Wednesday, 21 March 2018

From Gold Fields to Ski Fields

The day before we were all leaving, we all decided to do a road trip to Mt Baw Baw, via Walhalla to Baw Baw and via Tanjil Bren, home – all places we have been before and so interesting.
I think Walhalla, along with Gulgong NSW, are two of the most interesting towns. Both were established around gold discovery, and both still look the same as they did 100 years ago. Walhalla is located in the Gippsland Alpine region. It once had over 4000 gold miners during the 50 odd years of gold mining, but today has only about 20 residents, and many weekender / holiday homes. The main street is full of heritage buildings, and gold is still believed to be in Stringers Creek, now mostly a small creek. Gold was first found in Victoria in 1850, and found in Walhalla in 1862. The town was originally named Stringers and was re- named Walhalla when it was surveyed after the largest gold mine. The mine was named after a German hall of fame from Norse legend. 4 men found gold in the area in December 1862, one a convict named Edward Stringer, also has the creek named after him. He sadly died less than a year later. A few years later a large quartz outcrop was found just above the river, and was named Cohen's Reef after a storekeeper in a close by town. Cohen's Reef became the largest single reef of gold in Victoria. The huge cost of mining gold lead to many individuals or small groups giving up, leaving it to the large companies, like the Long Tunnel Mining Company, which today runs tours of the mine. The mine was worked from 1865 to 1914. In the peak period the town had over a dozen hotels, an carbonated water factory, a Bank of Victoria anda Bank of Australia, as well as many traders, shopkeepers and other support services. A church, police station and court house soon followed. Part of the lock up can still bee seen on the main street. The first road from Moe was completed in 1879, and this saw daily coach services.
Today it is mainly a tourist town with a mixture of original and re-created buildings. Many of the original buildings have been destroyed by fire over the years. There is a cafe near the large parking area, and another two near the park parking area (and toilets). The free/donation camping area has been re-located from the old Chinese market gardens area to a much safer and level area, not far away. This was the start of our Victorian Gold Rush part of our trip.Leaving Walhalla we headed along a dirt track to Mt Baw Baw. Mt Baw Baw is the closest downhill snow field to Melbourne – 2.5 hrs - and is 1,567 metres high. Mt Baw Baw is the home to the worlds tallest flowering plant – Eucalyptus Regnans. The resort offers downhill skiing, cross country ski trails in winter and walking tracks and downhill mountain bike tracks in summer. 
It is very expensive to park there during the ski season, but in off season it is free. The resort offers a cafe with reasonable prices, and a spectacular view. Well worth a visit. We then drove a short distance along a different road back home, to Tanjil Benji to have lunch. Karen, (SIL) had made a lovely lunch of sandwiches, biscuits, water and soft drinks. Tanjil Bren is about 10 km from Mt Baw Baw, nestled on the Tanjil River, and is another gold town. Not much remains open in the town, although during skiing season I expect there would be more open, especially accommodation. In the 'gold' times Tanjil Bren had cafes, shops, garage – still there with old petrol pump – a school and a post office. The name comes from the 1844 Tangel pastoral run, and the word Bren, which comes from the saying 'speed of Bren gun' referring to the speed the milling industry operation took over the area. The town was completely destroyed by fires in the Black Friday bush fires of January 1939 and was rebuilt to become a busy saw milling town. Today it is surrounded by eucalyptus trees. There is a bush fire escape safety mound built in the cleared picnic area. The picnic area has covered tables and seats as well as free bbq's. There is also another stone building with fireplaces each end for the snow season. It is a great place to stop for lunch.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Road Trip Week Two into Three

We love the beautiful south coast NSW beaches, and each time we pass them we wish we had more time to stay. Maybe next year we will do the trip north and have the time to explore. We left Kioloa early afternoon and stopped for lunch at Tuross Heads. We didn't expect to find this fish and chips cafe on the water front. Great lunch.
We headed for the Victorian border and a place we have stayed at before, Genoa. Genoa is a donation camp site with toilets and bbq's. There is an historic bridge at the end of the park and a river which has a few ponds of water to cool off in if it is hot. We got there later than we would like and there were already many vans there. We still found a good spot close to the toilet block.The next day we had lunch at Lakes Entrance before our next overnight stop at Golden Beach Community Centre RV stop over. Another spot we have stayed at previously. This is a donation camp and provides long individual camp sites. It is a short walk to the beach and this time it had a community herb and vege garden – no mint for my mojito though! It would be great to stay longer, but as always heading to Victoria we are on a time frame, so one night it is.
It was then a short trip to the Latrobe Valley in Gippsland and the reason for this trip. We have already visited many places around the Latrobe Valley and beyond, so this time it was good to not plan anything but enjoy the company of family. The rest of the week and the next were spent chatting about old times. It was an enjoyable week.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

2018 Road Trip 2 Week One

On the road again, our second road trip for 2018 saw us heading south to visit family and then to see where the road takes us. First stop was Billinudgal, and the patrons only camp out the back of the pub. It was pleasing to see that the area was not as crowded and certainly not as much little 'campers litter' (squashed cans, cigarette butts, little wrappers etc.). We checked with the bar staff before parking, and were advised it is now only for 55's and over. Makes a big difference. We had a wonderful dinner, way too much food, so it did us for lunch the next day as well.
Day 2 we had planned to stay around Coffs Harbour, however Peter decided to keep going. We did stop at Sawtell for lunch, with an ocean view,
and ended up at Coopernook behind the hotel, in our usual spot. This is also a patrons only camp. Peter and Jonnie had a few drinks, well Jonnie had a lemonade, and Peter had a few beers.
Next stop and day 3 was Tea Gardens Country Club. We joined the club January 2017 as social members and this gives us two nights with power in their car park. We used it twice last year, so renewed our membership again for this year. Really good value, and the people at the club are great and so is the food. It is a shame that some people take advantage of the rules. One of the rules is to be fully self-contained and not to let any water run onto the car park. The van next to us, not only allowed their grey water to run freely on the car park, but actually ran their washing machine, so soapy grey water. Sadly this why some places are stopping over night self-contained travellers. Anyway, we unhitched and went for drive around Hawks Nest as Jonnie has never been here.
We had not planned to stay in Sydney, so decided to drive straight through the middle, which was surprisingly easy this trip. We got to where we had planned to stay and decided to keep going to Kioloa. We did stop for lunch at Sublime Lookout, which was absolutely sublime!
At Kioloa we stayed four nights with my Auntie. We had a morning trip to Ulladulla for grocery shopping, and on the way home we had a drive around Willinga Park at Bawley Point. There was an event on the weekend, but they let us in to have a look around, and it is beautiful. The park is all about horses, and appears to be growing all the time. 
Kioloa is a place we have been to many times over the years, I think our first visit was 1991, when we were living in the Australian Capital Territory. Kioloa is on the south coast of New South Wales and has heaps of kangaroos. Kangaroos are considered a pest there as they eat gardens and break fences, but we loved seeing them as they as they are a novelty to us. There are so many kangaroos in this area at all times of the day. There are aboriginal middens at Racecourse Beach and evidence of axe and spear grindings at Pretty Beach. We visited 'Poppy's Rock' where my uncle would go to fish, just so pretty. We had a lovely visit with my Auntie, and I enjoyed sitting in her sewing room sewing together. We look forward to the next visit. This is my drinking view from Auntie Margaret's verandah.
Let the adventure continue.....