Got up at 7am to go to the bathroom and there was mist all round. Quite pretty, and a little eerie.
Although the park is by the Calder Highway, we were pleased to find that the traffic noise was not really evident from the park. There was a bit of a swampy area next door, and what we were hearing was the sound of frogs – just beautiful.
When I got up properly at 9am, the earlier mist had totally cleared away.
Pottered about through the morning. John didn’t get up until after 11am! He had stayed up late last night, after watching TV, involved with a computer game.
Tried to check email on my laptop. The download proceeded at snail’s pace. John had used up our entire 8GB data allowance, last night, on his World of Warcraft update. Unbelievable! Especially since he said he’d done all the upgrades possible the night before we left home, using our much larger home data allowance. I was furious. Clearly, I am not a WOW devotee (addict?).
I was able to link to the park’s free Wifi, but it was not much faster. After sending friend M, currently travelling in Qld, a brief email that took forever to transmit, I gave up.
Morning relax at our site
As we were having lunch, was a text from daughter to say that grandson’s dad was dropping him at the park, in about twenty minutes. I waited out the front, and we chatted for a few minutes, before he headed off back to Melbourne. Daughter arrived not long after. We took the two boys to the very good park playground and jumping pillow. Daughter had received the OK to do so from park managers. It was the first time the four-year-old had been on one of those, and he had fun.
I was not impressed with the two boys, maybe 8-10 years old, who had two Cavalier spaniel type dogs in the playground, and were carrying them up, then pushing them down, the slide. The poor dogs were obviously uncomfortable. The boys’ grandparents were setting up an annexe on a van that I thought they’d brought from the storage area at the back of the park. I wondered if they actually lived in the retirement homes section behind the tourist part of the park. Seemed the kids and dogs had been sent off to play.
The boys may have decided that the look on my face boded ill for them, because they quickly left the play area. By the time we walked back past the van, there was no-one there. I mentioned the episode later to the park manager, who also seemed pretty annoyed by it. She clearly knew who was involved.
It was very chilly this afternoon. John suggested we might be more comfortable with our nibbles and planned pizza dinner, at daughter’s place. So we all adjourned there, complete with the food I’d bought yesterday.
As we drove through the streets of the more newly developed part of Golden Square, I was really taken with the white blossom on the ornamental trees that had been planted all down both sides of some of the newer streets. A really pretty display and, for once, clever landscaping on the part of some urban planners.
Street trees in blossom
Sat round the table with our nibbles and some wine, then ordered pizzas to be delivered. Made it easy! After tea, S arrived home. The sporting victory celebrations had been going on since yesterday and would continue into “Mad Monday”. In view of this, daughter had a rostered day off work tomorrow to mind the four-year-old, so we would be able to meet up again.
Watched Australian Survivor on their TV. We are finding that program at least as good as the American version. Then, back to Bus, keeping a careful eye out for roadside wildlife through the treed areas between Golden Square and Marong.
I got up about 8.30am. Nice quiet park for me to be able to sleep that late.
Took Couey out for her morning constitutional. When we checked in yesterday, the guy at the desk said there was a lane behind the park where the owner took his dogs for a run. I intended to take her for a good long walk along that. Plan foiled when dog refused to go out the entrance of the park, presumably because she could see traffic on the road. So she had to settle for a “once around the park”.
I drove to the general store to get the Saturday papers. Realized that the entrance to the lane mentioned for dog walking, was a lot further away than I’d thought.
The little township of Marong is where the Alternate Calder Highway, that branches off south of Bendigo and enables bypassing of that city, meets the original Calder again. It seemed to mainly consist of a hotel and the general store.
I sat outside Bus and read some of the news. It was quite pleasant in the weak sunshine.
Had ourselves an early lunch, then set off to drive to Huntly, on the northern edge of Bendigo to watch S’s netball grand final. The GPS took us on a kind of outer ring route around northern Bendigo, where it was obvious that the city was growing and spreading out. This was an area we didn’t usually go through – Sailors Gully, Jackass Flat. Still plenty of bushland around those parts though. I loved the picturesque names, deriving from gold rush days.
