Friday, July 1, 2016

The Murray River and small detours

The Murray 1
Our first contact with the Murray was at Tom Groggan, a small camp in the Kosciosko Mtns.  The river actually started about 40 Klms further up stream but it is a walking track only and we weren't  that keen.
Tom Groggan Murray River Trickle
We will be meeting up with our friend a bit further along the track but before that as we made our way to Wagga Wagga we came into Tumberumba and visited the information centre to see  what was in the area of interest.  There were a lot of local history books written by the same man and as I looking for someone to print my Family History / Autobiography I thought I would contact him.  He put me on to a printer in Wagga and as that was to be our next destination I called in.  He was happy to print it for me and I quickly got the copies out to family.  Over 3 years work and a lifetime of memories and now all finished.  Thank you those members of the family who supplied me with information and photos and also to those who "loaned" me  photos from their Facebook page.

After spending about 4 nights at a lovely spot on Paddys River just out of Tumburrumba where on one warm afternoon I found the perfect spot to relax, read a book and have a cuppa.
We had no phone service but there was a sign at the toilets which said that there was a phone box at the top of the winding track up on the hill.  so off I set up to the phone to check in with family.  when I got there this is what awaited me.

And sure enough, I had mobile phone reception

The Murray 2
Not far out of Corryong we found a nice spot near Towong where we camped right on the river.  An interesting phenomenon  occurred overnight.  I took a photo of the River just on dusk and by morning there was an island of rocks  in the middle of the river.  low tide? No, just the Hydro Electronic scheme letting water out into the river from their power system.
The River which rose nearly 6 inches overnight

Nice spot but we had to move on.  We left the Corryong area heading to our next spot and along the way stopped in at Tintaldra for a cuppa.  The little Herritage Listed building has been standing nearly as long as the town is old.  By 1858 the township and general store were built in Tintaldra. The Tintaldra store stands today but now it is tea rooms which serve amazing Devonshire teas and quite often host buses to f tourists who enjoy traditional stew with billy tea and damper all prepared and served by the owner of the place Betty Walton who purchased to shop and houses both sides with her husband in 1974.  With towns growing all around her they turned the general store into a Tourist venture and museum.  We loved the chat and refreshments served to us by Betty with a little help from her daughter.  Betty at the age 87 entertained us on the old pianola and very old organ while giving us a bit of the history of the place.

The Murray 3
But the mighty Murray waits for no man so we had to keep moving.  Our next over night became two nights at Gadds Bend west of Jingellic just over the Victorian Border.

At this stage the river is still fairly swiftly flowing and relatively clear.
These rocks at Gadds Bend were all underwater the night before - again the Hydro Electric System at work
This is one of the most picturesque spots on the Murray that we have seen
From here we detoured away from time river a little to a very small town called Bethanga just over the Victorian border.   We slipped back and forth across the border while visiting places like Beechworth, Bright, Albury and Wodonga.

Murray 4

Each time we crossed the Murray again and again it was at the Hume Weir which is part of the System.
We have power and water for $10 per night so grabbed it as it was a chance to catch up on washing etc and stayed 5 days.
Hume Weir
 Still not getting back to stay on the Murray despite the fact that we crossed it sometimes 4 times in one day, we came to the little town of Chilton, which was a real step back in time and is very quant and laid back.  We caught up with friends here for a few days and used it as a base to go back to Beechworth, 
I also had the opportunity to catch up with a lady I hadn't seen since we went to school together in 1963.  Charlene Watson was one of the borders at St Pats in Mackay when I went there.
Charlene and I going back to the '60's
The Murray 5

We figured it was time to pay the Murray a visit so we ended up at a camp called Big Toms Beach, just out of Cobram.  Very peaceful and quiet - except for the thousands of corella's, so loud in fact that you couldn't hear yourself speak and when they landed in a tree it turned from green to white and weighed the branched down.

The Murray at this spot is full of Blue Green Algae so dangerous to drink and even walk or swim in
Nobody travels the Murray without traveling through Echuca.  We camped on the river but as it was so dry and dirty and the Murray so green with blue green algae
Echuca is a town steeped in history.  It was once a very large town which was the hub for all the large sheep wool and agriculture transport to the port in Melbourne.
The large wagons sometimes pulled by up to 20 oxen travelled for weeks to get their loads to Echuca to be loaded onto paddle steamers and transported out.  They then travelled back from the city with produce to feed the hungry pioneers in the outlying properties.

