Travels of the Gypsy January 2020

To keep reading February 2020

Friday 31st January - Port Welshpool

Another hot and humid day. You would think that we are currently in the tropics. A warm 21.9 last night and back upto 33.1 today.

Clive went out for a drive to Agnes Falls in the morning. This is about 15km away. Agnes Falls is the longest singe drop falls in Victoria. They also have a river walk there and BBQ and picnic area. From there he went for a drive around town and then to Long Jetty. A walk along this to the very end.

The original Long Jetty is the only curved jetty in Victoria. Originally 851m long of various widths, it was expanded to 911m in length in 1982 to provide berthing facilities for Bass Strait oil and gas industry rig vessels. The jetty was built in a curve to take advantage of the very deep Lewis Channel that runs parallel to the shore. With the jetty aligned to the channel this made Port Welshpool an ideal port for large ships. Of course a T shaped jetty could achieve this, but not if you want to run trains down it! At the end of the jetty is the slipway with winch and also a Broman Diving Bell.

Most of the afternoon was spent talking to Insurance Companies, Repairers and the Real Estate agent about the damage caused by flooding to our house and as to when and how repairs will happen. The house needs to be vacated for 30 days, so the tenants have to move out. Part of the ceiling and walls will be ripped down and replaced and the new floating floor also ripped up and replaced.



Agnes
Falls.

Agnes Fall
With NDF.

Historic
Long Jetty.

Broman
Diving Bell.

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Thursday 30th January - Port Welshpool

Sometime during the night power has been restored, No idea what the issue was. Hopefully we won't have any issues during the day.

This weather is stupid. Down to 9.4 last night and upto 38.6 during the day. At 7am when I woke up I was freezing, so I put my electric blanket on and a pair of socks. At 9am I was cooking. At 11.30am it was 31 degrees. Lucky for us it didn't get top be as hot as they were predicting for us here, but the aircon did the job and kept the van cool. We stayed indoors all day as it is too hot to do anything outside.

Listening to the news tonight it was mentioned that power cuts may happen as the inter-connect between SA and Victoria has been damaged due to weather and fires. Given that NSW has a similar issue of a shortage of power and it can't get power from QLD or the ACT currently, Victoria can't get power from there. So much for the National Grid.



Sunset
pictures.


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Wednesday 29th January - Traralgon to Port Welshpool

Another cool night of 12.5 and upto 25.9 during the day.

We arrived at the Long Jetty Caravan Park just after noon, We're at Port Welshpool and the fees haven't dropped much so they must still be charging high season rates. We're close to the waterfront, so hopefully tomorrow's heatwave will not be as bad here. The road here was pretty bumpy, but not to windy and we only saw a few semi-trailers. Most of these were logs trucks.

It's really quiet in the park here so far, but it was apparently full last week-end with the Australia Day public holiday. They have nearly 150 sites here, so it's quite a big park and the sites are quite large too.

11pm - we heard a bang and the power has gone off. No microwave, fridge, PVR but the TV is still working. It's must be running on 12v as it's browning out every now and then. Time to switch it properly to 12v and put the fridge onto gas. Clive gets his miners headlight out and gets it all working.

There are still fires around here so maybe they had something to do with it.

Clive's flip flops finally need to be thrown away. The hole in the right foot is now too big and when he walks on stones they hurt his feet. Still not bad mileage, seeing as these were bought in May just before we started our travels.



Power
station.

Gai enjoying
a scone.

One dead
flip flop.

Sunset view
from the loo.

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Tuesday 28th January - Traralgon

A low of 13.0 last night and a high of 26.0. Comfortable weather.

Lazy day today after our busy day of going up and down mountains and valleys yesterday. We're off to Port Welshpool tomorrow and they are forecasting another heatwave Thursday and Friday. Hopefully being closer to the coast we'll be in a cooler zone. Finally some decent colour in the sunset tonight so Clive was out there with the camera.



Sunset
pictures.


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Monday 27th January - Traralgon

YAY. Home and Away starts again tonight and it's on for 90 minutes. Down to 14.5 last night and upto 26.7.

We've decided to stay here another day, as we have a couple of days up our sleeves. We took a drive to Walhalla today. A very windy road with lots of hairpin bends and narrow in some places. S9ome steep sections going both up and down. Coming back seemed easier than getting there. The drive goes through state forest, pine forest and also rain forest.

Walhalla is an historic quaint town with its own railway. During the gold rush it housed over 3500 people and had a school with over 500 children in attendance. Today it only has around 20 people living there full time. It's been well preserved and you can do a gold mine tour if you want. Also, the railway, now kept alive by enthusiasts, offers rail journeys from the station through Stringers Creek Gorge to the Thompson River. There is a heritage walk through town, clearly highlighting the old buildings with explanation boards. A great place to visit and camp if you want to.

Clive bought me some scones with cream and jam. He went to get himself a pastie and they are sold out. No pies either or bread to make a sandwich. Seems that they have had a really busy weekend here with tourists and campers. No food for him so heading back home to enjoy my scones.



Loy Yang
Power Station.

Walhalla
Heritage Walk.

Star
Hotel.

Railway
Station.

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Sunday 26th January - Warragul - Traralgon

Happy Australia Day to one and all.

