Follow by Email

Thursday, 25 October 2012

ALICE SPRINGS AND BACK

I organised a tagalong with some fellow A Vanners. A wonderful trip. Check it out on my website:
www.veronicaschwarz.net and click on TRAVELS.

Come back and leave a comment. Would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

SNOWY MOUNTAINS SOLO A'VAN TRAVELLERS

Five of us met up in Dalgety. FivE solo travelling women from various parts of Eastern Australia.

Three of us had dogs. It was Cody's first trip. He was three and a half months old.


Ismay from Queensland, Veronica (Ronnie) from NSW, Ruth from the A.C.T., Sally from NSW and myself, Veronica, from Victoria.

I had met Ismay on my travels to Queensland earlier in the year, but none of the rest of us had met one another before. Four of us arrived on Monday 5 December and Sally arrived on Friday 9 December.  It was a great combo and we had a lot of fun.



Ruth, Veronica (with Cody), Ismay and Ronnie on our first night.

We had the Snowy River Holiday Park to ourselves most  of the time. Owner/Manager Barbara, was wonderful.  She made us very welcome and even minded the dogs while we went on a day trip into the National Park.  She also took us to see the platypus in the river at dusk, We invited her for dinner one evening when we put on a BBQ and salads and champagne.


A Vans Rule, OK!

Three of us arrived with furry four-footed friends. Ruth brought Rosie and Judy, I brought Cody and Sally brought Diva.  We chose our camp spot because it was one of the few dog-friendly parks in the area.

Cody settles in

     
   Diva watching Cody racing round and round and round.

Happy Hour is virtually compulsory in the caravanning life and, of course, we kept up the tradition. We also shared a couple of meals under Ismay’s  innovative awning.


Sally, Ronnie and Ruth

Ismay and Veronica
  
We had a couple of excellent meals at the local pub. Although Dalgety has a population of only 78, the hotel is packed and busy several nights in the week as people from the surrounding area gather there. The food is excellent and  the hotel had just been included in the “Good Food” Guide.
 
Ismay, Veronica and Sally at the pub on our last night

The publican, Darren Powell is also the World Snowboarding Champion.

    Darren's snow board

We did several day trips to Jindabyne, Thredbo, and Charlotte Pass.


Mt Kosziusko from Charlotte Pass
  
Snow Gum

Ruth, Ronnie and I took the chairlift from Thredbo up to the start of the walk to the summit of Kosciuszko. We walked some of the way then headed back to the Eagle’s Nest, the restaurant at the top of the chairlift, where we enjoyed coffee and some very scrumptious scones and cake. Not the healthiest option but we enjoyed it.

 Meanwhile, Ms Indomitable (Ismay) hiked to the top and back (13 km). We thought she was wonderful! See Picture below.
Ismay makes it to the top



Ruth, Ronnie and Veronica on Mt Kosziusko

 

NOW FOR SOME HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY! Not too boring - promise.
Mount Kosciuszko is in the Snowy Mountains in Kosciuszko National Park. It's 2,228 metres (7,310 ft) above sea level, and is the highest mountain in Australia (not including its external territories).
It was named by the Polish explorer Count Paul Edmund Strzelecki in 1840, in honour of the Polish national hero and hero of the American Revolutionary War, General Tadeusz Kościuszko, because it resembled the Kościuszko Mound in Krakow.
The name of the mountain was previously spelt "Mount Kosciusko", an Anglicisation, but the spelling "Mount Kosciuszko" was officially adopted in 1997 by the Geographical Names Board of New South Wales.
Various measurements of the peak originally called Kosciuszko showed it to be slightly lower than its neighbour, Mount Townsend. The names of the mountains were swapped by the New South Wales Lands Department, so that Mount Kosciuszko remains the name of the highest peak of Australia, and Mount Townsend ranks as second.
 
