Day 35 – Thursday, 28 October 2021

It was very hot today, especially for Avoca. We decided tomorrow would be a rest day before driving back to Mildura for the long weekend, so we are looking at the Percydale Historic Area today. This historic area sits just to the side of the Pyrenees State Forest. 

We passed some of the historic areas such as Daly’s Cottage, the Old School Site, the Slate Diary, Governor’s Rock, and the Governor’s Rock Lookout Tower. In the early part of the area, we found lots of wildflowers, but they were ones we had found elsewhere.  

Daly’s Cottage was built by James Daly, an Irishman who originated from Kilfinane on the Shannon River, in 1865. It comprises two simple, gabled timber slab structures, separated by an open walkway. The walls were constructed from fiddle back red gum found at the site. Handmade bricks were used on the pantry floor. 

The later two-roomed building has a front verandah, six paned double hung sash windows, brick fireplace, and horizontal timber slab diving walls. The original shingles on both buildings were replaced with corrugated iron roofing, and the building retains remnants of early wallpapering. 

The gardens retain early fruit and flower plantings, including a large hawthorn bush behind the structures. The briar roses were in full flower when we stopped to take out photos. 

The cottage comprises a combined cottage and stable building and a separate dwelling, constructed from vertical timber slabs. In 1865 Percydale was known as Fiddler’s Creek. Gold had been discovered in the district as early as the mid-1850s, although a rush to the alluvial goldfields of Fiddler’s Creek didn’t begin until 1865. 

The Daly family were unable to purchase the land because in 1866 the Board of Land and Works withdrew this section from the Land Selection Act because of the potential for further gold discoveries in the area. They continued to reside in the cottage and paid an annual rent of 4 pounds and cleared the land for cultivation. 

In 1870 the surveyor in the area noted that the Daly block of land was not of special gold value, so Daly then applied to buy the land, citing the family’s continuous occupation, the amount of rent paid, and the improvements made to the site – including the 30 acres cleared for cultivation.  

The final purchase of the land was completed in 1875, and the family continued to live on the property until the 1930s when it was sold by James’ grandson, Roy. 

Daly’s Cottage is of historical and architectural significance to the state of Victoria, due in part because of the construction techniques employed. It is a rare example of a relatively intact selector’s cottage and stable. 

Unfortunately, the signs at the front tell you not to Trespass so I could only get shots from the roadside. 

Later in the day we went onto the Fiddler’s Track and found sun orchids. More importantly, we found the Spotted Sun Orchid which we have never found anywhere before, so we were stoked with this find. 

Russ did a lot of 4WDriving and the scenery from Governor’s Rock Lookout was well worth the effort to get up there. There is a lot more to be seen in this area as we have hardly scratched the surface. 

On the way back to the van we made a booking to have dinner at the Avoca Hotel. It is the more up-market of the two hotels available in the town. 

The heavens opened as we were enjoying our afternoon tea in the van, and it became very humid. The rain had cleared up by the time we headed out to the hotel, but there is a lot more headed our way. This little heavy rainfall recorded 18mm in the water gauge in the caravan park. 

I told Russ I was only going to take a jacket, my mask, and my phone as he had his wallet to pay for the meal. However, when we got to the hotel we were not only asked to provide our evidence of double vaccination – Avoca is part of the Covid Vax trial being conducted by the Victoria Government -but I was also asked to prove my address was not in Melbourne. This necessitated going back to the van to grab my license. The hotel proprietor was a good sport and had a sense of humour. 

The meal was a bit pricey, but it was delicious, and the chips were fabulous – crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Russ had a chicken parmigiana (as usual) and I went for a lemon and thyme coated pork schnitzel. Unfortunately for us the crème brulee was not on the menu this week, so we stopped at the IGA on the way back to the van and I cot some salted caramel ice-cream to enjoy.