Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Vintage Tram, Paddlesteamer and Camping.

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on May 5, 2011

Hi Everyone,

Gadgets galore

Jellybeans of every flavour

Well we left the arctic temperatures of Ballarat for a much more pleasant and sunny Bendigo.  Not Karratha hot and sunny but more of a not so freezing cold sunny! We are staying at the Big 4 Bendigo Ascot Holiday Park.  The staff were very friendly and on arrival the manager even showed us to our site and made sure we were happy with it – great service! We made sure to make the most of the sun and get some washing done too!

We visited a place called Confectionery Capers.  Now I thought it would be all about Daniel’s favourite subject, lollies but it wasn’t. It is a quirky but fabulous place that 1: challenges people to think laterally and creatively, 2: celebrates the wheel as man’s greatest invention, 3: explores the quirky but fascinating nature of the English language and 4: indulges the taste buds with a range of tasty confectionery.  The confectionery was mainly the most amazingly abundant and different flavours of jelly beans we’ve ever seen!  We spent over an hour here and it would take a few visits

Gearing Up


I expect to truly see all there is to see in this shed.  We had a chat to the owner, Campbell Smith who is a very charming old fella. The photos do not do this place justice as there is so much to see!

The kids wanted to see the Discovery Science Centre as it is similar to Scitech in Perth.  Unfortunately the planetarium was being upgraded so we had a look around and the exhibits and interactive areas and the kids made sure to have a few goes on the vertical slide.  Basically the kids step into overalls, leaving their sox on but no shoes, the climb up the stairs to the top, where they hang from a bar – sort of like the old monkey bars at school – then they drop onto the slide and get quite a rush.  I think this was the most fun part of this place.

Bendigo has a lot of beautiful parks and lakes and we visited Lake Wooreena in the middle of town a few times.  It has the best kids playground and the kids could also rip-stick around the park

Vintage Tram Tour

All Aboard

while Joel and I did our runs.  There is nothing better than some beautiful scenery to get your mind off the actual run!

We took a ride on the Bendigo Vintage Talking Tram Tour, where the hop on – hop off again tour has an audio recording  that describes the golden past of the city founded on one of the world’s richest goldfields.  The tickets are valid for two days so you can get on and off from any of the stops and look at the attractions, then hop back on to go to the end or off at another of the stops.  We got off to look through the Joss House Temple which is a reminder of the Chinese Communities from the Gold Rush days of early Bendigo.  There is a small tour through the temple with a guide and they explain the customs and history of the Chinese Community from that time.  It was quite interesting too.

Joss House Temple

Magnificent Fountain

We also went in to visit the Sacred Heart Catholic Cathedral.  It was gob-stoppingly beautiful!  It has a lot of gothic design features on the exterior but internally it was unbelievable.  The walls were all made of sandstone, from a quarry in Geelong, and the marble floors tiles were imported from Italy (of course), the lead light windows were just amazing and the pipe organ was superb.  A lovely old gentleman volunteer saw us, came over and told us so much about the history of the church and all the gossipy bits too.  The church was enlarged from the original design and the quarry that supplied the original stone no longer made it, but the Church being who they are, managed to get the quarry to re-mine the same stone.  It looks a lot lighter than the original stone but it is just as breathtakingly beautiful; even Joel was quite taken aback by the sheer beauty of the place.  The kids were quite amazed also and Wade was very interested in the stations of the cross – I had to explain to him that they were pictures that told of the death and rise of Jesus Christ.

Cathedral outside

Cathedral inside

Cathedral inside 2

The organ was in full swing while we were there as well, with one of the songs being a Billy Joel number (maybe that’s what swung Joel – not sure about that!). Anyway there was a queue for the organ as one guy was practising for an upcoming wedding and some of the other kids were just there to practice as the acoustics were amazing!  If you are ever in town be sure to pop your head in and have a look – I didn’t get struck down so it should be safe:)

We also popped in to say hello to our caravan’s old owners Mandy and Steve who live in Bendigo.  It was lovely to catch up with them and their kids and swap yarns of our travels around this great, big country.  Bendigo is a gorgeous town and amazingly there’s not really any industry associated with the town which is probably why it looks so nice and why a lot of people want to live here. There’s a big difference between having to live somewhere because of work and living somewhere just because you love the place.  It is indeed a lovely place.

We left sunny Bendigo for the river town of Echuca.  We stayed out-of-town at a free camp called Christie’s campground,

Our camp on the Murray

Look out, crazies at the wheel

Joel and the Cocky

(Camps 5 # 315) right along the banks of the Murray River.  We got a lovely spot with our own view of the river and a bush backdrop as well.  There were some good tracks we used for running and walking along and as the nearest drop loo was about 1.5 – 2 kms away, Daniel and Wade got to practice their driving lessons.  It was a bit of a fun and I’ve never seen Dan so quick to get in the car, especially in the mornings!:) I even think he spun the wheels a bit in a few mud puddles and thought that was great.  Now the free camps are way more


The Pevensey

appealing to the boys as they believe they will get driving lessons from Dad at each of the spots – and to be honest it seems to be working.  We only ever do it if there aren’t many people around and if there is a lot of space as the car is quite big and in the end it can only do them well to have as much practice as possible – although both have informed me that they want a motorbike when old enough – god help us!

