Barham

Jan 14 to 20  Continuing west we stop at Barham. The caravan park is one of the best we have stayed at on the trip. We are right on the Murray and very close to the town and its amenities. Imagine our surprise when we checked in and the owner told us there was another van here from the Sunshine Coast. What a surprise to see Jeff and Faye Chapple on a site just 50 metres away. Jeff and Faye (we know them from Pelican Waters Golf Club) were the couple we also bumped into last year at Yeppoon. They have been away since Christmas and are also making their way along the Murray.

We play golf at Barham Golf Club and also at Cohuna (locals pronounce it Coona), which is the home course of Stuart Appleby. Stuart’s father played in the small Sunday comp we played in. Both Barham and Cohuna are great typical examples of country golf clubs surviving with few members and great volunteer workforces. The 5th hole at Barham is known at ‘Gallipoli’ – take a look at the bunker in front of the green and you will see why.

There is a lovely redgum statue river walk with many wooden statues sculptured out of huge redgums using a chainsaw. One of the statues is a likeness of Stuart Appleby.

                 

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Echuca / Moama

Jan 10 to 13  We move west to Echuca (twinned with Moama in NSW), which is ,unfortunately and disappointingly, in the middle of large upgrades to all the tourist sites along the River. There are quite a few of the famous paddle steamers at Echuca but they could also do with some updating ! We play golf at Rich River on a very windy day. Weather is still very hot.

        

The Murray River

Jan 3 to 9  Our first experience of the great Murray River occurs at Yarrawonga. First impressions – not that big and very muddy !! Yarrawonga, which is in Victoria,  is twinned with its sister town Mulwala over the river in New South Wales. We find this situation very often and it goes back to the time when poker machine gambling was banned in Victoria but not in NSW. Hence, these ‘twin towns’ developed all along the Murray.

We play golf at Yarrawonga Mulwala, at Cobram and also at Howlong, where Siobhan blows away the competition with 43 points ! Howlong was a typical example of a really friendly country golf course, a pleasure to play. Note the picture taken at Yarrawonga which shows the flood water level in 1993.

Rutherglen is famous for its ‘stickies’ – impossible not to sample some and invest in a couple of bottles. Take a look at the photo of the sand greens at the Rutherglen Golf Club.

Yarrawonga / Mulwala is the site of the first of many weirs along the Murray. As a result the huge man-made Lake Mulwala provides a large body of water for all kinds of water sports – providing you can avoid the thousands of dead trees !!

The weather is now heating up with most days aver 30 degs – even the local sheep have to take to the shade of a tree !

              

Christmas and New Year

Dec 20 to Jan 3  We base ourselves at Healesville for the Christmas and New Year break. Healesville is about 60 Kms north of Melbourne amidst the stunning scenery of the Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges. It is a regional food and wine hub. We choose Healesville because it is away from the coast which will be very busy over the holiday period.

After such a hectic travel schedule, we relax a little and get to know the surrounding area. Healesville was part of the region that was devastated during the bush fires in February 2009. Evidence of this disaster is all around, even though the surrounding countryside is now recovering. The scenery is really quite spectacular.

        

We visit a local trout and salmon farm where we caught our own supplies of fresh fish for the next couple of weeks. The owner, an elderly lady, explained to us how she had to emerse herself in one of the fishing lakes during the fires of 2009 to save herself … what a story.

  

The Caravan Christmas Decorations !

  

The Healesville Sanctuary wildlife park is very close to town.

     

The local Bowls Club have a weekly ‘barefoot bowls’ session where beginners can have a go. Note Siobhan’s perfect follow through !

Christmas Day was a treat at the Sebel Heritage in the Yarra Valley. We played the Jack Nicklaus designed course on Christmas Eve. Christmas lunch was a seafood buffet and Boxing Day was a massage and beauty treatment treat at the Spa. Our second planned round of golf on Boxing Day was cancelled due to the hailstones !!

     

One for the ‘Bucket List’ a ride around the Rochford Winery on a Segway. What great fun. In the evening we watched a movie in the open in the vineyard … George Clooney’s new one, the Ides of March.

     

We play some golf at the Marysville Golf Club. The members make us feel very welcome and invite us to play in their competition. The course was badly effected during the fires and Kellan, the local greenkeeper who we played golf with, sent some photos of the damage.

  

The Steavenson Falls, just outside Marysville, was also an area impacted by the fires. It is now recovering and is being rebuilt as a tourist attraction.

     

New Year’s Eve was spent in the caravan with a cold bottle of bubbles (or 2) and some lovely food from the local deli.

  

May 2012 bring a year of health and happiness to all … and here’s to safe travelling.

Daylesford

Dec 19  On our way to our Christmas and New Year stop in Healesville, we stop for a night at Daylesford to catch up with Wayne and Rose Mobbs, some friends who are members of Pelican Waters Golf and live in Daylesford. We had a game of golf at ‘Royal’ Hepburn Springs, a delightful country course and were hosted to a lovely home-cooked dinner at the Mobbs’. (Many thanks for the large comfortable bed for the night … makes a change from our bed on wheels!).

Wayne took us on a very interesting tour of his large family farm business where he specialises in breeding and raising premium black angus beef cattle. What a fascinating and informative tour.

  

 

Ballarat

Dec 17, 18  Ballarat is about 90 minutes north west of Melbourne and is famous for its part in the history of the Victorian gold rush with its Soveriegn Hill historical gold mining site. It was also the site of the Eureka Stackade rebellion where 30 miners lost their lives in 1854. Unfortunately, it rained solidly for the 2 days we were in Ballarat so we could not visit any of the historical sites … perhaps next time.