Family Holiday Highlights – Fri 19th April

(This post follows on from the 2 previous ones, so if something in here doesn’t make sense try reading the previous two posts).

Trappers Gap Track

The Mountain Creek Camping Ground where we were camped is accessed via a road from Tawonga that continues beyond the camping ground to the Omeo Highway near Mitta Mitta. Between the camping ground and the Omea Highway the road is called Trappers Gap Track. On Friday we decided that a non-energetic day was in order, and so we decided to go for a drive to Mitta Mitta and explore around there. This meant travelling along Trappers Gap Track. As far as mountain roads go, it’s not a bad road. A little rough and steep in places, with very steep mountain sides above and below the track in quite a few places. But we have been on worse roads (the backwoods ‘road’ through the Wollondilly River valley to reach the Wombeyan Caves, for example). The road climbs steadily and provides some great views of the Bogong ridge. And I am fairly sure that it gets up above the snow line ad when I got out to take some photos it was very cold.


Above and below: Views of the Bogong ridge from Trappers Gap Track.

MountainCreek_TrappersGap_roads_view_5175_500The photos above give the impression that the road is about the same altitude as the road, but I don’t think that would have been the case as a sizable portion of the Bogong ridge is above the treeline (not just above the snowline), and the road still had plenty of trees on both sides of it for it’s whole length to suggest it never gets above the treeline.


Above: Trappers Gap Track

Averaging about 30kph, it took us a bit over an hour to travel the 38 km from the Mountain Creek camp ground to Mitta Mitta.

Mitta Mitta

Mitta Mitta is a small town nestled into the steep sided valley where the Mitta Mitta River and Snowy Creek converge. Actually the name Mitta Mitta means “meeting of the waters” in the Aboriginal language. The first settlers are believed to be William Wyse and Charles Ebden who took up cattle grazing leases in the area. Gold was discovered in the 1860s, which brought many more people to the region, as gold finds tended to do back then. The Pioneer Mine was opened in 1861 and was the principle claim, and the site is reputedly the largest open cut gold mine in the southern hemisphere. The mine is so huge that the road goes into the mine for a way, and then there is a 1.5km walk inside the open cut itself.


Above: One of the walls of the open cut.

The Pioneer Mine used hydraulic sluicing methods to extract the gold. This needed a large volume of water which was brought in open channels (water races). These water races were hand cut on the contour to bring water from nearby creeks to the mine site. The water used for the hydraulic sluicing was channeled through iron pipes from the top of the mine to the bottom where it was channeled through a hose with a nozzle. The pressure created by this method was so great that it generated a huge jet of water that was used to hose down earth from the walls of the mine literally washing away the walls of the mine which was then ‘sluiced’ in sluice boxes to separate the gold from clay and loam that held it. Two men were needed to hold the nozzle to direct the water at the mine wall. A nozzle could deliver 18 MegaLitres of water a day. Thats 18,000,000 litres!


Above: Remains of a water race inside the Pioneer Mine open cut.

Also in the area was the Mammoth Flume, which was built during the 1860s and was 35 metres high and 210 metres long. Made of timber, the flume was constructed to carry water across a creek as part of a 22km water race. The water race is still visible in places but the flume was dismantled in 1908.


Above: The Mammoth Flume

Not far from the Pioneer Mine site, beside the river near the edge of Mitta Mitta township, is a historical reserve with a number of static displays related to the history of the town and it’s gold mining past.


Above: Buckets used by ‘The Dredge’ which overturned large areas of the Mitta Mitta riverbed and discovered 5376 ounces of gold.


Above: A replica miners cottage.


Above: Poppet head used to crush quartz as part of the gold extraction process.


Above: This wheel seems to have been used to generate power to operate the poppet head. Many things relied on the power of water to power machinery in the 1800s.


Above: A mine tramway wagon used to haul rock out of a mine.

The town of Mitta Mitta today is a lot less busy’ than what is was in it’s heyday, but it still has a general store, hotel, caravan park, ambulance and police stations. It still has a number of old buildings around the town…


Above: Union Church.


Above: Mechanics Institute


Above: I am not sure whether this building is really that old, but it captures the style of gold mining era buildings.


