The journey from Halls Gap through the Northern Grampians to Horsham: Victoria
We woke up on the Sunday morning to a bright sunny day with a predicted temperature of 29 degrees C or 84 F. This was beginning to be more like it. It actually did not reach those temperatures; it turned out to be quite warm and showery. Believe it or not we are pleased to see rain here as the drought is very bad. We were sitting having breakfast when approx 8 kangaroo's came bouncing through the camp site. What a sight to see when you are eating your toast.
The next task was to go looking for an internet café to put our entries onto the website and download all our e-mails. We returned to the Brumbuck National Park and Cultural Centre where there was a wireless connection in the café and some lovely fresh baked scones with jam and cream. In the pursuit of collecting messages and putting accounts on the web page we have been in some odd places. Some café's have been really nice as described above and some have been games areas for young people. We spent one Sunday morning in Sunbury with a group of 12-14 year olds playing games and an afternoon in Ballarat with 18-24 year olds shouting across the room "next time he appears on the screen he's mine, I'll kill him". At least when I have a problem logging on they come and help. It is the modern version of assisting old lady's across the road.
Having finished out work on the computer we set off to travel from Halls Gap up through the northern Grampians. As Jeff has mentioned the area was devastated by bush fires at the start of the year so we collected an update leaflet on the park and set off. After our last 2 days of strenuous uphill exercise I insisted that walking was off the agenda.
The drive up into the Northern Grampians takes in the more popular sites so we were meeting up with the same people at all the lookout points. We certainly noticed more people about.
The first look out we arrived at was Boroka Lookout which offered fine views over the town of Halls Gap, the Victoria Valley and Lake Wartook. More importantly there was no walking.
The next stop was at the Balconies Walk, wait a minute I said no walking. I looked at the handout to find it said the path climbed gently from the car park; perhaps it wouldn't be so bad. It was a nice gentle walk and we soon reached the Balconies. This is one of the most photographed rock formations in the park, (see the photo we took). Under normal circumstances you can walk out onto the bottom part of the rock and stare down at the drop below you. We were not allowed to go out onto it as the area around was closed off due to the bush fires and the re-generation. Sorry you will not get that stunning picture of me standing on the rock.
The next stop was the Mackenzie Falls where we had the choice of an easy walk to the platforms to view the falls or the more difficult walk going down about 80 steps to the bottom. Fortunately time was marching on so we took the easy option. Due to the drought there was not as much water coming over the falls but what there was gave us a spectacular view. The falls were named after a man called Mackenzie who used to run a saw mill at the spot in the 1930's, he built a house there and when coach parties started to arrive would sell cups of tea. The notice board said that the coach drivers would stop the bus at one side of the gorge to allow the passengers to see the falls and shout across to Mr. Mackenzie informing him how many passengers there were on the bus so he would have the cups of tea ready.
Our last stop was at the Zumstein Historic Walk. The area is named after Walter Zumstein who after returning home from the First World War with his Scottish bride bought the land. He then built some small holiday homes to allow tourists to be able to stay in the area. The remains of the cottages still stand along with the large rock pool he built.
When we drew up in the car park we spotted a couple of kangaroo's basking in the sun. The large one was just lying back enjoying himself and was not disturbed by any one walking around him. (see photo)
One thing we noticed at all the stops we made was when we were walking back to the van to leave, the amount of car drivers who also rushed off to leave as well, is it something to do with being stuck behind a motor home on these hilly twisty roads with no passing places?
Evening was drawing in and we needed a place to stay for the night. As we left the park we passed lots of fields with lots of kangaroo's in them. Some even standing up to admire our new Jayco van as we passed by. Are we getting blasé as we just said to each other "oh look there's more Kangaroo's"?
We found a sign saying Emu Camp site 2 Kilometres up a side road so headed off to it. The site was situated in the bush with a number of log cabins around a couple of large ponds and spaces for caravans and tents. We had a powered site by one of the ponds. The couple that ran it also acted as a rescue centre for injured animals, nursing them back to health before releasing them back into the wild.
We set up our chairs by the pond to see what wild life came by. Two wallabies came for a drink, then a large baby magpie came and joined us. It started to peck the camera so Jeff went to shoo it away with his hand and as it did not move his hand ended up giving it a tap. It just stood there and cried. Then it decided to investigate further and finished up on Jeff's knee.
It was lovely sitting there as the dusk came in listening to the birds settling down for the night and the noise of the nocturnal creatures beginning to wake up. It would have been really romantic except Jeff kept getting up and moving his chair around and moaning about the flies that only seemed to be bothering him. To quote his saying 'They only go on bad meat'
The next morning saw us hitting the road again and heading for Horsham, a thriving agricultural town which produces a quarter of Victoria's wheat and barley. The camp site we chose was on the banks of the river Wimmera and by the Botanic Gardens and within walking distance of the town centre.
On Monday morning we drove to the Jayco dealer and got our awning fixed so we will now be able to open it. We then went into the tourist office to pick up ideas of places to visit and find an internet café. We were sent to Café Bagdad where we ordered a big slice of Kalula Cake and a glass of red wine each ( we had to buy something in order to have free internet access) and logged on, no sooner had I started to send the e-mails when a message popped up on screen to inform us that Kieron and Kathryn were also on line, (our son and daughter-in-law) so we got the head piece on and had a chat with them. It seemed strange that there we were sitting in a café at 3.30pm and they were in Minneapolis at 10.30 pm the day before. Our only regret about the café Bagdad was that the Curry night was on the following day and we would be off on our travels once more.