I’d kind of assumed that country netball/football league games would attract some loyal supporters, in the country style that I’d been used to, in my Western District days, and that there would be room to park in the grounds. Wrong – very wrong! There were thousands of people in attendance, and cars parked for at least a kilometre in every street around the sports ground. We cruised around and eventually slotted into a very small space just across from the grounds. Good to have a very small car…
Daughter had brought chairs, so we were able to sit to watch the netball game. It was a good close one, as befitted a grand final. I thought the playing standard was quite high, although the opposing team was very rough. In a previous incarnation, I was a qualified A Grade netball umpire, and I certainly would have penalized some of the actions I saw! The umpires missed a lot.
“Our” team won by five goals. Going out with a premiership was a great way for S to retire from her netball playing, after about 40 years of it! She played well too, and was rather emotional after the game.
I’d brought with me the crocheted rug I’d been asked to make as a baby present for a friend of V and S. Friend was at the netball, so I was able to see her being given the rug, which was well received.
The completed gift blanket
After the presentations, we extracted ourselves from the crowd and our little parking spot, and went to a nearby supermarket. Some of the family would be coming to the caravan park tomorrow afternoon, so I needed to buy some nibblies. And wine.
The earlier pleasant day had clouded over and it began to rain as we were driving back to Marong, quite heavily too. 5pm when we got back to Bus. I resumed reading the papers.
An absolutely huge fifth wheeler had come in today and was almost opposite us, on a drive-through site. Each to his own I guess, but it just seemed really excessive to me. As well as its great length, there was also a large side slide out section. This extended across the walkway path, effectively blocking it. I entertained some very uncharitable thoughts.
Walkway to camp kitchen, later blocked by fifth wheeler on the site
Tea was cold chicken pieces I’d previously cooked at home, avocado and asparagus. I took the latter over to the camp kitchen – dodging the extended obstacle – and cooked it in their microwave. That camp kitchen would not be out of place in a normal home – very well equipped.
After dark, a van arrived in the park, towed behind a tow truck. Its 4WD was up on the tray. The truck put the van in position up at the end of the park, and left with the vehicle. A glitch for someone’s travels. I felt great sympathy – we’d once arrived in Broome that way.
After tea, John watched sport on TV. I continued reading the papers. It was a chilly night again.
Bus had been ready to go for a while. The hold up had been waiting for three weeks before John could have the stitches removed from his leg. I’d ben doing some leisurely packing over the previous days.
It seemed timely to start a short trip now – maybe three weeks? The obvious first stop was Bendigo, where we hadn’t been in over a year. Grandson had a semi final coming up, in his hockey, and daughter’s partner a netball grand final. We could earn some family brownie points by attending these events.
Departed home at 10.30am. There were always last minute things to do, like packing those last fridge items, and filling rolls for lunch, and we were not in a hurry.
This morning, an added complication was a call informing John that his sister died earlier this morning. We had known this was coming, so it was not a shock. It was thought that the funeral would be late next week, so we decided to continue with at least the Bendigo part of the trip.
There was definitely an emerging pattern to our trip departures – that we have to stop at the park a couple of kms away, down the bottom of the range, to make some adjustment or another to the rig. In this case it was – again – the tyre pressure monitors. John had put them back on the Bus front wheels. He hadn’t ever gotten around to investigating solid sleeves for the inner rear tyre valve extensions, so we didn’t have the monitors on those, which had been the source of an unpleasant flapping noise on their first trip. But it was evident, as soon as we got up to any speed, that the front ones were making that noise now and would have to come off.
The monitor things are fiddly and hard to remove, which is probably a good thing. He swore a lot. The metal edges of the monitors were chopped about from flexing and hitting on the wheel rims, even over that short distance. Clearly, for this system to work on the Coaster, most wheels would have to have some modification to the tyre valve posts. It might make sense to just keep the system on the Terios, which was what I’d intended in the first place.
While John was working on the wheels, I watched a group of Little Corellas – of which we have a lot in the area these days – playing in a big gum tree a short distance away. They were taking it in turns to swing on “ropes” of bark hanging down and clearly just doing so for fun. They really are entertaining birds to watch. I know they are noisy and can be destructive, but I do like them. Had such a vivid memory from when we were camped at Purni Bore, on the edge of the Simpson Desert, some years ago, and there was a large dead tree containing a huge flock of corellas. A noise startled them and they rose all at once, like a great raucous cloud. Once, we would only see them in places further north – along the Murray, Coopers Creek and the like. But now they are well and truly present south of the Divide. Climate change?