No trip to Echuca would be complete without a trip on a paddle steamer down the river.  We visited the Echuca-Moama Visitors Information Centre and the ladies were so incredibly helpful.  We managed to get down to the Port of Echuca and book in for a paddle steamer cruise on the Pevensey the next day, which was used in filming the Australian TV Miniseries “All the Rivers Run”.  The Pevensey was called the “Philadelphia” in the movie.  It is also 100 years old this year too! We took an early cruise on the Pevensey and our Captain for the day was also the resident Shipwright, Kevin Hutchinson.  He is a lovely man who let the boys have a steer of the steamer and also told us some great yarns about his life on the river. The river was still up after all the flooding in the area which made for a great ride.

We also did the Wharf Tour for a few extra dollars and it was made all the more enjoyable with our very own tour guide who was quite a character.  He had a white cockatoo on his shoulder for the duration of the tour and he too was quite a card and missing his left foot and he is also partially blind.  We stopped a few times along the Wharf Tour and the cocky would sit on someone’s shoulder and then the guy would give them some sunflower seeds to put on their tongue and the cocky would eat it off their tongue.  Daniel, Wade and Joel all had a turn and we all laughed. Joel said the cocky didn’t even touch his tongue:)

Torrumbarry Weir

Fish Ladder

The Old Weir Gates

We headed out to see the Torrumbarry Weir.  The original Torrumbarry Weir used 14 removable steel trestles that could be winched out of the river to allow the passage of floods. The structure operated successfully until 1992, when major damage to its foundations occurred. The new Torrumbarry Weir was constructed between 1993 and 1996. The existing lock structure was retained. It is quite a magnificent demonstration of engineering skill.  The old lock structure and a lot of the old weir equipment is just stored out in

Wade ready for school

Fog at Danny's Lookout

Victoria Falls in there somewhere

the open on the other side of the new weir but unfortunately the gates are locked.  We were very lucky as a gentleman was working on the gates and allowed us access to the old site to have a look around.  The place is closed due to the amount of vandalism done to the old site, which is such a pity.  The weir also has a fish ladder built onto the side of it.  We didn’t know what it was so we went to have a look.  Basically it is a sequence of boxed off areas that gradually slopes upwards allowing the fish to swim upstream to get to the other side of the weir to enable spawning.  We stayed out here for a picnic lunch in the beautiful grounds and overlooking the weir.

We headed off along the Murray towards Yarrawonga and stopped at another free camp but the weather has turned very wet so we’ll only stay the one night.  Joel’s back has been giving him quite a bit of pain at the moment and I know it’s bad because he is letting me drive! 🙂

We arrived in Wangaratta to see my sister and as it was the long weekend we decided to go camping, with the tent and my sister.  Unfortunately the camping at Lake Catani on Mt Buffalo was booked out so we headed further up the Valley to another free camp area, near Victoria Falls at Mt Hotham.  It was a beautiful spot and we also had our own fireplace.  We even managed to brave the icy water for a swim/bathe on the second day – the quickest bath I’ve ever had! We had a variety of weather, showers then hot sun, fog and clouds but it was still very beautiful.  When we headed up the mountain we got caught in some thick fog and we stopped at a lookout, which happened to be called Danny’s lookout and couldn’t see a thing!  We were still dressed for Wangaratta weather so it was quite a shock when we jumped out of the car!

Victoria falls Campground

Lake William Hovell

We got to catch up with some more family and friends and I even got to catch up with my friend Tania, who I haven’t seen for years and who was one of my bridesmaids. Tan it was so good to catch up with you and Jarrod and Lila.  I wish we could have got together again before we left but maybe next time! Happy Pumping and studying:)  Also Wade got permission to go to school with his cousin Harry for a couple of days.  He was so excited but did ask me that if possible, when we stop our trip, can he not go to a Catholic school because they have all this praying and stuff! Ha ha ha I couldn’t stop laughing!  We spent our last day with Dianna and the kids and we headed out to Lake William Hovell where the kids put in some lines for a fish and tried out the inflatable dingy.  A nice relaxing afternoon in some gorgeous country.

We headed off for Melbourne for a day or two and then we are flying off to Perth for 5 days.  Wade has an appointment with his Orthodontist, we have appointments with our Accountant to do our tax, we have a great friend who is turning 50, some more appointments for schooling and some family to catch up with as we’ve missed you all terribly.

We are leaving the van with some friends of mine, the lovely Margo and Ray, who have very kindly allowed us to leave our van with them while we are away. Thanks Guys, you rock!

Till next time



One Response to “Vintage Tram, Paddlesteamer and Camping.”

  1. Marge Hynoski said

    We did Ballarat and one day in Bendigo in February. It was so cold in Echuca we only spent a couple of hours there. Love reading about your experiences, are you doing Mildura? My youngest son lives there and we know of heaps to do. I am now in Silicon Valley, CA, USA. Eldest who works for Google gave me a MacBook for Mother’s Day. It was a good investment in his education.It all comes back to you. Marge

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