Friday, 14 July 2017

Hold up in Jerilderie, NSW

We reluctantly left Echuca and headed north to Deniliquin to see the Ute art works. Deniliquin is located on the Edward River and is famous for the annual Deni Ute Muster – still the holder of the Guiness World Record for the most utes in one place. We had heard about two ute artworks in Deniliquin so decided to stop for lunch and see them. We have been to 'Utes in the Paddock' near Condobolin and thought this would be a good stop. We parked in caravan parking not far from the information centre. The first art work was in the park, and named TransmUTE. Ute on the Pole was across the road, a short walk, through the park past a historical village and old public school. This art work was erected on a six metre high pole to promote the Ute Muster. We had lunch and a walk around part of the old town before heading north to Conargo and then east to Jerilderie.
As I am fascinated by Ned Kelly, and love history, Jerilderie was - I think - the only town of the Ned Kelly story that I had not been to. Jerilderie means reedy place and was established in 1859. It is located on the Newell Hwy and is part of the Kidman Way trail - that we also want to do. We camped along side Billabong Creek, which is the longest creek in Australia. The track down to the creek was a bit rough, but it was only a short drive. It was a lovely shady area and only one other van there.
Jerilderie is the only place outside of Victoria that Ned and the Kelly Gang went to. The next morning, Sunday, we went for a walk around the town. It is not very big, really just a wide main street. Being a Sunday we were not able to get a free Ned Kelly Raid Trail leaflet, but I had found an electronic one. I didn't need it as everything was documented on boards. The town still has a lot of the original buildings and the 'Ned Kelly' factor is obvious.
In 1879, Ned and his gang came to town - everyone seems to agree on that. It is after he arrived there are conflicting, but similar stories. This is my version from what I've read and what I already know (or think I know) about Ned Kelly.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Homeward Bound

After spending time with our family, Day 16 of our trip saw us heading to the Macedon Ranges and the town of Kyneton, to visit some more family. We found the free camp, Mineral Springs, north of the town. It was lovely and situated in a park beside the Campaspe River. There are toilets and a dump point, although it was overflowing when we were there. It is only a short walk from one end of the park to the other, and there are two mineral spring pumps where one can fill up their drink bottles. We didn't, although I tasted the water and it tasted 'different'. There are limited RV parking sites, so one needs to get there early. We got there about 4pm and an hour later all the sites were taken.
The town of Kyneton is historic and was established in the 1830's as a traveller's stop, and came into prominence during the 1850's Gold Rush, as it is on the way to the gold fields at Castlemaine and Bendigo. Kyneton also became the center for agriculture with the establishment of many flour mills.
The next morning we left our lovely camp at Kyneton Mineral Springs and had a wonderful visit with family before heading north via Castlemaine. We didn't spend a lot of time walking around Kyneton, but will go back when it is warmer and spend more time there. There appears to be two main streets that are filled with many historic buildings. It is also not far from the famous Hanging Rock.
We only had a quick drive around Bendigo, and topped up with fuel. We had intended staying north of Bendigo, however when we arrived at Huntly Lion Park there was not a lot of room left, so we decided to drive a further 78 km to Echuca. At Echuca we stayed at the Rotary Park on the banks of the Campaspe River.
This is a donation park – suggested $5 – and has town water for filling up water tanks. It has a lot of historic buildings around the outside of the oval and plenty of self-contained caravan parking.
It was so lovely, and we had never been to Echuca before so we decided to stay an extra night and do some exploring.
Echuca is situated on the Murray River. The Murray is 2,560km long and forms much of the border between N.S.W. And Victoria. Echuca and Moama were founded by ex-convicts. In 1845 James Maiden established a punt crossing and inn on the northern side of the Murray. The area became known as Maiden's Punt. In 1851 the area became known as Moama, meaning 'place of the dead'. Henry Hopwood arrived on the southern side of the river in 1850 and set up a rival punt and inn in 1853. The area became known as Echuca, meaning 'meeting of the waters', in 1854. It was Hopwood who suggested a river port to aid river trade, and by 1891 Echuca was the largest inland port. A ship building industry was soon established and was supported by many sawmills. It was not until the establishment and expansion of the railways that the paddle-steamers started to decline.
Our first stop the next morning was to the historic wharf area. There was plenty of parking, and we had a look at the choice of paddle-steamer cruises and chose the PS Alexander Arbuthnot. The ship is named after the former owner of Arbuthnot Sawmills, where the ship was built, Alexander James Cooke Arbuthnot. It was built in 1916 and served as a barge, moving logs. In 1923 she was fitted with an engine, boiler and super structure and started life as a working steamer. She worked until the 1940's. Today she cruises daily and is only one of two original paddle steamers at Echuca. The cruise was good. We sat up the front, which we thought was the best place, as Peter chatted to the ship's captain. The commentary included the history of many of the paddle-steamers that were moored along the banks. What was really interesting with this cruise was the fact that one walks along the length of the original wharf and actually walk through a section of restored original wharf. The other cruises leave from jetty's further up stream. PS Arbuthnot was well worth the $25 ($22 for seniors).
Port of Echuca Discovery Centre is also well worth a visit. One can combine the PS Arbuthnot and PS Pevensey (used in the TV Series 'All the Rivers Run) cruises with entry to the Discovery Centre and safe about $4. There are interactive displays, a working steam engine, saw mill display, the old wharf and railway station. Guided tours are also available.
We walked along High St and marveled at the number of restored historic buildings. Most had information plaques attached to the buildings. This restoration and public information boards has made Echuca a tourist town today. Kelly's Fine Furniture started life as an office for J. Shacknell. Shacknell came to Echuca in 1863 and build this building in 1879. His company occupied the building until 1935. Shacknell proved a challenge for Hopwood's businesses and set up many opposition businesses. 
Next door, the lower floor was also built by Shacknell in 1866. It was used as a store. The upper floor was added in 1872. A Heritage Walk pamphlet can be obtained from the Visitor Information Centre, and information boards are attached to the historic buildings.
In the afternoon we drove to some free camps along the Victorian side of the river. The views were perfect, but we wouldn't take our van there. We would much rather pay the $5 a night at the Rotary Park. Echuca is a place we will come back to - probably many times.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Southern NSW and South East Victoria

