Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Jingellic (NSW) 17 November 2009
Up and on the road again, although not much traffic or people on the Murray Valley Road - just a few locations and small villages. Saw the Rudd Dollars at work in one tiny place putting in grand brick paths - we had different views on whether this was helpful! Snuck across the border into the good old NSW at Jingellic for a bit of relief from the Mexicans (we just crossed a bridge). The village has a store, a pub and about six houses, however it was a beautiful spot, right on the Murray River and we decided to stay the night. This trip we seem to have encountered ordinary people on missions to fulfil their dreams. Meet two brothers who were kayaking down the Murray without any support (about 2,500km). We also met Dutch campers doing Melbourne to Cairns in 7 weeks - so many different way of travelling!
Tintaldra (Charles Lagoon) 16 November, 2009
Explored the little town of Corryong. Found the Op Shop, the museum and the grave of Jack Riley (AKA -The Man from Snowy River). The museum was good but too many little bits and made it overwhelming. They are acquiring a knitted rug that a local made as a prisoner of war with the Germans. They showed it on DVD and it was amazing. The man unravelled all sorts of things to make it and it is a big map of Oz with all the state emblems in colours.
Headed west towards the Murray River and intended to stop at Towong, however it was crowded with canoeists, so we went onto Charles Lagoon. We camped on a large green paddock across from NSW cows lowing across the fast flowing Murray overlooking the majestic River Gums – a peaceful spot.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Corryong 16 November 2009
We enjoyed the marvellous sounds of the birds in the middle of nowhere and an amazing dawn chorus with the full orchestra. The last to finish was the lyrebird, slowly drifting past us and down the creek! We surprised ourselves with a very early start for a hike to discover more of the reserve. A few kms from camp, we found a small waterfall that raced through a tiny fissure, before tumbling into a cool pond. We decided to go for a skinny-dip as we had no gear! It was called the Spa and it lived up to its name! It was a very warm hike and the very cold water, cooled our skin down enough to make the walk back very easy - well, sort of!
Moved on to Corryong, the town where the tale of The Man from Snowy River originated. A local told us that Jack Riley (who lived in the shack in the mountains and is buried here), told the tale to Banjo Patterson. The story was probably a conglomeration of all the tough riders Jack knew and makes a better story because it represents the lives they lived. It feels like the edge of wild country even now and the background mountains are still marked with lots of white patches!
We went for a lovely drive to Bluff Falls and again drove through a lovely country valley full of farms and hay bails rolled up in the fields! The falls were in a natural bush with large rocks scattered about the base and very attractive. The air was again very cool around the bottom. Always take care of rocks at the bottom of falls when you try to get in! Heather had a memorable fall and nursed a few bruises! She got in quicker and wetter than she intended!
Camped in the town caravan park to do washing etc and enjoyed air-conditioning and a swimming pool - luxury! Back to the river tomorrow!
Mt Lawson NP (Koetong Creek) 14 November 2009
Saturday morning we headed north and after passing through rich agricultural land, we arrived at Tallangatta for lunch. Tallangatta is a small peaceful town, whose only claim to fame was that it was moved in the 1950’s, to make way for a water irrigation system. The locals were dead against moving, but the government wanted to ensure there was lots of room for the intended abundance of water. Ironically, Lake Hume is now mainly lush pastureland with the water receded to a fraction of its potential area. The new town has a distinct 1950’s look to the shops, with the houses being a mixture of old houses that were moved and new houses built in the 50’s. Having moved two houses ourselves, we know what a daunting task it is!
Continued east and had the unfortunately bright idea of camping in Mt Lawson NP. This entailed a 10km bone-shaking dirt road to find an extremely large tree blocking the road. After unhitching the 4WD, we detoured to a quiet campsite on the Koetong Creek. This one definitely fits into – “it seemed a good idea at the time”. However, the outcome was much better than it should have been.
Alpine NP (Mt Bogong) 12 – 13 November 2009
We left Mt Beauty in the building heat of the morning and drove into a peaceful country valley leading into the Alpine NP. The campground was beside one of those postcard creeks with water cascading over rows of rocks that made exquisite sounds. The air was so much cooler and we immediately felt refreshed. Within hours, our peace was shattered by the emergence from the bush of a tumbling, noisy group of teenagers. We thought of moving but gave them a chance! We quickly discovered that they were 10 ‘high risk’ kids that were undertaking a hiking challenge with four supervisors. We were impressed with their effort of a 70km trek over 8 days, from Mt Buffalo over Mt Bogong and down to this camp carrying heavy packs. They were kept in tight control and they were up early the next day and on their bus home.
There are a few walks from this site so we decided to explore our surrounds in the car before going for our bush walk. We ended up on a very mountainous and steep dirt track that ended in the name SPUR! It took us forever up and along narrow tracks of ROCKS! Peter was delighted and Heather a bit white knuckled, even Heather admitted that our Suzuki 4WD handled it all without a complaint! We guessed that that was not the walking track!
