Sabbath in the Church with the big blue (and white) roof


I originally (some months ago) booked accommodation in the Geelong (Victoria, Australia) area with a view to being involved in the 25000 Spins Great Ocean Road adventure. But as it turned out I was not able to be part of that due to insufficient fitness. So what to do with the accommodation? I could have cancelled the booking, but instead I kept the booking and planned to go to Geelong and do some sightseeing and shorter bike rides instead. So thats why I am in Geelong as a I write this.

Sabbath. The very word is based on the idea of rest – rest from the work of making money and a time to connect with God and His creation. For some people that means going to church every week and being cooped up in a building with windows that are hard to see out of. But for me, some of the most enjoyable Sabbaths have been outside – in the “church with the big blue (and white) roof”. Today is just such a day.

From my accommodation in Waurn Ponds I got on the bike and travelled at a leisurely pace along the Waurn Ponds Creek trail, the plan being to travel from one end of the Barwon River trail to the other. I was also on the lookout for spiritual lessons along the way. One thing that I did notice was the number of man made structures that were disused, and the quite large number of people using the river and surrounds – rowers and water skiers on the river, and a multitude of people running, cycling, walking along the paths that pass through the reserves along the banks of the river. Spiritual lesson #1: nature is more resilient than we think and outlasts our attempts at industry.

Old Paper Mill

Old Barwin Paper Mill

Old Factory

Old Factory

It became pretty obvious as I pedalled along that the City of Geelong has made a decent effort to provide open space for it’s citizens. The Fyansford Common is at the western end of the Barwon River trail and is a rather big open space dotted with native trees. There has also been a lot of tree planting done along the trail and plenty of other amenities, which gave the impression that one was riding though a carefully planned linear park with variety and beauty. As I thought about this I concluded that humanity much have an inate sense of natural beauty, and even how to help nature along to produce something truly beautiful. Spiritual lesson #2: effort brings rewards (and not just for the one/s putting in the effort).

A path runs through it

A path runs through it

Pixelated mirror effect

Pixelated mirror effect

Pixelated mirror effect

Pixelated mirror effect

Water lillies, Barwon River

Water lillies, Barwon River

Along the way I saw a number of rowers, all part of teams – some teams of 4, some teams bigger. It became pretty obvious to me from watching them row that precision and teamwork is essential to a good rowing team. That would get no-where if they all did their own thing whenever they wanted. Spirital leson #3: to get anything worthwhile done teamwork and putting aside of personal agendas is essential.

Rowers

Rowers

Rowers

Rowers

Another thing that I noticed is that the person in the boat that didn’t row but issued commands (don’t know what that person is called) was listened to by the ones doing the rowing. That person was effectively the leader of the team, telling the team what to do and when. Spirital lesson #4: Any good team needs a leader that has the best interests of the team at heart and that the whole team respects and listens to.

Bird making use of a bridge

Bird making use of a bridge

Bird at Buckley Falls Reserve

Bird at Buckley Falls Reserve

On the Waurn Ponds Creek trail there is an old church that was once a place of worship, but now is a place of learning. It still looks like a church, even with a cross at each end of it, but is available to more people than it might have been when it functioned as a church building. As I had a long cool drink at the water fountain on the trail near that old church I pondered that idea. Spiritual lesson #5: Sometimes church community organisations needs to be ‘re-purposed’ to remain relevant and beneficial to society.

Old Church, Belmont

Old Church, Belmont (I think)

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.

MountainCreek_TrappersGap_roads_view_5173_500

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.

MountainCreek_TrappersGap_roads_5171_500

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.

MittaMitta_PioneerMine_5207_500

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!

MittaMitta_PioneerMine_5217_500

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.

MittaMitta_info_5182_b_500

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.

MittaMitta_historic_reserve_5226_500

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

MittaMitta_historic_reserve_5227_500

Above: A replica miners cottage.

MittaMitta_historic_reserve_5228_500

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

MittaMitta_historic_reserve_5230_500

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.

MittaMitta_historic_reserve_5229_500

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…

MittaMitta_buildings_5233_500

Above: Union Church.

MittaMitta_buildings_5235_500

Above: Mechanics Institute

MittaMitta_buildings_5236_500

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

MittaMitta_buildings_5237_500

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

Eskdale

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.

Eskdale_old_butter_factory_5194_500

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!