steaks and beer, we fired up the rig again and headed off to locate Treetops Camp. It’d been so long since we’d used the aircon in the Kruiser that we’d forgotten we still had it. Sitting inside in the heat with the windows closed because of the gusty winds, Di was the first to say “Why don’t we turn on the aircon?” Brilliant! And it still worked! As I type this, I have a blanket across my lap to warm my legs that were getting rather cold. Outside is a blustery furnace with intermittent showers. You can keep this Victorian weather – four seasons in one day.

Riddells Creek put us within easy striking distance of Melbourne where we headed the next morning to overnight before loading onto the Spirit of Tasmania for the trip across Bass Strait. The run into Melbourne was uneventful and we soon found ourselves just a narrow side street away from our destination. Cars tightly parked along one kerb allowed enough space to just squeeze by on the right, until we came up on the only car parked on the opposite kerb. There was no way for a mouse to get through, let alone us with the van. My first thought was to use the Force, but weirdly this didn’t work very well. Nor was there sufficient room to turn around in the tiny street. The thought of reversing the van out onto the main road backwards brought images of exploding fireballs to mind, and was swiftly dropped from the quickly shortening list of options. So there we sat, me cycling through various renderings of the F word and hoping that the age of miracles hadn’t passed. A small crowd of onlookers formed on the footpath, and I felt like Jeremy Clarkson trying to take a Lamborghini down a tight parking garage ramp in Milan. I was about to apply the handbrake and camp there the night and let someone else sort the problem out, when Di grasped the moment, leaping out of the Landy. Through some female witchcraft kind of thing, she located the owner up the street, who came out to move her thoughtlessly parked vehicle; luckily, as it turned out, as she was done up like a prom queen, complete with magnificent feathery Fascinator, and about to Uber off to Flemington Racecourse for the day. Another few minutes and we’d definitely be camping on the street.

“Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.” – Sir Terry Pratchet

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , ,

Moama – Laanecoorie (Victoria)

29/10/18  Camping on the bank of the Murray, imagining bygone paddleboats steaming past, inspired us to follow the river further west to the town of Echuca. During the 19th century, this was a bustling river port where paddleboat transport linked with the rail junction to Melbourne. These days, Echuca is still a thriving town but the world’s largest fleet of operating paddle steamers no longer carries wool bales and wheat up and down the Murray but tourists like us.

We camped in Moama, the adjacent border town on the northern side of the river, just over the bridge in NSW, and spent a few days exploring Echuca’s historic wharf precinct and the nearby city of Bendigo. The paddle steamer P.S. Emmylou took us upstream from the Echuca wharf for a pleasant morning tea cruise, complete with fresh-baked scones and jam, washed down with barista coffee. The P.S. Emmylou featured as the P.S. Providence in the 1984 television mini-series “All the Rivers Run”.

While the van stayed in Moama, we drove an hour south through Rochester to Bendigo, where we started off our exploration with a tour along the main street on a vintage tram. A derailment of another tram further up the line resulted in a delay, and we continued our look around the city centre on foot, visiting a few art galleries, and strolling through the Dai Gum San Chinese gardens and temple. Bendigo has a lot of lovely old homes and community buildings that celebrate its affluent gold mining past.

On our last day at Moama, we met up with Michael and Elizabeth, friends from back home at Scarborough, who were coming through on the homeward leg of their motorhome adventure around Australia. It was great to catch up with them and the four of us enjoyed a meal just up the road at the RSL Club. In the foyer of the club was a diorama and display featuring what is claimed to be the original bell that hung around the neck of Private John Simpson’s donkey at Gallipol. It’s quite amazing how some things end up where you find them.

