Tungamah is a small town located in the North of Victoria, 24kms south of Yarrawonga and 250kms north of Melbourne. It is surrounded by plains used for sheep and beef farming and sits along the Boosey Creek. Despite being a rural town, it boasts a general store, a hotel that offers accommodation and meals, a police station as well as many sporting clubs.
Tungamah Lions & RV Park is situated along the north side of Boosey Creek and offers numerous spots to set up a tent, camper trailer or a caravan of any size. The road through the campground is not sealed but it is suitable for any 2wd.
Although there is no set fee to camp here it is important to place a donation in the honesty box to help towards the cost of upkeep. Please note that you may stay up to 7 days.
The facilities offered at Tungamah Lions & RV Park are exceptional considering it’s all for a donation. Near the entrance of the park there are free undercover barbecues, picnic tables, a toilet and shower block, 5 taps for drinking water, bins as well as a covered playground.
Fire pits are dispersed around the campground but please check that there is not a fire ban in place on hot days and make sure your fire is extinguished before leaving.
We had intended to stay two nights at Tungamah before heading along the North East Silo Art Trail, however, we loved this place so much we ended up staying four nights.
The creek offered entertainment for my son who loves to fish and a peaceful tranquil sight for the rest of the family to enjoy. The birdlife in and around the creek was wonderful to watch and it was toped off with a spectacular sunset at the end of the day.
Be sure to stop a night or two, (or maybe four!) when next travelling through this welcoming region. It’s a great way to support small local towns and this one certainly far exceeded our expectations. It’s definitely on our visit again list.
We don’t often holiday within our own state of Victoria but with the uncertainty of recent times and possible border closures we decided it was our best option. Turns out it was a great decision as Victoria placed a hard border on NSW just days before we were due to leave.. Many people who were travelling within or through NSW were forced to race against the deadline to get home before having to hotel quarantine. Holidays are meant to be stress free, sadly that’s not the case right now.
You may be wondering why we don’t holiday regularly within Victoria, especially when there are so many must see destinations here. There’s no main reason, like many people around the world the least places visited are often on your doorstep.
The caravan park has a number of powdered and unpowered sites some of which are located alongside the Yarra River. The facilities include two amenity blocks, a camp kitchen, a laundry and a kiosk. The facilities are immaculately kept and the beauty of this caravan park is the easy access to the river for swimming and kayaking. Be warned the water is icy cold even in summer!
There are numerous options to keep oneself entertained in the Yarra Valley, no matter what your interests there’s something for everyone to enjoy. We had three full days to explore the area, this is how we spent our time:
Day 1 – Fine Food and Drink
You really can’t visit the Yarra Valley without tasting it’s rich offerings. The rolling green pastures and its cool stable climate creates a perfect haven for food and wine producers. It is considered Australia’s oldest wine region, dating back to the 1830s and is renowned for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. There s an abundance of local produce from trout and caviar to cheeses, dairy and preserves. As a family we chose to visit three local producers:
When children (and big kids) are involved there is no way of avoiding a visit to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery. The scenic drive to get here is breathtaking, from the moment you first arrive you are drawn into the immense landscape. All ages will enjoy exploring the vast lawns, gardens, wetlands and orchards.
Ok let’s be honest, you’ve not come here to look at the views, did someone say chocolate and ice cream? To be exact there are over 250 chocolate products all of which are hand crafted. The whole process can be watched behind a glass window and there are information boards explaining each step in production.
Within the complex there is an all-day cafe serving breakfast and lunch as well as a large shop and toilets and did I mention that there is delicious chocolate to be enjoyed!
If you are a cheese lover like myself then you must make a visit to the Yarra Valley Dairy. They have been producing a variety of fresh artisan cheeses from cows and goats milk for many years. The shop is located in the 100 year old milking shed adding to the charm and is open from 10.30am-5pm Thursday through to Monday.
Unfortunately due to recent health considerations, tasting of the cheese is not possible, but rest assured it is delicious. We purchased the renowned Persian feta and the Yering soft cheese, both of which were incredibly delicious and consumed very quickly.
In the Yarra Valley a person is spoilt for choice when it comes to wine tasting, in fact it can be a difficult decision to decide which winery to visit. We had read that Yering Station Winery had stunning grounds, tranquil gardens, a small art gallery and a sculpture terrace as well as great wines. My whole family loves looking at works of art so Yering Station got our vote.
The cellar door is located in the original winery building dating from 1859 and in itself is worth the visit. There is a $10 fee per person to taste the wines that can be offset against a purchase. The cellar door is open 7 days a week, 10am -5pm Monday to Friday and open until 6pm Saturday and Sunday. Even if you’re not a wine drinker it is worthy of a visit for the rich historic and cultural experience.