We found the walking track along the creek a little later and we really enjoyed the walk. We were instantly cool again – you could feel the cold air coming off the water. We felt like the air conditioner had been turned on!
Late in the evening, we were mystified by the arrival of horses and riders about 10pm. In the morning, the explanation was clear. A family was riding a 680km trip with six horses to the coast. They were camped close by and were taking the horses in twos for a drink at the creek!
Friday morning we had the campsite to ourselves and went for another longer hike along the creek. We enjoyed a quiet afternoon reading and relaxing. The air was a wonderful air-conditioned 23deg. Everywhere else was reporting over 30! The water in the stream was very cold from the Alpine region. It really brought home the idea of a cool valley for early settlers to relax by! After another cool night, we left Saturday morning for the Upper Murray and points unknown.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Mt Beauty 10 - 11 November 2009
Had another look around Bright and headed up the mountains to Mt Beauty After a steep climb, we stopped at a lookout at the Tawonga Gap. It was such a spectacular view that we decided to stay here for the night. Went for a long walk up the mountain to another lookout and admired the variety of wildflowers we encountered.
The next morning was bright and sunny as we drove into Mt Beauty. While only a small town, it had a friendly feeling about it and it didn’t seem as touristy as Bright. Drove about 40km up a steep windy road to Falls Creek. Going up the mountain, we saw a dramatic change in scenery, with small snow gums becoming the predominate vegetation. However, a large number of the trees had died, leaving eerie white skeletons silhouetted against the sky.
The small village of Bogong intrigued us as the possible origin of the iconic word! It is a hydroelectric workers community and its villagers did not appear with two heads. The rhododendrons were very impressive at this late point in time. A moment of colour exposure! Wondered what they learn in the Bogong School!
The village of Falls Creek looks like a ski resort with lots of parking around. At present, there is hardly a tourist in sight and this was quite special and we imagined it all in snow. It is reputed to be one of the best skiing areas, because you just step out right into the snow and start skiing. Without ski knowledge, we missed this point until a lovely Canadian local gave us some info!
This is a fascinating area, with lovely walks, views and plants of the alpine country. We felt very attracted to the place and felt the beginning of a possible late addiction to high country. The temperature of 20 degrees was also very welcome and conducive to the walks. The snow is virtually gone though some say it was still around until a month ago. We found a little patch to have a token snowball fight and made a compulsory snowman.
One of the walks was to an early cattlemen’s hut called Wallace Hut. We were very excited to find this hut as at the beginning of our major trip in the motorhome Laura gave us a charming card with a photo of this same hut on it with a lovely letter inside giving us a mission to find this hut on our travels. We have looked at lots of spots for it and joked about finding it. It was a beautiful moment as we suddenly recognised it in such an amazing landscape! Thank you Captain Laura!
And of course the colours were extraordinary - the flowers were fantastic in colour and form, predominantly purple and yellow; the snowy gum bark swirling into sharp lines of fresh greens, oranges, browns and creams; the overlapping distant mountains in all the blues and purples; foreground hills of white skeleton snow gums; blue skies you dream of, with white clouds drifting through close by and green grasses, soft and lush, growing back after the melt and the warm days. A great sense of energy in the air and country!
Drove back down to Mt Beauty and nearly died in the heat when we got back – 32o at 6pm! The motorhome heat built up in the day and greeted us with 40o! Opened up, had cold showers, sat outside and did not move on! The water view outside the window helped us settle to sleep. The night was comfortable as the night air seems to cool very quickly!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Bright 8 – 9 November 2009
Set off early in the morning for Bright to see the Bright Rod Run – Show and Shine. We were not sure what to expect, but were overwhelmed by over 1000 exotic cars that we saw. We were told there were about another 1000 cars around not on the oval as well! We believe it! These were not muscle cars, but a mixture of 1920’s to 1970’s American cars that often had astonishing modifications to their bodies and engines. There was every conceivable combination of colours and shapes. We spent a fascinating day wandering around admiring the imagination and the long hours that had gone into creating their dazzling cars. The only cars that were original were the enormous 1960’s ‘Yank Tanks’ that had such extraordinary excessive designs, they could not be improved. Love them or loath the cars, we had to respect the dedication and attention to detail of their builders. The colours were extra ordinary and bright. The cars were just glowing with the iridescent ones an amazing mixture of colours!
We found a great campsite on Morse Creek and as it was very warm, Peter went for a swim in the freezing water. In the afternoon, we walked up to the main street to marvel at the cars cruising slowly up and down. After a relaxing dinner by the creek, we had another look at the cars in the evening. People were sitting on their deck chairs having a few beers and cheering the cars as the cars cruised the streets. This was not the big night like Saturday but an extra one for the “die hards” who would not go home! Some said this was a better night because the full-on crowd was gone and you could see the cars. We certainly enjoyed it!
