Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Mooching around Maldon

We thoroughly enjoyed Vaughan's last day as a 10-year-old, exploring around the "notable town" of Maldon. It was our first-ever visit and we were impressed!

Our day started and finished at the geographical centre of Victoria - Mt Tarrangower.

Vaughan found a scorpion on both visits (and a gecko in the afternoon).

Of course, there were wonderful views from the tower for those brave enough to scale the steps.  (I can vouch for the views from ground level also)!

Our next stop was Maldon Cemetery, where burials commenced in 1854.

There was a Chinese funeral oven on site was used for burning offerings to spirits of the dead.

The Rock of Ages overlooked the cemetery and a favourite spot, though listed as optional in the self-drive tour booklet.

Later in the day we spent time at the dredge and dragline.  (The 15-year delay before the dredge was fully operational and fairly short production period prompted various discussion).

At different points during the day, we'd seen the Beehive Mine chimney, so called in for a closer look - before heading up ANZAC hill.  We weren't quite sure where the track led, so were pleasantly surprised to arrive back at the tower. A fine finale after some fantastic adventuring!

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Flamin' good!

Erin has been away for the past few weeks, visiting friends and relatives in New South Wales. She came home yesterday and we welcomed her back with a BBQ in the forest.

Last October I purchased stands for the caravan and also bought a pack of "Mystical Fire". We finally used it last night, after carefully reading the many precautions and safety notes.

When viewing the instructions I noted the recommendation of one to three packs per fire - and we all agreed three packets would've been more impressive!  Everyone really enjoyed watching the pretty flames though and it was neat to see how far they ventured from the site of the burning pack.  (You can buy Mystical Fire via eBay and I'm thinking of getting more, for special occasion use).

Ages ago I found a website with instructions for DIY colour changing flames and I was looking at that again today.  We might take some of the more everyday items with us on our next forest evening - for further experimentation and flamin' good fun!

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Gone loopy!

Our gazebo further deteriorated since I posted of our pool noodle experiment.

The leaks in the cover worsened and there was a tear in one side as well.  As the gazebo is our kitchen/dining and living area, you can imagine our daily tasks were even more challenging in the rain.

Nick did some research and found a good price for a replacement gazebo cover.  We fitted it today, pleased to see the heavier material and better design.

The hooked straps are now reinforced (the previous cover tore at the site of one these straps).

We purchased a length of cable from our favourite tip shop the other day (along with our "new" picnic table).

The pool noodles work well but tend to flatten, losing effectiveness - and then drop to the ground.  Of course, the old cover had already weathered various rainy weather and two corner areas were stretched as a result.  Nick thought it would be best to mount the loops to a new cover, before it suffered any sagging due to rain.  He wanted to try a different material for the loops, hence the fibre-optic cable is being trialed. One loop is longer than the others.  It's been left in place but can easily be shortened if the others are deemed more useful.  (The loop ends are secured in place with cable ties).

The new cover definitely provides better shade (with a UPF rating of 50) - and we are hoping for improved shelter in the rain also but we're not in any hurry to test that aspect!  Fingers crossed that Nick's loopiness works!

Monday, 14 March 2016

Lolling about Lal Lal

Although we'd driven near Lal Lal en route to our 500th geocache find we hadn't had a proper look around - not that there was much to see of the Falls when we returned to visit!

A couple of hopeful people set off with towels but we were not at all tempted by the small pool of greenish water that was visible from the lookout.

We drove on for a picnic lunch and then an easy stroll through bush area to view the Lal Lal Blast Furnace and other ruins of the former iron mine.

There were a number of small information boards along the path to describe how the site had operated.

It was interesting to see the remains of what had been a bustling operation.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

"Lake" Beaufort

The sun was going down as we reached Lake Beaufort.

Vaughan enjoyed testing the mud while Nick and I set up for our picnic dinner.  We shared the last of our day's provisions, watching the setting sun.

Beaufort was our last stop on the way home.  It was a great day of adventuring - with the bonus of lovely weather!

Another "lake" stop ...

We stayed at Green Hill Lake for our first-ever night away in the caravan.  At that time (late 2014) the water level was low but on this visit the lake was dry.

The camping areas still had visitors though and a few eyed us curiously, perhaps expecting we'd set up camp.

We did a quick cache and then set off again, heading (slowly) for home.

On top of the world ...

On our last visit to Ararat's One Tree Hill Lookout we hadn't stayed long as it was cold and windy.  The weather was so much nicer this time.

Nick set up our new picnic table and the dual fuel stove. We sat on the edge of the world, sipping our drinks and munching biscuits while spotting for tiny sheep through the binoculars.

As we sat admiring the view, some other people asked if we were there for the sunset.  It was a tempting thought but at that stage the sun still had several hours before bedtime.  I reckon if we are in the vicinity on another occasion though, it would be a wonderful vantage point to view the setting sun.  One for the wish list?

Vaughan was out of sorts on arrival but recovered his good humour after two hot chocolates and several choc-chip cookies! He had earlier queried why we couldn't go to a cafe. Our explanation was along the lines of there (thankfully) not being one at the lookout - and that generally our picnic provisions are cheaper, more convenient and often just better!

Carping on!

Our pace was quite leisurely on Sunday. After spending time at Lake Wendouree, we started heading west but stopped at Lake Burrumbeet to give Bandit a run.

We visited the lake briefly last year and it seems the water level has dropped further since.

It was Bandit who found the first dead fish.  Luckily we called him back before he thoroughly rolled in them!

There were so many huge fish - it was really amazing.  We didn't know what sort of fish they were but friends later identified them as (European) carp.

