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Published: February 17th 2012
February was the day we decided to head for Benalla which is all of 60 kilometers away from Shepparton! The weather was good and in view of the shortness of the journey we were very casual in our preparations. We had been parked under a couple of leafy trees which provided a bit of shade during the day but Graham discovered that they also deposited a sticky substance onto the awning. He had to sponge it off before he could put the awning away but even so we were packed up and ready to go well before the 10:00am departure time. Having said that we actually left some time later as our neighbours, Barry and Wendy from Maroochydore, were very chatty and it was nearer 10:30 before we pulled away. Just across the road from the caravan park is a fruit outlet much of which is locally grown in nearby orchards. There was plenty of space so we were able to pull in, caravan and all. There were boxes and boxes of many different fruits, including huge peaches, nectarines and plums but I only wanted a few things. Inevitably I came away with a few bagfuls that were very
Outside the Information Centre in Mansfield we found this 'scarred tree'
it was created when Aboriginal Taungurung people removed the bark to make a canoe
reasonable priced. Benalla being just a short drive away, we went straight to the caravan park there without a mid-morning break. It’s a park that we stayed at in December 2010 so we were familiar with the set-up and decided that, with a bit of sorting out to be done in advance of putting the caravan in storage, we would benefit from an “en suite” site. It cost a bit extra and was a bit “out of the way” but the facilities were excellent. Another thing we eventually discovered was that the area was plagued with ants so we had a bit to do to discourage them from invading the caravan. It was also very open to the strong, hot sun so we had to take advantage of any shade available. Fortunately, no-one was using the site next door so we were able to spread out a bit.
Having settled in and after having our sandwiches for lunch, Graham persuaded me to go for a swim and I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed it. The pool was quite large and reasonably deep throughout its length so it made for some good fitness swimming potential. The sun was very hot
so it was an ideal way to cool down before the shadows from the setting sun made our site a little more bearable. I decided to use up some rice so we had that with salmon for supper and we stayed up quite late preparing another blog for distribution. Tomorrow we have it in mind to travel the short distance to Mansfield to discuss with Mark how our last couple of weeks will pan out. The forecast is good and we thought we would hit the road quite early before the heat of the day makes it a bit uncomfortable. Unfortunately it will mean missing the free pancake breakfasts they do every weekday morning on this park but we’ll make up for it on Thursday and Friday.
February started as anticipated – very little cloud and a warm sun. I prepared some sandwiches and a flask for later in the day and after breakfast we made an early start in the direction of Mansfield – about 70 kilometers away – hoping it would not get too hot too soon. We arrived in Mansfield and stopped at the Information Centre to ask about buses from Mansfield to Melbourne.
On the next to last day of our stay, a Thursday, Graham has it in mind to drive the car from Melbourne to Mansfield so that it can be stored at the Reeves house and then to catch the bus back to Melbourne. As it happens, the times fit in perfectly, the fee is very modest and it’s not necessary to book in advance. The bus even stops at Box Hill so if we are to spend our last few days at Grant’s, which is possible, it will be a simple task for Graham to get back and for us to be ready at Grant’s for him to run us to the airport on the Friday as arranged. After this good news we drove the short distance out of Mansfield to the Reeves estate but, alas, Mark wasn’t there! There were signs that he should be there – a loaded, working washing machine, his car was on the drive – but no sign of Mark and no Spotty the dog greeting us enthusiastically. As we didn’t have a mobile number for him we drove back into town and asked at the hotel where he sometimes works. Yes, he was due
in today but not until 5:00pm.
