Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sunday 4th September

We rang Mitchell to say Happy Birthday, had given him his presents before we went to Mildura in case we didn't end up coming back via Bendigo.
Had breakfast in the unit, and spent a bit of time with Karen before we finally left about 10:30.
Had a good trip home. Stopped for petrol and a bite to eat at the Calder Service Centre.  Continued on and stopped again at the Longwarry Service Centre.
Arrived home about 5:45 after a quick stop in Bairnsdale to pick up some milk.
All in all an enjoyable holiday with superb weather.  New places to see - although both Bill and I had been to Swan Hill and Mildura years ago.  So long ago for me that I was still a kid and my memories of Mildura itself were way off beam.  And we have never been there together.
Would we go back - probably, although there are a lot of other places I'd like to visit before thinking about going back.

Saturday 3rd September

An early start today because we had to be out at the sporting complex at Epsom by 9:00 am to watch Shania play soccer.  It was the first time we've ever seen her play.  Unfortunately it was against a fairly weak team so we didn't see her ast her best, but it was good to be able to watch her. They won, 1:0. Karen had changed her shift, so she was there too.  Rick was in the coaching box.  Avalon was home in bed!
Spa room at motel
After the soccer we went back to the motel for a coffee, then Karen had to start work so we went back to Mark's to pack up the caravan so all we had to do was hook it on tomorrow.  We had decided to stay at the motel tonight so I could have a spa.
After we got the van ready we went to Lansell Plaza for something for lunch (late) and to do a bit of shopping.
We then went back to the motel where I indulged in a spa - the first time I've been in a bath or spa since the debacle at home when I nearly couldn't get out.  The spa was lovely and relaxing - I even shouted myself to a Bourbon and coke.  Getting out was a bit of a problem, but we managed it without too much trouble.  Might be the last time I try though - although I did think a couple of silicone pot holders might give me some grip so I don't feel as if I'm going to slip when I'm trying to get out.
For dinner we had Chinese Take-Away which was a bit of a debacle in itself.  When the order arrived it had one dish we didn't order, was missing two dishes we did order, and only had the sauce for the lemon chicken!  Eventually it was sorted out.  It was really yummy Chinese, despite the order mix-up.  Just wish I could have eaten more of it. Came from the New China Restaurant.

Friday September 2nd

Mark went to work this morning, Oakley went to school because it was Footy Colours Day, Mitchell and Brittany had the day off so they could help Janine pack the van in preparation for their weekend away at Anglesea.
We had toasted sandwiches for lunch when Mark came home, then they headed off on their rumpetting trip.  We went to the Haymes paint shop to get a tin of red paint for Bill to use on the caravan trim. 
Then went to the Cathedral Motel to finally catch up with Karen.  Rick had an RDO, so he was home too.
Friendly Manager of Cathedral Motel
Had a cuppa and a chat, saw the girls when they came home from school, asked the motel IT technician some questions about my File Transfer cable 'cos he happened to be there sorting out some wifi issues for Karen and then went back to Mark's to get ready to go out for dinner.
Went to The Shamrock Hotel with Karen, Rick, Avalon and Shania.  We've only been there once before quite a few years ago.  Apart from being very noisy it was an enjoyable night.  Quite expensive, but there were six of us, and we did have some entrees and sweets as well as drinks and coffees.  We started with a cobb loaf with Tuscan Buter to share - very nice.  Also some duck liver pate which has to be the nicest pate I've ever had, absolutely yummy, but not enough toast to have with it so that some of the pate was wasted. Wedges added to the entree fare.  Three of us (Karen, Rick and I) had Shamrock Rissotto which was good rissotto, right texture and not too big a serve.  Bill had whole grilled Flounder, Avalon had grilled Barramundi and Shania had a Parmagiana.  Bill had a citrus and berry tart, Karen had Creme Brulee and the girls shared a piece of chocolate cake for sweets.  Just as well they decided to share, because although it was a big slice it cost $15!

Thursday 1st September

Pinch and a Punch for the first of the month!
We finished packing up the van, and headed off about 9:30ish.  Went back to Bendigo via the Calder Highway this time.  Went through Irymple and Red Cliffs, Meringur, Colignan, Ouyen,  Sea Lake, Whycheproof, Charlton, Wedderburn, Inglewood, Marong.
Typical Mallee Scrub
The countryside was pretty mch the same as it was from Swan Hill - mainly flat, scrubby vegetation.  Typical mallee scrub most of the way.
Saw Big Lizize in Red Cliffs.
Had lunch at Sea Lake in a little cafe called the Top Cafe (because it is at the top end of the street of course!).
Kept going to Bendigo and arrived in Kangaroo Flat at about 3:00 pm.  At Mark and Janine's about 30 minutes later.
Had fish and chips for tea.  Stayed in the caravan outside Mark and Janine's for the night.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wednesday 31st August

