Monday, May 31, 2010

River Ramblings part 2

  Historic Overland Hotel

  New style house boat

  From Lake Bonney we headed to  Overland  Corner where we drove past the historic pub abd down to the banks of the river to an area known as Heron's Bend where the National Trust allow camping and access to the river with both a boat ramp and posts for mooring riverhouseboats.
  When we initially set up camp we had three other vans for neighbours who came fron Tassie and Vic. They were going via the Tanami track to the Kimberley. After they left we had the area to ourselves. (See Tractor trek).
It was here that we got our first glimpse of the new houseboats that are now on the river Murray.

Murray River at Lock 3
 While we were at Heron's Bend we went for a drive to Lock3 which wasn't very far along the river back towards Barmera. There is a very pretty picnic area here with lovely lawns and flowers and an interesting glass mural reflecting the river and the rivergums. Unfortunately we couldn't access the area fully as there was more construction going on .

 Lock 3 and weir

 Glass mural

 Lock 3 and weir

 After spending  our quiet (sic) weekend at Heron's Bend we moved on to  Merbein Common. again we got ourselves lost wiht thedirections we had been given at the Service station and approached from the wrong end . however after several tries we finally got the right entrance that took us to a lovely riverside area wiht several other  rigs already there. some others arrived after us so we had about 10 ofus there for the night. Several vans etc had been there for about a week or more.
It was such a lovely spot. It was only a few minutes back into the shops at Merbein for any groceries etc and only 10 klms from Mildura.
  There was much more in the way of traffic on the river wiht lots of houseboats and the daily river cruise boat as well as kayaks and other fishermen. As there was a boat ramp at our spot several of the locals came down to launch their boats for a spot of fishing.
At Merbein there was also a nice lookout that had been set up by Rotary and had a Pioneer garden attched to it as well as some old machinary on display.

Watching the PS "Ruby" go past.

 another houseboat going past

  Sunset on the Murray River

 From the lookout at Merbein
 We had a geat time here  at Merbein and made a few new friends as we sat around the campfire at night. It was also interesting as Lynn helped Alan make a firebucket and I helped  Kay make a vinyl cover for it so that other utensils etc could be stored in it and not get rubbed. This involved getting out my sewing machine and lugging it down to their van and then plugging it into their generator. Kay needed lots of help as she doesn't do much sewing.

 While we were at Merbein because it was so close to Wentworth we took a drive over there. This involved crossing the river back into NSW. the main reason for this trip was to see the PS "Ruby" ( See Blog). and to see where the Murray and the Darling rivers meet. There is a lovely landscaped park at the rivers confluence with story boards and viewing platforms wiht lots to see which made it more intreresting.

Landscaping at Wentworth park
From the ground the confluence of the 2 rivers was hard to pick but if we looked carefully we could see a red bouy in one river and a green bouy in the other. Because of the time of the day it was difficult to get good pictures across the river Murray so I climbed the tower in the park which had been set up just to get a better look, but shoooting into the sun didn't improve matters.
 From the park we drove down the road a short distance to the lovely lawned area surrounding Lock 10 and because we were able to get  a better look at it we were able to work out how the lock worked. Because of the construction work at Lock 3 it made it difficult to see the workings.
Although coming from Darwin and being ex-sailors we are used to locks as all marinas in Darwin have locks on them and unless you are parked out the front of the Yacht Club you must use a lock to go sailing.

 Lock 10 at Wentworth NSW

 The lock numbers are in sequence to Lock 10 and then they jump to lock 15 and 23 .  We don't know why this is so ,whether there was plans for more locks or that some have been taken out.

 Tower at rotary Park  where the Murray and Darling rivers meet.

  the green bouy is at the entrance to the Darling and the red bouy is on the river Murray.

  Murray river at Euston

 We had not quite finished with the Murray when we left Merbein as  we made a lunch stop at Euston  before heading off to Balranald and Yanaga  N.P,.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

PS "Ruby"

PS "Ruby"

 While we were camped at Merbein common or Horshoe Bend/ Sandbar we were very surprised to see an old Paddle Steamer come past . All our group were out frantically taking pictures and waving to this lovely " old Lady of the river"

 While we were all admiring her a couple from Wentworth told us some of her history. This beautiful old boat has been reborn  by a dedicated group of people from Wentworth who had taken down to Mildura to be slipped and surveyed. She only needed her boilers to be certified and then she could be put into service.

The "Ruby" was originally built at Morgan in 1907. She was the fourth riverboat of that name. She was 205 tons gross and 132' in length and a beam of 18'9''.  She only drew 2'6''- 3' when she was fully laden at 85 tons. this allowed her to operate at much lower river levels that some of the other steamers.