Another cool night of 13.5 and a cloudy day of 26.8. We're off to Traralgon

A pleasant drive along the motorway. We're only going about 60km further east. We're in the Tandara Village Caravan Park. It's just off the motorway and seems very nice. At least this park is quiet so far as there is only a few vans where we are. No hooligans, excessive noise or children's playground near us. The noisy ones from last night woke us up at 7am, again staking the claim on the camp kitchen for their bacon and eggs, which by the way, they didn't eat until nearly 8.30.

On the motorway here a convoy of police cars overtook us. Probably going somewhere for an Australia Day function.

Clive went to the 5.30pm Mass at St. Michael's Church in town. A lovely old church built in the 1930's. Both sides of the church have beautiful stained glass walls. A wonderful service on Word of God day, a new observance established by Pope Francis. This is to be celebrated annually on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.

The Latrobe Valley contributes 85% of Victoria's power needs as well as supplying some power to NSW and Tasmania. There are three coal fired power stations in this area and as you can see from the photo of Loy Yang Power Station, the coal mine is adjacent to it, as are the other two.



St. Michael's
Church.

The
Alter.

Stained glass
wall.


.

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Saturday 25th January - Warragul

Sunny day today and a bit warmer too. A cool 12.5 overnight and upto 27.7 during the day.

The van park is now pretty full. Probably due to the long weekend and the fact school starts back on Tuesday. Well it's going to be a lazy day for us today. There are some nice drives but it will take about one and a half hours to get there, so too long a day for me. I think all the travelling catches up with us as we haven't done any sight-seeing here. This will also give Clive the chance to get the blog back up to date. He's only been half doing it, so today it is once again back on track. I'll have to limit his reading and crocheting as he has finished another crochet blanket last night.

Clive asked at the office if he can wash the car in the park. They have no problem with that being done here, so 30 minutes later we have a nice clean car again. Even the inside got a bit wet as he didn't have the back left window completely closed. Another rookie mistake I think.

Joy oh joy. We're right next to the children's playground and next to that is the camp kitchen with about 8 park tables and benches. Seems that everyone wants to make a noise at tea time. Kids in the park, cockatoos screeching as they fight for a perch for the night and the caravan club has staked their claim on the camp kitchen and outside BBQ's. There is a group of 18 vans and their inhabitants have now all come down here for dinner. Looks like BBQ and salad for everyone. Time to turn the volume of the TV up a bit.

Some kids have just gone by and took a short cut through our site, knocking the satellite dish out of alignment. Seems the father is telling him to just leave it alone. Clive came back from the amenities block and now has to re-tune it back in again. It needed height adjustment as well as east-west adjustment. Good thing we are leaving tomorrow.

Friday 24th January - Warragul

It was cold night last night. 8.5 is too cold for us and only 24.5 during the day. It takes all day to get to the maximum temperature here. No rain today, but it's freezing cold. We both had track pants on with a jumper and cardigan for me. The park is pretty full now, with the Australia Day long weekend coming up. It looks like there is a caravan club in here too.

The TV reception here is shocking, so Clive put up the satellite dish. Fully operational in five minutes. We now have perfect TV to watch and can record our Saturday travel shows.

Thursday 23rd January - Lilydale to Warragul

A mild 14.8 overnight and a cool 20.7 during the day. What is it with this Victorian weather? It rained most of last night. We had 21mm and it been raining on and off again most of the day.

We left about 10.30am to make our way to the Princes Highway. A nice slightly windy road, but really pretty countryside. We pulled over at a truck stop near Gumbuya. This looks like a water slide park. You could hear screams, so someone must be having fun. The weather is way too cold for us. This other car pulled up next to us and then turned around. I asked Clive which way we were going and he said that we can go straight ahead as it joins the highway again.

I pointed out the window and said 'No you can't'. He said 'why'? Well because there is a huge tree across the road. It must have got blown over with the wind the other day. A bit of reversing and we managed to do a U-turn and re-join the highway. Hopefully someone has reported it so that it can be cleared.

Finally some sunshine around 7pm. The rain has been a brown colour, thanks to the dust storm in Mildura. The car is a dirty brown. This rain has also polluted rivers and pools, with shops running out of chemicals.



Gumbuya
.

Beautiful
roses.

Satellite dish
all set up.

Another blanket
finished.

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Wednesday 22nd January - Lilydale

A windy day today. 12.2 last night and 29.6 during the day.

We went to the main shopping centre and I got a hair cut. She's cut it too short. I think that she was going to do what she wanted anyway. Next to Big w and more books for me. Also managed to get a nice dress. Then to Pharmacy Warehouse for scripts and then home. That's me done for the day. Aircon on in the afternoon for a couple of hours. Still sever weather warnings about for our area. A cool change came through at 9pm with blustery winds. Crochet blanket time.



Hair cut
time.

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Tuesday 21st January - Molesworth to Lilydale

Another cool 13.8 and upto 27.3 today. Good weather for travelling. It was pretty cold last night and I had my electric blanket on the lowest setting for most of the night.

We left the Recreation Park after 11am. They have a late departure time here, so this allowed me an extra sleep in. A pleasant drive arriving at the Lilydale Pine Hill caravan Park just after 1pm. Driving to Lilydale we went through the Yarra Valley. Actually Lilydale is in the Yarra Valley and we're surrounded by vineyards.