For some, visiting a winery can be quite tiring!
Day 2 – Exploring Noojee
Noojee is a small town located 44 kilometres south east of Yarra Junction making it a perfect destination for a day trip from the Yarra Valley. This historic timber town perched on the banks of the LaTrobe River amongst dense towering mountain ash trees boasts the tallest surviving wooden trestle bridge in Victoria.
The trestle bridge, built in 1919, sits within a eucalypt and fern forest as part of the old railway used to freight timber outside of the district. Upon entering the car park below the bridge it is hard not to be impressed by the 100m span. To the right there are steep steps leading to the top of the bridge where you can walk across and proceed along the rail trail walk into town.
The walk takes you along the original railway line through the looming mountain ash trees for 2.2 kilometres into Noojee.
When we visited the weather was being particularly unkind to us, it rained for the entire walk.
Not to be deterred we donned our raincoats and set off through the impressive mountain ash forest.
It is an easy flat walk and took us about 30 minutes to complete.
The Noojee and District Historical Society run by volunteers was formed in 2006 to undertake several projects to restore and bring to life the regions timber and railway history. With the help of local donations, grants and volunteers they have created a Heritage Centre, restored a steam locomotive, QR wagon and a railway goods shed. There are information boards located around the precinct for those interested in the railways past. The Heritage Centre is open on weekends and public holidays from 12noon-4pm.
Day 3 – Dandenong Ranges
The Dandenong Ranges located within a 40 minute scenic drive of Yarra Junction offers a plethora of attractions to suit everyone. Nestled among valleys and hills the area consists of dense temperate rainforest and a carpet of ferny undergrowth. Scattered throughout the region are charming villages with tranquil gardens, boutique shops, gourmet restaurants and galleries. The biggest attraction being the Puffing Billy, one of the world’s finest preserved steam railways that runs from Belgrave through to Gembrook.
We were expecting a brighter day weather wise but sadly the grey sky persisted and the clouds continued to drizzle. I guess when you are in an area with dense rainforest a little rain is to be expected. Our first stop for the day was William Ricketts Sanctuary, a garden consisting of 92 striking sculptures created by artist William Ricketts. Such an inspirational gentleman who had lived with aboriginal communities in central Australia. He created the sanctuary as a place for quiet reflection and for replenishing the spirit. He believed that all Australians should adopt aboriginal philosophies and respect the spirituality of all living beings. The drizzly misty rain actually added to the magical atmosphere of this extraordinary place.
The garden is now maintained by Parks Victoria and admission is free. There is a gallery featuring additional artwork and information on William Ricketts life as well as a souvenir shop near the entrance.
Kyeema Track and Aircrash Memorial Site
Come rain or shine we were determined to do a walk whilst in the Dandenong Ranges. As the weather was proving quite unpredictable we opted for a shorter walk with a twist of history.
We started the walk from the small car park at the end of Osprey Road. The track to the right is 1.5kms and is fairly steep in places. We chose to follow the track for 200 meters to the left taking us to Burke’s Lookout. At 628 meters above sea level the lookout rewards you with magnificent views towards the skyline of Melbourne. Despite the gloomy grey skies and misty air we could just about see the outline of the city.
The Kyeema track is named after the Australian National Airways Douglas DC-2 airplane that tragically crashed into Mt Dandenong on 25th October 1938. Sadly all 18 people on board perished.
On 25th October 1978 marking the 40th anniversary a memorial cairn was unveiled by the Mt. Dandenong Historical Society. Later in January 2003 another plaque was added at the site naming all the people who perished.
Fortunately there was a slight break in the weather, just enough time for us to explore the beautiful Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Formerly known as the National Rhododendron Garden, this cool climate garden is part of an Aboriginal cultural landscape in the traditional Country of the Wurundjeri People. Covering an area of 36 hectares displaying eye capturing rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, native and exotic trees among many other plants.
The gardens are open from 10am – 5pm and are free to enter.
Monbulk Trestle Bridge
A photographer’s delight, the Monbulk Trestle Bridge is not only artistically engineered but it makes for a perfect picture as the Puffing Billy traverses the narrow gauge rails above the valley.
We chose to stop by in the late afternoon to catch a glimpse of this extraordinary sight but sadly it wasn’t meant to be as the Puffing Billy was not operating due to the Pandemic.
The Yarra Valley is sure to please every type of traveller with so many attractions on offer. This was our second visit and I feel that there is still so much more to be explored. I’d love to hear what you love about this must see region, share you experience in the comments.
Nariel Valley, a tranquil rural Victorian region located south of Colac Colac and around 296kms north-east of Melbourne. The area is noted for its peaceful beauty, colourful hills, a picturesque creek and valuable cattle and dairy farmland.
