Travel News – Victoria

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.

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

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!

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Towong (Victoria) – Tooma – Tumbarumba – Jingellic (New South Wales) and Tintaldra (Victoria)

15/01/2015  We took a leisurely drive today from our camp at the Colac Colac Caravan Park, through nearby Corryong to Towong where we stopped in at the racecourse to see the historic century-old grandstand. The very picturesque racecourse and grandstand were used in the filming of the movie, Phar Lap.

Just beyond Towong, we crossed the Murray River into New South Wales. The scenery was spectacular, with rolling green pastures of very fat Black Angus cattle.


On the banks of the Tumbarumba Creek, the small rural community of Tooma centres around the old Tooma Inn, established in 1879, and the adjacent General Store. Hoping for a cleansing ale, we had a look through the inn but encountered not a soul except for an angry dog out back. Minus the ale, we continued on to Tumbarumba, about 35kms north.

On the way, we stopped at the Southern Cloud Memorial Lookout on the Tooma Road, seven kilometres north. The crash of the Southern Cloud, on 21 March 1931, was Australia’s first commercial air disaster and the lookout is a permanent commemoration, at a spectacular site on Bald Hill, overlooking the Maragle and Tooma valleys. Far in the distance, we could see the north ridge of Mt Kosciuszko.

A short distance up the road, we had a look at some great bush camping spots at Paddy’s River Flats and Henry Angel, and drove the short distance in to Paddy’s River Falls, a gushing waterfall about fifteen metres high. A path descended from the upper lookouts at the top of the falls to the end of the track a short distance before the base of the falls, but it would have been a bit difficult for Di to manage so we contented ourselves with taking photos from the lookouts above.

IMG_4379A short stop for lunch at Tumbarumba, and we continued on through Mannus State Forest to Jingellic, located near a crossing on the upper Murray River. The Bridge Hotel was established in 1925 and below the hotel is a camping ground on the banks of the river.

After passing through Walwa, we viewed Pine Mountain which is argued to be the largest monolith in Australia at 1.5 times bigger than Uluru. The gigantic granite monolith was uplifted to its present height of 1062m more than 2 million years ago. Since then erosion has highlighted the steep eastern side, established several creeks, and in the upper area, created small rock pools which contain shrimps and tadpoles despite annual drying, and large granite ‘marbles’ 2-3.5m in diameter.


Across the river and down the Murray River Road, we next came to the small town of Tintaldra, located on the upper reaches of the Murray. The village was first established in the early 1860s as a customs duty collection point for the colony of Victoria prior to Federation. We spread some wealth at the nicely renovated pub, but unfortunately the Tintaldra store, constructed in 1864 with rough-hewn River Red Gum beams and rafters and walls made from vertical slats of Stringybark timber, was closed.

It was then back to camp, down the road from Corryong. For much of the drive, the mountain and valley scenery was absolutely spectacular, and during the latter part, we’d followed along next to the Murray River and had driven in to a number of very picturesque riverside camping spots.

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Corryong (Victoria)

12/01/2015  After a very enjoyable twenty days in Bright with many day trips around nearby towns and countryside, it was time to move on and we headed back to the Hume Highway and north. Near Wodonga, we had a splash-n-dash fuel stop at the Logic Centre servo which has to be the biggest one I’ve ever seen. Just off the Hume Highway, it is a major truck stop comprising a 24-hour Service Centre, a Fatigue Management Centre and a Trailer Interchange. Parking caters for up to 45 trucks (including B-double and B-triples) and includes a secure area for the exchange of trailers between Sydney-based and Melbourne-based drivers. The centre has laundry, bathroom and shower facilities, truckies lounge and dining areas with Hungry Jacks, Cafe One and a Subway outlet. It was like a home away from home for the truckies.

IMG_4243 At Wodonga, we took the Murray Valley Highway, along the southern banks of Lake Hume and through some very pretty country to Corryong, the largest township in the Towong Shire in the far north-eastern corner of Victoria. In the picturesque foothills of the Snowy Mountains, the town has a population of approximately 1,200 people and is surrounded in all directions by hills covered with eucalypt and pine forests. This area is known for its picturesque scenery and unspoilt natural attractions including rivers, mountains and forests.

The area is steeped in High Country heritage. The birthplace of the mighty Murray River is close by, near Tom Groggin Station in the Kosciuszko National Park. The grave of Jack Riley, “The Man from Snowy River”, is in the Corryong cemetery. We will base ourselves here for a week or so to take in as much as we can of this scenic area.

We are camped a few kilometres outside of Corryong at the Colac Colac Caravan Park (pronounced Clack Clack), a very pretty park comprising fifteen acres of green lawn and four hundred mature shade trees.

The park backs onto Corryong Creek, a medium sized stream that flows from the mountains near the Alpine National Park to join the Murray River not too far away. This will be a chance for me to try out the guaranteed trout-jagger lure that I picked up recently at Omeo. I have a theory that when a river was originally named, that name reflected the local Aboriginal dialect for “No Fish”. So, Gwydir River means “No Fish”; Copeton River means “No Fish”. That’s been my experience, anyway, so it makes perfect sense to me. I do have a good feeling about this new lure, though…

Photo 3-09-2014 7 03 00 pm

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Rutherglen and Milawa (Victoria)

7/01/2015  We took a short trip today with Ian and Lesley to Rutherglen to sample the famous Parker Pies that Ian raved about. Every town in Australia has a local bakery, and each one professes to make Australia’s Best Meat Pie. They generally turn out to be ordinary, still yummy though because, well, I like meat pies. But, I reckon this bakery at Rutherglen has to take the gong. It definitely makes the best plain meat pie. I just had to get a second one to make sure…Yep…I was right. The best meat pie!

Ian and Lesley also had two pies so that I wouldn’t feel so guilty. Di settled for a flavoured milk because she doesn’t like meat pies (what’s with that?!) and they don’t come gluten-free anyway.

A short drive north took us over the Murray River into New South Wales at Corowa to see an art exhibition, then back across the Murray to Brown Brothers Winery at Milawa, before heading back to Bright. A very pleasant drive…

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PEPOMA List – Highest Accessible Sealed Road in Australia (Victoria)

04/01/2015  At Mount Hotham, we pulled over to the side of the road for a photo opportunity, and quite literally stumbled across a marker declaring that spot to be not only the highest point on the Great Alpine Road at 1825 metres above sea level, but also the highest section of year-round accessible sealed road in Australia.

During the 1920s, the road was upgraded with the rise of the motor car. The road trip must have been a hair-raising experience back then!

What a great find for my PEPOMA (Pete’s Extreme Points of Mainland Australia) List!

Categories: Pete's Extreme Points Of Mainland Australia List (PEPOMA), Travel News, Travel News - Victoria | Tags:

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