Victoria Day 28

Day 28 Saturday

Can’t believe that the last day of our trip has arrived as today we head home to our fur babies who have been expertly looked after again by the wonderful Bec.
We are up and ready to go from Bendigo to Geelong an easy two and a half hour drive but today the wind is pretty high which will add a bit of excitement. I will be driving the cruiser and van whilst Kaz will be cruising in the luxury of no van attached to the new Subaru.
We leave the camp, park up a side street then walk across to meet Scott Innes, owner of Innes Motors who has been absolutely fantastic with us and is supplying us with a new Subaru Forester. We get in and Scott has the car perfectly prepared including a little surprise of a box of Bee Stings from the Beechworth Bakery in the footwell.

Scott then demonstrates all the great features of the car before we sign all the paperwork, say our thanks and hit the road in convoy on route to Geelong.

The drive is mostly uneventful, we keep in touch hands free as we travel and we easily arrive home without issue.
We step in to the house quietly before opening the doors to the garden then we get our two Border Collies rushing to greet us and welcome us home.

The jumping continues accompanied buy lot’s of whimpering and crying. Seems we have been missed. It’s then we look around and the house is spotless, polished with flowers and chocolates left for us by the aforementioned wonderful Bec.

This trip has been amazing and we have more planned in the not too distant future.

NSW/Victoria Day 27

Day 27 Friday

Time to go leave Echuca and having paved the way yesterday we are packed up pretty easily and we hook up and are pretty upset at leaving both the town and the weather. Today we have an easy drive as we are only heading to Bendigo which is about an hour away. We planned on staying at a certain park but when we arrived we thought better of it and headed for the Big4 Ascot. This is a park we have stayed at before and is closer to the place we need to head to on Saturday morning which is Innes Motors Subaru where will be collecting a Subaru Forester we have purchased to replace our Ford Fiesta.
Arriving at the big4 we are given a great spot and partially set up as it is only a one night stay.

We get in the car and head in to the city centre which is deserted. Myers which we go in to is also deserted and we walk around as if some famous celebrity shopping.
Walking through the centre we stop and enjoy a busker who has a guitar, a mic and a fantastic voice. Kaz takes a wee video of her and drops some cash in to her guitar case.

Shortly after we go back to the van to plan for tomorrow’s journey home to Beautiful Geelong. With the plan set it’s time to eat and close to the park, over the train tracks there is a great place called the Botanical Hotel that has a fantastic bar/restaurant which we stroll to. The place is pretty quiet so a table is found easily. This place has wine on tap which is amazing and we grab two large glasses of red.
Menu next and we have coconut prawns for entree, then Kaz orders the stuffed chicken and I go for the fish & chips. The dishes arrive hot and perfectly cooked which we devour in no time. We avoid desert but treat ourselves to another couple of the shiraz. The walk back to camp is not great as the forecasted wind has arrived and it seems a bit colder after the sunshine of Echuca.

NSW/Victoria Day 26

Day 26 Thursday

After a late rise we are up and head in to Echuca information centre where we grab some maps. Soon after we go back to Murray & Shona’s Courtyard Cafe for breakfast.

We head out to visit the Moama State Forest where we walk the 5k bike trail as we don’t have the bikes on board. We see quite a few people free camping along the river and swimming. Some of them look a bit dodgy though and look as if that is where they live.

We return to Echuca and take a walk along the Murray where we find a burnt out Ute which was unexpected. Quite how it got down to the river must have provided some excitement for someone.

With the sun in full bloom and the temperature quite hot we get back to the park where we head straight for the pool. Although it looks inviting it is still not even warm but we get in and after a bit our bodies have adapted to the temperature and it does seem better.
In the pool area there is a older couple with their daughter and a couple of small kids . Poppy (Grandfather) takes out the prize for being the loudest, most over excited person we have ever heard as his voice screams out louder than the kids he is having fun with. Thankfully they had been there a while before we arrived and retreat to a cabin on site where we could still hear Poppy’s screaming.
With no glass allowed round the pool area I hatch a plan and pour two bottles of cider in to a plastic drinks bottle and we are set. We enjoy the peace for a bit before a final splash and then head for a hot shower.
Tonight we use the Webber and have burger night.
As we have to leave tomorrow where we will head to Bendigo we do some early work and load the bikes up, drop the awning and generally try to make our exit in the morning a bit easier. We enjoy some time sitting out in the heat before it’s lights out.