This is a huge park here. Not cheap at $42.00 a night, but there are plenty of spots for caravans. There are also lots of cabins here. Clive always pulls to the side of the road where possible to let traffic pass. One stop was into some slushy dirt that managed to go all along my side of the car and also across the front side of the caravan. First thing in the van park was to wash the mud and clay from the van.

The car was going to be another challenge to clean. He went to a car wash, read the instructions - what little of them that there was and paid the $5.20 for 9 minutes and 10 seconds of time. Now what? No start button or anything, just the time above. He noticed where you paid it was scrolling through with another $5.20 so he paid again. Guess what - the time is now 18 minutes and 20 seconds. He heard a guy in next booth and asked him how to work it. The young guy said just select the button you want. Oh, so simple. So, a long power wash first to get rid of the mud and clay, then a good soapy wash. Rinse off and then a wax and then a final gently rinse. Presto - a nice clean polished car in just over 18 minutes. He's no longer a car wash virgin.



Leaving
Molesworth.

Lovely green
countryside.

Vines in the
Yarra Valley.

Fresh
strawberries.

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Monday 20th January - Molesworth

Some heavy rain in the afternoon today. A low of 15.7 and back to 28.6 during the day. It's a bit on the coolish side at night. Aircon on yesterday and slippers tonight.

Our neighbour who arrived late afternoon left around 8am today. Fingers crossed - hopefully we won't have anyone next to us tonight. There's no potable water on tap here. If you want water it's a bucket trip to the rain water tanks to get drinking water. The main big tank adjacent to the camp kitchen is currently empty, so hopefully the rain will put some water back in the tank.

Clive went for a short walk as there is a boat ramp and nature reserve at the back of the park. The reserve path follows the Goulburn River, but about 10 minutes into his walk it started to rain, so he came back. Also yesterday we had the local CFS fire unit drive around the park, ensuring no fires were being lit and that proper safety precautions were in place. Beside each hydrant they have fire hoses coiled ready to be used if required.



The Goulburn
River.

River
map.

Trail in
the reserve.

An old
truck.

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Sunday 19th January - Mansfield to Molesworth

Warmer night again. Only getting down to 15.5 last night and 32.2 during the day.

A pleasant drive to Molesworth with a short stop at Bonnie Doon to take some photos. No point in us being early as both powered sites were taken up last night. Along the way we saw signs and also pedestrian/bike bridges highlighting the Great Victorian Rail Trail. The couple and their daughter were going to ride from Mansfield to Bonnie Doon - a distance of about 20km, along the trail.

Clive has outdone himself yet again! We arrived in Molesworth about noon and saw a van park sign at the entrance of town, but no other signs. Clive hadn't entered the GPS points for this one as he thought it would be easy to find. Driving through town to the end and still nothing. About 300m past town was a rest area, so we pulled in there and entered the co-ordinates. You can only turn left from the rest area, so the GPS advised to travel 13km down the road before we could do a U-turn. Luckily, Clive found a right hand turn that was large enough for us and the van to turn around.

Driving back, the GPS bought us to a sign, "Molesworth Recreation reserve and Caravan Park". No wonder we missed it. A standard blue caravan park sign would be good. Now have you heard the expression of 'a one-horse town?' Well, this is it. There a narrow track advising the park is 300m down this road. We hope that we don't meet another van. If the second spot gets taken then we are practically on top of each other. There is plenty of space for non-powered camping, so this appears to be their target market.

No TV reception, with phone and internet very patchy. We're almost off the grid. Lost of trees and hills close by, so no point in trying the satellite dish either. Not to worry, we have plenty to watch. We are here for two nights, but there is no point in unhitching as there is no-where to go around here that we want.

We ha a thunderstorm alert, but so far some thunder and a bit of soaking rain, so hopefully this will help with the bushfires. There's a total fire ban on the park for safety reasons, and some of the campers have been complaining. There is a very good camp kitchen, so they can cook all sorts of food including roast in the ovens.

Clive had a walk around half the oval as it was starting to rain. The camp grounds back onto the Goulburn River. This was flowing along quite nicely, maybe because of the rains? There is a large cricket oval in the centre of the camp grounds. In 1859, John Sloan, built the first punt to cross the Goulburn River and built the town's first hotel - The Punt Inn. This Recreation Reserve was established in 1902, and the Reserve remained mainly bushland for the next 60 years. In 1906-91 work started on the oval and in 62-63 the first cricket match was played here. Over the next 25 years powered sites were established on the top bank and then the lower bank. These are now permanent sites - hence the only two powered sites for vans.



A rest stop
at Bonnie Doon.

Tree propagated from
the original Lone Pine.

Van park is
400m down the road.

Original ferry
crossing.

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Saturday 18th January - Mansfield

A warmer night getting down to only 12.6 and back upto 32.4 today.

We started the day with a phone call from the Real estate Agent, saying that the Gold Coast had been inundated with flooding rain, and yes, our house has sprung a few leaks. It turns out that water is pouring through one of the down lights and puddles are forming all over our brand new timber flooring. Seems cupboard damage to the kitchen and also later we learn that the outside air-conditioner compressor was partially submerged. The tenants took a video of it and it's not very pleasant to watch. Hopefully Suncorp Insurance to the rescue - we hope.

