Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

Melbourne on the skyline, taken from Kangaroo Point Lookout

Maroondah Reservoir

A view from the walk near Marysville

The original Sam Knott painting

The tale of Sam Knott

McVeighs Water Wheel

The flowering wattle tree's on a straight bit of road

Noojee Trestle Bridge with Sylvia, Val and Ron

Noojee Trestle Bridge

Our walk into Walhalla

The wind section

Feeding the parrots

A part of Walhalla from the tramway

Marking the wicket

A local Walhalla shop

The Walhalla Goldfield's Railway

A track side view

A view in the cemetary

Val, Don, Ron and Margaret


At last we are on the move again. I had not realised there were so many places to clean in our mobile home. What with washing all of the non slip mats we have put in the cupboards and shelves, and getting the dust out of every corner, I'm almost ready to sign on for employment again. Listing all of the possessions we have squirreled away became a pleasant chore, as did noting the country of origin against the food items; some of them will be rejected by the NZ quarantine officials.

It was a pleasure to meet up with Ron and Val who promptly embarked on dragging us along major highways across the back of Melbourne, and then along winding country roads up high into the hills. Ron and Val's motorhome is much more suited to the narrow twisting roads, plus I think they have had a lot more practice on these roads, but we did our best. At our first high point was the Kangaroo Memorial Tower with terrific 360 degrees views including the overlooking of Melbourne. Unfortunately the tight left hand steep turn to the lookout caught the back right end of our van and damaged the corner rail. This will have to be sorted.

Our onward journey wound along ridges and up and down more hills. Sylvia enjoyed great views, whilst due to the speed we travelled I spent more time watching the oncoming bends and the rare approaching vehicles. Our morning break was taken at the nice small town of Yarra Glen at 11.30am; delayed due to our late start of 9.30am. More freshly baked cakes to choose from. I had not realised that making choices could be so difficult. The drive continued on to the Melbourne Maroondah Reservoir and then Steavenson Falls which due to the recent rains was very impressive. Unfortunately much more water is needed to bring the many reservoirs of the area up to the needed levels.

By lunch time we had reached Marysville, another nice town in the hills which does its best tourist business during the winter snows, catering for skiers who don't want to travel all the way to the hills near Sydney. Ron is planning a short walk for his walking club so I went with him to test it out for difficulty of ascent, whilst Sylvia and Val looked round the town. Apparently the last walk Ron led for his club was up a hill much steeper than he had remembered it to be, and a number of the club members did not speak to him until some time after the outing.

At the point where Ron decided to turn back down to the main road was a great view of a mountain whose name I have forgotten. We set off back by a different route. After Steavenson Falls earlier in the day we now had Jeffrey Falls, when I found the only wet patch on the entire walk and crashed down, mostly on my left buttock, on a very hard banking. This was a bruising encounter and I expect I shall have some discomfort for a while. The walk continued down a wide track through the trees and along a high banking above the road back into the town.

Tonight's destination is the Upper Yarra Dam Reserve, a wild life park where camping is a feature. The Rangers Office in the centre of the reserve is by facilities which can cater for large groups; and he knocks off at 5pm, locking the entrance gate behind him. Those on the inside, (well beyond seeing and shouting distance of the gate), are provided with the number for the combination lock, whilst those on the outside after 5pm remain on the outside. Our journey continued at speed through the tops of the hills before an extremely long twisting descent.

Part way down Ron stopped and rushed us along a short path into dank undergrowth to view an ancient culvert he had promised to show us. After we had marvelled at the engineering ingenuity of the early pioneers, we were once more rushing down the road. At 4.55pm we met the Ranger at the entrance gate; what timing. After Ron renewed his acquaintance we drove to the camping site and took an evening walk through woods and round the spill way of the reservoir. During the walk we viewed a wombat and on return saw a male, female and baby deer. This was the first time Val had seen any of the many hundred deer who live in this vast reserve during her several visits.

Before leaving on the next morning we spoke with the head Ranger and viewed his best possession; an authenticated original picture of Sam Knox who was featured for many years in a brewery advert, along with the first and last lines of Sam's saying. "I allus has wan at eleven, it's a habit wat's gota be done, cos if I don't have wan at eleven, I allus has eleven at wan". The attached photograph tells a bit more about Sam.

Prior to leaving this area we visited the dam and McVeigh's Water Wheel which before 1908 generated electricity for a gold mine which is now somewhere under the water in the dam. Our next stop was at Werburton for morning tea, or in our case cakes washed down with coffee, before travelling on to the 'Noojee Trestle Bridge' which is being restored. On we travel; life certainly has its ups and downs. If we weren't going up long winding hills through wooded slopes, we were viewing magnificent vistas from high hill tops, or enjoying the changing views as we travelled down winding roads.

Our destination of Walhalla, an old gold mining town, was reached in time to enjoy an evening walk from the camp site into the town, returning along the old tram way along the hill side by old gold mine workings. In its hey day, Walhalla had a population of over 3,000. The town is being restored, it only has 11 full time residents but many visit their homes at weekends. The population is swelled by over 80,000 visitors a year who come to view the town and travel on the Walhalla Gold Field Railway. This unique narrow gauge train winds its way down Stringers Creek Gorge from Walhalla to the Thomson River. The train is self funding though needed a grant from the government to restore a trestle bridge destroyed in the bush fires at the start of this year.

During the walk Sylvia and Val obtained bird food to feed local parrots. I should not have suggested to the shop lady that she should put bird seed on Sylvia's head; no doubt she will gain a complete revenge some day as she has a very long memory when she wants to.

Next morning we climbed the one kilometre zig zag track up to the cricket ground. By the early 1870's flat ground was at a premium so the solution to create a sports field was to slice off the top of a nearby mountain. The local team would camp overnight at the ground before a match; they were rarely beaten.

As it was Saturday we had the opportunity to travel on the scenic Walhalla Railway. This was a lovely experience and it is no surprise the volunteer enthusiasts get many customers each year. There are also Gold Mine Tours but our time was limited. Before leaving we climbed the hill to the cemetery where there are over 1,100 graves, and one at the bottom; he was too heavy to be carried up the slope.

We are travelling to the old family home of Ron and his sister Margaret at Dromana, a small sea side town on Port Phillip Bay. Our route overlooked the area of Ron and Val's upbringing and passed through the town of Moe where we were able to visit Margaret and her husband Don.

Before reaching Moe we were alarmed by a horrendous noise underneath our van like no other we have heard before. We stopped quickly and Sylvia checked underneath the van but all seemed ok. After slowly moving down to a road joining us from our left where we had more room to stop and look, we both got out and viewed underneath the van. Nothing untoward. We started to move slowly forward and the noise began again. I reversed back off the main road to a further horrendous noise. This time it was the 'Give Way' sign scraping down the side of our van and making a mess of our kitchen window and outside light.

Ron and Val had retraced their steps to help us. There was nothing to view other than the damage I had just caused and nothing to hear when we took the van on a test drive. Where the original noise had come from, or went to, we do not know. I did buy a ghost book whilst at Walhalla. Anyway, as a wise man once told me, you can always get out of trouble by paying, (one way or another).

Night had fallen by the time we reached Dromana and we bought local fish and chips before driving up a very steep long hill to reach the property. We parked our van on the roadway and had a further steep walk up the driveway to enter the home. Judging by the twinkling lights below us, and across the bay, we are in for some good views tomorrow.

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