Corella trees at Purni Bore, Simpson Desert
It was 11am by the time we got going again, taking our usual route via Yea and Seymour, to Bendigo. Also, as usual, the GPS was fixated on taking us back to Melbourne first. The only route it seems to recognize to Bendigo is via the Calder Highway.
On the large farms approaching Yarra Glen, workers were busily harvesting crops of Brussels sprouts.
Brussels sprout farm Yarra Glen
Along the bypass route around Yarra Glen, there is one roundabout where the route to the Melba Highway is straight ahead, and the road to Healesville off to the right. John took the latter, then had to find a place to turn around, before playing circles on the roundabout to the correct exit. This is something else that now seems to happen every trip – it gets him every time, and sometimes even on the return journey.
The many hectares of grape vines around Yarra Glen and Dixons Creek had all been neatly pruned and looked very tidy. In one of the vineyards there was a red helicopter parked. I wondered if it was tour related, or someone’s private transport?
As we churned our way up the Divide, some cars coming down towards us were flashing their lights at us. Of course, our initial reaction was to think “police ahead”. Then, when there weren’t, to worry if they were spotting something wrong with the rig. The reason became apparent not far from the top – a broken down 4WD and large caravan, parked partly in the oncoming lane. Traffic cones had been set up around it and there was obviously someone helping.
There were a lot of caravans heading towards Melbourne – the return of the grey nomads…
It was a very pleasant day for driving. Fine, blue sky, cool but not cold.
Topped up the fuel at the servo at Glenburn – $1.149 cpl.
Stopped at the Rotary Park at Seymour to eat lunch and give dog some exercise. I wanted her kept on the lead, to keep her away from water, but he who learns slowly let her off for a run. She promptly found the nearest large muddy puddle and wallowed in it. That undid all the good work of the dog groomers! Wet, muddy, smelly dog now. I was not happy. She was.
Lunch stop Seymour
I don’t think we had ever seen the country between Seymour and Bendigo so green and lush. There were lots of full dams and flowing creeks. Part of Lake Eppalock was visible from the road near Axedale, so it had to be pretty full.
I took a phone call and John was able to pull over to talk. It was to tell him that the sister’s funeral would be on Tuesday – sooner than we’d been previously told. We decided to keep going. Dog and I would stay in Bendigo and John could drive the Terios back to Melbourne for the day. I was pleased that we had set off today and were not now waiting around at home for the event to be over.
The Garmin had finally caught up with where we were, and directed us on the usual Over Dimensional Route through Bendigo. Only one glitch, when John seemingly couldn’t count to three and took the wrong exit from a round about. Again! Naturally, we’d managed to time our passage through the city to coincide with school let-out time…
It was 3.45 when we reached the Big 4 Marong Holiday Park, some 14kms west of the centre of Bendigo. We had not stayed here before, but were still trying to find a really good dog friendly park in the area. By initial impressions, this could be it.
I had previously phoned the park and booked us an en-suite site from today until Tuesday morning. Now, in view of the funeral, they were able to extend it for an extra night. After discount, we paid $36 a night, which I thought was very reasonable for a place of the quality that this turned out to be.
Set up on en-suite sites, which had ample room for us. The bathroom was compact, but clean and quite adequate. I was most impressed with the nearby roofed BBQ area and adjacent camp kitchen room, which was very comprehensively equipped.
Left Marong again at 5pm to drive back to Bendigo for grandson’s hockey match. It was cold, and we had to stand for the whole game, which was murder for the legs and lower back. “Our” team lost, so that was the end of the boy’s hockey season for this year. But he appeared to play well – I think? I would appreciate the game more if I knew something about the rules.
After the game, the boy headed off to spend the weekend with his father, who had come up from Melbourne to watch the match, so we wouldn’t see him again until Sunday afternoon.
Drove back to Bus, stopping at Marong to order fish and chips from the general store’s attached shop, which John drove back to collect at the appointed time of 8pm. Very nice they were too.
We certainly needed the little electric fan heater to warm up Bus.
John watched football on TV. I did some hand sewing of the quilt project.
Bed at 11pm. We were both tired. For some reason, not long after getting into bed, I got a really nasty cramp in one leg. Unusual for me and it sure woke me up again! Was very careful how I moved that leg for the rest of the night.
