Australia Diary 27 March 2002

Bendigo 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 the chill.

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 different. 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...

More 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!

Another 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.

More roos

To tomorrow

Created by Dan Leigh /03/02