Sunday, 30 November 2008

Week of Monday 24 November 2008 - Beechworth - Bendigo - Ballarat - Great Ocean Road

Monday 24 November – Beechworth was our first destination, and we walked the town, looking at the historic buildings, including the goal in which Ned Kelly, and his mother, had been held. 

The sandstone buildings were quite lovely, but I guess the Kelly's wouldn’t have agreed! We had a snack from the famous ‘Beechworth Bakery’ for morning tea and headed on to Wangaratta. I was looking for Drover, Banks and O’Brien here at the cemetery, (one of the neatest we have seen), and the staff were wonderful, finding all the information and even driving me to the site of the headstone for the O’Brien family.

 Further along the highway we stopped at Violet Town, where I have lived in the early ‘60’s, but unfortunately the house had recently been demolished and the church (Methodist) relocated. I took photos, so will have to talk to my parents before I can identify which it was. We then had a reasonably long drive through the dusty, straight roads of central Victoria to Bendigo, and booked into a caravan park for the night. This was exceptionally clean and pleasant.

Tuesday 25 November – First stop was a visit to Darryl's cousin, Kerrie (on the Trembath side), and we chatted for quite a while, catching up with all her family news, before heading into central Bendigo where we
checked out the historical buildings in the centre of town, admired the leafy green park, and got a bird's eye view of the city from the top of the Poppet-head which has been set up as a lookout. We drove towards Ballarat, but couldn't find the National Park turnoff at Creswick, so ended up going right into Ballarat to get directions from the tourist info. We arrived at a magical little campsite, in Wright's Gully which has a little flowing creek, and a peaceful atmosphere. We went for little walks both up and down the creek where there was ample evidence of gold fossicking.

Wednesday 26 November – It was only a short drive back north through the forest to get to the little township of Creswick, and then less than 20k back to Ballarat. We had a lovely few hours with Margaret, (a cousin on Darryl's Wright side), and her son James, who has just finished Uni. Margaret has done a wonderful job of all the research on the Wright and O'Connell branches. At one stage we took a side tour and found a huge castle! What a surprise! We drove closer to get photos, and found it was called Kryal Castle,and is used to hold medieval tournaments.  We then headed to Macedon – I was initially hoping to visit Hanging Rock, but they charge $10, and I really didn't want to see it that badly!  We did a drive through and then stopped for the night.

Thursday 27 November – We drove back up Mount Macedon, and went on most of t
he walks. From the Camel's Hump we could see Hanging Rock. We checked out the Memorial Cross, commemorating those lost in WWI, and on one walk found a huge wombat hole. The wombat had marked his trail by leaving a 'deposit' on every rock sticking up on the path. There was also the very interesting geodectic stone cairn, and a small waterfall. The road down as a bit scary, being one lane wide with a dotted line down the centre! 
We shopped, had lunch, and went to the library in Gisbourne, before driving to Gisbourne South in the afternoon to catch up with my cousin Lynnette, (on the Smith side), and her husband John. We had a lovely chat about family history, before a tasty BBQ and played a new game, to us, a card board game called 'Sequence' (which was quite addictive and enjoyable).

Friday 28 November – We were heading for 'The Great Ocean Road', but got to Bacchus Marsh, and realised the Werribee Gorge, (a destination on both our lists), was
near, so decided to go. This was highly recommended on a few internet sites, but when we first pulled up we were extremely dubious, as it just looked terrible. Despite our misgivings, we walked up the gorge. Although not hugely spectacular, it was interesting, especially as we were following an old aqueduct, and the rock formations were fascinating. A walk to the Western Lookout was disappointing for not being a lookout of the gorge, and the country is very dry (a couple of elderly bushwalkers told us it was in the 12th year of drought). We drove through the Brisbane Ranges, but did not stop – here was also very dry. We moseyed our way south-west via Meredith, Cressy, Camperdown and Cobden, and found a quiet little spot in a State Forest near Timboon to stop for the night, (so still didn't make it the the Road!).