It was probably a good thing that our planned trip north had not happened. The winter weather had adversely affected a lot of travellers in those parts. Had we followed the original plans, we’d have been in Nambucca Heads when that area of the coast was hit by a very unpleasant East Coast Low. But maybe spring – and the post-Olympics period – might present more opportunities…
I began the month with an embarrassingly obvious pair of black eyes and bruised nose. Such that John refused to be seen in public with me, after one foray out where people looked at my injuries, then glared at him, and/or gave him a wide berth. Try explaining that “the dog did it!” I had been sitting watching TV. Couey was killing her knotted rope toy and lost control. The thing hit me at great speed, full in the face. Probably just lucky it wasn’t the TV screen…
The planning for son’s wedding in October was well under way. All very exciting. We were taken to lunch at their chosen venue – Wild Cattle Creek Winery in the Yarra Valley – to sample the quality of the food and wines. Beautiful setting. Great food.
My first ever venture into being treated by a chiropractor, praises of long sung by friend M, which had seemed initially promising, after a few weeks led to a cascading set of unwanted impacts, ultimately a really sore lower back and sciatic nerve playing up. She’d been supposed to be working on aching shoulders and upper back! I decided that all my previous scepticism about that type of treatment had been well founded, and never again…
John happily watched the Olympic Games from the comfort of his armchair at home. However, as in the past, he became bored as the days dragged on.
For respite from the constant stream of Olympic coverage, I took dog to the Animal Aid refuge at Coldstream, for a bath. Their grooming service is a fund raiser for their excellent work, so well worth supporting. This time, Couey actually appeared to enjoy the process. She came home with a big mauve bow tied to her collar and seemed quite proud of herself.
Look at me!
Our 25th wedding anniversary came – and went. I’d bought some books John wanted, as a present. Now that we were still home, he’d had another overnight stay in hospital for Round 2 of this current lot of skin cancer removals, three days beforehand, so was understandably distracted and totally overlooked the occasion. I let it slide by so he wouldn’t become upset by his oversight. The books would become his birthday present instead.
My stitching is so much neater than this!
Went for a day trip drive to Nagambie, where we met our house sitters for lunch at the Lakeside Centre. They’d replaced our cancelled booking with a sit at Echuca, so Nagambie was roughly in the middle, for all of us. The lunch was unremarkable but catching up with T and A again was great. On our way home, called in at Tahbilk Winery and purchased some bottles to take home. On 30 August, the stitches from John’s most recent round of surgery were removed. That gave us a little trip opportunity, before the bowls season cranked up in earnest.
Bus went to local Toyota for a service. Last time we had one of those, they could not check the brake condition, because they couldn’t get the wheel nuts undone. Since then John had bought the nut cracker – torque multiplier. That went with Bus, and he gave the mechanic a demonstration on how to use same. So brakes got checked, along with all else. The only thing found to be wrong was a blown front light bulb. Since we never drove it at night, that was not something we’d noticed. They had to remove the bull bar, though, to replace it!
Bus came home all checked over, and with lots of lovely clean new fluids.
For a while now, I had been looking in pet shops, for a replacement portable dog bed. The one we had been using, that came with dog, was already broken back then – guess that’s why it was given to us? It was quite wobbly. Over time, the mat part had just about worn through.
Once again, the internet to the rescue, and I found exactly the sort of thing wanted, and bought it online. When the parcel was delivered John unpacked it – and Couey jumped on the bed before he even had it fully on the floor. Definitely got the dog seal of approval.
So when are we going?
For quite a while, I had been toying with the idea of getting “something extra” to monitor for loss of coolant from the radiator. A couple of past incidents had made us very aware of the catastrophic consequences this can have on a diesel engine.
Years ago, when we were still working and had a Hilux, the mobile mechanic we used then to service it, didn’t tighten – or left off altogether – the lower radiator plug. Next day, John set off for work, but didn’t get there. That was when we found out what many people still don’t know – the normal temperature gauge does not show the engine cooking itself, if there is no coolant! It only shows the coolant temperature. On that occasion, a very expensive engine re-build was covered by the mechanic’s insurance.
