Thoughts on Locations No 39 and 40
No 39 – Echuca, Hume, Victoria
With winter persisting, we decided it was too cold to free camp, so a couple of nights at the Echuca Holiday Park seemed like a wonderful idea. Camped, once again, on the banks of the Murray River, we thought we’d cap it off with a quick river cruise and a walk around this little town so steeped in Australian history.
Echuca is home to the largest paddle steamer collection in the world, including the world’s oldest operating wooden hulled paddle steamer, the PS Adelaide which was built in 1866. I had several efforts at taking photos, however, if it wasn’t raining, the PS Adelaide wasn’t in port and we didn’t see it.
(Sadly) We had to make the decision to not do a river cruise – it seemed a waste as the weather was so miserable and the river so muddy – but we did manage to squeeze in a few other activities.
We walked the outer track of the Victoria Park Reserve, following the Murray River around to its junction with Campaspe River before continuing back to the caravan park, a distance of just over 5½ kilometres (3.4 miles) . It is possible to drive through the reserve, but we really enjoyed the walk.
We also spent quite some time exploring the Historic Port of Echuca and all the township has to offer. This is another area on Australia’s National Heritage List.
But I have to say, of all the things we thought we’d find at Echuca, the National Holden Museum was not one of them. It was equally as sad as it was exciting as the Holden plant in South Australia edges closer to the last Australian built Holden. (The plant is due to close at the end of 2017.)
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No 40 – Ballarat, Lower East Grampians, Victoria
Leaving Echuca, it was hard to decide where to go next. We still had one night before we had to arrive in Torquay, and it was difficult to decide where to go next. As we passed Bendigo, we considered stopping, but that was all we did, and we kept going and ended up stopping at Ballarat.
With Sovereign Hill and the Gold Museum a short walk down the road, I couldn’t resist the allure of the beautiful shiny metal, and we got lost for the afternoon in Australia’s foremost outdoor museum. Dean enjoyed seeing the old machinery, there was even a short tour through one of the mines.
Sovereign Hill itself is a recreation of what life was like in Ballarat during the first ten years that followed the discovery of gold in 1851*.
We topped the afternoon off with a visit to the Gold Museum across the road (and included in your admission) before calling it a day and preparing for a cold night. It was only 2°C (35.6°F) when I checked this morning and chilly is only one word to describe how it felt. Thank goodness for electricity and a reverse-cycle air-conditioner.
On another note, just south of Gundagai, I finally spotted the Golden Wattle and was thrilled to get a few photos. It is so easy to see why the green and gold worn by Australian athletes is symbolic of our National Floral Emblem.
We arrived in Torquay this morning and will be enjoying a lovely weekend with our two youngest daughters.
* Gold was also found near Bendigo in 1851.