Many people around Australia will know the valley for the ‘Nariel Valley Folk Festival’. This event started in the early sixties, making it the longest running festival of its kind in Australia. Being a not for profit community event the artists perform without charge during the Christmas to New Year period. It is held at the Nariel Creek Recreational Reserve, 12 kilometres south-west of Corryong.
Nariel Creek Recreational Reserve
Nariel Creek Recreation Reserve has long held a special place in my heart. My husband grew up in Corryong and his parents had been involved with the festival for many years, with his Mum playing the accordion. I was introduced to the Reserve on our first family camping trip as it was a safe place to take young children. It offers a spacious grassed area alongside the creek with many shade trees for the hotter months. One end of the reserve is further away and fenced off from the banks of the creek, making it a safer spot for small children.
Since 2011, we have camped at Nariel a total of eleven times in our tent, camper trailer and more recently our caravan. It holds so many memorable moments for us and our extended family who on many occasions camped along with us. So what makes this place so special?
Aside from the natural beauty of the scenery and the fresh running creek, Nariel reserve offers a low cost option at just $5/night to camp off-grid in a safe well maintained environment. The camp fee, paid into an honesty box on site, covers the upkeep of the camp grounds, the use of drop toilets, water (not suitable for drinking) and fire pits. It is advisable to bring your own fire wood although on many of our trips fire wood had been left behind or donated by other campers. There is a fenced off section within the reserve with picnic tables, an undercover area and the stage used during the festival.
Even during the busier holiday periods (not including the festival period) due to the size of the reserve you never feel on top of anyone else. The expanse of the area also makes it suitable for all types of camping accommodation including caravans and big rigs. You won’t need to back up into a tight spot here!
The biggest drawcard to the reserve is the ability to camp right next to the creek. Nariel Creek gently meanders its way through the campground, offering swimming holes as well as safe shallow areas for younger children. It is also a great place to throw in a fishing line, although due to recent bushfire activity there are very few fish at the present time.
One of the greatest pleasures whilst camping off-grid is having a campfire. Fires should never be lit during total fire ban days, check the CFA website for up-to-date information. Please make sure that you keep the fire contained and have access to water nearby. Collection of firewood is permitted in certain places during autumn and spring, click here for more details.
If you find yourself travelling through this magnificent region make sure you stay at Nariel Creek Recreation Reserve and check out this wonderful spot for yourself as I’d love to hear about your experiences too.
One of my greatest pleasures in life aside from travelling to other countries is to set up a campsite somewhere in Australia. I love the resourcefulness that comes with setting up your own accommodation and living with a minimalistic amount of stuff. It’s also very economical especially when we go ‘off grid’ and bush camp.
As soon as my youngest child started to walk we decided to invest in a Coleman twelve man tent. Yes, you read that correctly, twelve man! Why you ask would we need a twelve man tent for four people? Our reasoning was that we would have our children in one section we’d sleep in another section and the third would be for storage, getting dressed or a place for us to sit if the weather was inclement. We loved our tent and we had so many great adventures.
As the children grew, as they have a tendency to do, we had to create more space in the car for our camping needs. First a cargo barrier was installed so we could stack the boot to the highest point and a few years later a roof rack. We were loaded to the maximum and we still needed more space! It was time to make a decision, purchase a box trailer or make the bigger leap and upgrade to a camper trailer. The camper trailer won and we purchased a second hand 2004 Jayco Swan.
Our first Swan seemed so luxurious and it was a breeze to set up, usually taking us around 20 minutes. The layout of a Jayco Swan has not changed very much since they were first produced in 1975 proving that they are a great design. The advantage of these campers is they are lightweight, compact and easy to tow and once set up they provide plenty of space and storage. They offer a queen and double bed at each end and a dinette that can also convert to a single bed. The swan compared to other models has the added bonus of a club lounge and a wardrobe.
I loved that everything we needed for a trip away was stored inside the van, kitchen utensils, pots, cutlery, plates, lanterns, bedding, it was all ready to go. The only items we needed to pack were clothes and food.
After experiencing a couple of trips we decided to explore our options for an ‘off grid’ set up. The van already had a 60 litre water tank, just enough for cooking and washing up for a week. We considered purchasing solar panels and having 12 volt plugs installed so we could charge devices and battery operated items. It was at this time that we saw a 2012 Jayco Swan for sale that had all the ‘off grid’ features we wanted. Our 2004 van sold quickly and on December 24th 2014 we purchased our second swan.
Our newest edition had a 90W solar panel on the roof and a battery system to run the led lights, bed fans and charge devices through a usb port. It enabled us to camp off grid for longer, although it soon became apparent that water storage was our weakest component. Nevertheless we managed to camp in remote spots for up to 7 days before needing to access additional water.
