SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 10 CASTLEMAINE
This morning was much drier. Whilst it still felt damp, there was no rain falling when I got up.
Did the usual morning walk with Couey, through the Gardens.
I drove to the shopping centre and bought some supplies at the excellent IGA supermarket. This was an interesting place, because it had been integrated, in part, behind the façade of an old building. Very well done.
Bought the Saturday papers, then went back to Bus, where I read these for a while, until John was up and breakfasted.
Back into Terios, to go driving again. John wanted to visit Taradale and look at the school there, which was the third school he’d taught at, in the late 1960’s.
Passed through Chewton, which looked interesting, but we didn’t stop.
The whole region is a treasure trove of old buildings of all shapes and sizes, and I could certainly spend a lot more time here.
I was navigating us, and got myself totally disoriented in Malmsbury, somehow. Think it was due to mixing it with the new Calder Highway, which wasn’t on my maps. At a T intersection, told John to turn right, but he reckoned Taradale was up the road to the left. He was correct. I don’t think that where I thought we were, was actually where we were…
The Taradale Primary School was still there, functioning, and in the old building he remembered.
Taradale Primary School
According to a local who John got talking to, the school had been on the verge of closing, but was revitalized by a new Principal and was now flourishing. Good to hear. But the old school house that John had lived in, was no longer there.
Showing the school as it was
I wandered about and took photos while John was talking. It was a very pretty place, in rolling hill and valley country.
Some of the old houses had become weekenders for people from Melbourne. I presumed that, with the Freeway now nearing completion, it would not take long to get here from the city, so maybe some would become full-time residences.
The new Calder Freeway would also have cut right down on traffic through the little towns along the old road route – another drawcard for people from the big smoke.
From the area near the school, the Taradale Railway Viaduct, completed in 1862, was visible along a valley.
…and in the distance…
This was a high and impressive structure, still used by the Melbourne to Bendigo trains – of which we saw one crossing, but I was not quick enough to photograph it. They move fast! In the days of the steam trains, an engine and carriages chugging over the viaduct would have been quite something to see.
Taradale Railway Viaduct
The original stone piers of the structure were strengthened with steel supports, in 1933, because trains had become heavier than when the viaduct was built.
Signs around Taradale provide a wealth of information
We drove down the road that goes under the viaduct and along for a distance.
Viaduct close up
When John had been Principal of the school, he established a plantation of pine trees – to bring in future revenue for the school – out this way somewhere, and he wanted to see if he could find the place. In an area of bushland reserve, we took the unsealed Plantation Track, and followed this for quite some way, as it wound through the bush. There were some slightly boggy sections. It actually felt quite remote.
Couey seemed interested in the bush smells and was actually up and sniffing out of the window. Usually, she lies on the back seat with her head down as close to the floor as she can manage. Would get her whole body down there if she wasn’t restrained by her car harness. She does not like car travel. A wallaby or small kangaroo hopped away from in front of us, but I don’t think she saw it. We stopped in a small clearing, and John gave her a run and threw the ball for her.
We didn’t find any sign of a pine plantation – but it was over fifty years ago!
Retraced our way, back to the sealed road, then followed this until it ended up against the new freeway. Then we went back the way we’d come, to Taradale.
I wanted to look at the railway station, where several old buildings constructed from bluestone remain, though the verandah that was once over the platform has gone.
Taradale Railway Station platform and goods shed
The two-storeyed station building and a goods shed were really solid structures, dating from 1862.
As it was…
Trains no longer stop at Taradale and haven’t since the early 1970’s. However, the Melbourne to Bendigo rail route is still very active and the trains pass through here. There is a double line because it is part of a passing loop.
It looked as though the old station was being used as a residence. Reckon that could be a bit noisy, with the passing trains. But I guess those old bluestone walls are pretty thick.
Old Taradale Railway Station
We returned to Castlemaine, back the way we came. Again, experienced some confusion and wrong turns, due to the new freeway impinging on old roads.
Our explorations around Castlemaine
Had a late lunch, then watched football on TV. It was finals time in the AFL.
I took Couey for a really long walk through the Botanic Gardens, She’d had a really active day and spent the evening being suitably quiet and tired.
Tea was lamb, honey and rosemary sausages. John had a corn cob with his. I had an egg.
Watched yet more football.