Sunday, 27 November 2016

Chance Outing!

Some of our day adventures are planned - and others are not. Since being based at Ballan (and nearby) there have been quite a few days when we've headed out in search of sunshine, not really caring when we ended up!

Friends recently celebrated an important birthday with the aid of a left/right rock and a time limit for driving.  I was telling Nick and Erin about the rock when walking Bandit.  It didn't seem they liked the rock idea, so I continued packing up once back at the van.

We had already planned to go out, though hadn't really chosen a direction or destination.  Once in the car and ready to depart, I was asked where the left/right rock was!  I quickly scrawled on a box and throughout the day there were calls to consult or ignore the box!

Where did we end up?  Some very interesting places!

Given our later start, we stopped for lunch at Mount Greenock (an extinct volcano) Geological Reserve, site of the former Union Hill mine and somewhere that Major Mitchell had visited in 1836.

From there we visited the Avoca Chinese Gardens, created as a result of the town receiving a $350,000 grant. The garden "represents the important contribution the Chinese people made in the early settlement of Avoca and in particular on the gold fields".  It was a lovely area, built on what had been the sale yards!

We explored some of the tracks within the Percydale Historic Area, a goldfield with evidence of old (and newer) mines. There were many pretty wildflowers as well as lots of quartz.

Daly's Cottage was beautiful in the afternoon sunshine - with it's front fence covered in pink roses.  We couldn't see much through the bushes but the cottage is listed on the Victorian Heritage Database and is significant due to being relatively intact.

The dwelling was constructed of axe-hewn red gum slabs and still has remnants of the original bark roof.

We returned to Avoca for a very late afternoon tea by the river - not far from the Chinese Gardens.  One of Elmer's tyres was looking flat, so Nick and Vaughan deposited some picnic gear and drove off to find a service station.

Erin had recent instruction in lighting the dual fuel stove, so our hot beverages were prepared while Nick was away.

We sat for quite some time, enjoying the peace - before heading home.

Handy overhaul ...

A friend recently asked whether we had any qualms using public BBQs - and if we had ever considered using a BBQ liner.

It's true that not everyone cleans up after themselves but we generally carry some cleaning supplies with us, to clean the hotplate before use - and again when we are finished.

I showed some of our centre console supplies in a much earlier post.  I'm not sure what happened to Granny's small hand-towel but I revamped a replacement recently - because (paper) hand-towels aren't always provided in public toilets.  Neither is soap, for that matter.

One of my RedBubble shirts came in the re-usable ziplock bag, so it's currently doing duty to hold soap, a tiny bottle of hand sanitiser and my new hand-towel.  Elmer has a grab rail over his glove box, which is a good spot for my hat - and to hang the towel to dry during longer outings.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Boden's Water Race

I'd spotted signs for Boden's Water Race on several occasions, when returning from other adventures. As we had an afternoon free, we headed out to investigate.

On the way to the site, we rescued a couple of young guys who had mis-judged the depth of a "puddle".  They were very happy to be assisted (and even gave us some ice-cream money)!

Rescues aside, my plan was to have a quick look at the water race, find a geocache and then praps have lunch.  I definitely wasn't dressed for a 4.5 kilometre walk in strong sunshine but Nick set off and the rest of us followed!

As I trudged along in my fitflops (yep, my poor feet were blistered by the end of the walk), I had lots of opportunity to admire Thomas Boden's handiwork.

He and his cronies hand-dug the races in the 1860s, to direct water to various mining sites - all during summer months.  As much as I wasn't greatly comfortable, I was very glad not to be digging trenches!

There were beautiful wildflowers along the path, plenty of birds and little lizards.  When nearly back to the car (and thinking about snakes) I surprised two blue-tongue lizards engaged in a serious wrestle by the path.

At first I thought they were a snake, so was relieved to identify them otherwise!

One lizard had his mouth clamped around the other's front leg - and there was blood from that and another injury.

Nick aided the loser out of range and we continued on our way, hoping the battle was over.  Soon after the lizard encounter we met Vaughan walking back to us, bearing a large bottle of icy cold water and a cup.  What an absolutely marvelous lad!

We finally had lunch at Smythesdale Gardens Reserve (where we stopped for morning tea with Erin a couple of days prior).  Vaughan played on the neat pirate ship and afterwards we checked out a nearby quarry area for another geocache - before making our way home.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Frog Serenades ...

It was a glorious day yesterday - far too nice to stay at home, so we went out! Our original plan had us lunching at Lake Bolac but given our late start, relaxed pace and school pick-up deadline we opted for Plan B along the way.

Plan B meant we looped around from Skipton to Ballarat via some back-roads, in search of Mount Emu.

We weren't quite sure we'd found Mount Emu, until we went back today with GPS assistance!