After numerous trips in our camper trailer and endless great memories it was becoming clear that as a family we were outgrowing this set up. Our son and daughter were at the age where they needed their own space and seperate beds. For a short time we persisted and used the dinette as single bed for our son but on wet days we would have strip the bedding to use it as a table. It was time to start thinking about our future needs.
My husband and I had always talked about purchasing a caravan for our retirement years to travel more of Australia. We considered a family van but soon realised our years of camping with children were numbered. Then the pandemic hit and we were in a lockdown, unable to get away for our usual autumn camping experience. It gave us some time to think about what we really wanted and it always came back to the same decision, we wanted a two berth caravan. You’re thinking ‘what about your children?’, well after many discussions with them they decided they would be happy in their own swag.
Welcome to our new caravan, the Crusader Lifechanger Passenge 2020.
In November 2020 we purchased our Crusader through RV World Albury Wodonga as it is a local dealership and they offered outstanding customer service. On collection day they spent around two hours taking us through step by step on how everything works, tips on loading the van and assistance with hitching. We were excited and nervous all in one and driving it home for the first time was a massive learning experience. For all the specifications and features on the Crusader Lifechanger series click here.
It is truly exciting to begin a new phase of our camping evolution, there is so much knowledge to acquire and many challenges to overcome but we are going to enjoy every minute along the way. I can’t wait to share all our discoveries and knowledge, I’d also love to hear about other people’s camping evolution.
With the recent restrictions on travel it has forced us to discover our ‘own backyard’ and boy are we lucky to live in the north east of Victoria. As a family there’s nothing we love better than being at one with our natural surroundings and walking through stunning scenery, so it is surprising that there are so many walks within our locality that we haven’t experienced. That is up until now.
Having dropped our son at a friends house for the day and not being able to convince our fifteen year old daughter to accompany us we were child free!
A Place Steeped in History
Yackandandah is a historic town located 308km from Melbourne and is situated close to the New South Wales border. At the time of writing this article we are unable to go across the state border without a permit! Yackandandah is Jiatmathang country and the Aboriginal word for the town is Dhudhuroa meaning one boulder on top of another at the junction of two creeks. European settlement began in 1824 and the with the discovery of gold in late 1852 there came a surge of alluvial miners settling in the region. From then on Yackandandah became a thriving town and many of the original buildings and disused mines from that era are still in existence today.
The Gorge Walk
This is a gentle, easy track that meanders alongside the Yackandandah Creek. The walk took us around 90 minutes to complete (with frequent stops) starting and finishing at Yackandandah High Street. For more details on the walk visit Explore Yackandandah’s website.
To start the walk turn left on Wellsford Street at the top of the High Street, cross the bridge over Yackandandah Creek and immediately turn right onto the path. You will see a sign and information board explaining the historic significance of the walk.
At the beginning of the walk you will pass tennis courts and the sports ground on your lefthand side. This part of the trail is suitable for prams and bikes. I have read that there is a resident Platypus in the creek here, sadly we didn’t see it.
There are times when the path forks and you’re not certain which route to take. We found that both ways would take you to the same place but one path just took you closer alongside the creek. There are plenty of opportunities to stop and watch the water racing down the creek and I can only imagine how beautiful and refreshing it would be to take a dip in the hotter months of the year.
There are several information boards along the route that are worth taking the time to stop and read.
A variety of bird life
What a great joint initiative
To save you the effort of climbing a hill unnecessarily, as we did, make sure you take the pathway on the right shortly after the bird information board. You will see another information board further along the path so you know you’re on the right path.
A short time later the bushland opens up and you will reach the miners gorge. Before you cross the bridge over the creek take sometime to sit on the rocks and listen to the sound of the energetic water rushing along.
Walk onto the bridge to observe the incredible gorge and you will realise why this place is so special. The 100 metre gorge was created by miners in 1858 so they could sluice gravel and sand in the hope of finding gold. They cut through the granite using only picks, shovels and blasting powder, it’s an impressive achievement.
After crossing the bridge the path gets fairly steep and slippery and extra care needs to be taken when it is wet.
Continue along the path for a few hundred metres and you will arrive at the dam wall. The dam wall was built to divert the creek and is believed to have powered a water driven timber mill. At a later date in 1859 a tail race was constructed when the miners deepened the gorge with the use of dynamite.
Shortly after the dam wall you will come across a wooden stye that doesn’t look like it goes anywhere. Being the curious people we are we decided to scramble over the stye and check out the other side. There were lots of blackberry bushes on the side of the path so care needed to be taken not to cut ourselves on the thorns. We discovered the path ended abruptly just around the corner so you won’t miss anything if you don’t go over the stye.
To return to the High Street you can either walk along Bells Flat Road (about 2kms) or return back the same way as you came.