More recently. friend M wrecked her Troopy’s engine, in northern NSW. For an unknown reason, the coolant was lost. As with the Hilux, nothing untoward showed on her temp gauge. Only the engine’s dying alerted her to a problem. She took a chance and had a re-conditioned engine installed, as the quickest option available. Still a costly exercise, and not all that satisfactory. It was that engine that died last year, stranding her on the Tanami Track.
After yet more research, I decided to get a Watch Dog. (Not a furry friend for Couey.) This device was, basically, attached under a screw that was already part of the engine, and monitors the engine temperature. I received prompt and excellent service from the company that makes them – literally next day delivery. We had a mobile mechanic install the device and were pleased with his work.
So, yet another gauge/alarm on the gadget central that is our dashboard – fortunately, a large one! It was direct wired, though; we already had enough cigarette lighter plug-in type things using the little power board.
I just hoped it was a more successful innovation than the tyre pressure monitors had been. The alarm signal was certainly loud enough. It came on when the ignition was turned off and went for what seemed ages because it was so piercing.
After getting home from the Porepunkah trip, we added to the “to do” list: get both Bus and Terios serviced. Get new tyres for Terios.
It was our intention to leave in July, for a trip exploring the NSW coast north of Newcastle. Had our house sitters booked – seven weeks was all they could spare us, this time, being so heavily booked. That would do us.
Took the Terios to our local tyre dealer. Told him not to freak out when he saw the ages of two of the tyres on it. Three were 2002 manufactured, and two were 2007. 2002 tyres on a 2006 vehicle? Somebody pulled a swifty somewhere…
They all still had a fair amount of tread, but I really wanted the security of having four new ones. The best of the 2007 tyres went onto the spare wheel, though. All done, aligned, balanced. Tick off one item.
The Terios went for a service at the local Suzuki service centre. The only issue found was that it needed a new air con fan belt, which they had to get in. Apparently this was no easy task because it was several weeks before they phoned to say it was in. Installation was nice and quick, while I waited there.
Winter school holidays at home… woodwork with grandson
Started planning the next trip. Decided on stays at Nambucca Heads, Yamba and Evans Head. We would take an inland route and get to the coast via the Hunter Valley and Newcastle – avoiding Sydney.
John was adamant that we had to be somewhere with good TV, for the period of the Olympic Games, from August 5-21. A three week stay at Nambucca Heads looked ideal. There was an attractive seeming park near the ocean breakwall, and close to the town. That would give me good places to walk dog and – hopefully – some interesting things to go and do while John was glued to the screen.
Unfortunately, the chosen park, when I phoned to book, confessed that their TV signal was poor. Immediate veto from the TV addict! The only other possible park was out of town. It had good TV and was duly booked. I would just have to put up with being away from easily accessible distractions for me, for the duration.
Booking the park at Evans Head provided another disappointment. We had stayed there in 1999, on our long trip, and I was looking forward to revisiting the area. The park had a separate section for travellers with dogs – and it had no en-suite sites. Just something we’d have to put up with. At least the park we booked at Yamba met all requirements.
While we were having breakfast outside, one of the neighbours came over and apologized for their noise last night, as they sat round their fire and talked. We attempted to reassure him that the Bus was well soundproofed and we hadn’t actually heard them at all. They had been very good about breaking up their gathering at 10pm too.
We had reached the limits of our time extensions possible here. In view of the long weekend crowds, I was now quite happy about that.
We didn’t want to go any further away from home than we now were, for just two nights. Tuesday was the absolute deadline to go home, with John due to go into hospital on Thursday. In the absence of any better ideas, decided to just go home today. It was a good decision – once we were clear of the tourist traffic heading for Bright, and around Myrtleford, there was not much traffic at all.
Left Porepunkah at 9.45am.
Old tobacco kilns Ovens Valley
There were lots of cyclists taking advantage of the lovely day and using the Rail Trail between Bright and Myrtleford. It would be a great ride to do – so much excellent scenery and the picturesque old tobacco kilns along the way.
Cyclist on the Rail Trail
As we passed through Myrtleford, I photographed the old butter factory. This had now become a tourist attraction, where butter making was demonstrated – a good idea and an educational experience for children whose ideas of the origins of milk and butter extend no further than the supermarket fridges. Guess I am one of a dying vintage of people who grew up helping mum make our own butter – after extracting the milk from its original source, by hand.
Old Butter Factory Myrtleford
Took the Hume Freeway south from Wangaratta. Stopped at the Euroa Service Centre for fuel and to give dog a drink. Diesel was $1.189 cpl.