The next morning, we farewelled Michael and Elizabeth on their way north and headed off ourselves in the opposite direction. It was a late start as I think we were all rather reluctant to say our goodbyes. South of Echuca, we turned west off the highway to avoid major roadworks being carried out in Bendigo, and followed backroads through the small townships of Raywood, Bridgewater, Newbridge and Eddington to free-camp in the village of Laanecoorie, below the road bridge over the Loddon River. Interestingly, this reinforced concrete bridge was designed and built in 1911 by John (later Sir John) Monash when he was a Civil Engineer, before becoming more notable through his military achievements in WWI.

Laanecoorie was one of many small communities found throughout rural Australia that cause you to wonder how they manage to still exist. From what we could see of the township as we took a walk, it comprised only a few streets, about a dozen houses and a couple of commercial buildings that had long ago ceased to operate. The door of the general store appeared not to have been opened this century, and two very faded signs on its façade for “Peter’s Ice Cream: The Health Food of a Nation” and “Paul’s Extra Cream Ice Cream” brought back childhood memories of cardboard tubs of ice cream eaten with wooden spoons. Post boxes located on the footpath out front suggested the store once provided postal services. Also out front, the bus stop timetable advised potential travellers of the once-a-week service operating only on Fridays. No signs of life were evident on our walk and it was impossible to determine if all of the houses were still occupied as many showed signs of long neglect. Recent vehicle tracks were often the only giveaway. I’m sure that if not for the reasonable proximity of a nearby regional centre, small towns like these would have gone the way of many before them.

This blog item was written from a chair located under a shady pepperina tree, with a view across the Loddon River to a small mob of sheep grazing on the opposite bank – quite a lovely scene – perhaps one reason why people continue to live in small communities such as this.

The weather has continued to be glorious, with mild days, clear skies and very cool nights.

“You’re not in Tasmania yet? You do realise you have to leave the mainland to get to Tasmania.” – Son, Andrew, checking in on our progress.

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Canberra (ACT) – Doolans Bend (Victoria)

23/10/18  We were fortunate to get a caravan site in Canberra. Schools in ACT and NSW were back from holidays, Canberra’s Floriade festival had finished, and there were no big events on in town, so there should have been sites aplenty. I wasn’t going to ring ahead and book but the Chair of the Board insisted. And we learned that, for some inexplicable reason, all caravan parks were chockers. Charm won the day and we scraped in a spot at the showground, Exhibition Park. We were in Canberra for an impromptu catch up with our niece, Heather, and Andrew and their two boys, Nicholas and Alexander. We had a lovely time with them. It was just a shame that Andrew was away on business. So we drank his wine.

This was our second visit to the national capital and, as before, I could not get my head around the layout and the annoying number of roundabouts. Canberrans used to be called ‘Roundabout-abouters’ for good reason. As also noted on our previous visit, the lack of attention to grass cutting in Canberra. Puzzling. Just about every lawn, footpath and nature strip looked neglected and overgrown. Certainly a shaggy look that our capital is presenting to visitors. I didn’t think it could due to the current drought – it was the same when we were there four years ago. It must a Canberra thing.

Leaving Canberra after a couple of days, we headed to Yass where we had a leg stretch down the main street, picked up some local wine and a couple of really nice looking rib eye fillets that went on the Weber a couple of nights later…mmm. At Yass, we got onto the Hume Highway that runs inland, carrying loads of traffic between Sydney to Melbourne. It probably serves a good purpose but I reckon it has to be the dead set most boring bit of road ever, without a doubt. The highway manages to not only bypass just about every town but absolutely everything of interest worth looking at. It’s like a committee got together and mapped out all the interesting spots, then made the highway go everywhere else. So you just motor along it in a sort of lobotomised stupor.

Further west of Yass, I roused myself from the road trance in time to turn off to the small town of Jugiong, and our overnight camp in the showground. The field is bordered on one side by the Murrumbidgee River and we pulled the van in along the edge of the high riverbank, giving us a great view out over the water.