Saturday 29 November – At Port Campbell we finally had our first glimpse of the Great Southern Ocean. We started east along The Great Ocean Road, stopping to check out Loch Ard Gorge (read the story of the shipwreck here), and the twelve Apostles. 

The road down to Cape Otway Lighthouse had plenty of Koalas, and most seemed to be mothers with year-old babies. Along the road we stopped to help a young Brazilian couple who had a flat tyre on their hire-car. They had never changed a tyre before and didn’t know where to start. It turned out they were on their honeymoon, and celebrating two weeks of marriage! Apollo Bay boasts of being paradise, and was certainly a lovely spot, but showers and wind made us decide to head up a winding road, through tall eucalypts and massive tree-ferns towards a little town called Beech Forest to camp at falls called Beaucamp. It was freezing cold so we went to bed at 8.30pm and didn't get up till 8 in the morning.

Sunday 30 November – We walked down to the falls, and then drove to the next falls Hopetoun Falls, which were wonderful – the best we have seen. 

We took a look at the township of Beech Forest before going north to Stevenson Falls, Barwon Reservoir, Forrest, and Lake Elizabeth

We arrived in Lorne, back on the coast to discover...oh joy of joys...that it was schoolies! The van park assured us that none were in our camp, but there were plenty at nearby backpackers, and in houses. 

We expected a long night of drunken yahooing, but luckily it rained, which soon dampened their spirits! Dozens of wood-ducks came around looking for scraps, but we refused, as we did't want the messy deposits they leave in return. Before the sun went down we rode our bikes along the foreshore, down the pier, and for a few km along The Great Ocean Road. Lorne seems like a very nice place. 

Monday, 24 November 2008

Week of Monday 17 November 2008 - Orange NSW

It was an early pack up and start, and our initial intention was to head back to Valley of the Waters, as we were hoping to get better views, but the weather didn't look all that promising, so instead we went straight to Sublime Point lookout at Leura. 

The views from here were really spectacular, and were not really affected too badly by the clouds. The next stop was at Gordon Falls, which was a little disappointing, with a bush growing out right in the view. 

We then started on the cliff top walk called Prince Henry Walk, and stopped by all the lookouts on the way. Leura Cascades was particularly lovely, and there were many opportunities to view The Three Sisters. Eventually we went back up onto the road and walked back to the car by the Cliff Top Drive.

We then drove to Echo Point at Katoomba, which is really touristy, and had plenty of them here although we got some nice photos, we were soon on our way to Katoomba Falls. We missed the turn to Evans Lookout at Blackheath, as I was confused by the tourist map, but we wanted to call in at NPWS and get some information, so Govett’s Leap Lookout was the place to go. The Falls from here were amazing, just dropping straight off the jutting cliff  - so not hitting anything that we could see. 

We walked to the head of the creek, and saw our first waratahs....just magnificent! Back at the carpark, we met the English couple from Singleton again, and they told us of a couple of free camping spots down Megalong Valley Road, so we decided to camp at the second one – Old Ford Reserve. 

We were the first here, but were followed in by another English couple in a car, and shortly afterwards an older Swiss couple arrived in a camper, followed by two German girls in a van. The site only had a very primitive 'outhouse', but it was clean and didn't smell from overuse. This was the first occasion for us to use our shower.