There was a police drug testing van set up in Seymour, testing drivers going westwards.
From the outskirts of Seymour, to Yea, not a single vehicle came up behind us. John couldn’t believe it. Usually, on the bendy section around Trawalla, we end up with a tail back of traffic behind us.
Had a lunch stop at Yea. It did not look particularly crowded as we drove into the town, and was probably the least busy we’d ever encountered. John had the usual pie from the bakery. I had a very nice egg and lettuce multi grain roll.
Left Yea at 1.45pm, and were home by 3pm.
The usual unhitching of car and putting Bus back in place was complicated, because a visitor to neighbours had parked his car opposite our driveway entrance – on the very narrow road. Some prolonged horn sounding had no effect. I am still not sure how John managed to slot Bus into place without scraping that car, our gateposts, and Bus.
I had put Couey into the backyard before we began unpacking Bus. She apparently didn’t trust us not to be leaving again, without her, and managed to climb the nearly two metre high wooden fence, to reach us. Too damned athletic! Now that she knew she could do this, we would have to put a temporary higher barrier there, to tide us over until we get a new fence put in there – one really high and made of less climbable metal. Otherwise, every time one of us goes out, dog would be following.
Thus ended this trip. There would not be any more for a while, due to surgery and recuperation.
Until today, all our riverside walks with dog have been westwards, along a track on the bank, towards Porepunkah. This morning, I went the other way. It was not so obvious, from the park, that there was a track in that direction. Dog and I found it was a nicer walk than the one we had been doing. It followed a line of bushland, between the river and the back fences of the houses that front the main road. Those houses have a great location, with back access to the river. Some of them would appear to have water rights from the Ovens too – I saw a couple of places where pumps had been set up.
Because all the smells were novel, and because there were several places where she could look yearningly at the river, dog went further than was usual on these morning walks, so it was a good long one. But eventually, thoughts of breakfast intruded and she refused to go any further- as was the norm.
I thought about driving into Bright to buy the Saturday papers, then thought of the crowds that would be there, and decided to go without. Last time we’d been here, we’d gone to the markets at Wandiligong. I wasn’t keen on going this time, knowing that we’d have to park a long way from the action and then carry any purchases the long way back.
So, it was another lazy day round camp.
The colours of autumn
With hindsight, it might have been better to have left yesterday morning, before the hordes descended on the place – and before the nightly rate went up!
I sat out in the sun, read, and worked on the blanket. Occasionally, I had to glare and growl at little brats who came running through the site, taking a short cut back to their cabin. At that stage, Couey was inside Bus with John. I didn’t want to have her tethered outside, as just her size and blackness would have scared said brats. I was very tempted, but didn’t want anyone complaining that dog had frightened them – just by being. Or coming off their speeding bikes in fright – though, again, the thought was tempting.
A new set of occupants set up on the vacant site on our awning side. An offroad camper trailer. Family, with two young children, and grandparents in a caravan on a more distant site. The camper trailer took them ages to set up – far longer than a caravan would have. Very fiddly. The children were much better behaved and supervised than those of the trail biking/camp kitchen drinking variety.
In less crowded times
In the afternoon, took Couey for a walk in the new direction. I wanted to show John this more enjoyable track. It also had the benefit that all the camp brats seemed to go the other, more obvious way along the river.
We found a place where Couey could have some stick fetching fun in the river for a while. Then kept going. Unfortunately, around a bend there was a man standing knee deep in the middle of the river, fly fishing. Dog was instantly into the stream, to join in this great new game with the big stick! The fisherman was not impressed – he did not share Couey’s view that he was her new best friend. Probably neither did any trout that may have been in the vicinity. We managed to call her back to us and found a new place, further upstream, where she could play.
Back at camp, the several sets of parents of the bratty little kids had re-occupied the camp kitchen and were having a drinking session. The kids got more tired and more noisy – and my temper got shorter. By great contrast, the various offspring of our Indian neighbours were so well behaved and civilized.
We had steaks with peppercorn sauce for tea.
TV football again in the evening. Our neighbours had their gathering around their fire brazier. It was a really cold night.
The first part of the morning was lazy. After my breakfast and coffee, sitting outside, I read for a while. John had a long sleep in. Dog elected to join him in Bus – after I’d done her morning walk, of course.