NSW/Victoria Day 25

Day 25

After a late breakfast we head for Kyabram wildlife park where we will see some of Australia’s big name animals. We arrive at the park and amazed to see a queue formed. We get in line and turns out the queue is not to enter the park but instead to buy coffee and ice cream. Annoyingly there is only one person at the counter so we have to wait till the coffee and ice cream line is dealt with before we can actually buy tickets, food and get in. We are then informed that the feeding has already taken place,Koala show? done, bird show?, just missed it. After all this good news and having bought the tickets already we enter the park anyway.

We are grabbed by the sense that this park is run down and looking very unloved. Following the map we start off with the Koala area and although there are 3 of them. I think as they have completed their performance they are now sleeping like babies. Next up was the Wombats and again all three sleeping like Koalas. We move on and arrive at the bird aviary and yep there are a few nice colourful specimens but we are not fans of caged birds. Next up, the much feared Dingoes. These three however are are themselves more scared of us and simply move to the complete opposite area with their tails between their legs. We do have a bit of fun feeding the Kangaroos who are quite pushy in getting food. Then we see a big lizard, followed by a couple of Emu wandering around. There was a pretty impressive lake/wetland with heaps of free birds and a viewing tower.

Having only spent an hour here we were not impressed but hoped our admission fee feeds some of the animals at least.

We go for a walk through the town and after our walk we reckon we have earned ourselves a cider and go in to the bar of a huge place right on the Main Street. The bar is quiet with only one guy at the bar and another person in the tab area gambling on the huge choice of stuff to get your money gone.

Soon after we head back to base and I decide a beard is not for me and go to town on my furry face. Takes years off me says Kaz and I must admit to feeling a bit cleaner.
Later we head to the Echuca Bowling Club and we are amazed that the place is really like a fancy hotel and obviously rich in member numbers.

We have a drink but feel a bit stiff in this place and decide to abandon it and head back to the pub we had been to before. Our luck is in as it is Parmi night and we grab a pair and wolf them down quick style.

With tonight being another Survivor night we head back and great thing is we have the luxury of watching in the van. Soon after it’s lights out

Victoria/NSW Day 24

Day 24

After a great quiet night in camp with no wind we are up and in to the glorious sunshine and temps predicted to be 30+.
First job Bacon sandwiches, coffee and tea sitting outside Watching people pack up and move on and the new arrivals doing the opposite.
Early plan today is to get get the bikes off the van and go for a good cycle.
That’s when it happened. I go to the spot where we always leave the key for the bike lock and yep, no key. This starts a 20 minute key hunt but no luck finding it.
I then have to spend a good half hour removing the bike lock from the bikes and what a pain it is but eventually I manage to cut through every wire having exposed the steel from the hard rubber sleeve around it. Finally the thing is off and we get the bikes ready to go except for Kaz’s bike whose tyres are always flat. Luckily we carry a little compressor and in no time tyres are up and we head to the cycle track at the back of the park. This takes us down to the river under the Vic/NSW bridge then we head over the bridge in to to Echuca and back.

We also manage to purchase a new padlock for the bikes as we have another steel cable we can use to secure them. Funny, we bought a total of three padlocks in one pack in a real dollar store called cheap as chips and when leaving having paid for our stuff, the woman informs us that she would like to search our bag. We seriously have to change our look if we are being suspected of stealing from a dollar store,lol. We leave admonished and head in to the town on an ice cream hunt. We are not disappointed as we cycle through the port area and there is a large choice of purveyors. Whilst at it we try and then buy, some fudge.

With the sun getting high and the heat on we cycle back over the bridge to the camp and decide that the pool is the place to cool off. When I say cool off I am not kidding.

This pool is bloody freezing but rather than do a countdown to jump in, I do my usual dive bomb and man is it cold. Kaz lowers herself in the hard way with a gradual freeze. We attempt to swim but my brain is telling me enough is enough and I am out back in to the glorious sun again and Kaz sees sense and does the same.
We then both head for a nice hot shower in the immaculate facilities.
Kaz then made a delicious meal of nasi Goreng which was spicy but got wolfed down in no time.