Clive went for a walk in the afternoon, as beside the Information Centre is the Great Victorian Rail Trail. This part - the Mansfield Line runs from Mansfield Station to Tallarook, a distance of 121km. There is also a branch line of 13km from Cathkin to Alexandra. He just did the 1.5km return section around the Mullen Wetlands. Actually he walked 2.28km return. The Mullen Wetlands is a peaceful area with plenty of birdlife and seating to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet. The Wetlands don't actually start for the first 500m as this is taken up by the old railway turntable, water tank and pit area. Some of the trees are signed with their Latin name as well as their common name. A good wheel chair friendly walk.

We are booked into the Molesworth Recreation Reserve and Caravan Park tomorrow. It apparently only has two - yes two powered sites, so I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not. What has Clive done this time?



Guard's Van
Circa 1895.

Timber Industry
Display.

Mansfield's first train
6 October 1891.

Great Victorian
Rail Trail.

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Friday 17th January - Mansfield

It was a cold night last night. I had my electric blanket on for part of the night. No pint in getting cold. It was a pleasant day until the wild wind came through. It got down to 7.8 during the night and upto 31.6.

Clive went to the information centre and took some photos. They have done it up really well. There is a stick tribute with pictures of people from the High Country. They also have a wool/felt mural on the wall there made by over 150 women in 1985 as part of Victoria's 150th celebration. The mural includes references to before white settlement, the picnic races, Haley's Comet, a tennis party in the early 19th century and many more snippets of the life and history of Mansfield. Also are hand drawn picture of Huts of the High Country, and framed originals can be yours for only $65.00 each.

There is a drive we can do up to Mt. Buller and a visit to Criag's Hut, but it is fairly steep and windy drive - one that I think is too much for me.



A Scarred
Tree.

People of
the High Country.

Part of
the felt mural.

High
Country huts.

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Thursday 16th January - Benalla to Mansfield

Today I'm wearing a cardigan! It is 18 degrees cooler than yesterday. It was 19.2 last night and a very pleasant 27.1 during the day.

We're booked in to the Mansfield Holiday Park and it's $38.00 a night. Seems like a nice quiet park with lots of cabins and plenty of space. Mansfield is only 60km from Benalla, so it didn't take long to get here. It's located on the edge of town on the way upto Mt. Buller.

So far we have seen ducks, rabbits and a huntsman spider here. Not happy about the last one I can tell you. They have a Putt Putt Golf Course adjacent to the park, as well as a large pool and big wooden pirate ship for children to play in. The good this with this is that it is well away from the guests, so noise is not an issue.

Normally this time of year there are over 100 Asians here for the cherry season. This normally lasts about five weeks, but due to the drought and fires there are less than fifty and the season will only be two to three weeks long.

It got cold during the evening, so much so that I ended up having Ugg boots on. Clive was in long tracksuit pants, socks, slippers, beanie, western shirt. Are you getting the picture. Even the electric blanket was turned on my side of the bed. We'll see how cold it got tomorrow.



Lake near
the entrance.

View from
the loo.

It's
cold.

Wild
rabbits.

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Wednesday 15th January - Benalla

It's a hot one today. Clive put the aircon first thing for me. It got to 38.8 and a low of only 21.5. We even left the aircon on low when we went on the Silo Art Trail.

The Silo Art Trail, now consists of six murals in small country towns. The book we used only had five, but we found another in St James, that was listed in a separate hand out that we had left in the van. The lady at the information centre said it would take about an hour. Well, it took us nearly three hours, so we had a very late lunch.

One of the murals was even inside a church. We managed to find five, as the sixth one is in the Winton Wetlands. We went there but obviously not far enough into the wetlands, as there was no signage that we could see. They are certainly interesting and the story boards near them, really give you some insight into these stunning pictures. Coupled with the murals in town this reminds us of outback Queensland. NSW - get your act together.

The towns with the Murals are;

Goorambat - Besides the Clydesdales there is also the Barking Owl. It is the most threatened owl in Victoria, with Northeast Victoria a remaining stronghold for wild populations.

Sophia of Goorambat. Located in the Methodist Church it depicts the female aspect of the Holy Spirit. Sophia by nature is nurturing, wise, comforting, inspirational and ever present.

Devenish - This is a tribute to the men and women who have enlisted for military service.

St James - Amongst other ones, depicts a mural of Sir George Coles, the founder of Coles supermarkets. He was a local in the St James township. In 1882, George Coles bought the North Eastern Store in St James and a branch store in Lake Rowan, 4 miles away. His son was named George James Coles - of the GJ Coles fame. The silo bunkers were built in 1943 with bushels of wheat originally delivered to the site via horse and cart; a motif that is displayed in the artwork.

Tungamah - This is the first silo to be painted in North East Victoria, beginning this Silo Art Trail.

Winton Wetlands - This is a water tank incorporating portraits of three local volunteers. Danielle Spokes of Winton Fire Brigade, Robert Green of Taminick Fire Brigade and Colin Hooke from the Chesney Fire Brigade.

