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Published: October 16th 2019
Wednesday 9 Oct
After a sustaining breakfast of Pete's cheese omelette, we were all packed ready to set off for Romsey. We will not be back to Pete and Moyra's in Leopold again. We took two cars as we were leaving the small vehicle with Julie and Mike and taking their big Toyota Prado, with a tow hitch for a caravan. They have lent us their 6 berth caravan for our 4 days camping at the artist's 'muster' in Echuca.
Julie and Mike made us lunch again of rolls, chicken and salad followed by fruit. The two older girls were back at school but the boys made us little glasses of water each, as we arrived for a toast. It was our 48th wedding anniversary and one we will remember very clearly, as it was so different and exciting.
On the journey from Romsey to Echuca we travelled in two vehicles again with Pete towing the caravan and Moyra driving their Ford, which has been adapted in an innovative way and adapted for their needs when they are miles from anywhere in the outback.
The scenery was varied and we were interested to see how green most
of the countryside still is, before the heat of summer. It took approx 2 hours with a break for tea and a pie. These pies are one of the iconic foods to enjoy in Australia.
The en plein air artists 'muster' in a campsite just outside the town, managed by Rotary. We found adjoining spots close to the Campaspe River. Mike had made videos of how to set up the caravan, which really assisted us in getting organised quickly. The scenery is so interesting with many ancient gum tress along the banks of the river. There are lots of birds with very different songs. Many Galahs, beautiful Eastern Rosellas, Australian magpies, doves, crested pigeons and many more we can't identify. The Kookaburras have a very distinctive call! Last night sitting around the camp fire we heard an owl hooting. So we have both wonderful scenery and sounds.
Pete and Moyra set up their trusty tent very quickly although it was quite windy. We had an orientation walk around the area, checked out the toilets and meet some of the other artists, who are also camping here. P&M experimented with their new camp oven to cooked a quiche, which
we are with salads followed by fruit. There was a stunning sunset with the gums silhouetted against the sky.
It was only 6 degrees overnight, with a chilly wind, so after dinner we sat around the camp fire with our coffees. We were cosy and warm in our caravan, where we slept well. Thursday 10 October
We slept well and woke up to a bright sunny day. We set off to the town after breakfast. Apparently October is the best month to visit as it is not too hot. We booked an iconic riverboat trip in a restored paddle steamer called the Alexander Arbuthnot, named after the man who owned a saw mill, established in 1890. The beautiful old boat was built in 1923 and has been used for towing logs, carrying charcoal and firewood. She now just carries tourists! She was the star of a 1994 film 'All the Rivers Run'.
Before the trip we managed to get Alan some new clip-on sunglasses as his had broken, and it is so sunny, they are essential. We had a quick coffee break with a snack for lunch.
The waterfront made a pleasant place to stroll
as it has many restored shops, museums and a traditional blacksmith. The trip down the Murrey River took just over an hour as we paddled initially down stream and back. It was such an interesting and enjoyable trip, which is another iconic 'essential'. The port of Echuca was once of of the busiest in Australia, with many challenges faced by the boats with rising and falling water levels. This has now been stabilised with flood controls. Nowadays there are many private river boats and the hauling of goods is by road and rail.
Moyra walked back as she is a keen walker. Pete, Alan and Winks enjoyed an ice cream before driving back to the campsite. There was an informal gathering of artists around the tea pot at our camp and later a few beers or wine. Stories exchanged and plans made on where to paint.
We enjoyed a delicious one pot beef casserole with veggies and rice, with fruit for pudding. P&M are very experienced camp cooks. Another beautiful sunset on a chilly night. Friday 11 October
Another day in Echuca painting and drawing. Winks had a lovely walk along the Campaspe river into Ecucha
town, to buy stamps and post our post cards. It was hot and sunny, so a soft drink in a little cafe with Wifi, was a pleasant break before the walk back.
It was chilly overnight but we were invited to join a campfire with the other artists. Ray, one of the organisers, cooked us a delicious 'damper', a sort of loaf of bread flavoured with olives, cheese and bacon. Very tasty. We chatted around the campfire till midnight Saturday 12 October
We had to pack up the caravan and lower the extended top. Pete was a real star at all this organisation. Moyra went off to paint a picture of another beautiful gum tree. Alan decided against another drawing. We were fortunate to have access to the new shower and toilet facilities.
We left the caravan on site and popped into the art gallery, where the plein air artists were exhibiting their work. We were truly surprised to be given a painting by Ivor Newby, one of the talented artist, who's company we had enjoyed around the campfire the previous evening. It will be a wonderful reminder of our time in Echuca.
up the caravan and after a quick lunch, set off for Romsey, in convoy for the approx 1.5 hour journey.
Great welcome with the Nick's and family also there. The young cousins had a great afternoon in the garden, on the trampoline and sand pit. The caravan was prepared for the Nicks to stay in overnight. Paddy and Charlotte invited Winks into their 'swag' - another new experience. It was dark inside so Winks told the children about a game called 'Jack, Jack shine your light ' recalled from her childhood. It is a sort of hide and seek in the dark. All the children decided to play the game once it was dark, which was great fun. It turned out to be a late night for the children and the adults chatted until after midnight. We enjoyed another tasty meal of BBQ lamb and salads
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