Tuesday 18 November - We left old Ford Reserve quite early, and took a lot of video footage heading back up Megalong Valley Road, with tree ferns, ferns and escarpments. At one stage we pulled off the road for what was marked on the map as a lookout, this was the highest point on the Great Western Highway.
There was a cairn and a plaque, but no toilets, although from the amount of toilet paper lying about there certainly should have been!  The GPS took us on an unplanned grand tour of Lithgow. Because we had missed the turn, we then headed for Sunny Corner, where Darryl's great-Grandmother Alice Louisa Roberts was the local dressmaker and milliner, and sang in the Sunny Corner choir. There is not much left now at Sunny Corner, it is mostly surrounded by forestry, but back in the 19th century was a thriving Silver mining community. Using directions given by two different locals we eventually found the well hidden Sunny Corner Cemetery located in the midst of a beautiful pine forest. We had morning tea, and Darryl explored the large area which was fairly neglected and had few headstones. The were two wombat holes, and I saw a rabbit.
There were no headstones for any of Darryl’s relatives, but there was one for a William Henry Kessell died 1922, which excited me greatly (I wasn't to find out until the next day that the name was misspelled, and it should have been Kissell), I left a note asking for contact. We then headed of to Sodwalls. Unfortunately, although the countryside was very pleasant, this was a wasted trip. A local told us -where to find the cemetery (behind a now private dwelling - once Sodwall Inn), as no-one was home, and we couldn't actually see any sign of it, we were reluctant to continue in. From here we drove a back way to Bathurst, stopping for lunch at one of the free camping sites along the Fish River. When we arrived in Bathurst, our first port of call was the Tourist Information Centre, and they told me that at 2pm there was something to do with family history happening at the local library, just around the corner. It was just before 2pm, so I coerced Darryl into taking me straight there. It turned out that on Tuesday afternoons, the local group assists others at the library. This was wonderful for me and I started work looking for ancestors. I was lucky enough to find quite a lot of information including the death notice for Ann Goodwin (nee Ireland, nee Peters who died in Bathurst, and was Darryl's 2nd Great-grandmother. When we went back outside it was raining so we booked into a motel for the night (this also allowed us to charge all the electrical items, wash the clothes, and get on the internet). We enjoyed a tasty meal at the local RSL.

Wednesday 19 November – As the local genealogical group had all their info at the library, that was my port of call for the morning (Darryl went grocery shopping and to check out the local historical sights). At lunch time we met up again, and decided to continue on to Hill End. Now, as I didn't put Sofala into the GPS, we ended up on the Bridle Track which was 4x4 only. It was a little slippery and scary in places, but we eventually came on some campers who eased Darryl's stress levels a little, and we arrived at Hill End eventually. After all the narrow winding roads, this township is remarkable, and the history is well presented. We walked some of the town initially, but then headed for the NPWS campground, and took the bikes to see the sights. At each location of a historic building there is a plaque, and a photo and explanation, although some of the buildings still survive. We also did part of the Bald Hills mine walk before heading back to the campsite to set up. Darryl spent a lot of effort getting a nice fire going in the BBQ, but as we were half way through cooking the vegetables, a thunderstorm hit. Two more thunderstorms hit during the night.


Thursday 20 November – We woke to more rain. One of the other campers had some damage to their tent poles, but we were fine. Darryl went for an early ride to try and find the sunglasses I lost while riding Wednesday, while I had breakfast. On his return, the rain seemed to have stopped, so we both rode back to the start of the Bald Hill Mine walk. Part way through the rain came bucketing down again, and we were quote soaked and cold by the end of it. We packed u[ and headed for the NPWS Visitor Centre located in the beautiful old hospital building. They had a nice display and also lots of family history information, where I found out a few bits and pieces. The cemetery for Hill End is a shared one with the goldfield of Tambaroora, and it is here that John William Ireland (Darryl's great great grandfather) must be buried, as he died at Tambaroora in Jan 1872. We couldn't locate any headstone, and couldn't find the Catholic Cemetery further on. 

Sofala was an old mining town on the way back to Bathurst, and I took a few photos of interesting buildings, but we looked at two cemeteries at Wattle Flat, which were at the back of their churches. We had to travel through Bathurst again, on the way to Orange, so I took advantage of this and got photos of the relevant family headstones in the cemetery.

 Along the road, around 30 km east of Orange we pulled into the Macquarie Woods Forestry Reserve to set up camp for the night. Storms were threatening so we were very quick (the radio weather forecasts are talking about sleet and snow!!!!), but only showers eventuated and we even had a double rainbow over the camp.

