Some places we've been and some places we're going.

Keith to Adelaide

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We were not the only people who felt the need for more space and comfort than even a good camper could provide. I wonder if they slept for about 12 hours like I did.

Sometimes you just need that little bit extra.

Breakfast at the Bakery was the first thing on the agenda for today. Next to the Keith Bakery is a Butcher’s shop and you can’t miss the animals out the front.

After Keith the next sizeable town is Coonalpyn and they are doing a great job of attracting passing trade using artworks. The silos are impossible to miss.

There’s a beautiful mosaic outside the Toilet Blocks.

The tunnel under the railway line has walls covered in pictures painted by a variety of people from little kids to professional artists.

 

Tailem Bend is a town spread out along the main highway and most traffic doesn’t stop but a rhinoceros caught my eye.

Now we’re back home and our short jaunt is over but we’ve visited some new places we intend to revisit, preferably for a longer time. Hope you’ve enjoyed the ride.

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Keith

A few years ago we went to Tasmania and stopped at Hall’s Gap on the way, I was so frightened by the winds buffeting the camper that I spent the night sitting in the car. Our new camper’s sleeping area is more enclosed with a solid shell but last night we barely slept because of winds again roaring up on us and hitting the camper. We heard a couple of cars leave the site during the night. Hall’s Gap is now off my map.

Why do you think there’s a chain embedded in the concrete slab?

Because we were so keen to get out of Hall’s Gap we packed up and left without breakfast. Dadswell Bridge looked like a likely place so that was our first stop.

We thought we might stay the night in Horsham after we attended to some business but then decided it was far too early so we went on to Nhill. Having seen the movie, “On the Road to Nhill” I thought that might be a fun place to stop but the Caravan Park’s cabins were all filled with workmen and we both felt we needed a little extra comfort after last night. Our next try for a cabin was at Kaniva but the park there was only a designated camping area with an honour box for camping fees so no cabins there either. Bordertown was certain to have cabins so we drove on there. They did have cabins, the guy in front of us got the last one!

There were a lot of wide loads today including one with an escort, it all seemed to be farming machinery.

After missing out on a cabin in Bordertown we decided to have one last try in Keith, if that was a no-go we’d keep driving until we were home. Because of our lack of sleep last night I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case, fatigue and driving are a bad combination. Luckily we had no trouble getting a cabin and we can’t hear any wind at all!

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Our plan today was to investigate some of the interesting spots around the town. We intended to visit the McKenzie Falls but drove into the Wonderland Carpark, several walks start from there. We decided on the walk to the Pinnacle, a 2.1 km walk, sometimes when distances are quoted they include the return but this one didn’t.

Don’t forget to double that if you plan on coming back!

There were rocky paths:

Narrow paths:

Resting places, designated and otherwise:

A Canyon:

Some weird rock formations:

Great Views:

It astounds me that in the early days people worked cattle in this terrain. There was evidence overgrown by scrub.

Section of an old fence.

I was tortured on the way up and Alex was tortured on the way down!

After a quick stop for some food in Halls Gap we’ve come back to camp to recover, I wish there was a spa!

Hall’s Gap

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This morning I was up with the sun and others in the campsite were also stirring, mostly cyclists preparing for their race today, a Time Trial. We were packed up and in Mansfield before 8:30 when the Farmers’ Market officially opened.

Our intention was to make it to Hall’s Gap today and we left it to the cyborg to get us there. By Tullarook we were ready for a break and something to eat since we’d forgone breakfast in favour of the early start. Alex was able to get something in a nice little General Store but it was GF muesli bars for me.

 

Unfortunately we hadn’t told the cyborg we don’t like motorways so that’s where she took us as the fastest way! We were staggered by the number of new housing estates replacing agricultural land on Melbourne’s fringes. Eventually we were directed off the Hume Freeway and via the M1 to the M8 to Ballarat where Alex was looking forward to a stop at a “Greasy Spoon” we’d stopped at before. He was startled to see it had changed ownership and morphed into a healthy fast food place.

Next stop was Hall’s Gap where we didn’t get a suitable caravan site until the third Caravan Park because they were all so busy. We’re booked in for a couple of nights but might stay longer.

 

You should know there would be some birds too.

Mansfield – Mt Buller

Our plan for today was to find Tomahawk Hut so we set off out the Mt Buller Road expecting to turn off onto the Carter Track but we missed it so we changed our plans and continued on to Mt Buller. We went there at least a couple of times in the late 1980s and we were curious to see how it had changed. As soon as we arrived we were confronted by new constructions of large apartment complexes. There was a display board outside one construction site in the centre of the resort and it seemed that many of the apartments were already sold off the plan. There were still plenty of the tiny “studio” apartments available though.