 She carried 30 passengers and had 3 decks. In 1909 she became part of the Gem navigation Company . The Gem ( Swan Hill ) and Marion( Mannum) were part of the same fleet. All the boats were modernised with electric lights, fan and wire screens on the windows and doors. She was known as a bottom ender by virtue of the fact she only worked between Swan Hill and Morgan. After being used as a residential houseboat at Mildura for many years she had deteriorated a lot . She was then purchased by Wentworth Rotary to be a feature in a local park for 30 years.
 In 1996 a committee was formed to commence full restoration work on the beautiful old boat. The work was very challenging and by 2004 she was recommissioned and placed in a working dry dock. Storyboard outside her dockRuby still undergoing her refit

 While we were wandering around taking photos, we were invited aboard to look aound and see what progress the volunteers have made towards getting her back in to working condition.

 Lynn and volunteer admiring the boiler

  The previos day I had rung  Lynn's sister for her birthday and she was out having coffand cake with her closest friend, Ruth. When I told her about the paddlesteamer she asked me if it was the Ruby. Apparently Ruth is one of the Friends of Ruby who have donated money or time towards the restoration. Ruth is also a member of a group of quilters that have made quilts for all the cabins.

All berths are single , but all cabins have 2 bunks

As we wandered around we were able to see the enormous amount of work that had gone into restoring this steamer. Lynn spent quite a long time talking to the Captain as he is particulalry interested in steam and apparently one of the next hurdles the workers have is to get the boiler certified and as it had a couple of small leaks they were working hard to rectify the situation as a certifier was coming in 2 days to test the boiler and hopefully okay it so it could go into survey wiht mainly an educative role. It was also hoped that it would do a few cruises.

Main deck , it's a pianola under the covers at the back

Back up on the upper deck the saloon had been fitted out with pine furniture and in the corner was a winding map of the river which all captains had as their personal map with features that had accepted names or their own names on them.

 Saloon or dining room

 The winding river chart The driving mechanism

 Lynn leaving the Ruby. Note the pile of wood on the rear deck to feed the boilers.

 We were very glad we made the effort to visit the PS ruby and spend time aboard as the workers were so enthusiastic about her  and she had been so lovingly restored. I would love to take a trip on her one day just to complete the story .

Thursday, May 20, 2010

River Ramblings April/May 2010 Part 1

 After we left Adelaide we headed north towards Port Wakefield.  We were heading to Redbanks Conservation Park just north of Burra.
  As we left Bolivar we set the GPS but it wanted to head us up towards Gawler which is not the way we wanted to go but when we got further on our way we found that that was the most direct way.
 We headed north from Port Wakefield towards Balaklava where we stopp ed for a cuppa outside the local pub. There we met up with some other travellers who were also taking a break.

 Further north we came in the back way to Clare and turned the wrong way to get to  Burra but after turning the GPS back on we were soon on the right road. Burra is an old Copper town w  iht lots of history and wonderful old buildings including some dugouts where people lived while mining.

On our arrival at Burra we went to the Information Centre to get better directions to the Park and also directions to a quilting exhibition I had seen advertised and was supposed to be on at the local Art Gallery. However the exhibition wasn't on till the weekend, so we went down to the river for lunch where there was a lovely park and a lake with lots of ducks and other birds.

 From there we headed off to Redbanks and were surprised to find that we immediately turned onto a dirt road which wasn't indicated in our directions. But the road was quite good and after 10 klms we reached a signpost that indicated the park was only a short distance further on.

 At the park we checked out the spots as often in these parks the sites are not big enough for a caravan and mainly cater for campers. Luckily the sites were more than big enough and we quickly set up for the night. Several others came in after us so that there was about 8 campers there for the night. Most of us moved on the next morning.

View from Lookout
From Redbanks we drove to Morgan where our first stop was the Lookout and then we drove down to the river for a cuppa.

The riverboats  at Morgan from the Lookout

the ferry at Morgan

 While we were having our cuppa we watched the vehicles going across on the Ferry. We were rather apprehensive about using the ferry as at Wellington the river level was too low for trucks and large vans to use the ferry. However we went across with no problemsand continued on to Waikerie.
 At Waikerie we visited the Information Centre as we had missed the road to Hogwash camping spot which we both remembered from the days when we were liviing at Eudunda and a trip to Hogwash during the summer was often on the agenda. The lady at the Centre was very helpful wiht printed instructions on how to reach a number of camping spots along theMurray. She didn't recomend Hogwash as apparently the Quad bikes had been out there playing the mud and churned it up. She advised us to go to Maize Island instead .
 Initially we were following the printed instructions but got confused wiht signposts that took us along the river bank, we had to be very careful of the trees wiht low hanging branches and I had to guide Lynn through a number of tight spots.  However we perseveredand finally arrived at the main camping area albiet via the back way.
After finding our way back the correct way we moved onto Barmera. We stopped to look at the shops etc for a few things and then went out to Lake Bonney with the view of finding a camping spot as well as lokking at Napper's Ruins. This was the site of an old pub that was biult at the back of the lake.