Back on the Hume Highway the next morning, we’d been tootling along for a little while – starting to feel like a long, long while – so it was good to turn off at Gundagai onto a pleasant backroad that took us through rolling pasture country to Sandy Beach Reserve, again on the banks of the Murrumbidgee. What a magic spot – alongside the clear river, in amongst ancient river red gums. Di braved the cold waters for a very invigorating dip. I wimped out, preferring warm and smelly. We stayed for a couple of days before continuing on our way south.

Back on the Hume Highway again (sigh), at Albury, NSW, we crossed the Murray River to Wodonga, VIC, on the other side and exited onto a backroad to Doolans Bend, one of the many bush camps dotted along the Murray. Camp was set up on a nice open grassy patch not three metres from the water’s edge, with a few very fat Hereford cattle for company. What a spot. I got out the rod, but the Murray Cod obviously hadn’t gotten the memo. There’s a fine line between fishing and standing on the bank looking like an idiot, so the rod went away and I settled into a book instead. Di went for a quick dip in the river, coaxing me in as well this time. Man, was it cold. Quite literally, numbing – and yet, refreshing in a somewhat sadomasochistic kind of way.

The days have been pleasant and the nights cold. It’s lovely in the chilly mornings to see a mist hanging low over the water. All we need is the paddle steamer, PS Philadelphia, to come chuffing around the bend with Sigrid Thornton up in the wheelhouse pashing John Waters and we’d have a scene straight out of All the Rivers Run.

And in closing, the family haven’t had a Dad Joke from me for a while, so…

Did you hear about the camper who broke his left arm and left leg? He’s all right now.

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Australian Capital Territory, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Bushman’s Rest, Lake Cullulleraine – Weethalle Showground – Narrabri – Scarborough (South Australia – Queensland)

23/12/16  Saying goodbye to our camping buddies Charles and Joy at World’s End Reserve, we followed the Goyder Highway east through rolling hills, golden fields of wheat and endless sheep pastures. The Murray River soon appeared on our right, and from the top of the Golden Limestone Cliffs, we looked out on the swollen river. Flood waters had breached the banks and spread out through the river red gums on the broad floodplain to the far cliffs. It was wonderful to see the mighty Murray so full and replenished by recent rains. There was a downside to the flooding, though. The many scenic bush camps dotted along the river were under all that floodwater.

Consequently we motored on, following the meandering river east and crossing it just beyond Renmark via the Paringa Bridge. This heritage listed bridge has a single railway line in the centre (now disused), with a narrow road lane on each side of it. A lift span allows river traffic to pass underneath. The road lane felt very tight for the Kruiser and we were glad it wasn’t any wider.

A little way down the road, we crossed into Victoria, intending to stay at a bush camp on the border. The Landy, though, was showing an outside temperature of 38C and rising, and we opted instead for a powered site. We spent the night beside Lake Cullulleraine at the Bushman’s Rest Caravan Park with the aircon keeping us cool and comfortable. The next morning was overcast with a forecast of rain. It was our wedding anniversary and we stayed on a second day beside the lake to celebrate.

img_3089Between the small towns of Goolgowi and Rankins Springs on the Mid Western Highway, we were happy to sit a long way back from a caravan that was travelling along at our pace. Suddenly, the van tilted and pulled over to the roadside, having lost a wheel. We stopped and gave them a hand to find the wandering wheel, got their details and went ahead to Rankins Springs to arrange a tow vehicle to get them into nearby Griffith where the broken wheel studs could be replaced. We were the first on hand to help them, and two other caravans pulled up to offer help as well. Aussies are a great bunch, quick to pitch in and do what they can when someone’s in trouble, especially for travellers on the side of the road.

That night, we camped in the showgrounds of the small town of Weethalle, among a group of rustic buildings facing a white-fenced trotting track sitting idle between infrequent race meetings. A local contact person was very helpful in opening up the facilities and making sure we were comfortable for the night.