The smoke is still bad, but a large storm front, the height of Victoria is coming our way and has hit Melbourne with flash flooding and strong winds. Hopefully no hail for us. The cool change hit us around 7pm, with only a few drops of rain, but down in Mansfield they recorded 37mm. We were told the next day the dam at the caravan park had risen by about twelve inches.

We're getting the tyre fixed and it will be ready about 9am tomorrow. I took a photo of Clive 'walking to the loo'. A few people are commenting on his 'View from the loo' photos, so thought it would be a good joke.



The Barking
Owl.

Sophia
.

George
Coles.

Possible rain
clouds ?.

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Tuesday 14th January - Albury to Benalla

A very hot 37.7 today and again just 18.0 overnight. They are forecasting heatwave conditions. Looking at 37 degrees still for 6pm. We reached that temperature earlier, but the aircon worked well for us.

Clive managed to book the Jeep in for a wheel alignment and this was going to take several hours. Rather than wait in the shop he walked into town and managed to get a hair-cut. Only $10.00 too, so this will give us a totally free day tomorrow, so we'll do some sightseeing of the Silo Art Trail.

On the way into town he noticed a lot of street art on the buildings. This is an 'arty' town with several galleries. There is certainly a lot of buildings painted, (over 60 by the guide book), and it's a pleasant walk around town looking at them. Not all were to his taste, but that's what art is about. He also went to the Information Centre, which sits on the banks of Lake Benalla.

In the grounds near the Centre is a Ceramic Mural, created by countless volunteers and 1500 regional students. The Mural commenced as a community art project in 1983, using the skills of ceramic artists, architects and the wider community. The project took 25 years to complete and was officially opened in 2010. It's certainly different and includes two thongaphones, a series of sculpted pipes, tuned to a pentatonic scale and played with thongs. The paving tiles were created by various primary schools.

A guy in the wheel alignment shop lives in the park, so he came by to have a look at the tyre on the caravan, as this tyre is wearing on the outside edge. Seems that the axel is slightly bent and the only fix is a new axel. Something we c an get done at a later date and maybe even a stronger one put on. We'll get a better tyre put on for now and keep an eye on it.

The smoke here has been really bad today. Probably the worst that we have seen. Melbourne got the worst city in the world today for air pollution. There should be a cool change coming through tomorrow, which will hopefully blow it away.



Another smoky
drive.

Entrance to
the van park.

View of
a loo.

An interesting
saying.

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Monday 13th January - Albury

A hot 32.7 and down to 18.0 last night. Looks like we're having another lazy day.

The aircon went on at lunch time as it was getting warm, but it's meant to be even hotter tomorrow. Not a lot that I can really do in this sort of weather as the heat knocks me about. Heading off to Benalla tomorrow.

Sunday 12th January - Albury

We're having a lazy day today. Well we have a few of them, several times a week sometimes. It got down to 17.0 last night and back upto 33.3 today. So a cool morning but a hot afternoon.

Clive went off to 8am Mass this morning at St. Patrick's Church. A beautiful old church built from local stone. After Mass he went for a short walk around town, as he needed to kill some time before the shops opened. He also went to the Eastern Hill Reserve, which was a lookout, but this was closed for renovations.

There are some lovely old buildings in town, including the railway station which was completed around 1881.



Park adjacent
to the van park.

Memorial at
Eastern Hill.

Hotel with
curved corners.

St. Patrick's
Church.

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Saturday 11th January - Gundagai to Albury

We had 6.4mm of rain last night. Woke early in the morning and put on the blankets and crochet blanket as it was cold. With this final rain was the cool change they had been promising. It got down to 13.9 and a pleasant 31.5 today.

We left at ten past ten and went to get the van weighed. The caravan park has a weigh bridge for their customers, so we thought it was worth doing again to see how much weight we had shed. Turns out that the van is only 10kg over, so out dumping stuff at Michael's and re-arranging the car seems to have worked. Clive was talking to the guy helping us and he said that ours is very good, as some he has weighed have been 500 plus kilos over.

An easy drive to Albury. The road is open again, as it was closed briefly yesterday. We're staying at the All Seasons Caravan Park and again they have drive through sites. This is now unchartered territory for me as I haven't been past Albury, so all the town names don't mean anything to me, where as in NSW I had to explain to Clive on how to pronounce their names.

We've had to down load the Vic Emergency app now to keep upto date with the bushfires, road works etc. as the NSW Live Traffic is no good here. Why they don't have a National one is beyond thinking. The Vic app has different features too. I suppose it's a bit like the road rules as they differ from state to state. The news is now also Melbourne based.

Friday 10th January - Gundagai

Clive put the air-con early this morning to keep the van cool while I slept, as they said that it was going to be a hot day. Well they were right. 19.6 overnight and upto 47.1 out the back. It was HOT!

After turning the van air-con off, we went for a drive around Gundagai. First stop was the statue of Dad, Dave, Mum and Mabel, from the long running radio series. Then to the Memorial of the Great Rescue of the 1852 flood. Then to the old Court House and Jail, where you can do a tour but we didn't.

Next stop is the Prince Alfred Bridge, so named after Prince Alfred who was the first member of the Royal Family to visit Australia. The bridge was completed in 1867 and has a total length of 921 metres. Alongside the bridge is the Railway Viaduct, which was built in 1903. Crossing the Murrumbrigee River, it is the longest ever timber truss bridge built in Australia, measuring 809 metres. Since 1979 funds are still being raised to restore these bridges to their former glory. As you can see from the photos, this looks to be an expensive job.