We decided we would explore some of the countryside we had been unable to visit on our previous trips and headed, initially for Bonnie Doone – a lakeside area we had passed through several times but never stopped. However, before we got there we were attracted by a signpost off the main road showing Goughs Bay and on our map we could see that it was several kilometers away on one of the “arms” of Lake Eildon. What we hadn’t realized was that the road would become a gravel road and although it was good, it was very, very dusty. We stopped for our picnic lunch at a spot called Bracks Bridge which had a picnic facility right by the Delatite River. It was delightful and we had it to ourselves apart from the birds. We decided we would persevere with our trip to Goughs Bay despite the gravel road and, as it happens, it became a sealed road just a couple of kilometers further on. We soon arrived at Goughs Bay and were delighted with the outlook. We found an elevated car-park giving extensive views of this arm of the lake and
sat there for some time before a yearning for some ice-creams prompted us to meander back to the small village where the local store had some for sale. We found another spot on the lake to eat them and agreed it had been well worth the effort to seek out Goughs Bay. Our return journey to Mansfield was much simpler. An alternative and more direct sealed road linked up with a main road and we were back at the Reeves house very swiftly. This time Mark was in – he had been out on his bike earlier and had taken Spotty for a run in the State Park just along the road. We sat and chatted for some time about his plans to build a large but simple car-port to house our car and caravan and his camping unit. He had drawn up some plans with Nigel, a family friend (and, with wife Belinda and the kiddies, one time travelling companions of Sarah and Darryl) and had been trying to price some materials. We had offered to help with the construction as long as it co-incided with our next stay in Mansfield so we agreed that Monday 20th
be our day of arrival and construction would start on the Tuesday. All in all, it had been a successful trip to Mansfield and a few final dates, locations, arrangements etc had been put in place prior to our return to the UK on 3rd
The trip back to Benalla was easy and we did a bit of shopping in the town on our way back to the caravan. When we got back we noticed that the ants were quite active again so Graham did a thorough tour armed with spray and talcum powder (it really is a deterrent!) to discourage them from climbing on the caravan. Later we both had a swim in an otherwise empty pool – perfect. The en-suite facility is proving to be very comfortable and also provides excellent sorting and storage space for items from the caravan we are checking through. We need to establish what we should leave in the caravan, what we can dispose of and what we might take back to the UK with us – its all a bit complicated at present but I’m sure we’ll get there in the end! Tonight’s TV extravaganza was “Hetty Wainthropp Investigates”. We
never watch it back home but here it seems reasonably entertaining!!
February was a bit of a contrast to what we have become used to recently - it was cloudy with a cool breeze and the threat of rain. Still, I had made up my mind that today was the day to wash the curtains! Graham helped by dismantling the curtain rails and I loaded up two washing machines and crossed my fingers that all the curtains came out in one piece! (They are very ancient.) I was very relieved when I hung them on the line that they looked much the same as when they went it, apart from looking cleaner! The net curtains were also washed but by hand. All this kept me busy and I had just finished hanging the last curtain up to dry when Graham reminded me that 9 o’clock was the time of the pancake breakfast. So we trooped off to the camp kitchen where the free pancakes were on offer along with, jam, maple syrup and cream. One of the park officials was busy making and dishing out the pancakes and they were delicious and went down very well. It
was a good atmosphere with about 25 people there and we all sang “Happy Birthday” to a tearful young back-packer. Many of the people there were travelling in a group so day-time activities here can be a bit “cliquey” but this morning’s breakfast was splendid. Back at the caravan we continued with our spring clean. Graham emptied out the caravan “boot” (shovel, fishing rods, carrying case for fishing kit, additional waste water pipe etc) and gave it a good brush through while I cleaned all the windows. Graham then emptied the car and identified a few things that can be thrown away and I did a similar thing with all the items stored in plastic boxes under the bed in the caravan. Neither of us has finished the exercise yet but we hope to reduce considerably the stuff we’re carrying around with us. We weren’t in any hurry and this took the best part of the day. We were interrupted by the onset of a severe thunderstorm at about 5:30pm which brought a somewhat soggy end to the day. The en-suite came into its own as we were able to stay under cover throughout the storm, having dry access to
the shower, loo etc.
and a very Happy Birthday to my brother David! We hope you had a lovely day – your first birthday as a married man.
The day dawned dull and cloudy and we had a bit of a lie-in but eventually we dragged ourselves out of bed. We decided to give the park pancake breakfast a miss and continued our clean-up exercise. Today this involved emptying out two of the under-seat cupboards in the caravan, giving them a clean and re-packing most of the original items plus a few extras. The living-area carpet also got a whack with a brush and then a scrub and then the sheets were whipped off the bed and washed. Meanwhile, Graham continued tidying up the car and also carried on his battle with the ants who are not giving up without a fight! He also made a small fire in one of Sarah and Darryl’s camping pans and all of our credit card receipts that I’ve been meticulously hoarding securely, wondering how best to dispose of them, went up in smoke – great job done!
After all that action we felt a bit hot and bothered
so with an empty pool beckoning we spent a very pleasant hour or so cooling off and relaxing. We had a very nice dinner of the remains of the chicken meal I had made the previous evening and then we fell into bed exhausted after a busy day!
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