The welcome mat has truly been rolled out in Echuca! We’ve had coffees and cake, wine and pizza, roast beef and veggies and more wine – we’re going to have to stop eating sooner or later . Great to catch up with Sharon and Paul and see all the work they’ve done on the house. We had a cruise around town this morning in a ‘55 Fairlane Retractable and this evening we’re heading out for music and dinner at the Workers Club. Tomorrow we start our boat cruise down the Murray.
We left the luxury of the Riverside Caravan Park to make our way south again. We stopped in at Kerang for a morning cuppa and fielded more questions about Redback, this time from a couple of grannies travelling in motorhomes slightly bigger than ours. We decided we would have a stroll around the shopping centre of Kerang and managed to get that all important COVID staple – Toilet Paper! The town was very busy with plenty of foot traffic and well patronised cafes.
We moved onto Cohuna where we set up camp at the RV friendly Flora Park. RVs can stay for up to 72 hours here and must be self contained. We had lunch, sat round reading for a while then went up the street to do the tourist thing and buy an ice cream. By this stage it was going on three p.m. and the coffee shops appeared to be shutting up shop. I guess they have been there since breakfast and with only a few miserly old farts in town there was no point staying open. The park in the Main Street is beautifully maintained and the town is generally very clean and tidy. A credit to the locals.
Tonight is our last night out on the road before we head into Echuca to see Shaz and Paul (which we are looking forward to – its been ages). So tonight its one final cook up on the Coleman stove in the great outdoors.
The best laid plans etcetera etcetera. We left Walpeup after nine for the short drive down to Ouyen. The wind was blustery again and increasing in speed but we pulled into Ouyen for stroll around the town only to be reminded how sad it had become. Other than the bakery. Post Office and newsagents there wasn’t much happening here. They still had the Christmas nativity display in the otherwise vacant shop windows. We moved on south heading to Sea Lake with the intention of staying at a free camp overnight. It is rather busy small town compared to the others that we have passed through but the lack of scenery and the persistent strong windows encouraged us to move onto Swan Hill.
We decided to stay at the Riverside Caravan Park again and were put onto a site backing onto the river, very pretty outlook. We had lunch then walked up to the street with a view to spreading the love (of our spending dollar) with the local businesses. We made a few non-essential purchases before heading back to camp to prepare for our arduous journey tomorrow, all 92 kms to Cohuna for our last free camp this trip. We will check out the Swan Hill Port before leaving the town.
We left Hopetoun and Lake Lascelles behind us as we headed north towards Patchewollock and Walpeup. There was a strong southerly blowing so we were like an ancient sailing ship being pushed along. Our fuel economy was amazing. We were a little saddened to see the derelict remains of so many old farmhouses, time has passed them by as more and more properties are amalgamated. The paddocks are vast, hundreds of acres without an internal fence in sight. It was no wonder that the wind was so strong as the plains were largely devoid of trees, I suppose they would just get in the way of the large machinery needed to till and harvest the grain crops.
Of course all these amalgamations are leading to a serious decline in the population of these once thriving areas and the subsequent demise of such picturesque places such as Murrayville. We walked the town and shopped at those few places that were still open. The town will probably become only a memory soon, much like Cowangie.
We turned back from the border (we didn’t want to be captured and held hostage by the South Australians – you know what it’s like – a male thing). We decided to head out to Kow Plain Homestead which we had heard of before but had never visited so this was our opportunity. An interesting collection of old buildings just outside of the Cowangie township (which is literally falling into disrepair). The homestead buildings have been well restored and are apparently looked on favourably by the UNESCO world heritage organisation as an example of early European settlement of the area.
Jenny made comment about how hard life would have been in those days. It made us realise that, in those bygone days, people didn’t have an expectation of happiness, they just lived life and worked hard for everything that they could attain. I wonder how they would view our modern society where personal happiness now seems to be the end goal? I hope they would be envious and perhaps we all need to be a bit more grateful for our lot.