Before we know it, it’s Survivor time and we have to go to camp kitchen early to get control of the telly. We are all set up ready to go when in comes 3 couples who start to prepare and cook a meal talking as they go. Well now it’s a case of turning up the telly until they get the hint and we can here what’s being said. Another annoying thing that when the group arrived they switched on every light in the kitchen which seemed to send out a message to every kind of bug ever seen. Bugs are flying in from all sides but as we are crazy Survivor fans we have to suffer the onslaught. I will make another effort with our van tv to get channel 10 as we can’t suffer this debacle tomorrow. Once again another day has flown past and it’s lights out.

Victoria/NSW Day 23

Day 23

Sad to be leaving this park today as it has been really good but have to move on. We get hooked up like experts and then say our goodbyes to big Boris.

One thing I found interesting was that on the brochure for the Gunbower Park there is a listing of places to if you get pleasure from or just fancy shooting some poor ducks.

We then once again hit the road to Echuca which will be a lot quieter due to the end of the long weekend.
My turn to drive today and 30 min’s later we are crossing the bridge from Victoria in to Moama NSW.

Surprisingly the town is still pretty busy but it looks like the mass exodus has started and folks are heading home. We arrive at the Murray River Holiday Park thinking it will be easy to get booked but they inform us that we can get in and there is only one spot free. We don’t hesitate and get that booked immediately and score our members discount. This place we had checked out the day before and we are not disappointed as the place is spotless and really well ran by Ken and the girls. We have the luxury of Ken guiding us in to our allocated spot which saves us having our usual words. Once backed in we are like experts and the set up is complete in about 15 minutes.

Last job is to mess about with telly ariel to ensure we get our survivor fix tonight but no matter what I do no CH10. I then hard wire the cable in to the camp Ariel and still no CH10. A plan will need to be made for later but meanwhile we get off in to town and collect supplies. Same shops as before Dan Murphy and Aldi.
Back to base and it’s Aldi steaks in a cream peppercorn sauce with baked potato delicious washed down with the obligatory glass of red.

With no Chanel 10 in the van I get down to the camp kitchen and with great delight see a huge tv but no remote control. I ask a few folks if they know where it is but it’s blank stares all round and they continue their chat as if I wasn’t there. This changes seconds later after I hit the power button and the telly bursts in to life and sounds like it is on maximum sound setting. With no remote I have to jump on a chair and use the buttons down the side to lower the sound and having done so, flick through the channels and to my relief find channel 10.

To make sure no one else appears to and takes over control of the tv, we decide we will remain in situ.

A few others appear but only one appears to be a real fan and the others chat annoyingly. The one fan then moves closer to us to discuss strategy, tactics and who we like/don’t like and who we think will win.
After this we get back to our base and sit outside in the glorious Warm weather for a while before it’s lights out.

Victoria Day 22

Day 22

New people arrived today with the exact same caravan as us although theirs has been used twice. Because of this they ask us lot’s of questions and ask us to assist them in setting up their awning. Changed days, as for a long time we have been the ones using a help sheet given to us by a random person years ago who could see how, challenged we were in all things caravan. So like pro’s we provide info and like cabin crew demonstrate the ways in which we operate and they are mucho grateful. Interestingly they are towing with a Ford Territory which must be tough not only in pulling power but also legally due to weight requirements.

We scoff some toast and head east again to Echuca this time heading to the Echuca Market.
I actually bumped in to big Boris this morning (park owner) who told me that today he is getting his Harley Davidson out and heading like us to the Echuca Market which he recommended. 30 minutes later we arrive back in Echuca which is just as packed as yesterday. We again score a great parking spot and only have to walk across the road to the sprawling market. The market itself has the usual stuff we have seen Australia wide plus live music with two old boys playing guitars and singing the dreaded country music.
We walk row upon row of stalls and Kaz buys some hair things which she seems happy with. With the market ticked off and to be honest not that great although large, we head to the Port area to see some paddle steamers and find somewhere for a brunch type thing. We end up at Murray and Shona’s cafe on the high street. Obviously from the names there is a Scottish element here and when Murray hears our accents he has quite a number of stories he feels we would want to hear and actually produces the best Irish, supposed to be Scottish accent ever heard. Think Mel Gibson in Braveheart.