Leaving Sydney mid morning on day 6, we headed around the city on the toll ways and headed south on the Hume Highway. We had planned a couple of overnight stops to look at, and maybe stay at, and although they looked good, we decided to keep going. We ended up in Gunning and stayed at the show grounds. Gunning has two free camps, one by Meadow Creek - that was already crowded with vans - and the show grounds. The show grounds had a lot of grassed areas and only three vans over night.
Up to 1820, the Gunning area was the end of settlement from Sydney. The area was occupied by the Pajong “Fish River Tribe” people. Hamilton Hume explored the area in 1821 and Hume and William Hovell made the route from Gunning to what is now Melbourne and the first road from Sydney to Melbourne was established. It became the Hume Highway. Gunning became a travellers rest stop on the journey. Many colonial buildings still exist. The main street, Yass Street, has many of these buildings.

Most of the shops are tourist type shops – cafes, galleries, arts and crafts etc. and most were closed on the Monday. I suspect that being so close to Canberra it is a weekend type town were Canberreans would make a day trip.
After a lovely few hours walking around Gunning, and Peter getting his coffee fix, we headed towards Canberra, though sheep country. These were at Sutton.
By-passing Canberra we headed around the A.C.T. And spent the night at Chakola. It was so cold – got down to minus 4 overnight. We were very glad we have a gas heater AND a hot water bottle.
 The next day, day 8, we continued south to Cann River, filled up with petrol and headed west to Marlo. We have been here a few times and there are many rest areas along the Snowy Mountain River. We have our favourite, and this time there were no other caravans there – not that we mind having company. I guess most caravanner’s are heading north to the warm weather, silly us, we are not!!
We are getting much better at driving a short total distance each day, and spending more time stopping in the smaller towns to explore. We are also relaxing more in the mornings and not leaving places to well after 10am some days. One of the great things about free and low cost camping!! We headed to Orbost, just up the road from Marlo, and had a walk up and down the street. First stop was the information centre, in an old slab hut.
The town has information boards along the main street and surrounding streets.
Peter got his coffee fix, and I found a quilt shop.

We had decided the go only a short distance and stay at Golden Beach, on 90 Mile Beach. We looked at a few camps in the sand dunes, scared a number of kangaroos, but decided to go to the donation camp in the town as most of the dune camping was full of rubbish. Some campers are disgusting, not bothering to take their rubbish with them. The town camp was lovely. Big sites, clean, and quiet, and one could still hear the waves crashing on the beach. This was our site.
The next morning we had a look at the beaches, before heading to visit Peter's family.
Most days were cold and foggy - metal note, only visit in the warmer months!!
During our visit we did drive up to Mt Baw Baw. Snow is a novelty for us Queenslander's 😉.