Then, it was moving day for us. Carried our gear over to the site diagonally behind, then put in the awning and moved Bus around there. I confined Couey – and her loud complaining that we might be going somewhere without her – to the Terios. Nicely muffled.
The new site was better than the one we’d been on, in terms of size. We were now no longer on a corner, with vehicles and vans coming too close to the front corner of Bus. There was more room for the car, and the dog.
The down side was that we were right under some lovely big trees, busily dropping autumn leaves in great volume.
After setting up again, just lazed around for much of the day. John spent time on his laptop. I did some crochet. Not long before we came away, I received a parcel of wool from Bendigo. The crochet patchwork blanket that I’d made, a while ago, for the younger grandson, had been so well received that I had been asked to make a similar one for the family to gift to an expectant friend. We’d agreed they would buy the wool and I’d do the work. I was happy to have the project.
New site before we moved – and before the holiday influx
Around lunch time, new occupants arrived for the site we’d vacated. It appeared they were rather novice campers, as they fuffled around putting up a brand new tent, trying to work around the cement slab. John took pity on the man who was trying to hammer in tent pegs with a small rock, and took across our block hammer for him to use. It was appreciated.
They turned out to be the advance guard of a group of families – all sub-continental – who arrived, one lot at a time, through till about 9pm. With one exception, they proceede3d to put up tents, occupying seven sites on three sides of us. Almost surrounded! One family occupied a cabin opposite, the man making comments to the others to the effect that camping was not for him – somewhat less politely than this, though. The group set up a gazebo, and a fire brazier – the latter on the site next to us. They were all very nice people but – as one of them said to us, later – “Indians are noisy people.”
The en-suite site next to us was empty overnight.
Mid-afternoon, John felt like a drive, so we set off up the Buckland Valley. More superb autumn tree displays. Apple orchards too, extending towards the flank of Mt Buffalo, in the distance.
Buckland Valley road
We eventually drove out of the farmed parts of the valley and into native forest. Crossed a bridge over the little Buckland River, but did not go much beyond that, after the road turned unsealed. Eventually, this track beside the Buckland River heads up into the Barry Range and onto the High Plains, but this was not an occasion for adventurous rough driving. We backtracked.
Mt Buffalo from Buckland Valley
At Porepunkah, took the Back Germantown Road, that follows the northern side of the Ovens River to beyond Bright. Turned right by Bright and crossed the Ovens River bridge to the main part of town.
Ovens Valley farmland
Located the pizza shop that would provide tonight’s tea. Its menu was amongst the material I’d previously collected at the Visitor Centre. It looked nicely extensive.
The town was really busy, already.
I did a quick pick up of a couple of items at the supermarket, then we went back to camp, in time for Couey’s afternoon walk and play in the river.
Between Bright and the caravan park, the traffic coming towards us and Bright was a line worthy of peak hour in Melbourne!
The Autumn Festival events began tonight. It was also the start of the long weekend.
New arrivals in the park included some campers who had brought in quad bike type machines on the backs of utes and on trailers. There was a group with lots of trail bikes between them, too. Clearly, the forest trails and fire access tracks in the surrounding mountains were in for a massive assault over the coming days.
By late afternoon, the noise levels in the hitherto peaceful park had risen greatly. And we remembered why we liked to avoid popular places at holiday times! The motorized monstrosities seemingly had to all be turned on to see if they had somehow stopped working since leaving home. Actually, it seemed more like a “mine is louder than yours” competition.
On top of these, and these chatter of the Indians, there were several families with numbers of young children – too many of whom were tearing around the places on bikes. Unfortunately, not all of the kids had been educated in camp ground manners, about things like running through any site they felt like.
The group of trail bike riders had laid claim to the camp kitchen, congregating there to sit round drinking and talking – not cooking – in such a way to make it impossible for others to use it for doing a BBQ or other cooking. Yes – holidays bring forth the worst sort of fellow campers.
John tried to phone our order through to the pizza place, but the phone stayed busy. In the end, he decided to just go and get our meal, and put up with a wait. I wanted a puttanesca pizza and John a hot and spicy one. He had to wait in the very busy shop for nearly half an hour, before collecting them. It cost $43 for the two – of a size I would call medium. They were rather too thinly topped for my liking, especially given the price. The base sauce appeared to just be tomato paste, smeared on – there was lots of it visible between the meagre bits of topping – and only a very light scattering of cheese on my pizza. I think making our own pizzas at home has rather spoiled us for the commercial product.