Yackandandah is an attractive, quaint town with many historic buildings from the gold mining days. A considerable number of these buildings have become boutique shops or eateries. The town became better known when the film ‘ Strange Bed Fellows’ starring Michael Caton and Paul Hogan was filmed on location in the High Street.
The town also has a very strong community and it shows in many of the initiatives undertaken. One such example is Totally Renewable Yackandandah, a 100% volunteer run group with a goal of powering the town with 100% renewable energy and achieving energy sovereignty by 2022.
You are spoiled for choice when it comes to dining in Yackandandah with two pubs, numerous cafes, an asian restaurant, a bakery and our favourite Gum Tree Pies. We couldn’t visit Yackandandah without enjoying one of their delicious pies, go and google them and you will see the positive reviews from all around Australia.
To finish off the perfect day we soaked up the beautiful winter sun with a hot drink at Sir Isaac Isaacs Park. The park is named after Sir Isaac Isaacs who was born in Yackandandah in 1855 and was the first Australian born governor-general. The park has an excellent playground, public toilets, electric barbecues and plenty of picnic tables.
Next time you are able to visit North East Victoria be sure to spend a day in the beautiful town of Yackandandah. You won’t be disappointed.
Let me know about your experiences in Yackandandah.
It has been seven years since we last camped in the Grampians region and we decided it was time to rediscover this wonderful ancient landscape. The Grampians is located 260kms west of Melbourne and 460kms east of Adelaide making it an ideal stopping point between the two major cities. Previously we stayed at Halls Gap however this time we chose to stay to the north of the National Park at Dadswells Bridge, known for the ‘Giant Koala’.
Grampians Edge Caravan Park
We stayed on a powered site at Grampians Edge Caravan Park for five nights. We were staying over the New Years period, a busy time and despite the powered sites being fully booked it did not feel overcrowded. The layout is well designed with an immaculate amenities block located in the centre of the park surrounded by the powered sites. Beyond the powered sites there is ample space for unpowered camping and these have the added bonus of offering stunning views of the Grampians National Park in a bush like setting. Other accommodation options include onsite caravans and cabins. Facilities include an outdoor pool, indoor and an outdoor camp kitchen and a games room. The owners Steve and Jen are so welcoming and go above and beyond to make your stay perfect. They have not owned the park for long and it is evident that they are working hard to improve the facilities and the overall look of the park. I would highly recommend staying here for that extra special experience. For more details and contact information visit their website here.
Dadswells Bridge is located along the Western Highway in the Wimmera region only 37kms south east of Horsham and 30kms north west of Stawell. It is a great base to explore the northern region of the National Park including Mount Difficult, Mount Zero, Beehive Falls and Gulgurn Manja Shelter. A slightly longer drive of around 40 minutes gets you to MacKenzies Falls one of the biggest draw cards in the National Park.
One of our great pleasures as a family is to go for beautiful walks in the natural environment. Beehive Falls is a gentle undulating walk of 2.8km return along a well maintained track that begins from the roadside car park at Rose’s Gap. Towards the latter part of the walk you cross a wooden bridge onto a series of large rocks that need to be stepped on and over to reach the small waterhole at the base of the waterfall. We sat for sometime listening to the trickle of the water passing over the rocky outcrop. We had the place to ourselves and it was blissfully peaceful (well apart from our chatty ten year old!). The entire walk took us around 1 hour to complete and it was at a leisurely pace. I recommend taking a water bottle, wearing a hat and applying sunscreen in the warmer weather as there’s not much shade along the track.
We chose to have our lunch at the Mount Zero picnic area where there are several tables in the shade and a drop toilet. The picnic ground is the starting point for the Mount Zero walk as well as the longer walk to the summit of Mount Stapylton. Whilst we were enjoying our lunch we saw several rock climber enthusiasts set off as this is a popular area for climbing. Feeling rather less adventurous we decided to trek up to the summit of Mount Zero, a 2.8km return walk. The walk is graded as medium with an elevation of 150 meters and takes approximately 1 hour to complete. The weather had turned up a notch and in the sun it was around 33 degrees. The first section of the walk gently slopes upwards on a well compacted path offering next to no shade. Shortly along the way there is a section of sand on the track before coming to a series of wide steps. Unbeknown to us this was the easy section of the walk as the remainder was quite steep and at times you had to scramble and climb up large rocks. Despite the energetic level required the reward at the summit was worth every heavy breath. The vista offers views to Mt Stapylton and the Wimmera Plains. Although we endured the heat on this walk I would not advise doing it on a hot day as the rocks get very hot and there is no shade to take a respite. It is also worth noting that there is not a hand rail towards the end as advertised on many websites.