From Lake Cullulleraine in upper Victoria, we had three big motoring days that took us home by Christmas Day, firstly 547kms to Weethalle in New South Wales, then 578kms to Narrabri where we stayed the night with Deb and Stu, and the final leg of 611kms to home. North of Narrabri, broad sheets of water lying in the paddocks and across the road at one point was evidence of recent rains. We’d crossed three State borders in four days to spend the festive day with family.

Since commencing in 2014, we’ve travelled 65,740kms with the van. Here are some facts about our overlanding to WA this year:


“Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me. I want people to know why I look this way. I’ve travelled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.” – The Landy 

The Landy

The Landy and Kruiser

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Northern Territory, Travel News - Queensland, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mt Gambier (South Australia)

17/05/16  From Hamilton, we headed 134 kilometres west across the South Australian border to Mt Gambier and set up the van in the showgrounds. Two days extended to three to allow us to see the local attractions. We liked the town, its gardens and autumn leaves reminding us of Toowoomba, back in Queensland.

The Blue Lake and Valley Lake on the edge of town are quite spectacular crater remnants of volcanic activity believed to have occurred only 5,000 years ago. They are among the youngest volcanoes in Australia. It would have been an impressive sight for the locals when they blew their top. Both lakes are filled with ground water to the level of the surrounding water table, and Blue Lake supplies the town with very good quality drinking water.

Leaving the Kruiser at the showgrounds, we took a drive the second day to Nelson on the coast just across the border in Victoria, and looked around the Discovery Bay Coastal Park where Di had fun spotting lots of bird life. Following the coastline back into South Australia, we stopped off at Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park and Ewens Ponds Conservation Park, both considered to be wetlands of international importance. The crystal clear waters of both ponds have been slowly filtering through the limestone over thousands of years, forming the ponds’ features and creating spectacular and deep underwater environments for diving and snorkelling. It was way too cold for us to consider getting in, but we could still appreciate the scenery from dry land.

Still following the coast road west, we went through the tiny coastal villages of Brown Beach and Riddoch Bay to picturesque Port MacDonnell where we had a great meal at Periwinkles Café on the foreshore. Highly recommended if you’re ever in the area. The remainder of the afternoon’s sightseeing was cut short by a sudden thunderstorm that came across during lunch, and we headed back to Mt Gambier and the van.

The third day included a visit to the Umpherston Sinkhole, also known as the Sunken Garden, a short distance from our showgrounds camp. It was once an underground cave formed through dissolution of the limestone by rain and ground water, and the top of the chamber later collapsed downwards creating the sinkhole. The build-up of soil over time created a perfect environment for a garden at the bottom. A similar sinkhole is in the centre of town right beside the town hall, called the Cave Garden, and features a light show at night.

“A volcano may be considered as a cannon of immense size.” — Oliver Goldsmith, Goldsmith’s Miscellaneous Works (1841)

Categories: Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - South Australia, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hamilton (Victoria)

15/06/16  We travelled to Hamilton in south-western Victoria to see long-lost gypsy friends, Ian and Lesley and mother Sue, ex-patriate Queenslanders who some time ago had chosen to relocate from the Sunshine State to the land of VB and circular football. They were our guides around the sites of Hamilton and surrounding towns – to the lovely little nearby town of Dunkeld for lunch one day; to the more upmarket and affluent Port Fairy on the Great Ocean Road for lunch another day. We liked Hamilton. It was a good sized rural city, large enough to offer all the services you need; but small enough to not yet require traffic lights in the city centre.

Penhurst - Volcano Discovery Centre (Vic)

Penshurst – Volcanoes Discovery Centre (Vic)

The volcanic past of the region provided some interesting geological features. At Penshurst, we stopped in at the Volcanoes Discovery Centre, housed in the old shire offices built from the local basalt.

We visited the Byaduk Caves, considered to be the most extensive and accessible set of lava caves in Australia.

Australian Shelducks (Vic)

Australian Shelducks (Vic)

Contrary to the universally held belief, Byaduk is in no way associated with the vending of poultry but is derived from an Aboriginal word for stone tomahawk. As fate would have it, Di saw her first Australian Shelduck on the outskirts of Byaduk. And not a tomahawk to be seen. Weird, huh?

