Category Archives: Australia – Around Victoria 2021

Day 65 – Saturday, 27 November 2021

It is a very blustery morning once again although the wind did die down during the night. The sun is shining brightly, and it is possible that we will reach the top temperature forecast of 21 degrees today. 

Last night we had a minor (we hope) catastrophe. I was sitting going through the photos we took yesterday, and Russ was watching a video, when there was an almighty thump and the sound of rushing water. 

I initially thought the outside hose had blown off the connection (something that happens now and again depending on variable water pressure) but that wasn’t it. 

We think that the seal around the connection from the hot water system to the rest of the van has developed a split, and we have had to disconnect the cold-water flow to the van completely, including the water tanks, and turn off the hot water system outside. 

Russ tried for quite a while to see if he could reach the problem area after he thought he had determined the problem, but it is in a very tight spot and there is no way to get into it. We will have to cut out the shelf which is on top of the hot water tank to be able to access the point. 

So, for our last few days we will be roughing it a bit and will be using the caravan park laundry and shower facilities. We can still use the toilet in the van and will have water in the bucket for flushing purposes. 

It will make for a very interesting time, and nothing can be done until we get back home in Mildura. Fingers crossed Russ can fix it and we don’t need the services of a plumber. 

For a change the park is very quiet this weekend. There has been a small influx of people, but they are out and about at the moment. 

Tomorrow is the last Sunday of the month, and the market will be held down at the oval. I think we may just venture there for a look see. 

Whilst putting all the old cloths and towels into the washing machine in the laundry I had another chat with Margaret. She says the more things they look into the more changes need to be made. At the moment the sheet on the beds in the cabins have to be taken off and washed as soon as the occupant has left as they are then needed to be put back on the beds for the next occupant. She closes the door to the linen closet and cringes at the work still required in that area alone, along with the need to buy more linens. 

Will print the diary out and send it to Trish as we will be seeing mum before the mail could get to her. 

Day 64 – Friday, 26 November 2021

The night got a bit chilly after the rain fell, and the wind gusts were fierce. 

We decided that as the weather would be blustery all day, we would go across country to Halls Gap (for an ice-cream – they are seriously delicious) and on to the Boroka Lookout as something different. 

Many of the wildflowers are still in bloom up the mountain and we were blessed at the Lookout to find four bird orchids, and lots of bugleworts. (I love these little beauties.) We found them in a ditch on a flat stretch of the mountain road, and there were very big patches of them in the water. 

We enjoyed our ice-creams before we headed back to Avoca. Russ had a combination mango and macadamia in a waffle cone, and I had passionfruit and boysenberry twist in mine. 

For the first time in a couple of weeks I have had to use my asthma puffer today. 

As we were leaving Halls Gap we passed an area where they have made a walking track out of the township. In the paddock we saw lots of emus and kangaroos just lying around or browsing. At many of the caravan parks they just mingle amongst the people with complete disregard. I thought of Noah and how delighted he would be if he could see them all. 

After we had finished tea Tony and Margaret came by to check out what used to be the Manager’s Bungalow but is now a rental. Margaret has some terrific ideas for sprucing the park and all its rentals up, but everything takes time and it is a bit lower on their priority list. This rental unit is just across from us and has had no occupancy since we arrived.  

It is more spacious than you would think looking at it from outside, but it is in need of some TLC to make it look more modern. It has a set of bunk beds in one room, a single bed in another, and a double bed in the third room with a large lounge area and a smaller kitchen/dining area, and a small bathroom, toilet area. There is also a lovely patio area out the front that does require some cleaning. 

Russ assisted Tony in the removal of the horrendous couch that was on the patio, and the three bar stools, all of which probably hosted some spiders and other creepy crawlies, and they were all filthy from having been outside for such a long time. 

Margaret also showed me a couple of the other rental units and we talked about how she would be making some improvements in them. She did not have the keys to her favourite one, which is not very old at all, and well set out inside. 

I was able to identify the very large rosemary bush just outside the kitchen door area, and she commented that potatoes with rosemary were in the future for them. 

Day 63 – Thursday, 25 November 2021

Another lazy day today. We are nearing the end of our travels and are slowing down accordingly. 

I had a long chat with Jeannie on the phone today, talking about this and that, and also about the lovely Joyce Drendel who will be turning 100 years old (young in her case) on 1 December. A truly beautiful lady inside and out. 

Whilst Russ downloaded, then watched, some of his TV shows I listened to Keith Urban. We have collected all his albums (other than the latest) so I have been listening to each song and deciding which ones I like the most to include on my playlist. This does take a bit of time, but some of his music is great listening. 