By the time we’d finished looking around Buller we decided against investigating any huts so went back down the road stopping for “lunch” ie crisps and cider, at a lovely spot not far from Sawmill Settlement.

After our break we went to visit the settlement which I expected to have relics of the old sawmill and some old workers cottages but I was wrong. We didn’t see any signs of early workings or homes in fact the whole place seemed like a collection of holiday homes for the wealthy. Many were for sale.

We drove out of “The Settlement” and across the road to the start of the Carter Track which was where we found the site of the original Sawmill. There was a devastating bushfire in the region in1939, all the residents were evacuated to Mansfield but the sawmill was saved by a wind change. It wasn’t so lucky though in 1965, that time the mill was destroyed by fire.

Our next stop was at Merrijig Memorial Park. I noticed the standing stones when we passed yesterday and was curious about them. Having checked it out I think it’s one of the most personal I’ve ever seen. The “Plantation of Honour” recognises the Merrijig residents who have served in major conflicts in Australia’s history since Federation.

Other interesting things we’ve seen today.

Sculptures

Tomorrow we’re leaving here and expect to be reach Halls Gap, in The Grampians. I think this Caravan Park will be very busy over the weekend. A cycle race starts at Merrijig ending at Mt Buller. We’ve already seen an increase in the seriousness of cyclists riding the tracks around here and saw some labouring up the Mt Buller Road and one woman ‘Warming down” on rollers behind a caravan.

Mansfield -Hunting Huts

The lady in the Information Centre seemed very knowledgeable about the tracks in the Mansfield State Forest and Alpine National Park so we took her advice when we went looking for alpine huts. The first track we took was the Howqua Track that starts a few kms out of Merrijig.

Merrijig Primary School, it looks like it was built in 1379 but I’m confident it was 1839.

The track is suitable for 2WD vehicles and when we reached Sheepyard Flat there were a few offroad caravans set up there. There was also a large group of students in the area, they must be on a bushwalking campout.

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Not far from Sheepyards Flat was Frys Hut and it was a real memorial to the early settlers and a fine demonstration of Fred Fry’s workmanship. It saddens me that visitors don’t respect places like this and think it’s OK to deface them with their names written or burnt into the timbers the pioneers worked by hand.

We returned to Sheepyard Flats then turned onto Brocks Road which sounds superior but it wasn’t, there were rough patches, raised humps probably put in place to direct water and also some Higgelty Piggelty sections.

We stopped at Tunnel Bend and made the short but steep walk down. The river comes around one bend before disappearing around another further downstream. Back on the track we met a couple of men working on the road…. well one was driving an excavator the other was sitting in his ute “directing traffic”.

We took the Bluff Link Road (only open for the summer months) to Bluff Hut. Three tents were set up in what would have been a horse or cattle corral at some stage but only one person was about. He’d decided a walk to The Bluff was far too energetic so he was relaxing in a lay-back chair on the hut’s verandah.

Coming back down we stopped a few times to photograph interesting things we’d see on the way up.

 

As we made our way back along the tracks we could feel the temperature rising, it had reached a nice 24 deg. during our meanderings but by the time we were back at camp it had risen to 33 deg. The AC immediately went on in the camper and even after 7:30 it’s still working full time.

Mansfield – Day 1

We left Porepunkah a little before 10:00 driving towards Wangaratta, I’d planned our first stop to be at Tarrawingee but unfortunately we’d driven out the end of “the town” before we knew we’d arrived. Warrangaratta was very busy with no provisions for RV parking that we could find so after a couple of laps we drove on towards Moyhu. Since Tarrawingee and Moyhu rated the same sized typeface on the map we weren’t hopeful of a nice cafe but we were pleasantly surprised. It’s a lovely little place and we were able to get tasty food at a house converted into a cafe. On the way back to the car we had a conversation with one of the Pub owners who was very friendly, I think she might have opened the Pub for us if we’d asked! When we looked in through the window there were two Jack Russells in a front room, one of them seemed very happy to see us, its tail didn’t stop wagging.

After Whitfield we saw a sign to Powers Lookout and thought it was worth investigating. Both of us thought the name related to the massive transmission towers and presumed the lookout would be near the highest tower but we were wrong. It was Harry Powers, the bushranger’s, lookout. We had fun investigating the area.

On reaching Mansfield we decided to stay at a Caravan Park on the outskirts of town, it’s relatively new and the trees aren’t big. That means not a lot of shade and today we could certainly have used it.

The Overseer

I think the temp was in the mid 30s so after we’d set up instead of going for a swim in the pool we went back into town for a cool place to sit and have a drink.

 

There is a pond at the Caravan Park with some birdlife.