Heatherlie Quarry Walk
This is a gem of a place to visit offering an insight into the workings of the stone quarry during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Surprisingly this significant place is not well advertised in brochures and doesn’t even appear on the tourist maps. It is located about 9kms south of Rose’s Gap along Mt Zero Road. The walk is 2.4km return along Heatherlie Track and is graded easy.
About ten minutes into the walk we stopped to read the detailed information board. It also displays a map of the walk highlighting key features including machinery, the powder magazine, power plant, rail tracks and three stone cottages.
We found the quarry fascinating and enjoyed reading the information boards at each feature. The stone quarried here has been used for prominent buildings such as Victoria’s Parliament House, Stawell’s Court House and Town Hall. We spent about 2 hours absorbing the historic and natural elements and we were lucky enough to have the place to ourselves. For more information about this incredible historic site click here.
Boroka Lookout is located along Mount Difficult Road 15km from Halls Gap. If you are limited on time then I would recommend visiting this viewing platform as it arguably offers some of the best views in the National Park. It is only a short stroll to two platforms that overlook Halls Gap and Lake Bellfield. Although we had visited this lookout on our previous trip it did not disappoint, the panoramic scenery of this ancient land is breathtaking.
Zumsteins Historic Walk
Zumsteins is a historic site, it was developed by Walter Zumstein and his Scottish wife Jean as a holiday retreat. During the 1930s the couple built three pisé cottages, a tennis court and hand dug a swimming pool. Water for the swimming pool was sourced from the nearby MacKenzie River. The short walk of 250m return tells the story of this development.
It is certainly worth the 20km drive from Halls Gap to experience the atmosphere of a bygone era. There is also a picnic area with well maintained toilets. We also enjoyed dipping our feet into the MacKenzie River from the timber board walk. A lovely treat for our weary feet on a hot day.
Funnily enough we had driven past this big structure numerous times before we decided to actually stop and see it properly. It is situated on the Western Highway midway between Stawell and Horsham at Dadswells Bridge. As one of Australia’s iconic ‘big things’ it has touristy attractions such as a petting zoo, a souvenir shop, a cafe and a motel next door. I cannot comment on the petting zoo as we chose not to partake in this attraction.
The Koala made of bronze on a steel frame is 14m high and weighs 12 tonnes. If you are passing by or you are a fanatic of these larger than life sculptures then it is worth the visit.
A Day in Horsham
Our daughter, a keen admirer of art, celebrated her 14th birthday whilst we were in the Grampians so we decided to spend her special day in Horsham. I had read about the Art Trail around Horsham and the town’s Regional Art Gallery so it seemed the ideal spot to spend the day. Horsham is located in the Wimmera district 300km northwest of Melbourne. It took us 25 minutes to drive to the centre of Horsham from Dadswells Bridge.
We popped into the information centre to pick up the brochure that had a map and explanations of each stop along the walk. We were blown away by many of the exhibits and they are all accessible for free along this easy walk. There are two sections to the walk, one along the river and the other around the CBD. One piece of artwork that stood out for us was the Bradbury Lane Mural, created by youth groups under the guidance of Nichola Clarke. It’s so apparent that Horsham embraces the creativity of its community, there was even a public piano along the walk where people were encouraged to play.
After a relaxing picnic along the Wimmera River we visited the Regional Art Gallery. Whilst being a small gallery, there is a significant national collection of photography and interesting regional artworks. For more information and current exhibitions click here.
Horsham Botanic Gardens was our final stop before heading back to Dadswells Bridge. The gardens were designed in the 1870s by William Guilfoyle and it is certainly worth spending at least an hour here.
There aren’t many holidays where we don’t visit at least one winery. We are so lucky here in Australia to have such a diverse range of wineries in different regions. The wine of this region is consistent and full bodied due to the all year round good weather and the good terroir. It is well known for it’s Shiraz and Reisling but also produces Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
We chose just two wineries, Best’s Wines and Seppelt Wines. Best’s Wines has been owned by two families since 1866, the Best family who started the winery and more recently the Thomson family. The winery has a rustic, pure country feel right from the start and it is not difficult to visualise the history of this place. The historic building in which we tasted the wines has a hand dug cellar that dates back to the 1860s. We couldn’t resist exploring the cellar that was free to enter. Seppelt Wines had a completely different atmosphere and appeared on the surface very modern in contrast. In reality Seppelt is steeped with history and is well known for their heritage listed underground cellars. The cellars known as ‘The Drives’ runs for three kilometres making them the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. You are able to take a guided tour of the underground cellar at a cost. Unfortunately we arrived after the last tour was conducted so we just sampled the wines.
We thoroughly enjoyed our 2nd visit to this picturesque ancient land of the Grampians National Park. We didn’t get a chance to see some of the aboriginal art work on this trip so that will have to wait until our next visit. Hopefully we don’t have to wait another seven years!