Mount seems a rather grand title but we liked the rather pretty hill - both days!

We were a lot better organised this morning, so made an earlier start (in spite of grey skies). After picking up provisions in Ballarat, we had a quick break at Jubilee Park in Skipton (spotted yesterday and noted for future reference).

Bandit enjoyed a short walk around the lake, as did we.

Lake Bolac is about 50km further west of Skipton and we arrived in good time for lunch.  As much as we liked the look of old gums by the water's edge, we were amazed by the size and number of mozzies living in the vegetation beneath them, so chose a better lunch spot.

Some of our outings are prompted by things we see on earlier explorations and we made a few mental notes today. I've already started researching for another day-trip.

We got back to Vaughan's school just in time - and then bought a few items for an early sausage sizzle dinner at our local reservoir.  Many froggies were singing as we cooked and ate - and I realised we had enjoyed morning tea, lunch and dinner all with frog serenades!  How good is that?!  After dinner, Vaughan caught a sleek skink - and we spotted an echidna on the way home too. Gotta be happy with a great day out!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Monumental Day Out!

Back in May, we enjoyed a day exploring. We'd already visited Quartz Mountain when we called into the tourist centre at Maryborough.

The volunteer there gave us some more detailed directions to the Aboriginal Rock Wells, which we appreciated.

While chatting at the centre, I spotted an information sheet about an Aboriginal Shelter Tree but we would have needed to back-track almost to Quartz Mountain to see it, so elected to visit another day.

Our departure today was a lot later than usual and after some quick discussion we started driving to Maryborough, hoping to find at least some sunshine.

Along the way, we detoured slightly to see the magnificent "Maternity Tree" - it was just wonderful, well worth visiting!

From there we went to Dunolly, where the main street has a Welcome Stranger monument.

We had a very late sausage sizzle in a nearby park before heading further to the Moliagul site where the Welcome Stranger nugget was found.  It was a day of monuments. A few metres from the public toilets at Moliagul is a monument to John Flynn, founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.  We've had some experience of the Flying Doctor Service at Yowah, so we stopped to read the plaques at that monument also.

Because of our mid-afternoon start, it was late when we were heading home.  We called in to the Goldfields Reservoir at Maryborough for hot beverages and snacks. The wind was strong (and icy) so I shifted the stove into a sheltered area beneath the table - and sat inside a similar compartment myself!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Lake Goldsmith (not Beaufort)?!

Earlier in the year, we dined by Lake Beaufort as the sun set.  Actually it is more accurate to say we sat with a view of the large puddle that had been the lake!

Although there are many references to Lake Beaufort online - my map of Victoria refers to the same body of water as Lake Goldsmith. 

Actually, no - during further explorations, we drove past Lake Goldsmith and it is definitely quite separate to Beaufort.  There were a few houses nearby and a very interesting park (with gypsy wagons), the site of an annual steam rally.  We've just missed this year's event and won't be local in 2017.

Vaughan was at school when Nick, Erin and I headed out for drive with Bandit.  We picnicked in a roadside rest area but found ourselves near Beaufort a bit later in the day, so called past the lake to see it as it should be.  There were many, many happy froggies singing their appreciation of all the water!

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Forest Feast Festivities

Erin didn't fancy an elaborate birthday dinner.  She really just wanted a camp oven dinner in the forest - specifically our adaptation of butter chicken, which is actually butter pork (first made during our Kwiambal trip).

There's a pic of a thermal cooked version cheffed when we visited Ironfest in 2012. You can see the added butter and cannellini beans, plus extra vegies.

The weather was amazingly variable throughout the day. There was blue sky, rain, wind and even hail!  We decided to keep preparing and packed a gazebo to set up on-site over one of the existing picnic tables.

Once at the reserve, Erin and Vaughan set up Elmer's awning.  When it was last used, one of the side poles was bent but is still functional (though hopefully will be replaced soon).  You can see Nick lighting our latest acquisition, a new Coleman Northstar Dual Fuel Lantern bought at the most terrific bargain price, due to it being used as a demonstration model. Our original dual fuel lantern was purchased in 2009 for our first camping trip and has served us very well since.  It hasn't been functioning to it's usual high standard though (and neither has our original dual fuel stove, also from 2009) but in chatting to the salesman, he offered the solution - and service kits for both items are to be purchased in the near future when stock becomes available.

What of Erin's camp oven feast?  The fact that there are no photos of the finished dish prove how great it was - and how hungry we were!  (I'd cooked rice in the thermal cooker before leaving and it was pretty good too).  The cake was lovely and the birthday song was sung with great gusto, particularly by Bandit! Erin declared the night wonderful - and it was.  There was even a wombat sighting as we chatted by the fire.  It doesn't get much better than that!