After departing our parkup spot at Murray Bend on Thursday morning, we drove back into Echuca and in stunning weather, spent a pleasant couple of hours exploring the town. The town is very much a mix of ‘old and new’. While much of the shopping is modern, history is still every evident in the old blacksmith shop, printing shop, sawmill, woodworking shop and winery that are still operating as they did 100 years ago. After a relaxing lunch we picked up the next few days necessities and made our way to Barmah Lake, our next overnight stop.
As has happened before, we were forced to go to a Plan B. We arrived at the Barmah State Park and were met by campers departing the Barmah Lake camping area. When we queried why everyone was departing, we were advised that the local ranger had been around letting everyone know that high winds were expected and at least 200mm of rain over the next 36 hours. Rain had been forecast for the next four days. The camping area and the lake were very prone to flooding and the gum trees were the type that ‘fell down’ in high winds. It seemed to us that to find another place to perch was our best option.
After a drive around the area, just to say we had been there, we departed the Park and made our way back to the main road. After a quick ‘management meeting’ with Chuck and Ali, we decided that because of the weather forecast we needed to be somewhere away from water and on firm ground. The navigator located a spot about 60km further on at the small township of Mathoura. The local bowling club allowed travellers to park up at their premises on a large grass area beside the carpark. Plan B was now in place and about an hour later we were parked up at the Mathoura Bowling Club.
Driving the development of Mathoura nearly 150 years ago was the red gum timber industry. It employed most of the population and for more than a century sustained the area’s growth. The first sawmill was established in 1859 and by the 1870’s the construction of railway lines and bridges, particularly in Victoria, created a growing market for red gum sleepers and bridge piles. The town today has approximately 1000 people and many are third and fourth generation descendants of the early timber workers.
Once we had ourselves settled we went into the Club to introduce ourselves and to find out the ‘rules’ of our stay. The Club was very generous and allowed us the use of their toilet and shower facilities along with the bar and restaurant. What else could we do but to stay on for dinner and enjoy the local hospitality. Three hours later, and with the rain starting to belt down, we made our way back to the motorhome for the night.
On Friday morning the rain continued tumbling down so we decided to stay put for another day. During fine spells we wandered around the village and managed to pick up a lovely piece of corned silverside for our dinner on Saturday night. We were told that the meat is bred there and the local butcher is a ‘dab hand’ at its preparation. “Best meat in Australia mate” was the comment from the butcher shop. “Fresh product, good price – can’t be all that bad”.
Saturday was more of Friday – heavy rain and high winds. Rather than outstay our welcome at the Bowling Club and made our back back on the main highway and drove back toward Echuca. During a journey the Navigator discovered what she thought could be our next overnight stop. About 100km away was the little village of Tatura. The local Hilltop Golf and Country Club were offering low cost parking with power. Dense cloud cover meant we were not getting too much of a charge into the deep cell batteries so power was a bonus. With the rain still pouring down, any stop had to be on reasonably firm ground so after a quick phone call to the Club to confirm conditions and availability, we made our way to Tatura.
Tatura is a town in the Goulburn Valley region of Victoria and is approximately 167 km north of Melbourne and 18 km west of the regional centre of Shepparton. Tatura has been manufacturing dairy products for the Global market for over 100 years. Approximately 80,000 tonnes of manufactured products are produced per annum. Seventy percent of total production is exported to Asian and European markets.
One of the main attractions in Tatura is the evidence of several internment camps that were set up around Tatura, Rushworth and Murchison during World War II. Four of these were for civilians, and 3 were for prisoners of war. There were 10,000 to 13,000 people in the camps at different times from 1940 to 1947. The crew of the German auxilliary cruiser Kormoran were interned at Tatura following the battle between HMAS Sydney and HSK Kormoran.
There was no abatement in the weather during our journey. We arrived at the Golf Club mid afternoon, registered and were parked up just beside the 17th tee. While the ground was wet, it was firm and on grass. Once settled there was not too much else to do but relax with a wine and a few R and C’s. Before leaving Mathoura the Navigator had put the corned silverside and vege’s in the Thermo Pot so during the journey dinner was cooking. Serving up was just a matter of slicing the meat and and plating up.
The weather today (Sunday) is a great improved, While it still looks like to could rain, the sun is currently out and there is a slight breeze. We have decided to stay at the Golf and Country Club for another night just to make sure the storms are over. There are murmurings of ‘dinner at the Club tonight’ if the menu meets with approval.
If we move tomorrow, we are not quite sure where as yet. We would like to go to the Green Lakes but this will depend on weather conditions and the state of the ground around the Lakes.