As we came into Hamilton from the north, the country changed to park-like pastures shaded by huge Red Gums and dotted with sheep and cattle. That induction to verdant green continued south to Port Fairy. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. If I died and had to come back as a Merino sheep or Black Angus steer, that is where I’d want to spend my next bit of short time. They all looked too fat to even bother eating.


Port Fairy (Vic)

After five days in Hamilton, we said our goodbyes and began the next leg of our journey west to SA and WA.

“I enjoy waking up and not having to go to work. So I do it three or four times a day.” – Gene Perret

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Hay To Hamilton – Mallee Country (New South Wales – Victoria)

10/05/16  Heading west from Hay in NSW, we crossed the Murray River into Victoria at Tooleybuc via the quaint historic bridge that was designed to rise up to let paddle steamers through. Regrettably, none was to be seen, of course, but it wasn’t hard to picture one churning down the river, bellowing smoke from its stack and steam from the whistle.

With the scenery mostly unchanging and monotonous, podcasts and albums had copped a flogging on the drive. Before leaving home, I’d stocked up on a lot more “Conversations with Richard Fidler” podcasts from ABC Radio which we’d found great for passing the time while we tootle down the road.

Further south on the Sunraysia Highway (sounds like the road is sponsored by a dried fruit company, doesn’t it), we overnighted at a camping ground in the small Mallee country town of Lascelles. It was a pleasant spot, and very conveniently located beside the old Minapre Hotel. We were both knackered after the long drive and, up for a meal cooked by someone else, we tucked into a delicious home-made steak and roasted veg dinner, washed down with cold beer and good conversation from Wally, the publican. The population of the town was 44, Wally could name each one, and he wouldn’t want to live anywhere else because it’s a great lifestyle. Good on him.

South of Lascelles the following day, the country changed and we were soon passing through very picturesque sheep and cattle grazing country with the Grampian Mountains in the background. From dead flat and dry to green mountains, it’s amazing how the country quickly changes.

There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want – Calvin, Calvin and Hobbes

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Colac Colac – Bright (Victoria) – Wagga Wagga (New South Wales)

1/02/2015  Australia Day was celebrated at Colac Colac with the caravan park managers, Melissa and Paul, putting on a BBQ, the proceeds of which would go to the local Rural Fire SIMG_5306ervice. The park was very crowded for the Australia Day long weekend, with many family groups arriving in vans and camper trailers on the Friday. The BBQ was followed later in the afternoon by a kids Boat Race along Corryong Creek at the back of the park using small toy sailboats provided by Paul. After many elimination heats, the winner was decided and earned a bag of lollies as the prize. Those eliminated also got a lolly bag. Everyone had a very enjoyable Australia Day.

Weeping WillowsCamping note: Don’t camp under a Weeping Willow tree. They do actually weep, small drops of sap from the leaves which is sticky and gets over absolutely everything. Fortunately, though, it is easy to wash off as I found when I washed both the Land Rover and the Kimberley Kruiser. We moved camp away from the willow for the final few days there.

On 29/01/2015, we headed back to Bright to see Ian, Leslie and Sue again, putting the van up once more behind the derelict cottage across from their house. It was great to spend time with them again and to share a couple of lovely meals, especially the very excellent local pizzas that we had on the last night. Pizza is good anytime but it’s especially great when cooked properly.

After two days in Bright, we were on our way again.

When planning our trip around Australia, Di and I had always intended to fly back home to Scarborough every few months or so from wherever we were so that we could catch up with family and friends. We had been looking into flights during February but airfares were so expensive that we decided it would be cheaper and far more enjoyable to take our time and drive back instead.

So, we put the morning sun on the driver’s side and headed northwards, in contrast to what so far had been a southerly journey. We took the Hume Highway to Wodonga and Albury, and then turned left onto the Olympic Highway to Wagga Wagga.