Down to the riverbank, sits the Old Mill building, right alongside the Murrumbridgee. Given how dry it is and the fact there is a road now running along the river bed, we can only assume that the river flow is controlled some how further upstream.

The Gundagai Railway Station was built in 1886. This branch line connected with Cootamundra, some 52km away. Extensions were added to the railway station in 1962, making it the longest timber railway station in NSW.

The Centre of OLD Gundagai marker sits in the middle of the Murrumbridgee River. The town was re-built after the flood of 1853, when it was re-located to higher ground. There is also the Old School Cairn on the river bed too. After years of petitioning for a school, the National school was built. This comprised of two rooms. During the flood, the school was washed away killing Master and Mistress McKenna, their five children and two other students.

A quick stop off at Wollies and then back to the van. It's now 37 inside the van and the air-con is on. At 2.14pm as you can see, it's 44.9 and still getting warmer. We should have left the air-con on. Some showers at 10pm but it is still 32 outside.



Dad, Dave
Mum and Mable.

The Court
House.

Prince Alfred
Bridge.

National
School Cairn.

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Thursday 9th January - Goulburn to Gundagai

Time to hit the road to Gundagai. 17.1 last night and 42.9 today. It got hot, but it's meant to be hotter tomorrow.

A good run to Gundy, taking about two and a half hours. The closer we got, the hotter it got. Just north of Gundy we stopped to see the Dog on the Tuckerbox and took some photos. Not much in the souvenir shop here, so hopefully more at the Information Centre in town. On the way here we passed a wind farm and also went through Conroy's Gap,(605m above sea level), for which Bill the Bullocky makes mention of the Dog on the Tuckerbox. Clive had to sing the song, "Along The Road To Gundagai". You'd know it, if you were in Scouts or Guides.. "There's a track winding back to an old fashioned shack, Along the road to Gundagai…"

During the drive at times it was very smoky, whilst others as clear as. We saw old trees on the roadside burnt, but others untouched. We are staying at the Gundagai Cabins and Tourist Park. Quite a large park with lots of cabins. If you have an ensuite site, they are all under cover. That's a first to see for us. Our spot was easy reversing into, but we are likely to be getting the sun all day as the frame faces north, so one side will get the morning and the other the afternoon sun. Sadly no shade on our spot. As it's pretty hot outside, we spent the afternoon in the van.

Luckily we have been refunded our Bateman's Bay money due to the fires, but all parks do have a strict 'no refund' policy. The park here is also an evacuation centre, so last week due to the fires they were booked out, but thankfully most have gone now. Finally about 9pm a cool breeze has come through.



The Dog on
the Tuckerbox.

Wind
turbines .

Historic
ruin.

Undercover
Ensuite sites.

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Wednesday 8th January - Goulburn

Weather update - a low of 20.0 last night and upto 33.2 today.

We toured around Goulburn today, starting with the Big Merino, which is about 500m down the road from our van park. I went looking around the gift shop while Clive climbed up inside the sheep to have a view from the top. You can look out the sheep's eyes at the surrounds. When he came down I had bought a magnet, tea towel and a soft toy merino sheep. It will be called Lamb Chops, after the pet one that I had when I was younger.

In the Big Merino they have an exhibition, depicting the last 200 years of the History of Wool in Australia. Very interesting reading. The actual sheep structure is 15.2 metres tall, 18 metres long and weighs around 100 ton. Not the sort of sheep I would like to shear.

Now onto Union Street where my grand-farther was brought up. It has now been pulled down and forms part of the school. Luckily I have some photos from the council that were taken as it was being demolished. Another piece of history now lost in the past.

Next stop was the Historic Goulburn Waterworks. Goulburn was Australia's first inland city. It has many old buildings especially along the main street that Clive visited later by himself. It was my rest time. In the early days before the Waterworks most people had to collect water in tanks, wells or purchase it from carters. Due to the demands of a growing city, in 1885 the waterworks was located adjacent to a deep hole in the Wollondilly River at Rocky Point and powered by a steam engine. Withing two years this hole had run dry, so a weir was built further downstream, thus ensuring a continuous supply of water for the town.

In 1897 an additional duplex steam pump was installed adjacent to the original Appleby Beam engine from 1865. In 1918 an additional annex was built to house one of the first electric pumps in a NSW waterworks. The Waterworks in Goulburn provided townsfolk with a reticulated water supply up until 1977.

The Appleby Brothers Beam engine is the only one left in the world and can be seen working on special 'firing days', when large crowds come to see a piece of history. Clive was allowed to go to the top of the Beam Engine - something not normally allowed for visitors and this gives a view of the engine and the winches above needed to help with maintenance.

The walk along the main street, shows many different buildings, with some taking up a whole corner block and side street. From the grandeur of the Telegraphic Office, (Post Office), to some of the smaller ones, they are well worth the walk and to look at. The Dimmey's Store's / Harvey Norman Building is another huge one.