DALGETY (originally called Buckley’s Crossing)
Dalgety Bridge over the Snowy River
The town of Dalgety (population 78, yes 78) where we stayed, is on the Snowy River near Jindabyne, Thredbo and Cooma. It’s the only town left on the Snowy River in NSW as the other two, Jindabyne and Adaminaby, were flooded as part of the Snowy Hydro Electric Scheme.
Before the bridge was built in 1888, a punt was used to carry travellers and stock the river.  At that time it was known as Buckley’s Crossing. The original coach house, built around 1840, is still standing.
At one stage, it was gazetted as the site for the national capital but it was thought to be too close to Victoria, so Canberra was chosen.
There are plenty of historic buildings in the town, many of them still being used. The pub and the school date from 1889. 
And that's it!
I would recommend Dalgety to anyone. Great place to stay and within easy distance of all the attractions of the Snowy Mountains. And it's particularly beautiful in summer.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

THE ABORIGINAL WORLD AND THE CALL OF THE WILD LIFE

 I drove a few kilometres from the campground to the Brambuk Cultural Centre – an Aboriginal complex of Info Centre, Café, gift shop, cultural display of photos and text depicting the two indigenous groups that lived here before European settlers came. There was a separate building also with photos, text and videos showing the history of the indigenous people since the coming of European settlers.
I left the Centre and drove along Mount Zero Road again further than the first time when I drove to the quarry. The corrugations were so bad, every nut and bolt in the Subaru must have been put to the test, not to mention my teeth. I drove slowly and tried to keep one set of wheels off the road which was the only place there were no corrugations.
At one stage I straddled a stumpy tail lizard crossing the road at the mind blowing speed of a snail on a bad day.
At another time, I stopped the car just in time to avoid running over a snake. It was about one and a half metres long and beautiful.  I backed up and sat and watched it glide across the road like a ribbon of brown silk in the sunshine.
Further on, an emu crossed the road, trotting confidently across in front of me, fully confident that this was its territory.  Not long after, I rounded a curve to see a kangaroo sitting in the middle of the road watching me approach. Finally, it turned and hopped along the road with me following and eventually it veered off into the bush.
Some kilometres further on, I turned off the road to a car park, left the Subaru and took a gently sloping path up the mountain to see the rock art of Gurgan Manja. The path got steeper and the ground underfoot turned from sand to rock. 




The climb was not difficult and I reached the rocky overhang which was securely protected from vandals by a solid mesh fence. Incongruous in the ancient bush setting but sadly necessary. The rock art consisted mainly of small red hand prints and, while not in any way spectacular to look at, was an electrifying glimpse into a very distant past.


There are several rock art sites in the Grampians, five of them being open to the public.
From Guran Manja, I found a six-kilometre short cut to the Western Highway and drove a much longer route back to camp to avoid the bone-shaking experience of returning along Mount Zero Road.
The next day, I drove along the edge of the now full Lake Bellfield Reservoir, turned into a bush road, parked and headed along the track to see Silverband Falls. The sign at the beginning of the track said it was an easy walk with some “rock hopping” and much flood damage.
And so it was. The rock hopping turned out to be some thoughtfully-placed flat boulders across the creek so no feet got wet in the process. The flood damage consisted of the debris of enormous uprooted trees and boulders washed along the creek bed. A walking track had been constructed through the rubble so it was still possible to reach the falls. They were aptly named as they are a delicate single silver band of falling water.

Before the flood of January 2011


After the flood


After the flood

Silverband Falls, Grampians

The Grampians and the people who live there have made a remarkable recovery from the floods of January. There are still several roads that are closed due to rock slides, but the clean up has been amazing. While the flooding of parts of Victoria was overshadowed by the enormity of the simultaneous floods in Queensland, the damage is equally devastating to the individuals involved. The recovery is inspiring.
The Grampians are still teaming with wildlife. Check out the Halls Gap Floor Show on a previous post. The Tardis was often surrounded by Kangaroos and visited by parrots and cockatoos and other birds.