Above: The hotel. While I am a non-drinker, I still appreciate the architecture of buildings such as this.


Not far from Mitta Mitta is the township of Eskdale. The township was first surveyed in 1887 and was named by the first shop owner, James Aitken. A bakery was opened around 1890, and the original hotel was opened in 1897. The discovery of gold in the area and early farming effected the development of the town.  Also in the 1890s, Eskdale had it’s own butter factory.


Above and below: Remains of Eskdale Butter Factory. The chances of this being restored seem somewhat remote as the dreaded Asbestos is in the factory and it would probably take a large amoutnt of money to extract it before restoration could begin.

Eskdale_old_butter_factory_5195_500A declining mining industry saw the ascendancy in importance of farming, particularly dairying, as a viable regional pursuit. The area is very suitable for dairying. Farmers brought their milk to be separated at creameries from where the cream was transported to the butter factory. In 1967 the company that run the butter factory was merged into the Murray Goulburn Co-op, and when bulk milk road transport became viable the butter making activity was closed down.

Back home

This is not so much a highlight of the holiday (for me at least, as I was still eager to explore), but as everyone else in the family had by this time developed an ailment of some kind I reluctantly heeded the suggestion of the Wife and when we got back to Mountain Creek we packed up the campsite in record time and headed for home.

Thus endeth the holiday!

Family Holiday Highlights – Thu 18th April

(This post follows on from the previous one, so if something doesn’t make sense you might want to look at the previous post!)

Mount Beauty

On Thursday we decided to explore Mount Beauty. Mount Beauty was established in 1949 by the SEC to house construction workers for the Kiewa Hydro Electric Scheme. It is about 350km from Melbourne (Victoria, Australia), and about 35km from Bright. The seasons are very obvious in Mount Beauty: chilling winters, cool wet springs, scorching summers and colorful autumns. Each season has its own attractions: skiing, bushwalking / hiking, horse riding, gliding, bike riding (mountain and road) as well as fishing. Mount Beauty also has its own annual music festival, mountain bike competition and regular weekend markets. There are also some great views from and of the surrounding mountains.


Above: Sunset reflecting of the nearby mountains.

As Zoe had a nasty bark and generally didn’t have much energy, and Rebecca had developed a stomach bug, we decided that we would walk to Pebble Beach, then Jesse and I would do a longer hike after lunch. So we found the walking track to Pebble Beach.

Pebble Beach walk

Pebble Beach walk is a very flat, very easy walk along a shared walking / bicycle path beside the river. There are some great views along the river, and with the leaves on the overhanging trees changing to their Autumnal color it looked quite serene.


Above: view along river looking towards Mount Beauty.

Pebble Beach itself is like most other bends in a river where pebbles of varying sizes can be found, with one exception – people have decided to build objects out of the stones at Pebble Beach. Exactly how this came about I don’t know, but it seems to have become a tradition and one of the tourist brochures we read encouraged visitors to make their own object out of stones. This makes it an interesting place to visit.

MtBeauty_PebbleBeach_5142_500MtBeauty_PebbleBeach_5143_500I tried building something out of the stones there, but didn’t have much success. And it seems the kids were more interested in throwing rocks back into the river! Along the walk there are a few places where the surrounding hills and landscape can admired. Mount Bogong, sometimes referred to as the Brooding Giant, is quite close to Mount Beauty and there are some good vistas of it from the path.


Above: View of Mount Bogong from Pebble Beach track.

Also along the track is the Regulating Pondage, close to the township itself.


Above: regulating pondage.

This is a pondage that regulates water flow into the river, but exactly why it is there I am not sure. I suspect it is connected with one or more f the Hydro-electric power stations in the area and is used to store and release flows of water from power station/s so that it is released more gently into the river rather than causing a flash flood. By the time we got back to the car, it was lunch time. So we ate the usual camp lunch fare.

Pole Track / Survey Track

After lunch Jesse and I went on a more strenuous walk befitting people who be fit. The walk was made up of two sections – 1) Pole Track, 2) Survey Track. The brochure we got which had information on it suggested doing the Survey Track then the Pole Track, but being somewhat non-conformist I decided we would do it in reverse. So we started along the Gorge Track from the Mountain Bike Park, then turned into Pole Track. The section of the Gorge Track we used to get to Pole Track was easy – very flat, but Pole Track was very steep in places. Along the way there were some good views of the town.


