21st October 2019–Sovereign Hill

Distance: 17 km
Fuel: 19 L

Woke to a cold, foggy morning…

Shady Acres Caravan Park

…which turned into a beautiful sunny day.

Shady Acres Caravan Park

After breakfasting, showering etc we set off for a visit to Sovereign Hill. We have been to Ballarat before and seen the lavish city buildings, the Remembrance Arch, Lake Windermere and the 1956 Olympics site but we missed Sovereign Hill.

It was not cheap – $99 for the two of us just to get in. The reality is that we had a really good time, think Old Sydney Town with a gold rush. It was very well done, we ate in a bakery advertising 3d pies (ha ha) $27 for fish and chips, $23 for salt and pepper squid, $7.50 for a bottle of Tooheys Dry but it was very nicely cooked and presented with all the staff young, cheery and in costume.

Sovereign Hill BallaratSovereign Hill Ballarat

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We also took a mine tour where we descended 90m on a rail cable car to view sections of the old workings.

Sovereign Hill Gold Mine TourSovereign Hill Gold Mine TourSovereign Hill Gold Mine TourSovereign Hill Gold Mine TourSovereign Hill Gold Mine TourSovereign Hill Gold Mine TourSovereign Hill Gold Mine TourSovereign Hill Gold Mine Tour

From the top of the mine gantry was a great view over Ballarat.

Ballarat

Finally a ride in the carriage pulled by four carthorses (three Clydesdales and a Percheron).

Sovereign Hill BallaratSovereign Hill Ballarat Carriage RideSovereign Hill Ballarat Carriage RideSovereign Hill Ballarat Carriage Ride

Also included in the ticket was entry to the nearby Gold Museum which we visited. Personally I was not that interested in it which might have been because I was tired after walking about for 5 hours.

Gold Museum BallaratGold Museum Ballarat

Outside the museum was a statue of Henry Bolte who I thought was the Victorian equivalent of Bob Askin and corrupt as hell.

Gold Museum Ballarat

20th October 2019–To Ballarat

Distance: 461 km
Fuel: 38 L

Packing up was easy this morning – took a quick trip to the local shops for milk but once the TV aerial had been dismantled and breakfast eaten there was not much to do apart from stowing the chairs, cleaning the mats and preparing some food for the journey. We were on the road just after 9am.

According to the weather forecast warmer weather will arrive for South East Victoria by the middle of the week so instead of  heading north to a very warm, dry Broken Hill we were driving south along the Calder and Sunraysia Highways to Ballarat.

Not a lot to report today as there was a long distance to cover so we only made brief stops to stretch our legs or for toilet breaks – rest stops were pretty inhospitable being generally bare dirt without even a table or rubbish bin. What started off as a cloudless, sunny day in Red Cliffs became an overcast, cold day in Ballarat – I think it was 12’C when we arrived but the forecast is for warmer days to come and that gusty wind has been left behind.

Between Red Cliffs and BallaratBetween Red Cliffs and Ballarat

Arrived at a caravan park mid afternoon, paid for two nights and settled in. The park is a bit run down but quite adequate There is a covered BBQ area behind our site so no need for the gazebo, not that there is any sun anyway.

Ballarat Shady Acres Caravan Park

Dinner tonight was the rice, potato, tomato and bacon prepared before setting out this morning. Too cold for an evening shower!

19th October 2019–Rural Mildura

Distance: 147 km
Fuel: 46 L

Woke this morning to a beautiful sunrise, still air and clear skies yet within an hour or so it was completely overcast and the gusty wind had returned. Decided to take down the gazebo because, even though it was not as windy as yesterday, with the cloudy skies its shade was not needed and the wind had certainly stressed it.

Decided to go for a drive west of Mildura and just explore the countryside. Headed to the small town of Werrimull where there is a National Trust listed Church called Our Lady of Lourdes.

WerrimullWerrimull

As well as the church the town had a interesting pub, houses and post office, Werrimull might have a population of 100 (perhaps? – my guess).

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On the route, and shown on the map are “towns” like Merrinee with their own sign board but the place consists of a silo and absolutely nothing else (though one did have a Telstra hut).

MerrineeThat is every building in Merrinee in one picture  While the following pictures show Karawinna and Pirita.

KarawinnaPirita

After yesterday’s dust it was no surprise to see more picked up from neighbouring paddocks as we drove.