Just dropped in



Mother with joey in her pouch

Just brilliant

Saturday, 22 October 2011

HALLS GAP FLOOR SHOW

Halls Gap Floor Show
The entire A Van gathering descended on the Halls Gap Pub for dinner one night. It was worth it for the floor show.
We sat in the pub’s main dining area looking through an entire wall of glass at a billabong, green paddocks, gum trees, towering rocks of the Grampians and a herd of grazing grey kangaroos. It was not quite dusk when the floor show began. A herd of black cattle emerged from the trees – enter stage left –  slowly grazing but steadily advancing.
One or two kangaroos lifted their heads, stood up and one by one began to retreat round the billabong to our right. One braver than the others, stood its ground and lunged at the approaching cattle. There was a scuffle and the kangaroo hopped defiantly through the entire herd followed by two or three others. They stopped at the tail of the herd and went back to eating.
The cattle continued to graze, moving steadily round the billabong with the main body of the kangaroos moving backwards ahead of them, also still grazing. It was like a carefully choreographed performance, slow and deliberate. Round the billabong in a ritualistic sort of dance until the cattle reached the place where they had entered the scene. Here they headed for home – exit stage left – and the kangaroos went back to grazing where we had first seen them. It was as though it had never happened.
We too went back to eating and the meal was excellent.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

NOT FERAL BUT DEFINITELY WILD

After our coffee at the mini golf course, I drove Maureen and Nancy along Mt Zero Road to Heatherlie Quarry. Since the 1880s, the beautiful Grampians sandstone had been quarried. Equipment was hauled in and rock hauled out by teams of bullocks straining through sandy terrain in the dry weather and bogging down in the wet.
The site for a village to house the workers was surveyed but never built. A school house was brought in for the workers’ children but never use and was removed to another site a year later. Walking through the bush along a sandy track, you come upon "road signs" indicating which roads had been intended for that section.
At the quarry’s edge there are still the remains of the machinery used to power the drills, and bits of the railway line that replaced the bullocks. The rock from the quarry was still being used to repair historic buildings including the Melbourne Town Hall, up to the 1980s.

From the internet I learned that: "The high quality building stone was used in more than twenty well known buildings in Melbourne, including Parliament House and the Town Hall. During the 1880s the quarry was in full production A tramway was built from Stawell to carry the stone to the main railway line and up to one hundred men were employed. When the demand for stone eventually declined and it closed in 1938." Nowadays stone can only be taken from the quarry to repair historic.

Jeez! You can tell I didn't write that!
Walking from the road into the quarry was a delight. The wildflowers were everywhere –white ti tree blossoms, red grevillea, purple flowers like tiny stars, miniature pink orchids, single and perfect, pea flowers of many colours, golden daisy-like blossoms, banksias of several sorts and brilliant orange fungus on the stark black trunks of burnt out trees. I Have tried to identify them from a brochure but if you know thenames or I've got it wrong, please let me know. 8)
 



Tinsel Lily


Orange fungus on burnt out tree


Pink Sun Lily



This area has been devastated by bush fire many times, the most recent being  the 2009 Black Saturday fires. Throughout the regenerated forest, are the tall black silhouettes of the trees that didn’t make it back. Surrounding them are the thick green of those that did and the wildflowers seemed even brighter with the dark contrast. A tribute to Nature’s determination. And throughout the forest, tall and stately, covered in white blossom are the re-named grass trees.


Desert Baekea


Monday, 17 October 2011

GRAMPIANS NATIONAL PARK (GARIWERD)

14 October 2011 THE GRAMPIANS
When I arrived in the Grampians, I immediately fell in love – with the mountains, the trees, the birds, the wildflowers and the tranquillity.
The drive from Melton to Halls Gap was beautiful and the first glimpse of the Grampians was breathtaking. Driving through the brilliant green countryside that would make the Emerald Isle – well – greener with envy – contrasted with the buttery golden fields of canola, what more could I want? And then the Grampians emerged on the horizon to my left. Great folds of rock tilted up from the plain millions of years ago. Spectacular.

I drove through the town of Halls Gap with a silent promise to myself to return to explore, into the hills, the road curving between them, till I reached Takaru Bush Resort. Just perfect. Tall gums contrasting with graceful willows, green grassy camp sites, colourful parrots, masses of kangaroos and a rocky creek bed at the base of the mountain towering above the camp. Almost too much. I joined up with my fellow A Vanners who had arrived a day  or so earlier, set up the Tardis, and settled in.

I visited the mini-golf course but didn’t play. I was too busy enjoying the gardens. Totally beautiful.  A garden of delights with the mini-golf course winding unobtrusively through it like a natural stream. There were trees and shrubs with a variety of leaf colours and textures, and flowers and boulders and waterfalls.  I was running out of ooohs and aaahs!