After tea I also went outside (with my coat on as it was blowing a bit of a gale) and put the big telephoto lens on my camera to take some more shots of the abundant birdlife around the park. We back onto the Golf Course so there is plenty of grassed spaces around, and many trees. 

The Fairy Wrens were not too co-operative as they stayed too far away to get a really good shot, and they move so quickly that it takes a bit of time with the weight of the lens to move with them. The Willy Wagtails, on the other hand, come straight towards you and the camera. They look really fierce because of their raised eyebrow ridges, but they are a terrific bird to watch. 

I got several shots of the magpies, but they were not up to any shenanigans, so not really worth choosing any of those pictures. Russ got some beauties the other day in an awesome batch of photos. 

Today it has been very humid along with the blustery conditions. We have had rain showers off and, on all day, until much later in the afternoon. The temperature reached 25 degrees, but the wind chill factor took that right down into single digits, and it didn’t stay at 25 for long. Later in the evening we had thunderstorms, so it was a good idea that we took down the awning earlier in the evening before the heavy winds arrived. 

Day 62 – Wednesday, 24 November 2021

We took off for Maryborough this morning and picked up some grocery items from Woolworths, and then Coles, who did not have any of the lighted fruited cake on their shelves, so we had to accept another as its replacement.  

Russ does enjoy his fruit cake. Russ chose an apple turnover as his treat for the week, but he was very unhappy with the quality and taste and ended up leaving half of it in the bin. I chose some salted caramel and white chocolate cookies, and they were yummy. 

I needed to find a replacement for my funnel, used to decant honey, as the last one disintegrated as it was washed. I found a set in the Treasure Shop and had a wonderful browse whilst I was at it. I even found a most unusual set of Christmas earrings at a reasonable price, so I purchased them as well. Russ sat out on the bench and read his book while I was galivanting. 

I got a new workout bra from K-Mart to replace the one that was worn out. I need the cross-back type so that I don’t have a strap continually falling down my shoulder. I broke the collarbone of my left shoulder when fell off the back verandah when I was about two years old. 

We then ventured back to the unopened orchids off the Pipeline Track, but they still had not flowered. We had lunch here before we ventured onwards. 

We continued on towards the Clunes State Forest and went back down Fells Gully Track, meandered all over the park, and Russ spotted a flower I have never seen before. It looks somewhat like a pea, or could be a hovea, and has petals in both pink and white. Some investigation will be required when I do the photos later. 

The orchids here are also still unopened, but it is interesting that they have changed colour from a grey green to a purple colour, so fingers crossed we can see at least one of the specimens open before we finally move on. 

Today is very hot and humid. The temperature peaked at 27 degrees which was over the forecasted one of 25 degrees. Rain and thunderstorms have been mooted for later this evening. 

Brett sent a photo of his evening meal. He put the beef he had in the slow cooker and left it with some spices all day. He said it smelt so good he was tempted to go and invite the neighbours to come and smell it. He also cooked his potatoes and carrots in the slow cooker, but then finished them off in the deep fryer. The meal looked very tasty. 

He also sent me a photo of the Princess Lilies now that they have opened. They are a beautiful flower, but unfortunately, have a very short life span once opened. 

Day 61 – Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Today we will concentrate on housekeeping as we have a teleconsultation appointment with our financial advisor later in the afternoon. Lisa has been our consultant for quite a few years. She grew up in Benalla but now lives and works in Melbourne. 

Our teleconsultation with Lisa went for almost two hours, but a lot was discussed along the way. 

Lisa’s maiden name was Chang and her mum’s maiden name was Webster. We discovered during the course of our afternoon conversation that her mum’s memorial plaque is further along the fence line of the Benalla Cemetery just up from where dad was laid to rest. 

Financial advisor groups must now have a documented review consultation with each client every calendar year. This is part of the reforms brought in after the AMP/Bank fiascos where they were ripping money from their customers but providing no service in return. 

Russ took the opportunity in the morning to set himself up under the awning in his chair with my camera and the telephoto lens to capture the entertainment of the birds who live around the caravan park. 

He took 550 photos, and some of them are great shots. Photographing birds can most times be a hit or miss prospect. He took a fabulous shot of one of the willy wagtails attacking one of the resident magpies.  

There appears to be two families of willy wagtails on the property, and we have counted up to a dozen magpies of varying ages. They sit on the lawn outside our van and warble for us. I can listen to them for ages. 

I still have to sweep the floor but that can be done later. The weather today is providing sunshine with a stiff breeze, but the temperature reached 21 degrees. 

Day 60 – Monday, 22 November 2021

Mosquitos!!! Big ones and enough of them to cart you away. I kileed three with just one hit on my arm, and we had applied our Aerogard. Russ indicated that he was not getting back out of the car unless there was something photo worthy, lol. 