Dust near Pirita

Anyway on to Mildura for fuel and lunch the latter taken at a cafe next to Mildura Wharf where there is a walking/cycling track along the bank of the River Murray. We ate our lunch looking across the river at NSW where we are heading tomorrow. The weather had improved markedly from early morning to sunshine with the occasional cloud. After eating lunch we walked along the river track in both directions before returning to Red Cliffs mid/late afternoon.

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Late News – Change of Plan

There is a break in the weather down south so instead of heading north to Broken Hill we are going to Ballarat and aiming for Phillip Island mid week.

18th October 2019–Mildura

Distance: 52 km

It was cool last night I woke up at one stage and thought my thermometer was reading 0’C (in fact it was 8’C). After my shower I got a load of washing done – That might last me until I get home.

There was no wind early on but that changed during the day. Drove to Mildura to do some shopping and visit the Tourist Information Office, the latter was in a terrific council facility which housed the library, cafe, tourist bureau and an aquatic centre.

Mildura Civic & Aquatic CentreMildura Civic & Aquatic Centre

Drove across the Murray river into NSW to visit a Holden Museum, it was probably smaller than the Motorlife Museum at Kembla Grange but the cars gleamed and they were Holdens. Not every model was represented, for example they didn’t have an HK or HJ Kingswood but they had an FB – those are the Holdens I have owned – but I did enjoy the museum and it was only $10 entry. Stayed for a coffee afterwards.

Mildura Holden Motor MuseumMildura Holden Motor MuseumMildura Holden Motor MuseumMildura Holden Motor MuseumMildura Holden Motor MuseumMildura Holden Motor Museum

Returned to the caravan park for a late lunch then went off to re explore the sights of Red Cliffs – found the lookout which looked out on virtually nothing unless you ignored the, ‘Unstable Cliffs” sign and climbed the fence. also found a dirt track which led to the cliff edge but the views from that were disappointing too.

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Near the  Red Cliffs shopping centre found and walked along the Peace Walk which was not particularly exciting but it did have some interesting information about the town. The area was originally settled after WWI when the land was cleared to provide soldier/settler blocks for returned servicemen and the town only really got going by 1925 when the post office was built.

Red Cliffs Peace WalkRed Cliffs Post Office

Returned again to the caravan park about 3.30pm to find the wind gusting and brown dust clouds on the horizon. The dust arrived shortly after 4pm – not a thick dust storm, just enough to cover everything with a thin layer of red soil.

Red Cliffs Dust Storm

17th October 2019–Red Cliffs

Distance: 246 Km

A cold, sunny, windy morning, all the rain has departed, we are on the move today but only a couple of hours north west to Red Cliffs (near Mildura). No rush having breakfast, showering and packing up. The gazebo was already packed so it was really only the chairs, table and TV aerial to be stowed. Ran out of things to do by 9.30am so set off, cutting across country on minor roads. Stopped twice – once to stretch our legs and once at the Quarantine Bin to dump an uneaten banana.

The Red Cliffs Caravan Park is on the highway so it wasn’t hard to find, checked in and set up on a quite nice site away from the road next to a vineyard.

Red Cliffs Caravan Park

According to the local tourist guide there is an interpretive walk near the pumping station on the river and a board walk to view the red cliffs on/of the river bank which gave to town its name. Found neither… Did find the pumping station which was behind high, locked fences and the car park where the board walk was supposed to commence. In the end I scrambled along a difficult track and did get a glimpse of the cliffs (I think) but it looked as if the whole area was neglected and only used by dirt bikes.

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After this fiasco drove back to Red Cliffs shopping centre to see the mural on the water tower and Big Lizzie. The latter is an amazing 100 year old engine used to clear the Mallee scrub for agriculture, it had a single cylinder, 60hp oil engine, was enormous and moved at 2mph!

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BTW there is a dog show on locally so there are lots of posh looking thoroughbred dogs around the park.

16th October 2019–Sea Lake

Distance: 200 km
Fuel: 22 L

Nearly the worst travelling weather I have experienced since I bought the camper (the worst was definitely on my way to Port Lincoln in 2017).

It was a bit overcast when I got up about 6.40am but it went downhill once travelling. After breakfast set off for Sea Lake with the intention of exploring the area but it started raining half way there and this continued on and off until after returning to the caravan park in the late afternoon.

It stopped raining in Sea Lake briefly which gave an opportunity to walk about for a little while.

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Once the rain started again it was decided to head north to Lake Tyrrell to see if it was pink (unlikely in this weather), in the event it was just wet.

