Monday, 31 October 2011

Friends – It’s been a Long Time!!

Who woulda thunk it??  Since we last wrote, we’ve completed a six week house-sit in Kurmond, NSW (near Richmond and Penrith), visited an old mate in Moss Vale, NSW, travelled to Canberra for a few days and camped along both the Snowy Mountains Highway and the Murrumbidgee River.
Sadly, it hasn’t been lack of time that has caused our great slackness in writing, just – well – slackness!!
So, rather than blather on about what a great time we’ve had, I’ll just concentrate on the highlights and the photos, and hopefully keep you entertained.

Kurmond, NSW

Joan and Rob have a lovely property.  They have 10 acres, and a beaut vegie patch.  Poppy, their 13 year old cat has just the sweetest nature, and loves nothing more than to curl up on someone’s lap.  As with most cats, she likes to sleep a lot, but is not shy about having a game of peek-a-boo around the house.
Beautiful back gardenLooking back up at the houseThe Dam - look closely, you can see the crocodiles!Firstly, the rain!!!And then the WIND!!!  Blew the pool cover right off!!Poppy - what a lap cat!!

Moss Vale, NSW

We had decided quite a long time ago, that when we travelled south from Kurmond, we would call in to Moss Vale and catch up with Rick’s old mate Mick.  They served together on board HMAS Curlew in 1966 during the Indonesian Confrontation.  Unfortunately we lost contact with Mick and his wife Hagan in about 1976, when they started left South Australia and headed west looking for work.  It was quite an emotional reunion, and we look forward to seeing Mick again as we head north sometime next year.

Canberra, ACT

The visit to Canberra was inspired primarily by the National Museum of Australia.  We missed it on our last trip, and were looking forward to the visit.  Very interesting architecture??? 
The artifacts inside the museum were purely Australian history based, and laid out really well – we kept getting lost.
We also made a visit to the War Museum to check out the new post-WWII displays (Korea, Confrontation, Vietnam and peace-keeping).  They are very good as far as the Army and Air-force is concerned, but (IMHO) a little light on for the RAN.
HMAS Brisbane Gun MountView across Canberra from the Australian War MuseumNational Museum of AustraliaNational Museum of Australia

Cooma, NSW

Whilst this is the long way around to get from Canberra to Mildura, we decided on this route for the sake of a bit of variety.  We stayed at Snowtels Cooma Tourist Park.  It’s not a bad spot, but suffers a little for level sites.  At least the sun was shining and it was reasonably warm.  

Snowy Mountains Highway – Yachting Point (#772 Camps Australia Wide V6)

We stopped here at about lunch-time and decided to stay overnight.  It was pretty quiet, being mid-week, but I’d guess is could get pretty noisy and busy on weekends.  The water levels at Lake Blowering are at 93% at the moment, and the sluice gates had been opened to let water out into the Tumut River.  We stopped off at the Tumut Power Station, below the Blowering Dam wall and the river was flowing very fast indeed.  Certainly not the type of water you’d want to be swimming in.
_IGP3771Snowy Mountains (not much left now)Used to be Snowy Mountains?Great camp spot'Roos at Yachting PointTop of Blowering Dam Wall

Wagga Wagga, NSW

We stayed overnight at the Wagga Wagga Beach Caravan Park.  The last time we’d stayed there was during the height of the drought, and the state of the Murrumbidgee at that time was dreadful.  You could have stepped across it.
Now, however, it’s a whole different story.  The current is very fast and the river is back up to it’s normal levels.  All the parks and gardens in Wagga are now looking green and lovely.  The Tumut River runs into the Murrumbidgee, so all the snow melt is running west, as well as the results of the rains up north this year.
Murrumbidgee River at Wagga Wagga, NSW

Pipers Reserve (#830 Camps Australia Wide V6)

Lovely area to camp on the river-side for a couple of days.  It’s on the southern side of the Murrumbidgee, with room for big rigs.  It also has a boat ramp (if it can be called such).  We were entertained for a while by 3 young guys trying to get their little boat down the ramp (and then down the “drop”) into the river.  Even more entertaining was watching them try to get it back out again later in the afternoon.
Murrumbidgee River at Pipers Reserve Camp AreaGreat camp spot - freshly mownWonderful example of creativity in the bush - this is the "drop" toilet.

Hay, NSW

Although the Hay Caravan Park (Top Tourist) is on the Sturt Highway, we asked for, and were given, a site further back from the road than normal.  We still got the traffic noise, but slightly diluted.  The park is very well run, and the managers very friendly and helpful.  We ran into Mal & Robyn, and Greg & Robyn (yes, both Robyns) who were also heading for the JR 1963 Reunion.  Rick hasn’t seen either of them for many, many years!

Balranald, NSW

We had aimed to spend 2 nights here, as our booking for Mildura did not start until 27/10.  Unfortunately, the road noise (TRUCKS mostly) was terrible, and neither of us got a good nights sleep, so – a quick phone call to Buronga Riverside Caravan Park, and we were on our way.

Mildura, VIC (and Buronga, NSW)

Although the JR 1963 Reunion is being held primarily at the RSL in Mildura, we decided (based on a kind recommendation from Paul & Judy) to book into the Buronga Riverside Caravan Park.  The recommendation was spot on.  This is a large park, but very well run.  It’s dog friendly and does have some permanents, but is very clean and tidy, with lots of trees for shade and beauty.  It is located on the river bank, directly across from the Mildura Wharf, so we have been able to watch the paddle steamers and house-boats come and go.
The Meet and Greet on Friday went off well.  Lunch was supplied – mostly “smally eats”, but most people were busy talking and greeting old mates.
Saturday was a busy day, with a trip on the PS Rothbury up to Trentham Estates Winery for a very nice BBQ lunch, and then dinner at the Mildura RSL that night.  Lovely evening, and the meal was very good.  Trouble was, after a BBQ lunch, and then an over-large entree, the main course was a little neglected, and dessert hardly got a look-in!  Nice desserts too!
Sunday was designated as a ‘sports’ day.  Bowls, tennis and golf were on offer.  We took the ‘day off’ option, but had a nice visit from Buck & Nelly.  They needed company, because they were the only people left in their caravan park.
Today we have spent checking out the local Tourist Information Centre, and also the Ramon Deed Veterans’ Retreat (which will be our next stop).  We still have 6 weeks to go before the start of our next sit, at Glenlyon in Victoria, so the plan is to spend that time wandering east along the Murray River to Echuca.  Then we will head south to Bendigo, Daylesford and on to Glenlyon.
View across the Murray River to Mildura.  Taken from Buronga Riverside Caravan ParkSunset over MilduraMildura Wharf.  PS Rothbury setting out for the day.Buronga Riverside Caravan Park

And VOILA! we are up to date!!