Today we went to visit the Morrl Morrl Nature Conservation Area, and it did not look like it had retained enough moisture from the previous rain to account for the scads of mozzies, and they were all starving. 

The 4WD tracks were in very good condition, apart from the Kingston Mine (disused) Track, which stopped at the top of a very steep hill just climbed. We had to carefully reverse and go back down again. 

We saw many of the same flowers we have already seen but found nothing new today. We did see a Scarlet Robin while having lunch but were unable to get a good photo through the windscreen and would have scared them away if we had got out of the vehicle. 

We did get a chance to take a beautiful shot of the Common Bronzewing, and it co-operated beautifully by sitting still on the branch as I took the shot outside the passenger side window. The sun was glinting on the wing area, and it clearly shows why it is called ‘bronzewing’. 

On the way back to Avoca we visited Percydale Historic Area once again, but the orchids have still not flowered. Russ is thinking they may be the Greenhood Orchids from the look of the unopened ones, so we will check them out again in a few days. 

The temperature today reached 25 degrees and it was slightly humid. However, the day was made much more pleasant with a cooling breeze. 

Some of the Petong vans left this morning, but there is still an amazing number who stayed. 

We first saw the Morrl Morrl Conservation Area when we took the back roads to Mildura. We had to go along an unsealed road in excellent condition, which was called the Bolangum Inn Road, at Kanya near Navarre. 

The Bolangum Inn was built in 1865 by Robert Holmes, an early land selector in the area, as a hostel for travellers and district residents, and until the 1970s this hotel was the last of a number of 19th century hotels that had been built on the route between Navarre and Marnoo. 

The Inn also became widely known in the second half of the 20th century as the hotel that raised the most funds for the Royal Children’s Hospital Appeal in the 1962 and 1964. 

The Bolangum Inn site now only retains footings and other building remnants including part walls which show the footprint of the building. 

There are also remnant plantings including Cypress trees on the site indicating the garden areas of the Inn. 

There is now a Memorial constructed by the local community to commemorate the development of the Bolangum Inn and the achievements of its licensees. 

The Bolangum Inn Site is archeologically significant at a Local level in that it is of importance for its potential to provide information that contributes to a greater understanding of the history of the settlement and establishment of the district and has strong archeological research potential. 

Here endeth the latest in our history bit. 

Day 59 – Sunday, 21 November 2021

A lovely day’s outing into a different part of the Pyrenees State Forest. It finally climbed to 19 degrees with a chill breeze that had occasionally heavier gusts. 

The wind picked up in the early hours of the morning, which Russ managed to sleep through. We have had gusts up to 41 kph, so the van has had a minor rocking effect. 

We headed out along the Pyrenees Highway through Ampitheatre and Elmhurst, before turning onto the Elmhurst/Landsborough Road and then turning again onto the Glenlofty/Warrenmang Road to the State Forest.  

We travelled the Main Break Track, which actually ends up nowhere with a divided track ahead. The Main Break is an unsealed road but in very good condition, and it was a pleasant drive. Once we got to the split tracks, we took the Mountain Hut Track back to the Pyrenees Highway. 

We found a flower that is new to us – the Running Postman. It is a big red pea shape found very low to the ground but looks terrific. 

We stopped at several places along the journey and climbed to 585 metres above sea level where we stopped for our lunch. We did a search around the area the area but could only see many native violas in the clearer spaces, but much of the area was covered in bracken. 

As we climbed further along the Main Break Track up to 751 metres above sea level, we stopped once again, and we passed by a group on dirt motorbikes. I got a fairly good shot of them as they waved on their way past our position. 

Further along the Main Break Track we came across a profusion of whiter daisies and bluebells. I cannot remember seeing anything quite like it at that height before. 

The Mountain Hut Track was a short, steep track that went a long way down quickly, but Hornet and Russ did a great job. Russ even managed to spot a donkey orchid on a slightly flatter section of track, so we were able to pull up for the required photo, which was taken through the opened window. 

All in all, a very pleasant Sunday drive through the bush with lots of fresh air. 

We have had an influx of caravans into the Caravan Park over the weekend. Apparently, there is a Petong Tournament being run here in Avoca. The people playing in the matches have been practising around the caravan park area, and those who do not play have been relaxing in groups around their caravans. 

Petong is a French game from Provence, very similar to the Italian Bocce, only Petong is played with metal spheres instead of  bakelite like balls used in the Bocce game. 

They all have a wonderful time around the kitchen area of a night, although I think some alcohol is consumed during the course of the day, which probably accounts for the fact that the women sound like a gaggle of galahs from the distance. 

Day 58 – Saturday, 20 November 2021

This morning was a tad chilly but promised sunshine at least, even though the chilly breeze continued throughout the day. Kit finally maxed at 20 degrees. 