Main ruins Napper's pub

Lynn reading the information on Napper's Pub

Chimney for another building  at the pub.

 Pepper tree , these trees seem to be associated with all old buildings  in rural S.A.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Adelaide April 2010

After spending Easter with the family at Aldinga, we moved onto Adelaide . When I tried to book into a Caravan park being school holidays I had to try a few parks before we found a spot at Highway 1 park at Bolivar. We wanted a park to the north of the city as that's where all our family live.They all live near TTP at Para Vista and Ridgehaven .

 Highway 1 park was much better than people led us to believe it would be. The sites were nice and deep on river gravel which really reduced that amount of dirt that we dragged into the van. The only thing was there wasn't too much space between the vans. The amenities were nice and clean and quite modern. Generally the park was very neat and tidy .

While we were in Adelaide we spent time with family  on both sides. My daughter and her family are there and Lynn's sister and her family also live there.  Our time with my family included going to the Zoo ( see previous blog)  and then having  birthday tea for my youngest grandson. We also went to the Central Market one Friday night . It was very busy but the choice of great fresh vegetables and other deli items was enormous.

" birthday boy" Bradley

 Just before we left town we had tea at Lynn's sister's (Tanya) and we were able to catch up with his youngest nephew who is now 28 and a lawyer. We missed seeing Matt last year when we were in Adelaide.

 Ryan  saying farewell

Since the beginning of the year Lynn has been battling with leg ulcers and although wound care is one of my forte's, being able to get hold of suitable products  is another matter as most chemists only carry a very limited range. So having had a couple of courses of antibiotics when we were in the S.E I felt it was time to really get things back under control so I arranged for him to visit a RDNS to get a proper assessment and managment. By the time we left town things were improving quite a lot and we were given some supplies to continue on with.
 While we were in Adelaide we took the opportunity to revamp our camping gear as our aim for this year is to attend the Birdsville races . This involved getting a new tent, air mattress, camping chairs and table.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tractor Trek 1/05/2010


 We were having a quiet day at Heron's Bend near Overland Corner having said goodbye to 3 vans that were camped along the banks of the Murray River just along from us.
 However late in the afternoon a vehicle towing a camper trailer whizzed along the road and then dropped off the trailer then roared off across to the Overland Corner Pub.
Our quiet piece of Paradise
Not long after this we saw revolving and flashing lights coming across the plain from the pub towards us.  We got the biggest and noisiest surprise to find that it was a group of 17 small tractors on a tractor trek from Loveday on the other side of the river near Waikerie. 

The first of the tractors.

  Another of the tractors: note the box on the back. Each tractor was carrying it's own camping gear.

 These small tractors were a mixtures of different types including Massey, Massey Ferguson, Ferguson, Chamberlain, Fordson

Chamberlain Tractor

 The drivers of these tractors came from local and interstate . The 2 that were camped narest to us were from Mildura/Wentworth.  The boxes on the back of the tractors were used to carry camping gear  but also doubled to transport people to the pub for tea and back afterwards.
 The whole convoy were well supported with other vehicles and family members, so that they were quite a large group.


Lynn farewelling the tractors on sunday morning

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

South East Scenes

Cape Banks Lighthouse:  note the terracota paint job
 After leaving Dartmoor we headed to Mount Gambier and Cape Banks lighthouse . We stayed the night at the lighthouse campground; there was only one other rig there but it was a very small area so it was fortunate there was so few of us.

 our rig: taken from the lighthouse

 A number of visitors to the lighthouse made the trip from Carpenter Rocks while we were there.  At Carpenter Rocks there was a lovely cove with several fishing boats they must fish fairy locally as we saw a number of them from the lighthouse and they were all returning to the bay the next morning as we were heading off to Southend.
 On our way out to Cape Banks we stopped at Mount Gambier in fact we had 2 stops there . On our way out of town I found a dump point and water stop at the showgrounds in the literature we had collected from the Information Centreso we went back and got some water and luch which we had at the Blue lake Lookout picnic spot.

 Blue Lake

View through the hole in the rock above