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Published: February 12th 2012
February - having had no reply from our friends at Nuggetty yet, we decided to travel to Castlemaine and Maldon anyway as today, was an ideal day for touring round. We can afford to hang around Bendigo for one extra day but, with a limited number of days left in our adventure, and still a lot we can do, we need to keep to a bit of a schedule. Hopefully we’ll be able to meet up with them tomorrow. Today started gloriously although the forecast for the end of the day and the weekend isn’t so good. We made our way through the heart of Bendigo to get onto the Castlemaine road and it made us realise just how big Bendigo is. We passed through Kangaroo Flat and were soon on the outskirts of Harcourt when I remembered that I had seen an advert for a Butterfly Sanctuary. We struggled to find it at first but then happened upon it, associated with a large Garden Centre. We found a few butterflies in a special enclosure – they were magnificent but not very numerous. In hindsight we feel we must have missed the main enclosure as the advert suggested there
were hundreds there in a lush garden setting! Never mind – those we saw were pretty good. We soon found our way to Castlemaine about which the tourist brochure was extremely glowing. We found it a little disappointing, especially the parking arrangements which all seemed to have fairly short restrictions. We stopped long enough to have our picnic lunch in the park before driving on to the old mining town of Maldon. This town was far more interesting with many fascinating features, particularly the Mount Tarrangower Lookout which afforded spectacular 360 degree views over the surrounding countryside. Many of the old gold mines, now derelict, were available for viewing and provided a fascinating insight into the days when this area was extremely prosperous and with a much greater population than today.
As we were so near to the Nuggetty home of our friends Dale and Alison, we decided to call by and, although we found it easily enough, there was no sign of life so we decided to leave calling in for another day. We made our way back to the caravan and were delighted to receive an email from Dale inviting us for lunch on Saturday (tomorrow). We
There's nothing like a cup of Bushell's tea!
but unfortunately this shop in Maldon now sells gifts and nic-nacs (and especially Christmas ones)!
rang to confirm the arrangements and will call by again tomorrow, although Alison’s daughter is about to give birth in Melbourne so she may yet have to dash away to be there. As we arrived at the caravan the sun was still shining but thunder could be heard in the distance. Sure enough, within an hour of being back the sky was dark and rain began to fall. This got heavier and heavier until the rest of the evening became quite unpleasant with lightening and thunder prominent. Let’s hope it all blows through before we visit Nuggetty in the morning. We consoled ourselves by watching the Sri Lanka v Australia one day international match from the WACA in Perth – a ground we have visited in the past. It was an exciting game which went down to the last couple of balls resulting in a narrow win for Australia.
Fortunately for us, the wild weather had blown through during the night and Saturday 11th
February dawned bright but breezy for our trip to Nuggetty. We were aiming to be at Carmel Vale (the formal name of Dale and Alison’s property) soon after 11:00am but a bit of shopping and
a busy Bendigo City centre put us a little behind schedule. At the same time, Satnav wanted to take us along gravel roads which we were anxious to avoid so it was about 11:30 when we finally arrived. Dale and Gadgett the dog were there to greet us but there was no sign of Alison. Dale hadn’t heard from her this morning so we all assumed that her daughter was about to give birth in Melbourne and, of course, Alison wanted to be at the birth of her first grandchild. However, no sooner had we settled in with a cuppa and a chat, catching up on what has happened to us all since our last meeting in Cairns last September, than Alison appeared after a hectic 2 hour drive. There is some concern about the health of the baby which, if born soon, would be very premature so, obviously, Alison wants to give as much support as she can for her daughter. We were delighted that she felt able to make it to Nuggetty and we were soon reminiscing about our adventures both in and around Cairns and since. A lot of conversation was about their plans to develop their
property and to build a “dream” house near the highest point of the 130 acre plot. The current house, an older style farm house, is splendid enough from our point of view but the new house would be to their own design and would afford them spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. It has been a long term project of Dale’s who bought the huge block a couple of years ago after he retired from his own business. He also sold his house in Caufield, Melbourne to finance the project and Alison is about to sell hers near Heidelberg to enable them to build what appears to be a very special house. Later, after a delightful lunch, Dale took us on a guided tour of the land, pointing out the many substantial “sheds” he has and all the equipment (boy’s toys) he has bought to evaluate and prepare the ground before construction can take place. He seems quite happy with his semi-reclusive lifestyle and enjoys doing a lot of what needs to be done himself, while Alison continues to travel back and forth to Melbourne regularly. Most of the 130 acres is grassland but is on a slope and is
strewn with rocky outcrops and large boulders so just to put in a drive to where the new house will be (about half a kilometre off the road) will be quite a task. We wound our way up through the rocks in Dale’s 4WD, accompanied by about 200 curious sheep which a neighbour “runs” on the grassland. The views from the house site were stunning and at the very top of the ground it provided a 360 degree outlook which was absolutely spectacular. Dale had done his homework and, with the use of some meteorological equipment, had discovered that the very top is exposed to powerful prevailing winds at certain times of the year so to build just below the peak would allow for 180 degree views without the discomfort of the winds. A suitably placed “summer house” will provide the other views when suitable weather conditions allow, which is actually most of the year. In addition, they have had to allow for an underground fire bunker as the area could be prone to bush fires and every household in the area has to have a fire plan. Fortunately there is no nearby woodland from which fires might spread and
no recent history of fires in the immediate area. Work is due to start soon and Dale is hoping the project will be fully completed by the end of 2013.
Back down at the old house, Alison received a phone call advising that an inducement procedure for her daughter was imminent and the hope was for a satisfactory conclusion by the end of the day. Not surprisingly, Alison felt she had to return to Melbourne so we bid her a fond farewell with fingers crossed that everything progresses well. We stayed chatting with Dale until late afternoon and then made our way back to Bendigo. The evening was dry and clear and the forecast was good so, although we would be moving on in the morning, the destination isn’t far so there was no rush to pack things away. We had a relatively early night after a most enjoyable day.
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