Russ updated the blog and photos on the website, and we printed out the diary to send to mum and Trish. 

I paid for our next ten days here at Avoca before we travel on to Benalla for a couple of days to see mum, and then we will take our time getting back to Mildura, as long as I am there for my little operation on 8 December. 

Whilst speaking with Tony when paying our site fees, we discovered we are the same age. Even more interesting is that he was born on 17 June so I am two days older than he is. 

After lunch Russ and I went back to the Percydale Historic Area to check the wildflowers and orchids. We found several patches of orchids which are yet to open, so will go back in a few days’ time after the warmer weather. 

We also found a totally new flower, which is a beautiful sparkly yellow, and it turns out to be St John’s Wort. I never imagined the flower would be this pretty. 

We also did a slow drive around Avoca and got some shots of houses and gardens, and the spectacular building that is the Avoca Primary School. It has turrets and towers, nooks and crannies, and could have been used as part of the set for Hogwarts in Harry Potter. 

Day 57 – Friday, 19 November 2021

We took off to Maryborough this morning, although not as early as it would have been if we had left our gold tour for this day as originally planned. We headed quickly to Woolworths for some yoghurt and water before heading off to Castlemaine. 

We got to the Kaweka Nature Conservation Reserve in time to have our lunch in the parking area. Russ pulled up where I thought it was a bit too near the roadway, so he crept forward until I said it was now okay. He did get the last laugh, however, as we were parked stretched across the drain way and I discovered just how far away from the ground it really was for my short stature when I got out to grab the backpack with our food and coffee. I then had to clamber back up onto my seat. I said to Russ at the time that Mum would never have been able to get in the vehicle if she was with us. 

We ended up sharing our after-lunch biscuits with a family of magpies who were very friendly. Not the best choice of items to share with them but we did not have any bird seed in the backpack. There was the mum, dad and two fledglings, none of whom were particularly afraid of humans. 

We could hear the yellow tailed black cockatoos in the trees while we had lunch, and were very lucky to get some good shots later on as we walked the 1.8 kilometre track in the reserve. 

The land in the Kaweka Reserve was originally taken up by the Miner’s Right by a Mr E Leviny. The property was sold to Mr John W S Thompson, a former Lord Mayor of Wellington in New Zealand. He came to Castlemaine to manage the commercial side of the Foundry, which has a prominent place in Castlemaine history. 

Kaweka is a gracious late Victorian home set on four acres of prime land and was built in 1876 by H D McBean before its sale to Mr Thompson, who lived in the house until his death in 1910, after which it was acquired in 1914 by F S Newell, a solicitor, who subdivided it. Store owner, Harry McIntosh, held the house property from 1928 to 1986 when it was acquired by its present owners. 

The name Kaweka is believed to be a Maori word meaning “House on the Hill”, and it is built north of the present Conservation Reserve. 

The southern part of the subdivision was bought by Mr Don McRae, who presented it to the town to be kept as a wildflower reserve in memory of his mother, an enthusiastic grower and preserver of native plants. 

Kaweka Nature Conservation Reserve is an L-shaped 2.5 hectare parcel of conserved bushland. It is a natural jewel within easy walking distance to the centre of Castlemaine, and right under the noses of Castlemaine residents, however many locals don’t realise the Reserve exists. 

The Reserve is run by a committee of volunteers with dedicated members who help look after it. In 2016 the Reserve celebrated its 50 years as a wildflower Sanctuary. 

We were probably a bit late in the year to see the orchids, although I found a dead Greenhood Orchid still in the ground, but there were many other wildflowers, and the volunteers have named most of them for ease of identification. Some we had seen before, but a few of them were new to us. 

We took a different route via the back roads to Maryborough on our way home. We detoured at Maryborough to check out the unopened orchids we found during the gold detecting tour last Friday, but the weather has not been warm enough so they are still there and unopened. 

We will only be in the area for another ten days before moving to Benalla, so hopefully the weather will co-operate with us and we can find them opened before we leave. 

Today has been mostly overcast with some periods of weak sunshine, more a glare than real sunny weather, but the temperature only made it to 20 degrees at Castlemaine, and we have had showers since getting back to Avoca. 

Day 56 – Thursday, 18 November 2021

It is supposed to get to 27 degrees here today with morning shower sprinkles before the wind gets rough in the afternoon. 

Today is a big rest day for us after our travels, and a chance to catch up on some housekeeping in the van, in particular the walls and screens of the shower need some attention, as well as the usual clean of the en-suite. 

We didn’t end up with more than a few sprinkles of rain and the wind gusts were sparing. The wind eventually petered out altogether, and the wind warning from the BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) was cancelled during the afternoon. 

Our day was very quiet and peaceful, and we were well rested by the time we went to sleep.