Travelling Australia
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY

Sunday 22nd May 2005 to Tuesday 24th May 2005

Sunday 22nd May 2005

This morning greeted us with a beautiful blue sky and the promise of a great day ahead. The thermometer told us that it was only one degree at about 8 a.m. however once the sun lifted a little higher into the sky it warmed up quite quickly.

We managed to get away from the Caravan Park by about 9:45 a.m. and remaining on the Victorian side of the Murray River as we travelled north west on the Murray Valley Highway. This took us through Torrumbarry, Patho, Gunbower, Wee-Wee-Rup (but we can't remember that one) and Cohuna before reaching Kerang. From here it was another 61 kilometres through Lake Charm and Lake Boga before we reached Swan Hill. This last leg of our journey took us past many lakes and some fairly scenic country, although the land was flat in most cases and did not have a great deal of tall vegetation. We stopped once near Lake Charm to take some photos from the side of the road.

On arrival in Swan Hill we booked into the Swan Hill Riverside Caravan Park and settled in on a site where the back of the caravan is almost hanging over the edge of the river. Then later in the afternoon we were able to sit on our chairs and watch a paddle steamer pass by only a few metres from the rear of the caravan. Needless to say, there were more photographs taken and also some video footage.

Once we had settled in 'One of Us' declared that they would fade away to nothing if we did not have something to eat. The 'Other One' took the hint and we drove into town which is only about 500 metres away where we located a Macdonald's restaurant in which we dined in style , (well at least we had a burger and chips) before visiting the local Information Centre and the BI Lo store. We then returned to the caravan park for the afternoon.

From the information we have it appears there will be plenty to keep us occupied around Swan Hill for the next couple of days. At this time we have booked in to the caravan park for three nights and will leave on Wednesday morning unless we have reason to do otherwise. The weather is absolutely beautiful, the caravan site is brilliant and at this time we cannot see anything to complain about, however I don't think anyone would listen to us if we did start complaining about where we are and what we are doing.

Tonight we will slum it with chicken maryland cooked on the barbecue with a waldorf salad, this is after a chicken chilli and honey sausage entree along with a glass of wine or two. Life really is tough, how much longer do we have to do this sort of thing???????

Passing Lake Charm - Murray Valley Highway

Hope the brakes are on...
Swan Hill Caravan Park on the Murray River

Paddle steamers pass the caravan

Monday 23rd May 2005

Whilst one of us was preparing the salad in the caravan and the other one was cooking the chicken marylands on the barbecue, we were being watched by kangaroos and rabits on the other side of the river and a rather friendly little possum paid us a visit. He wandered across the road and climbed into a tree right next to us, then sat looking at our activities for a short time. Once the salad was made he gracefully accepted an apple core out of our hands, then after devouring it he returned to where he came from.

This morning was another slow start, or maybe we should say our normal starting time when we left the caravan park and travelled south east back in the way we had come for about 15 kilometres until we came to be a little town called Lake Boga. Our first call here was at the flying boat museum and bunker that covered the history of the flying boat repair and maintenance depot that was established in 1942 during the Second World War. This was a top secret base with little known about it until late in the war. At its peak it had about 1000 aircraft technicians and almost the same number of women (WRAAF's) working alongside them. Inside the old communication bunker there are a number of photographs and items from the era when this base was in full operation. There was also a video presentation that explained the development of this base, what it was used for and its ultimate disbanding and removal.

From here we travelled around Lake Boga and back onto the B400 Highway and continued south east until we came to Lake Charm. Then, taking a back road we drove around Kangaroo Lake until we found a small picnic area on the lake where we stopped and had our picnic lunch. While there, we were visited by a couple of friendly dogs who obviously considered us to be friends, however we think the fact that we had lunch with us may have had something to do with it. The owner of one dog came by and picked his dog up and said the other one came from just across the road. This dog stayed with us until we had finished lunch and we were leaving the area, we are sure that she would have climbed in the patrol if we had invited her.

We then continued through Kangaroo Lake before turning off to a little place called Mystic Park. This place consisted of one hotel and probably two or three houses. Then it was along some more back roads to another little place called Tresco before we found ourselves back on the B400 Highway heading toward Swan Hill.