Above: Mount Beauty from Pole Track.


Above: Another view of Mount Beauty, and along the Kiewa Valley.

The Pole Track was criss-crossed by a number of mountain bike trails. The bike trails themselves would have been hard enough to walk along let along ride a bike. I am quite sure it was considerably easier walking along the pole track (even the steep sections) than along the mountain bike trails! After about an hour we arrived at Cranky Charlies. Cranky Charlies is a location on the road to Falls Creek, and was named after a local land owner. My guess is that his name was Charlie and that he was known for being crankie. After a short rest and a well deserved drink of water we headed off down the Survey Track to return to Mount Beauty township. From the Survey Track we had some great views of the river far down in the valley below.


Above: View of the river from Survey Track. I think it is the Kiewa River.

There were also some interesting flora (plants).

MtBeauty_PoleTrackSurveyTrack_walk_flowers_5156_500MtBeauty_PoleTrackSurveyTrack_walk_flowers_5157_500The survey track was built in the 1930s, and today is maintained by volunteers “for walkers and XC bikes”. For most of it’s length it is a single file track, quite different to the Pole Track which is a 4×4 track. We arrived back at the outskirts of Mount Beauty township near the golf course. And we decided to take a shortcut across the golf course and through the residential areas of the town. But in retrospect it probably didn’t really save us any time as we had to zig-zag through the streets to get to the park we were supposed to meet Rebecca and the girls at.

Gorge Track

After we rendezvous-ed with Rebecca and the girls we drove the car to the car park at the Mountain Bike Park, and all set off along the Gorge Track. The Gorge is quite close the the township, and apparently leads to a shady swimming spot in the river. Along the way, there are some good views of the Kiewa Valley too. Along the walk there is a swing bridge spanning the river.


Above: swing bridge across the river.

The gorge itself reminded me of a gorge called Missinghams Steps, near Bowral in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. But at Missinghams Steps, the walk goes from one side of the gorge down to the river and then back up the other side. At least at Mount Beauty Gorge the track goes more or less along the bottom of the gorge, so it is a much easier walk. Following a re a few photos of the gorge.

MtBeauty_Gorge_walk_5163_500MtBeauty_Gorge_walk_5165_500MtBeauty_Gorge_walk_5166_500MtBeauty_Gorge_walk_5168_500The last photo (above) is zoomed in from a point 100 metres or so away, and I suspect the most spectacular section of the Gorge was just around the corner. But the river level was high and would have required wading through to get to the gorge. As the water was really cold, and flowing quite fast I decided against this. While the view of the Gorge around the corner might have been more spectacular I figured it probably wasn’t worth the possibility of hypothermia!

Family Holiday Highlights – Wed 17th April

From Tuesday 16th to Friday 19th April, we were able to have a family camping holiday. We camped at the base of Mount Bogong, the highest mountain in the state of Victoria (Australia), at a camping place called Mountain Creek.

Here are a few highlights of the activities we did on Wednesday…

Bogong village and Fainter Falls

Bogong village was created in the late 1930s by the State Electricity Commission (SEC) to provide accommodation and services for workers constructing the Kiewa hydro-electric scheme. A post office, a primary school and a shop were also established. When the Kiewa hydro-electric scheme was completed in the early 1960s, the SEC planted various terraced and lakeside gardens. In the Spring various flowers bloom, in Summer the gardens take on a cool and leafy green appearance, turning to a kaleidescope of color in the Autumn when the leaves of the deciduous trees announce that Summer is over and Winter is on the way. Autumn is the time of year we visited there, and the various colors of leaves throughout the region made for a very colourful vista. But it isn’t just the gardens at Bogong that provide beauty – there is Lake Guy, a man-made lake built as part of the hydro-scheme.

Above: Lake Guy wall


Above: Lake Guy, looking upstream

While the wall itself is somewhat utilitarian and made of concrete, the lake that it holds in the valley is very pleasant to behold as are the various visual elements associated with the village. A little upstream from Lake Guy, there is a beautiful parkland setting where the Kiewa River is joined by a creek. A bridge crosses at that location, providing a good view up the valley.