On the large bend where we camped we could see a couple of large houseboats moored on the bank.
One of the many house boats on the River
The PS Emmylou

Echuca is right on the border and so we took the opportunity for a photo moment
The old historic wharf on the banks of the Murray at Echuca

Another section of the old wharf

The wharf precinct has tours of the old wharf and included in this is a tour of one of the original drinking houses, which, when its licence was cancelled by the police of the day dug a room under the floor where the patrons could drink without detection.  In the event of being discovered, a small door in the back led through a damp tunnel to the bush and scrub behind the establishment.  When the coast was clear they returned to finish their libation.

Knowing that there were few places to camp over Easter away from the families wanting to take the kids to the Murray to camp we looked around for another spot.  We found it in the form of Ayson's Reserve on the banks of the Campaspi River with no blue green algae either.  By Good Friday there were over 150 vans and camps but still plenty of room. Aysons is between Rochester and Elmore about 45 klms north of Bendigo.
Back at Aysons Reserve on the Campaspe River for Easter
As John and Jenny Varady were still visiting parents in Drouin just south east of Melbourne they came up for a drive for a couple of days to see us.
We moved further across Victoria and found a lovely little town called Boort and stayed for a few days.  While there we checked out THE SPANNER MAN who, after contracting polio as a child has been confined to a wheelchair.  Using a block and tackle hanging from the cross beams of his work shed he can manoeuvre hundreds of kilograms of welded art to make the amazing works he has scattered around his yard.

John Piccolo "The Spanner Man"
The oldest and favourite of John's spanners is one that came with a large gun used in the First World War

A Frill Neck Lizard

The Pretty Mermaid
The Deer Family

The Buck Jumper

The Old Dray and Draft Horse

The Shearer (using 2 different
coloured spanners

Two in Contemplation

A Portrait in Spanners

Stately Bull

Marlin Fishing

The netball player

While in Boort we went to see a place where they make wool quilts.  we ordered one that has 1 blanket thickness on one side and 3 blanket thickness on the other as I am a cold frog and Stuart doesn't feel the cold so this suited us perfectly.  
On one of our forays off the Murray we visited Shepparton.  This town had been mentioned to me by friends of many years Terry and Val Moore who came from Victoria years ago and knew the area very well
Shepparton is the home of the Furphy Farm Water Cart, a family business commenced in 1850 and still operating as a family business.  They also make other steel products, like ornate fencing and Camp Ovens which sell for hundreds of dollars.
When the my children were much littler Terry often quoted the verse placed on all Furphy Carts and was the philosophy of the founder. 
Good Better Best
Never let it rest
Til your good is better
And your better best 

We seemed to be going round in circles again but there was so much country to see that we very seldom backtracked but we needed to not go too far away as we had to be back in Wagga for our grandsons graduation at Kapooka Army Barracks in early May. 

We snuck a visit to Kapooka to see our grandson Zac Reeves about halfway through his 3 months training at Kapooka

Stuart and I with Trooper Zac Reeves, his mother Kylie and sister Emma.

An interesting coincidence regarding
this day, it was the anniversary of the
day his father Peter was at Kapooka

We also had to be in Canberra for a family function.
 Our Canberra sister in law Sandy Hawke had a special birthday

An interesting stopover also was in Wedderburn.  A small town in central Victoria where gold was discovered in the 1800's.  We camped at up on a slight rise just out of town beside a eucalyptus still.

Three old men well past their prime loaded branches into a large pot and then locked a lid down onto it after one third filling it with water.

They then built a fire under it and the steam that rose from the pot was then distilled off putting it into a drum

.  When cool the oil floated on top and was then bottled and marketed in the tourist places around the district as well as across Australia.  And of course I contributed to their coffers by purchasing a bottle.

The previous 5 photos are some of the reasons we do what we do.  These photos don't do our beautiful scenery justice.
I had a trip back to Mackay factored into the equation and eventually I have had a chance to finish this section of the Murray and get it posted.

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