We had the luxury of spending eight full days in Bermagui where we stayed at Reflections Caravan Park. The caravan park is extremely well run and the facilities are modern and clean. The owners Tom Starr and Sara Wilson are really friendly and went our of their way to make our stay fantastic. It’s also excellent value for money, an ensuite site cost us $491 for nine nights. That also included a long weekend, when rates usually sky rocket. The caravan park is located just a few hundred meters from the town centre where you will find lots of boutique shops as well as a supermarket and other essential supplies. Many of the sites offer a breathtaking view of the beach at Horseshoe Bay.
The information centre is located in the centre of town on Bunga Street. The centre has a great selection of information on the local and surrounding area. Armed with a multitude of leaflets we were ready to explore this beautiful coastline.
Coastal Walk : Haywards Beach to Murunna Point
The coastal walk covers 10km one way from Beares Beach to Wallaga Lake but we decided that we would walk a shorter section from Tilba Road to Murunna Point. We parked our car along Tilba Road and we joined the bush track at the corner of Tilba Road and Wallaga Lake Road. The first section was through typical bushland with banksia’s and majestic gum trees. There was a beautiful fragrance wafting through the air with the spring flowers in full blossom. We emerged from the natural bushland onto a track that took us to the Camel Rock Beach car park. Here you will find a picnic area and toilets. Camel Rock is probably one of Bermagui’s most photographed icons. It was identified and named by Bass and Flinders during the first mapping of the coastline. As the names suggests it’s a rock that juts out from the shore line and resembles a camel. Its magnificence is hard to ignore and you quickly become mesmerised by its beauty.
The walk continued at the northern end of the car park past the Yuin Cultural Heritage sign seen below, through a grassland area where the flora was not as tall indicating a windswept landscape.
Once we appeared at the top of this section the walk progressed through taller shrubs that created a tunnel like effect, it was like entering a secret magical kingdom. The aromas of the bushland with so many springtime flowers was entrancing, our senses were in overdrive. This was my favourite part of the walk, we felt like we were miles away from anywhere and we had the place to ourselves.
Every so often the bushes thinned out and we could see the glistened blue ocean. A word of warning that in a few places there were steep drops at the side of the pathway. Our children are old enough now that it’s not so much of a worry but if you have younger children is worth being aware. About 10 minutes into this section you can clearly identify Horse Head rock, among one of the oldest rocks in NSW.
Once we surfaced at Murunna Point from the overgrowth we were rewarded with the most stunning views of Lake Wallaga and the Pacific Ocean.
From here you can either return along the same path or you can continue onto Lakview Drive. We choose the latter and managed to find our way back to Camel Rock car park. We then returned back along the original path until we reached Montreal Goldfield and the Big 4 Caravan Park. Within the Big 4 Caravan Park is Camel Rock Brewery. What better way is there to finish a satisfying walk?
This is another iconic image from Bermagui and it is definitely worth a visit even if the weather isn’t being kind to you. We were able to stroll for 300 meters along Pacific Drive that ran along the back of our caravan park to the Blue Pool. Along the way there is a water tower that has been decorated with Joe McKenzie’s work entitled “Spirit Dance”. The original artwork was painted to assist children to get to sleep with friendly, protective spirits warding off the bad spirits. It is a beautiful piece of Indigenous artwork on a grand scale.
The Blue Pool is located directly opposite the water tower and is reached by descending 70 steps from the car park. The weather wasn’t warm enough for us to swim, however we saw others take the plunge. I can only imagine how refreshing this pool would be on a hot summers day. We walked around the edge of the pool, watched the ocean and listened to the the powerful force of the waves as they crashed into the rocks.
Montreal Goldfield is 7km north of Bermagui and is located beside the Big 4 Caravan Park at Wallaga Lake. Admission is by guided tour and they occur daily at 2pm and it takes about 1¼ hours. It cost our family $25, please be aware that you can only pay by cash. Our tour guide was a volunteer who was passionate about the history of the goldfields and it was very interesting to learn about this special place. Montreal Goldfields is one of only two coastal goldfields in the Southern Hemisphere.
Mystery Bay is located 14kms north of Bermagui and is definitely worth the short drive to visit. First impressions suggest that it is a small town surrounded by abundant bushland with a picturesque sandy beach. We wanted to do a couple of walks and to witness the reason for the its namesake ‘Mystery Bay’. As the name suggests the bay is enshrouded in a baffling mystery. In 1880 a government geologist, Lamont Young and his assistant Max Schneider were visiting Bermagui to inspect the Montreal goldfields. Along with three other men they disappeared and were never seen again. A few days later a small boat was discovered at what is now known as ‘Mystery Bay’ with a bullet hole shot from the inside and several of their belongings including a pair of glasses and Lamont’s surveying equipment. There are many theories surrounding the mystery but no one knows what really occurred to the five men. A memorial plaque is displayed at the beach car park.