The next day we went for a walk around town. Bright is obviously orientated to the snow season, with most shops being full of tourist bits and pieces or snow gear. In the afternoon, we drove up to Wandiligong and had a walk around the old gold fields and read about the hardship for the 500 Chinese Gold Miners from this town.
The day was very hot at 31oc but it felt different from the coastal humidity!
Settled down for the evening beside the creek eating outside without mossies! Why not mossies? Maybe water too cold for them to breed or moving too fast for them to settle and lay eggs – a rare experience! We are right on the edge of the creek with loud bubbling water running over rocks! It is like the dream postcard and the sound is very relaxing! A good sleep will be had by all!
Beechworth 6 – 7 November 2009
Had a short drive to Beechworth through the hills. We enjoyed the lovely green scenery of grape vines and saw grass cut and ready to be racked up into hay rolls. Arrived in warm sunshine in Beechworth and quickly realised that we have been here before on one of our previous Victorian trips on a cold day - this was very different! It is an old gold mining town, with many particularly fine colonial buildings. The building façades are very appealing and elegant. Beechworth’s chief claim to fame is the time Ned Kelly spent in the town. He went to school there and finished at the stone academy on the hill (goal)! He also appeared in the local court re horse stealing! Early days in a stellar career!
There was a lovely camp on site next to the Bright Caravan Park for motor homers for $10 a night (CMCA mates take note!). It overlooked Lake and was very close to the town centre. We had a gorgeous evening walk around the lake and eventually realised it was an artificial lake left over from the gold diggings. It gave off a European feel!
The Celtic Festival is on for the whole weekend with the main entertainment being on Saturday. They blocked off the main streets and had Scottish pipe bands and Irish dancers parading down the roads, as well as bush music in the pubs. We spent a little time in the Brewery and really enjoyed the music (and a few drinks)! There were markets and a boot sale at the school. Had a few interesting chats to the locals about why they live there! They love skiing!
Friday, November 06, 2009
Oxley 4-5 November 2009
Said goodbye to Judy and Bill and drove down to Oxley, a pretty village on the banks of the King River. Camped next to the river at a peaceful spot, ready to attend a Celtic festival at Beechworth this weekend. It was such a nice spot we decided to stay another night. On Thursday, we took a drive to Milawa and sampled some local produce, including Brown Brothers wine, Milawa cheese and giant Kalamatra olives. Went back to our camp and had a high tea with all the food we bought. Saw lots of vintage cars and hotrods heading down to Bright for a hotrod show, so we have decided to divide our festivals into two and go there on Sunday! Two festivals in one weekend. There were other tempting festivals this weekend as well! May have found a great way to spend many future Novembers!
Wangaratta Races 2 – 3 November 2009
Did some house keeping and then drove out to the racecourse to camp for the next 2 nights. Headed down to Milawa for lunch at a local cheese factory and listen to Hats Fitz, a raw (and loud) blues singer. Caught up with some people we knew from Kiama and then friends of ours (Judy and Bill) rang up and said they were only a few kms away! Ended up back in Jimmybago for some champagne and nibbles and a catch up chat. Next morning was Melbourne Cup so we decided to do it in style by buying temporary members pass that allowed us to access all areas of the racecourse, including the private members lounge – much more comfortable than previous years. We had a great day at the races (admiring/ridiculing other peoples fashion sense) and managed to score a few winners, including the Melbourne Cup winner. After the last race, we retired for more drinks to the motorhome to watch the drunks stagger about, looking for their vehicles – great fun!!
Wangaratta Jazz 29 October – 1 November 2009
Started off late on Thursday afternoon and got to Robertson before a veil of fog and rain made the driving too hazardous. Stopped at the old railway station and wandered across to the ‘Bowlo’ for dinner. In the morning when we awoke, we found ourselves in a delightful park, full of flowering waratahs and .
Had a long drive Friday, just stopping for breaks, to get to Wangaratta by late afternoon. Wangaratta is a pleasant country town that is not too big but has the facilities to make it self contained. Decided to camp in a park by the river, as the caravan parks were full for the Jazz Festival. Walked up to town to hear Jazzgrove Mothership Orchestra with Charles Tolliver. They make amazing music, with 20 musicians (15 of them brass).
Woke to a warm day and wandered into town for some more jazz including Barney McAll (a waste of 50 mins of his life, according to Peter), Kristin Berardi, Linda Oh, Falling Water Trio and the highlight an American jazz singer, Kendra Shank. Also heard some great blues including Birdie King, Glen Terry, Andrea Marr, Blue Heat and again the standout performer was an American blues singer, Deborah Coleman.
Another great festival, with incredible organisation, but there seemed to be less musicians than previous years.