Above: Bridge across the Kiewa River at Bogong Village


Above: Looking upstream from atop the bridge in the previous photo.

Photos really don’t do the scene justice (as is often the case with scenes of such beauty) – much less a wordy written description. A short drive from Bogong Village is Fainter Falls. According to the signage on the walk, it flows all year. This is hardly surprising as it has the High Plains to feed water to it. Winter snowfalls and seasonal rains recharge the ground water, springs and alpine wetlands which  slowly and continuous feed such water ways.


Above: Looking downstream towards the Kiewa River.


Above: The falls

While we all went on the walk, only Jesse, Rebecca and I actually went up to the closest viewing platform to the falls. Zoe and Eliana stayed at the viewing platform a few hundred metres back.


Above: the family minus Dad (on the other side of the camera) at the intermediate viewing platform before Jesse, Rebecca and I went on to the next platform.

Falls Creek Alpine Resort

This was the first time we had visited the Falls Creek resort, but I had been there before, having been somewhat enthusiastic about snow skiing before I got married. I think the last time I was there was before Rebecca and I got engaged, so it would have been some time around 1994 when I was last there. Things had changed. New buildings had been built, but some of the ski runs looked somewhat familiar (but some had what looked like snow-making apparatus which they didn’t last time I was there), and the mountains themselves hadn’t changed (at least not noticably).


Above: It wasn’t there last time I was.


Above: Wishing Well. This also wasn’t there last time I was.

Another thing that I noticed was the non-ski-season marketing. Once upon a time a ski resort was basically just used for skiing. But it seems that the marketers for Falls Creek and Mount Beauty are recognising the potential for other non-Winter sports such as mountain biking, etc.

A ‘ruined castle’ and a Basalt Hill

Above Falls Creek, on the Mt McKay / Pretty Valley road is a naturally occurring feature called Ruined Castle. The feature is evidence of a basalt flow as a result of volcanic activity in the area years ago. The cooling of the lava caused cracks which divided the rock into close fitting columns, usually hexagonal (6 sides) in shape. The “Ruined Castle” formation is one of a few remaining examples of columnar jointed basalt in the area.


Above: view of all of ‘ruined castle’ formation


Above: Close-up showing hexagonal shape of columns.

A short-ish drive further up onto the high plains on the road between Falls Creek and Omeo, past the Rocky Valley Dam near the Wallaces Hut walk and car park, are some formations which also are apparently of volcanic origin according to the signage. One of the formations is called Basalt Hill, which I suppose is indicating what it is comprised of.


Above: An example of a basalt topped mountain, where the basalt on top helps to protect the rock underneath from erosion.

From there we decided to continue on to Omeo, as if it might be some sort of Shangri-la nestled in the hills.

Omeo, Omeo, wherefore art thou, Omeo

According to the road signs and our calculations it would take us about 1.5 hours to get to Omeo, but none of us had ever been to Omeo before and so we had no idea what we would encounter. The Omeo Highway and the song “Life is a highway” (which our son decided was an appropriate song to have playing) somehow just don’t seem to fit together. For one thing, the Omeo Highway is not the sort of road that one would like to ‘ride all night long’. Why it would be called a Highway at all might even be questioned. Maybe it was to get government funding for it, or something like that. It may not be what would often be thought of as a highway, but the drive is spectacular! Jutting rock faces and deep gorges are the major features, and with an average speed of around 50 kmh we (except the driver) had plenty of time to enjoy the scenery. Sadly there were no places to pull over and just gawk at the scenery as the road is so narrow and winding.

As the kilometres passed we could all have been mis-quoting Shakespeare and thinking “Omeo, Omeo, wherefore are thou Omeo”. But eventually we made it! And here is the proof…


Nestled in the mountains seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Omeo is a small country town surrounded by beautiful scenery and farmland. To the north is Mitta Mitta, and Dartmouth and Corryong, and to the south is Bairnsdale. Gold, that precious and allusive metal, was the reason the town came into existence, but as the gold rush ended farming became the main activity of the region. Very picturesque, the town has a number of old buildings, and has the winding streets seemingly so common in gold mining towns and towns in the mountainous regions.