Next to St. Saviour's Cathedral. This Anglican Cathedral is a magnificent example of Decorated Gothic architecture and in 2013 the City of Goulburn celebrated its 150th birthday as Australia's first inland city. Royal Letters Patent granted by Queen Victoria on March 14, 1863, established the Goulburn Diocese. The Cathedral was completed after 10 years of building in 1884, built around the original (1839) St. Saviour's Church, whose bricks form the cathedral floor. Inside there are many stained glass windows, an ornate 3000 pipe organ, intricate stone carving and a reflective Soldiers' Chapel. There is no spire on this Cathedral and money is currently being raised to build one.

Conversely the Catholic Ss. Peter and Paul's Old Cathedral has a spire and was completed in 1890. This church served as the Cathedral church for the Diocese of Goulburn until 1969, when St. Christopher's in Canberra became the Cathedral. Again this is a beautiful building with stained glass windows, three dimensional Stations of the Cross and a pipe organ that in no way compares to the one in St. Saviour's. The windows behind the Alter are a blaze of colour and well worth enjoying. There are pictures of Bishop Mark Coleridge celebrating his last Mass there. He is now the Arch-bishop of Brisbane.

Clive also went to the Rocky Hill War Memorial, situated on a high cliff on the outskirts of town. The Memorial was opened in 1925 as a lasting tribute to those men and women who served in WW1. The square tower stands 20 metres above the top of Rocky Hill. There is an eternal flame inside the tower that Clive tried to photograph, but was unsuccessful. Sadly the museum was closed undergoing renovations. You can see the smoke hanging over the city from up here and we've included a photo from a brochure to compare our view to what one would normally see.

Fresh pies from the bakery for dinner. Spoiling ourselves.



The Big
Merino.

Historic Waterworks
Building.

St. Saviour's
Cathedral.

Rocky Hill
Monument.

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Tuesday 7th January - Goulburn

A rest day today after yesterday's horror trip and long drive. Down to 15.8 overnight, but upto 35.4 during the day. Yes, the air con is working well.

Clive got the blog upto date and I read. We're going to see the Big Merino tomorrow and some other sights including where my great grand-father lived in Union Street. Sadly, this is now a school.

Rain, rain, glorious rain. It started raining late in the afternoon. Hopefully this will go everywhere that the fires are, but watching the news tonight it means that back burning will be limited and they are using graders instead to build fire breaks.

Chinese for dinner- delicious.

Monday 6th January - Nowra to Goulburn

So off to Goulburn today. It feels like we have been here for ages. Sadly we can't go south, but I think we'll save that for when we do Tasmania. Down to 16.5 overnight and upto 25.9 during the day.

So due to Kangaroo Valley still shut by fire, we'll head to Kiama and then onto Goulburn. A trip our mate Google says should take us about 2 hours and 18 minutes. It's a 170km trip, so a distance that we may cover in a day.

The trip started out OK. Pretty flat and then the left turn at Kiama. We travelled on the Jamberoo Mountain Road. This climbs gently out of Kiama. We had been on this road before when we took pictures of the stone rock walls and Kiama. Jeeves then tried to take us up a mountain pass, that was unsuitable for trucks, buses and caravans. Are you getting the picture yet?.

So we travel to Albion Park, where we can finally turn left to continue our journey. We end up going along Macquarie Way which goes thorough Macquarie Pass. This road opened in 1898. It would have to be the windiest hilly bit of road, with no let up at all. Talk about a steep climb. It took us nearly 90 minutes of this driving as there were steep hairpin bends, climbs and curves most of the time. Some parts were barely double lanes.

From Wikipedia - Macquarie Pass links the Southern Highland town of Robertson to the coastal town of Albion Park, descending the Illawarra Escarpment, via a very narrow bitumen roadway, which has several single-lane sections and is mostly two lanes with double "no overtaking" lines. It is in the Shellharbour local government area. This section of roadway is very steep, and contains many hairpin bends resulting in buses and trucks needing to reverse on some of the bends. The pass is quite notorious for accidents due to its nature, and drivers and riders are required to be cautious. After heavy rain, the Macquarie Pass can be closed due to flooding on the top half of the pass.

So now have you got the picture.

I don't recommend this road to anyone to ever use, especially if towing a van. Trucks and vans have to use it and we could hear on the CB, trucks asking if any other trucks were coming up of down the 'hairpin', as obviously they need to use the whole road when turning. There was some beautiful rain forest we travelled through, but I didn't have time to enjoy it, even though we were only doing 20-30km per hour. There were some steep drops on my side of the car I can tell you. Heaven only knows what the road though Kangaroo valley would have been like. I don't know if we were lucky it was closed because of the fires or not.

Our one worry was that we may have to descend as steeply as we had risen, but this was not to be the case. This road was called the Illawarra Highway and it joined up to the Hume Highway north of Goulburn. From Kiama, (elevation 10m), we travelled to Robertson, (elev. 731m). The movie Babe was filmed here and it is also has the Big Potato.

Next major town was Moss Vale. This town even has a McDonalds, so guess what. I had a cheese burger for lunch. Moss Vale sits at 678m above sea level. From here it was onto Goulburn with an elevation of 702m. Next stop will be Gundagai, (232m), and then Albury at 165m. So we will be going down-hill somewhere.

We're staying at the Goulburn South Caravan Park. Now this is a very large park, but it features drive through sites and is about a three minute drive to the Big Merino. Roll on six o'clock as I need a drink. It has taken us nearly four hours to get here.