Once back in Swan Hill we called in to the Safeway Store in which we picked up some pork chops for our dinner, along with a few other necessary goodies before returning to the caravan park. On the way back to the caravan we decided to go to New South Wales, so we did. It was just a point of crossing the one lane bridge over the Murray River, right near the park and we were there. We then drove back into Victoria and to the caravan at about 3 p.m.. Yes, you guessed it, the rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing by the river and reading a book while waiting for drinks at 5 p.m..

Tomorrow we are going to explore the Pioneer Village in Swan Hill, along with a trip on the paddle steamer before attending the Light and Sound Show in the evening.

A visitor in the night - a friendly possum

Catalina Flying Boat
Boga Flying Boat Museum and Bunker

Lunch at Kangaroo Lake

Tuesday 24th May 2005

Although we experienced some light showers of rain early last night, today started out with a little cloud cover, however by about 10:am the sky was blue and it was quite warm.

We took our time to get ready for our visit to the Swan Hill Pioneer Museum, walking out of the caravan park at about 10:30 a.m. and entering the museum and Pioneer Village about 5 to 10 minutes later. This Village depicts the early Pioneer days of the Mallee Region of Victoria and has a great number of buildings that genuinely appear to be from that era. Most of them do not have the spit and polish of something that has been constructed recently to make it look old, many really look like they were built over 100 years ago and are still standing. It appears that some of them were in fact moved from other parts of the Mallee Region to the Swan Hill Pioneer Village and can boast a very long life.

We started by visiting the paddle steamer that was once the entry to the Pioneer Village and also the steam train near the entrance before entering the aboriginal display which although not very large did provide an insight into the aboriginal living conditions at the time of the European settlement in the Mallee region.

It was then time to take a stroll down the main street of the village during which time when we entered a number of the buildings, including a post office, photographic parlour and many others before we wandered through some buildings that were constructed like they would have been when the very early settlers originally came to the Mallee Region. One unique feature of these houses or perhaps more correctly called huts was the fences around some of them as they were built out on mallee tree roots because when they cleared the country there would have been literally thousands of these tree stumps to get rid of.

Another rather unique construction was a windmill made out of the fork of a mallee tree and some other timber, with th fan blades being made out of corrugated iron. Apparently this was a genuine windmill made by one of the early settlers and eventually moved to the Pioneer Village in the1960s. Next we wandered passed some sheds that housed a huge variety of old tractors, from some steam powered machines through to some built in the 1920s and 1930s. it can make one feel quite old when one of the tractors was a McCormack which we had on our farm and I remember driving when I was very young (that was quite a long time ago!).

We then strolled back through the Main Street, calling into the general store which is really more like the lolly shop that our daughter Kym remembers from her visit in about 1983 on a Girl Guide trip. We did purchase a jar of acid drops for Kym's old time sake, however 'One of Us' has already opened the jar and consumed a number of them, sorry Kym I don't think they will get home. we then visited the old-time theatre hall that houses one of the only two Stereoscopic Theatres left in the world. this is a circular construction with seats around the outside and viewing eye holes a little like binoculars and when viewing through them, the images on the inside keep changing. These images photograph imprints on glass depicting scenes from around the world.

We also visited the chemist shop and the dentist (fortunately our teeth are ok!) Before we took a spin around the whole village in an old Dodge car driven by an old gentleman who gave us a bit of a rundown on the village and the area. At this time one of us realized it was after one o'clock and she had not had her lunch so our next call was to the cafe at the entrance to the village. 'One of Us' enjoyed fish and chips and salad followed by a large slice of cheesecake, all washed down with a glass of wine, the 'Other One' had a Ploughman's lunch followed by a rather large plate of fresh fruit and ice cream, all of this assisted by a glass of local Swan Hill beer.

After all this exercise and the abundance of food it was a unanimous decision to return to the caravan for the rest of the afternoon. Unfortunately the paddle steamer was not operating today so we missed out on that little experience, however we are returning at 8 p.m. tonight for the the light and sound show.

The General Store - or lollie shop

A windmill from the past

Take a spin in an old Dodge car