We couldn’t stay long in Omeo as we wanted to be back at our camp site on the other site of the High Plains in time for tea and it was about 3:30pm when we arrived at Omeo. We also didn’t really want to be driving on the High Plains as the freezing temperatures descended below freezing point! So we had a brief look along the main street and then, with a sense of urgency, we headed back along the Omeo Highway from whence we came and over the High Plains. But we decided fairly quickly that a holiday to Omeo was a must-do at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Metal sculptures, verandahs and the Gaelic influence

In the Riverina district of New South Wales, Australia, there is a town called Lockhart. When my Mum was visiting with over the weekend, we decided to do some exploring and as none of us had ever been to Lockhart I set an itinerary for the day which included Lockhart and a few of the attractions in Wagga WaggaLockhart was named after C.G.N. Lockhart – a commissioner for Crown Lands in the Murrumbidgee River area in the 1850s. An average small-ish country town, Lockhart has one main street and as one looks down that main street along the shopping precinct the shops are flanked with what looks like one long single verandah which in reality is a verandah for each shop. The verandahs are wide, and I suspect they would offer considerable relief from the hot Aussie sun in the middle of Summer!


Above: Verandahs (or maybe one long single verandah?) along the Lockhart main street.

Verandahs in the shopping precincts of Australian country towns are not that unique, except when they cover nearly the whole main street! Like they do in Lockhart. You could say there are verandahs galore.

Which bring us to the next place we visited – Galore Hill Reserve. About 15 kms (around 9.5 miles) north of Lockhart is the Galore Hill Reserve. It is a small mountain ‘range’ a few kms long, and around 370 metres above sea level and owes it’s name to a statement made by a Mr Henry Osborne who while travelling between Wollongong and Adelaide (South Australia) climbed the hill and is reported to have said “there is land and galore”. The lookout offers a 360 degree view across the mostly flat terrain or nearly flat terrain of the Riverina. Around the immediate vicinity of the mountain itself there is farmland stretching as far as the eye can see, and in the distant there is The Rock and another mountain range with a distinct dome shaped mountain in the opposite direction.


Above: The Rock (I think) looking from the top of Galore Hill tower.


Above: View of farmland from the top of Galore Hill. The land looks dry, but in reality it has probably just been plowed! There were some tractors raising some dust seen from the lookout.


Above: the lookout tower at the top of Galore Hill.

As we were travelling through Lockhart I noticed a number of metal scruptures, and on the way back from Galore Hill we stopped in the town and had a closer look at them. Two of the structures I had seen before (see the October 1st, 2012 entry), and it turns out they were natives of Lockhart.


Above: ‘Rain Dragon’, looking a little more rusty than it did last October! Thats my youngest daughter sticking her hand down the dragon’s throat.


Above: I’m not sure what this sculpture was called.

Closer to the shopping precinct there was a sculpture of a horse and cart, complete with metal man. We almost missed this one, but it was certainly worth turning around for,


Above: “These aren’t much bigger than me. They must be shetland ponies” says she. Can’t beat that logic. This sculpture is called “The Good Old Days”.


Above: The cart and the metal man.


Above: A one-sided conversation? It’s a good thing the ‘real girl’ on the right has the gift of the gab.

At the crossroads on the eastern end of town, on the road from Wagga Wagga, there is also a collection of metal sculptures in a small rest area and short walk. The rest area is enclosed on two sides by some interesting paintings, very iconic of the country Australia…


And one final photo, not because I ran out of objects to take photos of, but because the batteries on my camera required recharging (I guess this gives me a good excuse to go back and take photos of the other sculptures in the town one day)!

Lockhart_metal_sculptures_5039_500You may be wondering about the Gaelic connection alluded to in the title of this post. I have recently been reading a book called “The Story of English”, which describes how the English language became to be what it is. And one of the chapters talks about the influence of the Gaelic languages on the English language. The word “galore” which in Scots Gaelic is gu leòr, and which in Old Irish is go leor, which are literally translated seems to be “go enough”. Galore in English is normally used to describe “in abundance, or in plentiful amounts”. Mr Osborne, although speaking English, was using a word ‘imported’ into English from the Gaelic languages!