Didn't do a great deal of anything today. Went to Bunnings to get a spare caravan key cut.  Made a quick trip out to Orange World to pick up some oranges for Karen and Janine.  Susan didn't want any as they often play up with her.  Bill looked at the caravan shop and bought a new tyre cover for the Jackaroo.  He also grabbed a second-hand pole carrier for $20 - a real bargain.
Had lunch at Hog's Breath. We haven't eaten at Hog's Breath since we were last in Tasmania.  Have sometimes seen them at other places we've visited but haven't got around to eating there.  Meal was very enjoyable.  Bill had a BLT Burger and I had a Chicken Wrap.  Only ate half of my wrap, and took the rest with me to have tomorrow.  But Salty Dog helped himself to lunch while we were in a shop!
Thought we might have gone back to Hog's Breath for dinner, but decided on the Gateway Hotel instead.  Turned out to be a good choice because as the menu board shows Wednesday night means all Seafood or Steak items were only $15.  I didn't realise this until I had ordered a Prawn and Avocado Salad for me, and Seaside Grill for Bill.  Both meals were delicious and very generous serves despite the $15 price tag.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday 30th August

Today we did a fair bit of tripping around.  Started by going out to Orange World at Buronga.
 Here we were entertained by the wonderful Brian - check out this video I found on YouTube.
 We then went on the tour on the little train, with Brian as our Guide.
Bought a bag of navel oranges, some orange peelers, an Orange World truck for Bill, and some orange blossom honey.  Also had a complimentary glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.

As well as the Valencia and Navel oranges which are grown commercially they have several display varieites, including the huge Pommelos, the even huger (??) Shaddocks, cumquats, blood oranges and tahitian limes.

They also grow avocados at Orange World.  Brian told us that when Cottees made a commercial for orange cordial a few years ago it was filmed at orange World.  Thing was, they filmed it in the avocado tree section and used plastic oranges to make the trees look like orange trees!  There are a couple of commercials that would fit the bill, perhaps it was this one!
Mandarins are also grown commerciaslly and during the tour Brian stopped and picked a couple of mandarins for each passenger - yummy.

After Orange World we called at the Botanic Gardens.  These look well laid out, although we didn't walk around them.  Supposed to be a 'train' tour but it appeared the last one had been April.  However, we did have lunch at the little cafe.  Also bought a stained glass dove with olive branch sun-catcher.  The cafe / visitors' centre was an old building that had been reconstructed.  Garnpang is an historic, mid-19th century grazier's homestead that has been rebuilt in the Gardens as a visitors' centre.More information about the Inland Gardens can be found here. Unfortunately it was the wrong time of the year for the roses - they must look magnificent when in bloom, like in this photo.

A busy day today, because after the Botanic Gardens we went for a look at Woodsie's Gem Shop.

This was a fantastic display of gemstones and jewellery, plus glassware and other ornaments made from metal and wood etc.  Free admission was unbelievable!  And only $2 each to go into Aladdin's Cave to see the private collection of gemstones - beautiful.  There was also a 1/2 acre maze, but we didn't venture into that (also only $2 each entry) because I doubted I'd cope with walking around a maze.  We had afternoon tea in the Cave-Inn cafe.  Lovely cake.  We bought an Adventurine Owl, a piece of clear quartz crystal, a Tiger's Eye pig, a turquoise bracelet, an unidentified piece of polished stone with sparkles all through it.
Bill dismantled the annexe when we got back to the van, ready for our departure on Thursday.  because we'd had a fair bit to eat duringthe day we had baked beans on toast for tea.

Monday 29th August

My arm is giving me a bit of curry, so I’m feeling a bit down.  Had a long lie in this morning.  We eventually went in to Mildura to check out Kmart because Bill wanted to buy a different fishing lure.  Also went to AutoBarn and Bill bought a new bracket for the CB aerial.  Basically a bit of a do-nothing day.
Can't even remember where we had lunch. 
We had dinner at The Edge Hotel (because it is on the edge of the border between Vic and NSW.)  Aunty Nene would have been impressed because it was called Tutankhamun's Bistro, and had a big statue of King Tut out the front. Only trouble was the name etched into the windows and glass doors in the bistro said TUTANKAHAMUN. There were numerous Egyptian ornaments around the place.  We were both going to have roast chicken, but they had run out so I had Nachos and Bill had fish and chips.  Quite nice.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sunday 28th August

Went for a drive to Wentworth.  Saw the Old Wentworth Gaol, which was quite interesting, but very amateurishly displayed.  Seems the shire has made a bit of effort with some signage, but many signs are hand written and look like they’ve been there for years.  Many of the artifacts are sadly deteriorating and will be gone before too long.  

Saw the Lock 10 and Weir at Wentworth. 