Friday 21 November - Morning dawned with a perfectly clear sunny sky and as we were still drying out clothes, shoes and tarps, we had a leisurely breakfast, listening to the many birds attracted by the local wetlands. Once packed we thought we would drive through the forestry roads to Lewis Ponds, but the GPS kept wanting us to go down roads which didn't exist, and I also indicated a wrong turn, but eventually we were heading in the right direction. We passed through Icely, and found Lewis Ponds, but were having trouble with the cemetery. I had asked one bloke, who directed us to the old hotel, but no-one was home, and just as we were looking for a house with someone else to ask, a farm ute approached, and Darryl flashed his lights. The bloke stopped and we explained what we were looking for, and I mentioned that we were looking for Spicers. He said “Well, I'm a Spicer, but I don't had better come and talk to my Dad”! We followed Peter back to his farm, and met Michael, directed us on to his sister in Cowra, and also to the Byng Cemetery where many of the family are buried. 
A quick phone-call to Patty, Michael's sister confirmed the family link, and arrangements were made for a visit in the next few days. We said farewell to Darryl's newly discovered cousins, and headed for the pretty little church and cemetery at Byng. Lots of Spicers are certainly buried there, but there did not appear to be a headstone for Lucinda Jane Cundy who was buried at Byng 12 April 1874.
We headed into Orange and then out to the north-west to Molong, also to check out the cemetery. Back in Orange we booked into the council-run caravan park at the showground, (and I must say it is a credit to them – with shady trees, and immaculate facilities), partially set up and rode our bikes to town – me to do research at the local library, and Darryl to go shopping. Although it has been fine today, bad weather is forecast, with sleet and snow and high winds. At midnight a freezing wind blew in, and I decided to go to bed, and soon warmed up.

Saturday 22 November – We woke to an absolutely freezing wind, and found tat it had rained heavily during the night. We had to get out of here, so instead of more research, we packed, shopped, and hit the road. Our trip took us back along the road to Bathurst a few kilometers to Lucknow. Here, I unsuccessfully tried to catch up with Frank Lawry, a cousin of Darryl's whom I had corresponded with some years back. Here we found out that although it was 11am, the temperature in Orange was still only 5 degrees – no wonder we were cold! The next little town to visit was Millthorpe, but as it was raining we could not really get out of the car. Darryl pulled in to look at two churches, and as we did little white flakes started hitting the windscreen. Strangely these periods of rain/snow/sleet would hit fast and hard, only to be replaced by sunshine, albeit with and accompanying icy wind. I managed to get a photo of the historic and attractive railway station during one of these lulls. It wasn't long before were we at the next place of interest – Carcoar, but more rain/snow/sleet meant there was no way I was getting out to check the cemetery. At Cowra, we called in to meet Patsy, and she had quite a bit of information to share, but I also had a lot that she didn't know. Patsy and her husband were just lovely people and I am sure we will be in touch again.
Very strong winds, plus the rain/snow/sleet meant that we wanted to get off the highlands as soon as we could, so it was back on the road to Wagga Wagga. Here we hoped to stay at a free campsite west of Wagga, but were unable to locate it, and it was almost dark by the time we found a place to set up at North Wagga Flats on the Murrimbidgee River. The wind was still cold, but nothing like further north, and Darryl set up the curtains from our shower as a windbreak, so it was quite comfortable.  

Sunday 23 November – When we got to Albury, we visited the Tourist Information Centre, and then rode our bikes along a track for about 4km of the Murray River. At a lovely local park we had scoffed all our fruit, and Darryl made juice with the hand-juicer, and we decided to find a local spot to take a break. 18km west, along the Murray, was a free campsite, and it was lovely and warm in the sun as we were setting up. Although there is a lot of gusty wind, it is very pleasant, and both of us had a restful Sunday afternoon nap in the pleasant warm atmosphere beside the river.