Halls Gap Mini Golf course/garden

More Mini Golf course


There was also an art gallery on the premises with beautiful paintings ranging from traditional landscapes to highly imaginative cheerful wildlife renditions that made you feel happy just looking at them.
By the time, my friends, Maureen and Nancy, and I sat down for coffee  I felt I had already absorbed a feast.


Mini Golf Rules
The Grampians were originally named by Major Mitchell after a range of mountains in his native Scotland. In recent times, there has been a move to respect the earlier names given to places by the indigenous population so,  after some twenty years of to-ing and fro-ing and name-changing, they have settled on the name Grampians National Park (Gariwerd) though I notice some references still call it Grampians Gariwerd National Park.
There seems to be a very good relationship between Parks Victoria and the five Aboriginal Communities here. They run the park environmentally and financially as a partnership whereas previously it had been a dual system with a lot of duplication.

There's lots more but that's all for now. Do please post a comment if you are enjoying the blog. I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, 15 August 2011

THE LAST POST


I finally had to tear myself away from the lakeside, the ducks, the beautiful tropical trees and plants, and head south, homeward bound. 

Stayed another night in Byron Bay. I was going to stay in the same caravan park at Suffolk Beach because I had enjoyed it so much, but decided that exploring something new is always worth a try. I set Matilda (the GPS) for another caravan park in Byron Bay and, as she does sometimes, she went haywire and I ended up in a different place in a dead end street in the heart of Byron Bay, one block back from Johnson Street (the main street). And right at the dead end was a beautiful caravan park. I went in and said to the lady on reception, “I didn’t see your caravan park in my caravan book.” She nodded and said, “No, we don’t advertise. We have just the number of people we want.” 

It was a beaut spot with excellent facilities and a walk along a bush track and over the railway line into the main street.  I knew Edna, Bob and Kate were holidaying in Byron Bay so phoned them up and invited them round to the Tardis for happy hour. We went out to dinner after that – lovely meal, good wine, good conversation.

Next day, I headed off to Jill and Andy’s place at Valla, just north of Nambucca Heads. Another lovely evening of eating, drinking and catching up. 

Onward to Port Macquarie where I booked in for three nights. Jenny and Gil live up in the mountain behind Port Macquarie at Comboyne, so I left the Tardis in the caravan park and spent  a lovely evening with them on their property. More wining, dining and conversation. Jenny cooked this simply delicious chicken dish for dinner. So good, I took down the recipe. 

From Port Macquarie, to Stockton, to a caravan park I had stayed in on the beach on another trip. It’s here I said goodbye to the ocean and headed inland for home. Instant climate change 65 kilometres north of Goulburn. From sunshine and warmth, I was confronted with a grey leaden blanket of cloud, the  temperature dropped almost ten degrees and down came the rain. 

I pulled into a fairly ordinary caravan park in Goulburn, no grass just dirt which by this stage was slippery mud. At least the sites were drive-through so I was able to leave the Tardis hitched to the car for a quick getaway. Nearly drowned setting up camp though in the pouring rain. Next morning, the birds were singing and the sun was shining.

I gathered momentum and reached Albury. Here I had a delightful two nights with a couple camped near me, we shared our wine and nibbles and solved most of the world’s problems. 

Finally, into Victoria, I ignored Matilda’s insistence to use the freeways and cut across country. She finally gave up on the “perform a U Turn when possible” and got with the program - a last pleasant drive through the hills and small towns. 

Home looked very sweet indeed as, with a flourish, I opened the garage door with my newly installed remote control. I had a wonderful time but it’s always good to come home again. I had a beautiful roast dinner with Kristel, Dan and little Bella and Cooper. Lovely to see them again. I had travelled 5,800 kilometres, met a lot of wonderful people, had a lot of fun, learnt new things and gained no weight. The latter more by good luck than good management.

I'd love you to leave a comment at the end of this post particularly if you haven't done so yet. Let me know what you thought of your vicarious travels with me. Just click on the number of comments shown below and this should take you to a page to write your own comment. I look forward to reading your comment.