Lake TyrrellLake Tyrrell

After this washout the day was really over so it was a trip back to Swan Hill to buy milk and have a late lunch, before returning to Lake Boga. Even lunch was a a bit of a failure – ended up with a Macca’s Fish burger, chips and a seniors’ coffee – Swan Hill is another of these towns that charges to park in the main street.

In the caravan park the rain eventually stopped and a fairly brisk wind dried things out, at about 7pm took the opportunity to dismantle the, now dry, gazebo ready for leaving tomorrow.

Not the best day of this trip.

15th October 2019–Swan Hill

Distance: 71 km
Fuel: 36 L

Up early for my shower and after breakfast put up the gazebo because today was supposed to be sunny.

Set off late for a trip to Swan Hill which is only about 25km away. First order of business was to fill up with fuel and buy groceries. While in town bought tickets for the afternoon cruise on the paddle wheeler Pyap.

Swan HillSwan HillSwan HillSwan Hill

Then it was back to Lake Boga to drop off the groceries and visit the Catalina Museum.

Lake Boga was the repair base for flying boats during World War II. It was selected after the Japanese air raids on Darwin and Broome when the Australian Military realised they needed somewhere far from the action to keep and maintain the remaining aircraft. Lake Boga was considered ideal because the lake is circular so wind direction was never a problem, it was far south and it was well inland, it was top secret until very late in the war.

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Returned to Swan Hill for lunch at Spoons Restaurant right on the river where we caught a glimpse of our transport as we ate a very nice lunch over looking Little Murray River (the Murray River splits forming a very large island called Pental Island).

View from Spoons RestaurantView from Spoons Restaurant

Ater lunch it was a short walk to the Pioneer Village to catch the boat for a trip on the Murray River (and consequently a visit to NSW because the border is on the Victorian river bank not the middle of the river).

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Like every boat journey I have been on it was too long – I don’t know what it is but being on a boat soon bores the pants off me, I enjoy the novelty at first but eventually can’t wait to get off.

Then it was back to camp at about 4pm just in time for the weather to change from sunny to completely overcast, putting up the gazebo turned out to be a waste of time but with rain possible tomorrow it might still prove its worth.

14th October 2019–Lake Boga

Distance: 358 km

It was another long drive today. With the weather further south near Phillip Island looking less than promising for the rest of the week it was decided to go west and try Lake Boga in the Swan Hill area near the NSW border.

The weather at first was grey and cloudy with light rain falling occasionally. We were travelling along C roads apart from a brief stint on the Hume near Glenrowan so there were limited opportunities to stop. It was not until a small town of Gunbower that we stopped for lunch, it is probably a town of 500 people but they provided a nice enough park to stop and eat next to the creek.

Gunbower CreekGunbower Creek

We have stayed at Lake Boga a few years ago when we first visited the Art Silo Trail. The sky was clear blue when we arrived and it was warm if a little windy, the park owner said that yesterday the lake had white caps because of the wind.

191014 012 Lake Boga

191014 011 Lake Boga

Was quite happy once the camper was set up to sit in the shade and read a book. The view across the lake is always relaxing.

13th October 2019–Bright

Distance: 119 Km
Fuel: 13 L

Got a load of washing done before breakfast because today has only limited chance of rain according to BOM apart from the top of Mt Buffalo it was slightly warmer today though still jumper weather.

Mt Buffalo

According to the Bright area guide the Mount Buffalo lookout was worth a visit to that was our first stop. It was 20km of winding mountain road until we reached the lookout.

Mt Buffalo RdMt Buffalo Rd

The road markings were yellow so I presume we were above the snow line. It has to be said that it was worth the drive, there were several lookouts and the views were spectacular.

Mt Buffalo Lookout

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Mt Buffalo Lookout

Bright

Bright is a nice little town without the history of Beechworth. We had our lunch at the Gum Tree Pies, their pies were excellent.

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12th October 2019–Beechworth

Distance: 58 km
Fuel: 46 L

Beechworth is an old Gold Rush era town from the 1860s. It has a number of colonial era buildings including its Gaol and its Court House.

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In the centre of town the old Post Office is for sale.

BeechworthBeechworth

The Gaol was built between 1858 and 1864 and in use until it was closed in 2004. It was heritage listed (complete with heritage razor wire) and unable to be developed so it was eventually bought by a consortium of local people. During its life as a prison it has held some notable prisoners including Ned Kelly and Carl Williams. Eight convicts were hanged here.

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