My trusty Aldi-brand computer table that I’ve had since 2013 as an in-car navigator using Hema 4WD maps in the Memory Maps app finally gave up the ghost, and unfortunately corrupting some of our log of the route travelled to date. In its place, I loaded the app and maps onto a Samsung Tab 4 that Rupert Murdoch kindly sent me recently in return for my annual subscription to his online “The Australian” newspaper. Very decent of him, I thought, particularly as the Samsung was worth more than the annual subscription. The timing was just right as well.

The short journey north from Bright to Wagga Wagga took us through quickly changing countryside, with the land becoming drier and flatter as the southern highlands receded in our mirrors. Wagga Wagga surprised us with its size, and it sported most of the stores that can be found inIMG_5348 just about every other reasonably large city. We spent two nights next to the Murrumbidgee River, flowing swiftly due to a release of water from storage in nearby Lake Burrinjuck. The river flats were very wide and we could only imagine how immense the river might be in flood. Enormous old river gums lining the banks would surely predate the arrival of the First Fleet many times over.

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Corryong (Victoria) To Thredbo (New South Wales)



From our camp at Colac Colac Caravan Park, a few minutes’ drive west of Corryong, we went on a day trip to Mount Kosciuszko which on the map looked to be just up the road a wee bit. We followed the Alpine Way to the small town of Khancoban that sits along the shores of Khancoban Pondage, a 3km long lake that forms part of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme. The town was built specifically to house the workers of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, which commenced in 1949. Unlike the higher altitude lakes and impoundments of the Scheme, Khancoban, at only 298m altitude, is more dairy country than high country. The tourist material stated that this area is arguably the best cattle country in Australia, and we had to agree. The pastures were lush and the cattle very fat. With the awesome backdrop of Australia’s highest mountains, the scenery was stunningly beautiful, though unfortunately no snow at this time of year.

From Khancoban, the Alpine Way began to wind through tall mountain forests and steep narrow ravines. After a short distance, we came to Murray 1 Power Station, the second largest power station in the Snowy Mountains Scheme, with 10 turbines each capable of producing enough electricity to supply over 95,000 homes. We had a look around and a quick coffee, then continued up into the Snowy Mountains.

Adjacent to the Alpine Way, Geehi Flats Campground is sited on the banks of Swampy Plains River and surrounded by spectacular mountain forest. Before 1960, the flats at Geehi were used as a base before moving cattle into the high country during summer. Located in the campgrounds is Geehi Hut built by Ken Nankervis and his brother in 1952 for grazing and fishing. The hut is constructed from river rocks with three rooms, and the floor is a mixture of concrete and dirt. Beside Geehi Hut is Tyrell’s Hut, originally built for shepherds and now a standing skeletal ruin, having lost its vertical slab sides. 

Another 20km along the Alpine Way, we came to Tom Groggin Station, the property where Jack Riley (aka The Man From Snowy River) lived between 1884 and 1914. The property is an island of privately owned land within the national park, and unfortunately does not permit visitors, despite its historical significance. Just beyond the property, we drove into Tom Groggin Horse Camp, one of many such camps that provide overnight camping and corralling for riders in the national park. I was again struck by a bout of gold fever, however the narrow flowing waters of the Murray River would not yield up any glint beyond lots and lots of mica (Fool’s Gold). Tom Groggin Campground just a short distance further on is the last point of access to the Murray River before the Alpine Way changes direction and heads east and the Murray continues southward to its wellspring high in the mountains. That is the point where the squiggly border between New South Wales and Victoria changes to a straight line that shoots across to the east coast. The wellspring can be accessed on foot from the Alpine Way via the Cowombat Track, but we lacked the time and energy necessary to undertake this walk. It wasn’t until later that we learned that it could also be accessed on foot from the south via the MacFarlane Flat Track…that would have been prophetic as I’d probably have ended up flat on my back if I’d attempted it!

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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