Monday, March 31, 2014

Warracknabeal, Victoria.

Another short drive today, about 60 km between Hopetoun and Warracknabeal and the small town of Buelah was conveniently located about half way. So we had to stop for a morning tea break and a look around the town. This town is another example of "progress". A rich farming area, in terms of the cropping value, but as individual farms have amalgamated into super large enterprises there are far fewer families to support these Wimmera and Mallee towns. Most of the shops were boarded up. The people that remain are up beat about their town and are eager to point out what makes their town different to others in the region.

We travelled on to Warracknabeal. This town is quite large with a population of about 2500 people. Warrack, (as the locals call it) still has the appearance of a rural farming community but has far more support services available. We called in to and stayed at Warrack because Judy's niece and family reside and work there. It was great to catch up with them and enjoy their relaxed lifestyle.

A convenient park in the centre of Buelah. This was once the Primary School.

The short Main Street of Buelah.

Buelah still maintains the local Pub. Note the silos in the background. This region is noted for it's malting barley production.

Just check out the ridge line on this roof. Of course there is no business activity in this building.

Buelah has commissioned artists to paint murals that depict the history of the town. These murals are placed strategically around the town.

Another of the many murals.

In Warracknabeal, even the round-a-bouts receive special treatment.

The imposing facade of the Post Office.

Infromation Centre and Rest Rooms in the centre of town. The town water tower in the background.

The town weir on the Yarriambiack Creek provides a beautiful lake area that is used for Motor Water Sports and is also great just to have a BBQ or picnic on the lush lawns.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Hopetoun, Victoria.

Some places you like to stay in during your visit, but other places you just love the setting and love the positive vibes from the towns folk who have gone to the trouble to set this up for you, and provided via donations to The Honesty Box. Lake Lascelles in Hopetoun is one of those places. The Business People in Hopetoun are interested in the local citizens and the visitors alike.

Small towns in the Wimmera and Mallee are struggling to survive and one avenue of survival is to attract visitors, lots of visitors. Many of the campers we spoke to had been to Hopetoun on several occasions because it is so beautiful. Us oldies need some daily exercise and here there is a perfect walk, around the lake and into town and return in under 3.5 km.

Lake Lascelles water level is maintained by pumping water into the lake. This in turn provides a recreation  area for the local population and also attracts many visitors.

This was the outlook we woke to each morning.

Looking from the town side of the lake towards our camping area. We were near an amenities block with solar heated showers.

Looking over the Boat Ramp towards the Day Picnic Area.

There are various other types of Accommodation on offer, like the Shearers Quarters, the Woolshed and these Silos. All uniquely interesting and different.

There is a Fire Pit area adjacent to a Camp Kitchen provided for the lodgers in the various types of Accommodation.

In town it is not very busy but there is a consistent traffic flow.

The other main thoroughfare in Hopetoun.

The Butcher, come Cafe, come Gift Shop, who's premises is in the photograph above, also likes to provide a daily dose of Philosophy for his clients.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Nyah to Hopetoun, Victoria.

Robinvale was going to be our designated finish point for our travel along The Murray River because two years ago we travelled The Murray from it's mouth at Goolwa, SA upstream to Robinvale. This would have seen us travel the full length of the river. Unfortunately for us there are very few river side camp areas between Nyah and Robinvale and those that are there are not receptive to caravan travel. At least our caravan type! As the distance to be completed is only about 100 road km we decided that we were near enough to our goal.

Our caravan is due for a service soon and is booked into Hall's Jayco, Mildura on 7th April. This created a two weeks space in time to fill in. We decided to make a slight deviation to Warracknabeal then travel north to Mildura to meet our service appointment. We are travelling through the Mallee Cropping country. Due to the large scale amalgamation of properties into Super Cropping Enterprises and the exodus of many people the small towns in the region are facing a serious decline. In many respects they are relying on travelling Aussies to maintain some business in their towns. The Council of Yarriambiack is particularly active in providing Free or Cheap Camping areas in many of the towns within it's boundaries.

Chinkapook Public Hall was our lunch stop on the first day.

Beside the Hall is the now very overgrown Tennis Club Courts. Every little town still has it's Grain Silos. The only enterprise still functioning here.

Beside Lake Tyrrell was our camp area for the night. On the far shore of the lake Cheetham Salt harvests somewhere in the region of 25000 tonnes of salt. The lake area is about 26000 hectares.

Sea Lake is the home of The Mallee Rally for Off Road Vehicles and Motorcycles. The course is around Lake Tyrrell and navigates 4 laps of the 83 km loop. The major buildings in these towns are always The Pubs.

The Sea Lake is the second Pub still in operation in town. We were in Sea Lake for lunch today.

Our camp tonight is in Woomelang. One of those free camp areas in the centre of town that includes hot showers. There is also 240 v power available for a donation.

Modern, clean facilities and two free caravan bays in the centre of town.

The Commercial Hotel in Woomelang, definitely the most impressive building here. There is a population of 180 in town. The people we spoke to seem very civic minded and are proud of their town.

The Woomelang Railway Station is boarded up. Replaced by a Bus Service between Mildura, Ballarat, Geelong and Melbourne.

The trains only stop on occasion to pick up grain now.

Only a short distance on to Lascelles for morning tea. Somebody in town is into painting Murals on some of the local businesses. The toilet and shower amenities received the treatment here. Behind the amenities are 5 caravan bays.