John phoned a friend from teacher college days, who lives near Bendigo, to see if we could go visit him and park at his place on Sunday. Disappointingly, he wouldn’t be home. So we decided to just make our way home again on Sunday.
John watched football on TV, after dinner. I went to bed early, and read for a while. The background noise of the TV did not keep me awake for long. All this fresh mountain air tires me out!
Today was cooler. We’d had rain through the night and some showers this morning.
I find it very cosy, lying in bed in Bus, listening to rain on the roof, knowing we do not have to worry about it leaking, as was always the case with the van, after that incredibly incompetent RV solar power “expert” wrecked the roof for us.
Daughter’s birthday today. She had texted me on Tuesday to say that the card and gift I’d sent her from home, had arrived. This morning, I texted her extra birthday wishes.
After last night’s bottle of wine, we decided to leave early enough to call in at Michelini at Myrtleford and stock up on some more of their merlot.
Hops growing near Myrtleford
The Michelini cellar outlet was on the western outskirts of Myrtleford – a newish-looking establishment, somewhat Tuscan in appearance.
The Michelini story is an interesting one: post WW2 migration to Australia, hard work, an eye for opportunity and courage to grasp same. In 1970 the founder moved to the area to grow tobacco, but noted climatic similarities to his home region of the Italian Alps. This prompted him to try growing cool climate grape varieties from there, presumably initially for private consumption. But the venture grew, the times were right, and the first commercial vintage happened in 1997.
We found their range of wines not as extensive as that of Browns – would not have expected it to be – but it covered reds and some whites. Although we knew what we’d come for, we did taste a couple of other wines, for future reference. Bought a dozen of their Devils Creek merlot, which was only $10 a bottle, which we found unreal. And we were given a bonus extra bottle. Joined their Wine Club, which meant that shipping our dozen home was free. I didn’t think we would have any trouble buying the dozen bottles a year that the membership entails! We took our bonus bottle away with us. What a find!
Old kilns repurposed, Myrtleford
Drove on to Beechworth. The town was teeming with tourists and so busy. We were lucky and found a parking spot virtually outside the Beechworth Bakery – our meeting place for lunch.
Decided Couey would have to stay in the car. Originally I’d thought that we might be able to eat at one of the footpath tables outside, and have her with us, but it was a bit chilly and there were too many people crowding past them.
Instead we were immediately lucky inside, and found a booth to sit at. The place was humming. I think a couple of tour buses had deposited their clientele nearby and sent them in the Bakery direction.
I found the lack of a system for dealing fairly with such numbers disappointing. There was a queue, of sorts, to one side, with four or five people serving, but a number of people just walked straight in and up to the counter, ahead of those who were queueing. They should have had some sort of take and number and wait to be called system.
Yet again, the pasty option was a vegetarian one! Yet again, John resorted to the old carnivorous standby of pepper pie. I had a roasted vegetable focaccia, which was excellent.
Over lunch and a couple of coffees, we had a good catch-up talk with my friend. The three of us then collected Couey from the car and took her for a walk, down past the bowls club, to a grassy area where she could have an off-lead run. Friend is a dog person, about to acquire a chocolate Labrador puppy. She was very taken with our girl.
After a very enjoyable few hours, drove back to camp the way we had come, via Myrtleford. It was a pretty drive, as they all are around here, at this time of year. By the time we’d lunched and talked and walked, it was too late to go exploring further afield. Yackandandah would have to wait for another day.
Couey had another riverside walk and play in the river.
John had fancied more bread and Milawa cheeses for tea, so had bought himself a fresh bread roll at Beechworth. I had soup and a salad – and some cheese.
Friend F from Griffith phoned. They had been travelling, with their van, in WA and stumbled across a Hino bus that had been partly converted to a motorhome, and was for sale at a bargain price. Obviously, F had been impressed by our Bus lifestyle when we’d camped with them a few years back, because they bought it. They had just driven it back to NSW, had it checked over and registered there, then flew back to WA to resume their van trip north to Newman, Karijini and across the Top End. Sounded to me like they’d gotten a bargain.