is famous for gold. There's been mining in this town since the 1850s
- and they're still at it now. A South African mining company have
only recently joined forces with a local firm and opened up some
of the old workings with a view to doing some pretty serious mining
work in the area again. We went down Deborah Mine while we were
here and it was one of the best tours that I've ever been on. I've
been underground several times on trips, caving and even on business
once (ElectroMagnetic Compatibility testing in an old disused salt
mine). I'd highly recommend it if you're in town.
It's cold and getting colder. Australia is heading rapidly for
its autumn and you certainly notice it this far south. I was forced
to go and buy myself a fleece and some walking boots to stave off
From Bendigo we continued to head west towards the Grampian's.
On the way we passed through the Australian version of Guildford.
Guilford, Surrey in the UK is where I went to university. It is
a commuter town, rich and lavish. The Aussie version is a little
We also drove through Castlemaine. This town is famous in the UK
for being the birth place of Castlemaine XXXX beer. Although it's
no longer brewed here, you'd think that some of the pubs would still
sell it...No chance! The road from Bendigo out to the Grampians
is very open and straight. The best thing that I can suggest you
do is to have a look at some pictures...
We also passed through a town called Maryborough which was described
by Mark Twain as 'a railway station with a town attached'. Make
your mind up for yourself, but it has got a very impressive station
- and not many houses!
view of the station
Set high up in the mountains North West of Melbourne, the Grampians
is an area that is designated as a national park. They were named
by Major Thomas Mitchell in 1836 after the Grampians in Scotland.
He described them as, "...a noble range of mountains, rising
in the south to a stupendous height, and presenting as bold and
picturesque an outline as a painter ever imagined". We were
running late trying to get to Hall's Gap, the tourist centre for
the park before the National Park coffice shut, when we had a bit
of a setback that was to turn into quite a day (or two). We had
a blow out on one of the rear tyres, "No worries", as
they say out here, I've changed tyres in the past before, not
a problem. A few minutes later we're back on the road, and we
made it to the town just in time... and worked out where we wanted
to go... and then we had a bit of time to check the other tyres...(Emma's
comment: "we" as in the royal "we", that is
Emma checked the back rear wheel). "Ahh, hmm, perhaps
we may have a bit of a problem...". It was shot to pieces (badly
damaged), worn through the tread, and the reinforcing brading
and into the cotton thread. Now Em's going
to take over the computer and write her bit....
It was like this - Arrggghhhhh!! Grrrrrr!! Why
did this have to happen to us??!! We were miles from anywhere. It
defiinitely was not the best place to be, considering the nearest
civilised town was about 30kms away. We considered the best thing
to do was to ring my trusty parents. When all else fails, and you
don't know what to do, the best advice I can give is to ring the
parents. Especially since it was their car. Before I continue with
the flat tyre episode, I would like to thank mum and dad for lending
me their big fat old merc for 2 weeks. It's certainly a comfortable
old car, and what with all the stuff we crammed into it, I think
we definitely needed a big car. Now back to the story. So Dan rang
the Michelin dealer and was told the closest place was most likely
Ballarat. So we rang Ballarat, however they didn't have the tyres,
and they told us the tyres would have to come from Melbourne. Bear
in mind this is the Wednesday night, just before the Easter weekend.
Not many Ozzies want to work around this time. So, I called my dad.
He'd had a very similar problem when my folks drove from Sydney
to Adelaide and back about 3 weeks before. Meanwhile, we thought
it best to set up camp (since we weren't going anywhere) in the
nearest camping ground. Fortunately we had parked right in the middle
of one. So we dragged our tent out to the open place, and set up
for the night. Dan was even blessed with a visit from a couple of
grey roos (kangaroos). Dan cooked up
an Indian feast which consisted of spicy potatoes and zucchinis
(courgettes in the UK), and chapatis.