A local news story from November last year refers to tonnes of the carp being removed from the lake.  Tonnes!

It seemed odd that so many were left behind after the cull but I've read some more information since. In December there was an Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) notification of a "fish death incident" where one to two thousand dead carp were found on the Lake Burrumbeet foreshore - and I reckon those are what we saw.

Wending around Wendouree ...

We've enjoyed several picnics beside Ballarat's Lake Wendouree and it seems we always sit at the same table.

That realisation prompted us to circumnavigate the lake (by car) this time -  only to arrive at our usual table, just as cars stopped in both directions so two juvenile swans could be escorted to the waterfront!

There were many birds bobbing around on the water.  Black swans, coots, cormorants and ducks - including the very odd musk duck!  I wasn't sure what was swimming in the water but Vaughan pointed out that it was right way up and not upside-down as I first thought!  I did try for some photos but it wasn't greatly co-operative.  You can see some footage here and information here.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Leering at Learmonth!

After lunch, we left Beaufort and made our way through a few smaller towns - including Chute, birthplace of Cyril Callister, who invented vegemite!

Much later in the day we detoured into Learmonth, where we had briefly visited at the end of 2014 during our first caravan trip.

We finally dined at 10:00pm on that occasion so didn't try to view the lake. Hah - we wouldn't have seen much even in daylight. Signage on this visit advised there hasn't been any water since 1996! All the warning signs for the baths remain in place though, which looked funny against the sandy flats.

Turning tables ...

Our original folding picnic table served us well for several years before being culled as part of our extreme down-sizing last year.  It was very useful at spots without facilities - and was a bonus at times when all other tables were in use!

Nick and I were poking around our favourite tip shop the other day.  We had a particular project in mind so came away with a length of cable, some Tupperware and this replacement table - all for $10.00!  I'd say the table was $5.00 of that, which is a bargain.

It's a lot newer than our previous one and in spite of Vaughan's face-pulling weighs considerably less also!  I really don't think it's seen much use.  Two of the seats are a different shade of green but we quite liked that.

We tested the table today at Camp Hill Reserve, near Beaufort.  It was very pleasant picnicking while overlooking the small township - and the provisions were good!

As I was eating, one of the awning legs lifted.  Before I could call a warning through my mouthful, the other leg had also lifted and the whole awning sailed onto Elmer's roof.  Fortunately the awning is still intact and one of the side poles, though bent, should straighten.  Fingers crossed!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Bostock to Buninyong

We hadn't planned to visit Mount Buninyong - but were glad we did!

After our splendid brunch at Bostock Reservoir, we weren't keen to return home too quickly.  That is, Nick and I weren't keen - Vaughan was out of sorts and determined to inflict his misery on the rest of us!

Nick did ask what Vaughan would prefer to be doing and our young boy responded that he wanted to go home and watch TV but we didn't have a home or a TV!

As we ignored Vaughan's sulking, Nick suggested driving up a nearby mountain, Vaughan and I were both hesitant.  I expect we each had envisioned a steep 4WD track.

Fortunately Nick's first choices were not accessible and we drove up to the Summit Picnic Area via sealed road.  Once at the top, we set up our dual-fuel stove to boil the kettle.  We sat sipping our tea and coffee while watching little birds flitting in the trees.  The tower was just visible from our picnic table, so we headed over for a closer look.

I'm not great with heights and decided to stay on firm ground rather than climb the tower.  Nick reached the highest accessible platform.  Vaughan and Bandit very bravely went up too, though not as high as Nick.

There was a geocache nearby, which we found before making our way back to Elmer and heading home again.  I expect we'll try some of the walks another time, cos it really was a pretty spot to visit.

Reserv(oir)ed dining ...

We first discovered Bostock Reservoir in late October last year.  (I'm not sure when the photo in the link was taken but the water level is much lower at the moment).

I've been exploring some of the walking trails with Bandit this week - and we've dined there three times too, which includes today's lovely BBQ brunch and dinner.

Why spend so much time there?  Well, it's only 6km out of town, so just a short drive away - and it's somewhere new to explore.

Even better, we often have the place to ourselves.  Bonus!

We've been living in the caravan for just over five months now.  I reckon we're doing very well with four of us (five, counting Bandit) sharing such small quarters - dealing with the various challenges of limited space and facilities.

It's trickier living so closely within such a small community.

Prior to leaving our most recent home, we lived on a five-acre section of 100-acre-plus property, with just cows and some rabbits for neighbours.  (The nearest house was more than one kilometre away).

Nick asked me this week if I'm counting our five months of caravan living in my camping night tally. I said no, it's not holiday camping - and Nick quipped that it was trauma camping! That's an exaggeration but we do enjoy escaping to the reservoir (and to the forest)!

My thermal cookers are great for our reservoir dining.  I cooked mexican mince at home on Tuesday night, then kept it warm and transported it in the top pot (with hot water in the larger bottom pot).  On Friday night, I put ice in the bottom pot with some tubs of chocolate mousse and creme caramel.  At the same time, I had a simple salad chilling in the top pot.

Tonight I boiled potatoes in the bottom pot - while carrots, beans and broccoli cooked in the top pot.  All vegies were nicely done and I mashed the potatoes on site to have with our BBQed meat.  We did excellent work!

You can see today's lovely brunch in the bottom pic.  The ingredients were just on $17.00 from our local IGA (and there were eggs, bread and milk leftover).  Last weekend we were very lucky to enjoy two cafe breakfasts - and the cost for a large cooked brekky was around $17.00 (each)!