We made our way back to the Travellers Rest Stop at Walpeup where we set up camp on green grass and we can have a hot shower in the facilities here. Doing it in style
The weather cooled off again overnight with a cool breeze making sleeping easier (but not dampening the spirits of the partygoers still singing at 2 a.m.). It was clear skies again today so after catching up on the overnight news over breakfast, we decided we would go for a walk up to the CBD of Hopetoun. Perhaps it should be renamed. The Not Very Busy centre of Hopetoun. The bakery doesn’t open Sundays, so only a takeaway food shop and a cafe with limited choice were prospects for lunch. We ended up shopping at the IGA which was busy and making our way back to the camp to have lunch and catch up on some reading. Another warm day but with a pleasant cool breeze making this much more pleasant than Lake Bringalbert. The fridge has decided that it won’t cooperate so I’ll have to pull that out and get it repaired once we get home. At least these things are happening on our short trip rather than at the start of an 8 week journey – always look on the bright side of life, dum de dum.
We left Lake Bringalbert with our tail between our legs. It had been an oppressively hot day yesterday, equally so at bed time. Our fridge decided it didn’t like this extreme heat (39º inside the motorhome) and quit working – the lights were on but nobody home. Fortunately we still had the freezer in the back that continued to work so we weren’t without food or cold drinks. But i digress. We made our way up to Kaniva then onto Nhill, Warracknabeal and stopped at Birchip so that Jenny could catch up with two of her ex customers. We spent a couple of hours enjoying their company before we continued on to Hopetoun to camp beside Lake Lascelles. As we anticipated it was pretty packed with water skiers and Jetskis. A lot of happy people enjoying what was still a hot day (37º) but in much better surroundings. We sat outside and cooled off after dark listening to the harmonious choir of corellas and admiring the sunset.
We left Dartmoor after checking out the wood carvings and doing some shopping in the General Store before heading across country to Casterton and Aspley, stopping for morning tea and lunch and cruising the streets of these country towns. The weather was relentless with the temperatures creeping inexorably up. By the time we had reached Lake Bringalbert (about 15 kms north of Apsley) the temperature inside the motorhome was 35º and it continued climbing past 37º with little shade here but a warm breeze. No doubt we will survive but I must admit I’m looking forward to sundown!
We left camp early this morning – into Aldi at Portland by 9. Did our big grocery shop for the week as we were running low on veggies and the necessary Old Tawny and Chardonnay. We had organised to catch up with our niece Belinda at her and Duanes place at Gorae. Unfortunately Duane and the girls weren’t home but we had a great catch-up (and we got spoilt with scones, homemade jam and cream) This has been my highlight of the trip.
We headed off towards Dartmoor, stopping at Heywood along the way when we struck car trouble. We had hit a huge pothole on our way to Portland and, as it turned out, we knocked one of the wheel speed sensors out of action so we had to get the Sprinter checked over to make sure it was safe to drive. Fortunately it only disabled the ABS and the ESC so it’s still safe to drive until we get a new sensor. So we made it to Dartmoor after five and decided we would finish such a busy day off with dinner at the pub. Ahh, holidays are great.
Still stuck in Nelson hoping for better news tomorrow. There is only so much you can do here so Jenny is catching up on her reading and I’ve been contemplating my navel (I told you things are grim)
If we don’t come out of lockdown on Thursday we will still need to go to Portland to do our food shopping as we are nearly out of most things. Still got meat but no vegetables, fruit or salad items. We bought up the local supply of frozen veggies the other day (a whole two packets of frozen food) plus some tins of tomatoes and mixed vegetables. Apparently the closest supermarket is in Mount Gambier but I don’t think we will be allowed across even though we do have a permit but it was issued before the lockdown. We await the news.
It appears we are permitted to travel the 70kms to Portland for essential food supplies. But, in the spirit of helping local communities, we decided we would walk down to the little kiosk here at Nelson. We were able to get some frozen and canned vegetables that should see us through till Thursday. We even bought a couple of homemade pies to have as a treat tonight seeing that we can’t go to the local pub for a counter meal. Living it high in Nelson with one eye to the future.