Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Monday, October 29, 2012
Halls Gap 28 – 29 Oct 2012
Had a short drive in the morning to Halls Gap through very pretty countryside sprinkled with contented sheep, thick green grass and full dams. Although the Grampians is a series of gigantic monoliths set in splendour isolation on a flood plain, they are actually the last vestiges of the Great Dividing Range that sweeps 3,000KM down the east coast. As there is limited free camping in the area, we decided to stay in a caravan park to catch up on our washing and have a swim in their heated pool – luxury lad, pure luxury! We drove the 4WD half way up Mt Wilson and decided to take a 2km walk up to the peak – how hard could it be? However we had not appreciated the steepness of the climb (60o) and took an hour to reach the top. We were rewarded with magnificent 360o views that took in all the Grampians, as well as the surrounding farm land. On Monday we went to see a number of lookouts and waterfalls. There were amazing views, with thundering waterfalls and spectacular views of the rugged peaks formed when the sandstone was forced up into sharp relief. The next morning we packed up and then went on what we thought was an easy 6km walk to Chatauqua Peak, via Clematis Falls and Bullaces Glen, however it turned out to be a lot steeper than we thought. We enjoyed the walk with a variety of wild flowers and more spectacular views into Halls Gap. After lunch, we drove to Ararat, a large pleasant town with many fine buildings from the gold rush. Camped by the showground for a peaceful night.
Stawell 27 Oct 2012
Off to Stawell in the morning in the freezing cold – this trip has been one of extreme weather, from shorts to thick jumpers! Stawell (pronounced Stall) is set on a high ridge and like many towns around here owes its prosperity to the gold rushes and has many fine public buildings. Usually when we go into these little towns, we can bet the ugliest building will be the Commonwealth Bank. In the 1970’s Which Bank must have employed a builder to go around all the country towns in Australia to pull down the lovely Victorian bank buildings and erect dark brown monolith constructions that pay homage to the worst of Stalinist creations. However in Stawell, the council outdid the Commonwealth Bank! In the 1870’s they had erected a very attractive filigree decorated Town Hall, (minus a bell tower), so they decided to complete the building in 1939. Conversely instead of completing it in the same style, they decided to build it in an Art Deco style, imposing a severe angular construction on top of the delicate base, thus ruining the look of the entire building! After recovering from our tour of the town, we visited the local Ag Show, which was a lot of fun. Although small, it contained all the elements of the larger shows we had visited, with a good animal display, along with assorted arts, crafts and beautifully presented food. Two events we hadn’t seen before were the Sheaf Bag tossing and the Rock Drill competitions, which quickly separated the men from the boys. Drove to the edge of town and camped next to a peaceful lagoon for the night.
St Arnaud 26 Oct 2012
Set out in the morning with the idea of bypassing Bendigo, however our GPS had other ideas and had us winding through an increasingly complex labyrinth of new housing. It then spat us out on the other side of Bendigo and took us cross country through a series of farming villages. This ended up an enjoyable drive, as we saw lots of little country towns that we wouldn't normally visit. You can see they are slowing dying, with boarded up shops and real estate prices that would just cover the stamp duty in Newtown! Stopped at St Arnaud for the night next to the Sportsman Club. This is a small town with many fine buildings left over from the gold rush – a real contrast to the other towns we saw today. It has a nice park that was regarded 100 years ago as one of the best botanical gardens outside of Melbourne. Unfortunately over the years the council sliced off areas for a church, a house and a bowling club, leaving the remains a ghostly reminder of former glory. Reminds you of what is happening at Barangaroo at the moment!
Green Lake Reserve 24 - 25 Oct 2012
In the morning we stopped at Shepparton and looked into the 8 (yes 8) op shops. Heather bought some great little clothes for Annika (sorry Xavier) and we loaded up at the SPC outlet shop – they have the weirdest things on sale! Drove onto Green Lake Reserve for the night, but stayed 2 nights. This is an enormous lake surrounded by wheat fields – basic camping but very relaxing. We went for long walks along the foreshore, then relaxed and read our books.
After a stop at Braidwood, we set off for Victoria, with a quick stop at Holbrook (the town with the full size submarine) to look at the Australian Pottery museum. Sounds boring but there was a lot to see – amazing shapes and colourful glazes. We ended up staying for the W/E as we had trouble with the fridge fuse. This meant that we had to also stop in Wodonga to get a few things fixed up. Finally we got to Rutherglen, a pretty little town, near the Murray River and camped for a peaceful night next to the wheat silos. .
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Canberra 3rd October – 12th October 2012 After finally sorting out a few electrical problems we headed down to Queanbeyan and Canberra. Katie and Carl were coming down for a wedding for a few days and it was a good chance to catch up with them. We visited all the usual attractions and enjoyed the multiple floral displays of Floriade.