Mystery Bay to 1080 Beach and Mystery Bay to Billy’s Beach
There are two worthwhile walks to enjoy from Mystery Bay beach car park. The first walk is 5km return to 1080 beach. It is a moderate walk along a well graded track through the Eurobodalla National Park. The walk starts from the entrance along Lamont Young Drive (approximately 200 meters from Mystery Bay Beach. We encountered so much wildlife including wallabies, echidnas, colourful native birds, a sea hawk and a python! The python was actually resting on a timber beam above the toilet at the end of the walk. Fortunately we weren’t desperate for the toilet.
The second walk is only 1km return and graded very easy. To access the track you need to walk northwards through the campground. It was late afternoon so we each packed a beer to enjoy once we reached Billy’s Beach. This area is an important Aboriginal site and is ideal for families as the beach is enclosed and sheltered by headlands. The rocks here are churt, slate and mudstone and are around 500 million years old. The rock formations have been created from the pressure during movement of tectonic plates known as foliation.
Tilba Tilba is a 19 minute drive from Bermagui and is located in the tranquility of green rolling hills and pastures at the foot of Gulaga/Mt Dromedary. It is a very small village, protected by a National Heritage listing.
We decided to visit Foxglove Gardens after reading it had featured on two television shows. We were welcomed at the car park by one of the owners who was very friendly and talked about the history of the garden. It cost us $22 for our family of four to enter the walled garden and we were keen to get some inspiration for our own garden. The house situated within the garden is very attractive and around 100 years old. As other people have mentioned in reviews of the garden, it is a little run down from how it would have been originally. The owner explained to us that the property had been on the market for 6 years when they purchased it and it had become very overgrown in the meantime. What was very apparent to us was the love and care that is being restored to the garden. We thoroughly enjoyed strolling around the lake and soaking up the calm and peaceful nature of the landscape.
Fellow campers at our caravan park recommended a visit to Central Tilba and the mention of a lolly shop had our children enthralled at the idea. Central Tilba is a couple of kilometres further along Corkhill Drive from Tilba Tilba. As soon as you enter the main street (Bate Street) you are transported back in time to a bygone era. The ABC Cheese Factory is situated at the north end of Bate Street where there is also a car park and a picnic area. There are a selection of cheeses and different flavours of honey to sample before you decide to buy. We absolutely fell in love with every cheese we tried, so much so that we returned a few days to buy more to bring home. My favourite without a doubt was their Brie which oozed just as a soft cheese should and tasted divine.
After enjoying a picnic lunch we ambled through this quaint old fashioned village and browsed in several of the stores. Every shop front was so adoringly attractive, some had small gardens in full flower. Our next stop was Lindy Quin’s gallery where many of her photos are on display to purchase. I could have spent a fortune, Lindy Quin has such great talent.
Another short stoll and we arrived at the Tilba Sweet Spot, an old fashioned lolly shop. If you have a sweet tooth, like my children, then you simply cannot walk past this shop. There was such a great variety of lollies and chocolates including many from overseas.
The Dromedary Hotel is an impressive building known to the locals as ‘The Drom’. The seating area at the side of the hotel gave us much amesement, I wonder how many people sit there!
A 32 minute drive from Bermagui takes you to the coastal town of Narooma. I am so glad we fitted in time to explore Narooma as we got to see some amazing wildlife.
We parked our car at Bar Rock Lookout and absorbed the crystal clear views of Montague Island. From the lookout there is a short walk down to Australia Rock and as the name suggests it looks like a map of the mainland of Australia.
It is then possible to walk along the breakwall to the end of Wagonga Head. As you begin this section there are warning signs about seals resting here. This came as an unexpected surprise for us, I had never seen seals in the wild before. We sat at the top of the rocks and observed the seals, we witnessed them doing aerobics in the water and we were amused when they were fighting over certain rocks to rest upon. It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t get too close no matter how tempting as they can be very aggressive.
Once we dragged ourselves away from the extremely entertaining seals we drove over to the opposite side of Wagonga Inlet to Mill Bay Boardwalk. The boardwalk is an easy 20 minute return but it will more than likely take you longer as there is lots to see. We were lucky enough to observe two enormous stingrays gliding through the shallow water. We were also fortunate to watch a large number of pelicans chilling out on the rocks.
We loved every minute of our camping trip to the picturesque Sapphire Coast. There is something for everyone to enjoy. Click here for more information about this stunning region. Thank you for reading my article, I hope you have as much fun as we did in around Bermagui.