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.