More Murals on the facias of these old shops. Unfortunately both businesses are closed. Notice the ever present Grain Silos in the background. Every town has them.

Once again the pre-eminent building in Lascelles is The Minapre Hotel. I don't know what the population of Lascelles is as I didn't see anybody to ask them!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Nyah, Victoria.

On leaving Echuca, our plan was to camp along the Murray River near Koondrook or Barham. We duly entered the Coordinates into the GPS for both these camp areas in turn and on each occasion achieved a similar result. We were absolutely led up the garden path, so to speak. We were driving through deeply rutted tracks looking for the elusive riverside camp area. Fortunately for us we found a turning space and beat a hasty retreat from that part of the river.

We had received great reviews of the camp area at Nyah, beside the Nyah Harness Club. That is where we now headed for. This is a huge area and can accommodate numerous RVs. There are toilets and a Dump Point and fresh drinking water is also available The town of Nyah asks for a donation to camp here and talking to some of the locals many campers do drop folding money into the Donation Box alongside the Dump Point. There is also riverside camping along The Murray River here but it is fairly shaded by the River Red Gums. We stayed away from that area to achieve maximum sun on the solar panels. We met up with Graeme and Sandy again here after our chance meeting at Barmah Lakes.

On the route to Nyah we stopped in Kerang at this beautiful park for lunch. Judy just loves these smooth barked Gum Trees.

The Murray River at Nyah. Substantially less water here and very slow moving as well.

The Trotting Track and Nyah Harness Club building in the background. Swan Hill poached the Harness Racing from here so the Nyah Cricket Club and the Nyah Football Club have the best amenities in their respective competitions.

A close-up look of The Harness Club Building. They have a Rose Garden here too.

It seems Nyah is the cross roads to everywhere, jet contrails criss-cross the skies over Nyah.

The CMCA is conducting a Rally in Robinvale in early April so the "Motor Homers" are beginning to congregate around the surrounding areas waiting for the gates to open. We are towards the back of this area. The Murray River flows through the trees in the background.

Another of the three main camp areas other than camping along the river bank..

One of the Guardians of the Boat Ramp at Nyah with riverside campers in the background.

The other Guardian of The Boat Ramp.

This riverside Bollard is adjacent to the Day Picnic area at Nyah.

Echuca, Victoria.

We haven't travelled a lot of distance since our last Blog Entry but there was a fair bit going on! Our best thought out plans were going astray one after another. Well, it makes life interesting doesn't it?

After Barmah Lakes we had planned on going into Christies Beach, not far out of Echuca. On our drive into the river we saw a camper whom we had met earlier in our travels. This fellow camper advised us that Christies Beach is a beautiful position on the river but is marred by several groups of feral permanent campers who run amok at night. Sadly destroying the harmony for peaceful temporary campers. 

After looking at other Free Camp sites around Echuca that also weren't suitable to us, we drove down to the Old Field Days Site near Elmore. This is a large well looked after camping area alongside The Campaspe River. We had a couple of days to fill in before our Mazda BT50 was booked in for a Service at Echuca.

We eventually booked into a Caravan Park in Echuca as we needed to meet up with some friends we had when we lived in the area. We also had a surprise meeting with Judy's Brother, Lindsay, and Sister-in-Law Linda. They didn't know we were in Echuca and we didn't know that they were going to visit either.

Echuca is known for it's old port area and it's Paddle Steamers. This is PS Emmylou with PS Hero passing in the background.

PS Canberra tied to it's wharf.

PS Pevensey also travels the waters of The Murray.

Linda, Lindsay and Judy alongside the old Barge, Alison.

Walking through the Old Port Area of Echuca takes you back to another era. Coach Rides are available for Hire.

Cutting and Milling River Red Gums was an important industry back in history.

One of the old Iron Archways from The River Murray Bridge. Just outside the Echuca CBD.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Barmah Lakes, Barmah State Park, Victoria.

Called into Cobram for some minor supplies then went for a longer drive for a change. The camp areas become a little sparse along the river for a while therefore we are moving onto Barmah Lakes Camp Ground. I put the camp co-ordinates into the GPS and then we were treated to a wonderful scenic drive through gravel roads finally entering the State Park via the back gate, or so it seemed. We were travelling on 4wd tracks to reach the Camp Ground. This was no problem in the dry season we are now experiencing but it would have been impossible after heavy rain.

We got talking to a couple of our fellow campers in the Camp Ground, Graeme and Sandy,  after several hours of general conversation we discovered that we came from the same town, Drouin. I knew Graeme and his passion for Hot Rods at the time. This was about 50 years ago, we had not seen each other in all that intervening period. Another couple, Bob and Teddy pulled into camp and we had a great Happy Hour, or more!

It was vastly different here at Barmah Lakes, it was very quiet. No ski boats and no Corellas, bliss.

The Murray River at Barmah Lakes.

The smaller of the two main lakes in the State Park. The other, Moira Lake, is much larger.

There is even a small steam powered Paddle Boat moored in the river.

If you double click on this photograph, you will see that there are two Pelicans perched on the dead tree on the end of the island eyeing off the tourists in The Kingfisher sight seeing punt.

Gunbower, a house boat owned by Bill. Judy and I went aboard Gunbower and sat on the front deck and had a long chat with Bill. He was moored here to get away from power boats for Labour Day Weekend and Easter. He can't get past Torrumbarry Weir until there is more water in the river.

There are some great old and gnarled River Red Gums in the park.

Another River Red Gum.

Yet one more River Red Gum.