As we are moving to Echuca tomorrow we have an idea to check out a couple of parks as we have nothing booked. One park we know well is the Shady River Park over the bridge in Moama. We drive their really to remind ourselves how close it is to Echuca for using the bikes in to and out of. We then have a look at the Murray River Park which is literally just over the bridge between Victoria and New South Wales but both this one and the Shady River are jam packed due to the holiday weekend but we will return Monday after checkout has happened for those going back to work next day.
We decide we have seen enough today and point the car in the direction of Gunbower but instead of returning to the park we decide to visit the Torrumbarry Weir which is essentially a dam for controlling the amount of water which feeds in to and controls the level of the Murray river.

It even has a fish ladder which we have not seen since leaving Scotland many years ago where it is used for migrating Salmon. In this part of the world it is used predominantly for Carp as well as many other smaller fish species.

The weir cost 35 million dollars and was opened by the then Prime Minister John Howard and has been a great success since. There is also a great little visitor centre full of fantastic info and videos on the history of the area and the construction of the Weir.
Having done our educational/culture stuff it’s 10 minutes to the park. The temperature is really good with bright sunshine so it’s back to the pool for a dip which is just superb. Just before us was a group of people having a splash about and we spot a floater in the pool and decide to be safe and fish out said floater wondering if it originated from a human but thankfully it turns out to be just a leave.
Tonight there will be no pub as we have cooked our own food of Bolognese with pasta, garlic bread and yep, a glass of red. After which we will chillax and watch the sunset before lights out on another great day on the road.

Victoria Day 21

Day 21

A wee lie-in this morning and then up to a beautiful sunny day.
Webber straight on and breakfast of Bacon, eggs, mushroom and tomato with toast, bloody magic.
Today we are off on a road trip to the great town of Echuca. Even though we will be moving to this town on Monday we still want to have a visit and it really isn’t that far. We also have added motivation as there is a company named Pacdon who produce their own Haggis, Black Pudding and Pork Pies.
They are based in Moama but have a shop in the high street in Echuca. As we arrive in Echuca the place is jam packed with people and we get lucky and find a good car parking spot and then it’s time to hunt out the Pacdon shop which we eventually locate only to be disappointed as the shop is not only not open but has actually closed permanently. There is a sign on the shop window which states they have closed the shop but their produce is available to purchase at the information centre in town. So off we go again on a new hunt for the info centre and we locate this pretty quickly, walk in and there it is, a fridge full of Pacdon products which we immediately dive in to and select our chosen hear attack foods. No pie pic as it didn’t last long.

There is a woman there buying some bacon and asks us advise as to which bacon she should buy then gives us advice that the pork pie should be consumed cold, do not heat it in the oven!! We tell her to buy the smoked bacon and forget about rashers which she does and out the door she goes. Our next visit is to the Beechworth Bakery for a legendary “Bee Sting” which is a bun with a custard centre. This simplifies what is an absolute heavenly treat and we are very good and only buy one which we split in half and consume after we have scoffed the Pacdon Pork Pie. Our plan on Monday will be to find the Pacdon factory shop and purchase some more of their wonderfull foods.
Later we hit the road back to Gunbower and hatch a plan to come back to Echuca Sunday for the market which happens every second Sunday. In no time we are back at camp which seems to be a bit busier. Since the temperature has risen to just below 30 degrees the pool looks inviting. We get round there and I grab the pool net and scoop all the leaves etc floating around then jump straight in and enjoy a great swim and splash about for a while.

We then get on our bikes and cycle to local store followed by a tour of the surrounding area including a cricket game and a couple of guys canoeing on the river.

We then return to base get cleaned up and head to the pub to sample the food this time. The place is very busy and we grab a table just as a 4×4 motor group of 14 people arrive for food. Luckily we get our order in just before theirs, I go for the stuffed chicken and Kaz opts for the pork belly both of the dishes come out piping hot and are delicious.
Having had a long day we get back to the van to sit outside and people watch while chilling out before lights out arrives.