Heading to
Kiama.

Santa and his
reindeers.

We've reached
Goulburn.

Where's my
drink?.

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Sunday 5th January - Nowra

Well we have survived the night. Luckily we didn't have to evacuate and the highway is now open, although roads to the west are closed. It's a cooler day with a top of only 22.6 and last night was 18.1.

The plan was to head to Goulburn though Kangaroo Valley, but this road is closed as the fire is heading that way. So we'll have to head towards Kiama and then take a left turn to Goulburn from there, where we will stay a few nights. Today has been cold, especially when compared to yesterday. Thankfully , it was not as bad as New Years Eve, even though some more property has been lost.

Clive went to Mass again at St. Michael's. Over Christmas they have Mass in the multi-purpose hall, due to the crowds that attend. Next week they will be back in the old church again. So after Mass, Clive went and had a look at it as it was open. This church was opened on the 30th September 1877. It has some beautiful stained glass windows behind the Alter and many Christian statues, placed high on the walls, so that they appear to be looking down on you. Clive thought that The Stations Of The Cross suited this old style building.



Windows behind
the Alter.

Soldiers
Memorial.

Adnate - Celebrating
Aboriginal Heritage.

SMUG - An ode to
two local artists.

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Saturday 4th January - Nowra

Well D-Day has arrived. It got to 38.3 and overnight was 21.7.

An eerie sort of day. As of 4pm we are blocked in as they have shut the Highway North from here. The fire has jumped the Shoalhaven River and is at North Nowra. Lots of sirens and they are advising people to seek shelter. The sky has had an orange glow to it all afternoon. It's been pretty dark for most of this time.

A cool change came through at 7.30pm, but this is also adding fuel to the fires as the wind is now blowing in a different direction. When fires get to a certain size they can create their own weather systems. This is what this one has done as we can hear 'thunder' and also black rain has fallen. This is water that as it falls collects ash. The car is filthy again.

We have our emergency plans ready if required to evacuate. Hand bag and briefcase, where we have our passports etc., will be thrown into a big hessian bag along with our medication. This was a big bag we were given in another park for putting recyclables in. Everything else we need to take is already in the car. We can't do much else until we are told what to do. Mot of the evening was spent watching TV for updates on the fires. A few people have left the park, but most are staying.

Friday 3rd January - Nowra

Still hot and predicting mid 40s for tomorrow. They are saying that it is going to be worse than New Years Eve. Joy oh joy. It got to 30.1 today and was a warm 21.6 last night.

Lots of fires down south and they are asking people on holidays to return home. This way there will only be locals left and this will help with fuel and food for them. Hopefully we will be OK as Nowra is just outside the evacuation zone. We should be OK going via Goulburn as there are no fires currently in that area.

Not a lot done today as we are listening to the fire updates and reports on ABC radio. Clive went for a short walk as he didn't have his hat and went down to the back of the park. They have a small reserve there and a boat ramp that goes directly into the Shoalhaven River. I know where he would be if we still had the fishing gear with us.

Nowra has a mural trail in the CBD. There was originally six murals commissioned to try and generate life back into the CBD with an additional one being added several years ago. Small businesses have also got on board by adding their own mural to their buildings.



The car
is clean.

Shoalhaven
River.

On the
boat ramp.

Spot the
rabbit.

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Thursday 2nd January - Nowra

A cool 16.4 and a high of 30.7. The fires are horrific and they are again predicting a scorcher for Saturday. Predicting the mid 40's and there is a suggestion that it could be worse than New Year's Eve.

Today was nice and cool, so we are making the most of it. Clive washed the car and then we went to Stockland Nowra Mall and bought some clothes for me. Looks like when I re-sorted the clothes at Pimpama last time, I left too many behind. Oh well, it's a good excuse to get some new dresses.

Clive is making a chicken and brinjal curry for himself as he has none left.

Wednesday 1st January - Nowra

Firstly - HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE.

Weather update - A low 19.5 and a high of 27.4.

Well, we stayed up and watched the fireworks last night. It was with mixed feelings, given the fires and losses that are currently happening in this country. When you think of all the millions spent on fireworks for the New Year, one has to wonder if this could be put to another use by helping others, especially the less fortunate people. The people in the van next to us started singing Auld Lang Syne on midnight. So glad they gave up quickly as they were out of tune and didn't know the words.

Another cool night, thank goodness. We even had the crochet blanket on the bed over our feet. Fires are still very bad from south of Nowra down to Batemans Bay. So plan B is being worked on by Clive, as I don't think that we'll be able to use the coast road. With the events of the last 24 hours with towns like Mallacutta being cut off and the fires worsening in East Gippsland once you are on the coastal road there is no-where else to go.

Looks like plan B will be to go to Goulburn and then carry on inland through to Gundagai and down to Albury-Wodonga. Then head back to Welshpool and pick up our original route. We were hoping that we wouldn't have to do this, but what can you do? Safety must come first. We have booked and paid for Batemans Bay and all the parks tell you of no refunds under any circumstances. We'll ring and ask the question, but are not holding our breath.

Fresh local prawns for lunch and Blue Vein Cheese. YUM!!, but I forgot about a wine.