Had lunch at a little café.  We had thought of having a look at the Wentworth Show, but decided against it.
Perry Sandhills

Perry Sandhills
Also went for a drive out to the Perry Sandhills. These amazing sandhills just sort of appear out of nowhere - the surrounding countryside is dead flat.  
Paddy Melons and Widflowers
We saw lots of Paddy Melons and wildflowers, including wild hops, growing here.  There seems to be some contention as to whether they are paddy melons or Afghan Melons.  Some people seem to think the Paddy Melons, or Prickly Paddy Melons, are small and spiky fruit.  Others show images of the ones we saw and call them variously Paddy Melons, Afghan Melons, Camel Melons, Jam Melons etc.  

Also made friends with a stumpy-tailed lizard.

 Heading back to the caravan park we decided we hadn’t had a coffee then I saw a sign at an Olive farm (Varapodio Estate) so we went in for afternoon tea.  Yummy!  Nice coffee, lovely cake (I had chocolate and olive oil, Bill had rhubarb).  Bill bought me two brooches – a peacock and a lizard.  We also bought some rhubarb and strawberry jam.  The man who owned the café and olive farm was really nice to talk to.

Saturday 27th August

Went into Mildura to explore the shops.  Mainly at Centro shopping centre.  Had to organise to buy some Xeloda as I discovered I was going to be one short before we get home – must have miscounted somehow.  They had some in stock, but only one box so we have to go back on Tuesday to get the remaining box.
Had dinner at the Workingman’s Club – used to have the longest bar in the southern hemisphere, at least until 1995, but it seems to have made way for refurbishments and doesn’t seem to exist any more. 
 Dinner was very ordinary.  Bill had fish and chips – two big pieces of fish, with chips, but no salad included – that would have been $3.00 extra.  I had a half serve of chicken schnitzel which had been deep fried.

Friday 26th August

Euston Caravan Park cafe
Up fairly early as we had to pack up and make our way to Mildura.  Country side pretty much the same as yesterday – more canola fields, which eventually gave way to grape vines and orange groves.  We had a very good trip with little other traffic.  Left Swan Hill about 9:45 and got to Euston before 12:00.  Had some lunch at the Euston Caravan Park and café.
Went on to Gol Gol where we had booked at the River Gardens Caravan Park.  Arrived there about 1:00pm.  A nice park.  We have an en suite site.
Just had a rest after we set up the van.
This photo shows what our site was like, but ours didn't overlook the river.

Went to the Gol Gol pub for dinner.  A nice meal.  Bill had whiting, which might have been the real stuff, but was nice anyway, and I had Arachini – pumpkin risotto patties.  Very nice.

Thursday 25th August

A fairly lazy start to the day, which we spent largely at the Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement.  Quite interesting display of old buildings.  Bought Susan some raspberry drops at the General Store.  Bill also bought a mood ring for himself.   
We saw an old Chevrolet that looked very much like the 1928 Chevy we used to have when I was a kid.  Had a ride in an old 1925 Dodge which sounded like it was on its last legs! 
Bill wouldn’t go on the horse and carriage ride although I would have liked to.  The old Church was lovely, with beautiful stained glass windows.  Also saw an old church that had been fitted out as a Masonic temple (although never used as such).  Had a bit of a look at the Paddle Steamer Gem which is being gradually restored.  Had lunch at the café – Bill had a pie and a raspberry jelly cake and I had a pastie and a properly made lime spider.  The 3D carousel theatre was fascinating.
Went for dinner at the Bowls Club – nothing special.

Wednesday 24th August

Left about 9:30 a.m.  Had a good run to Swan Hill.  The countryside was very flat, but quite green and quite a few trees in some spots.  Lots of canola fields in places too.  At Wood Wood we saw the Australian Cricket Bat Willow plantation.  

Stopped at Lake Bolac to have a look at the Flying Boat Museum.  Watched a 20 minute video explaining the history, then had a look at some artifacts in the museum which is underground in a bomb proof bunker, then the man took us to see an actual Catalina which is being restored.  It was huge, in a huge brand new hangar.  But not as huge as the Imperial or the Sunderlands.  Lake Bolac was the repair depot for flying boats in the Second World War.
Had a late lunch at a little milk bar in Swan Hill then went round to the Riverside Caravan Park.  Our site was right beside the river – very pretty.  No en suite, but we got the key to the disabled bathroom which I had to myself while we were there.
Set up the van and I had a nap.  Went to the Federal Hotel for dinner.  A very nice meal.  I had Nachos and Bill had Fish and Chips.  We also had herb bread which turned out to be 6 delicious freshly made bread rolls with herb butter.

Tuesday 23rd August

This is being written retrospectively as I didn't really have internet access while we were away.

Took the caravan in to Bairnsdale when we went to see John Scarlett.  All was well with the scan results, although it didn’t give any indication as to why my arm is so sore.  Left Bairnsdale about 12:30.  Had a good run.
Stopped at Longwarry for some lunch.  Got to Mark’s about 20 to 6, having stopped to get petrol in Kangaroo Flat so we don’t have to worry tomorrow morning.
Had tea with Mark and Janine and the kids (lovely lasagne).  Slept in the van outside Mark’s.