Victoria Day 20

Day 20

Up early as usual and as it’s leaving day again, we are out grabbing supplies as our next stop will not have much .
Aldi first, Bunnings then fuel and back to the camp where there is a mass exodus happening but later the opposite will occur due to the holiday weekend this place is fully booked out.
We hook the car up and we are gone and back on the road.
Kaz score’s today’s turn to drive, it’s a trip of about an hour and a half to the tiny town of Gunbower which is about 30+k’s west of Echuca, Victoria. We have booked this one for a change due to the numbers on the road due to the holiday. We will be there for three nights which is great as we can set our camp up fully. The weather is also about to improve and it should be sun, sun and sun for the next week and temperatures around 27 degrees, nice.
The drive is uneventful except for the huge road trains giving us shockwaves which keep pushing our mirrors in but in no time we arrive at the Gunbower Caravan Park and get booked in and guided in to our allocated space.

The space seems quite small but it is a great grassed area and is really clean. We unhook the van, set it level as usual and then bring out all our stuff for a long stay and that’s when it happens.
There is a Peppercorn tree we didn’t notice and when the wind blew, a heap of seeds get released and hit the roof of the van which turns it in to a snare drum. Without missing a beat I am back in the office requesting a move to another spot due to said rata tat tat. The woman is really nice about it and to push our luck even further we request a particular spot of our choosing which she thankfully agrees to but on the condition that we wait till her hubby return in half an hour and he will assist us reversing in to the space. Long story short, we move all our stuff to the new spot and then hubby arrives to help us. Boris is an absolute giant of a man who gives me the biggest hand crushing handshake I have ever had and with his expert help we have now moved and set up fully at last.

We take a walk in to town which consists of a Roadhouse/Fuel Station and of course a local pub. Gunbower also has Australia’s largest inland island (Gunbower Island) which is home to protected populations of Kangaroos, Emus, Goannas, Possums, snakes and over 160 varieties of birds.
Plan today is just to chill out which we are masters at.
We do however get the Webber on later and it’s Aldi eye fillet steaks with baked spuds, mushrooms and onions all washed down with a glass of red or maybe two.
Later we head in to the local pub named the Gunbower Hotel for a Friday night drink and see what the local action is.

The pub is actually heaving with people including most of our fellow campers and the owners of the park. We watch as the locals all order and get stuck in to what looks like great food and we hatch a plan to come back and eat here tomorrow night. We also get our doggie fix as there is a Golden Retriever called Max who is the pub dog and has his bed outside and welcomes people as they arrive. As the sun starts to set we head off and return to base to sit outside and watch yet another sunset then lights out on another great day.

Victoria Day 19

Day 19

This morning the rain seems to have moved on and it looks like the sun will be back. Today we have breakfast and soon after head for the Pioneer settlement which is a bit like Sovereign Hill in Ballarat.

It has lot’s of old buildings including a school house, Dentist, Blacksmiths, local pub from back in the day and lot’s of machinery including a Glasgow Tractor.

We also get a ride in a horse drawn wagon and then we are taken on a drive in an original Dodge car.
The horse is a beautiful Clydesdale and pulls the wagon along easily and at his own pace.
We head in to the olde shop and meet a fantastic lady who demonstrates an original record player from back in the day and an old harpsichord which still worked fine.

Later we take a cruise down the river on an original paddle steamer PYAP and see some amazing house boats and homes as we cruise along.

Afterwards we have a caravan chat with the two couples next to us who have the same van as us but one of them is the new model and we all discuss the merits of it.
Tomorrow we will leave this site and town due to this weekend being a holiday and the camp is a sell out. We will travel along the road a short distance to the town of Gunbower which is close to the town of Echuca which is also a sell out for the coming weekend.
Later we head back to the Swan Hill Club for happy hour and grab some food whilst there. On the way back we take the park path which has a range of free gym equipment which we have a go at as we walk back to the van.
We pack up all our gear which will make life easier in the morning and our drive will take about an hour and a half tomorrow. No Survivor tonight, bugger.