Archive for September, 2012

274. Sunday 30th September 2012. From the beauty of Mt.Beauty to the cool of cool Coolamon…

30/09/2012

Monday 24th September

Today was one of those days which just slip by, almost unnoticed because there were no highlights. I should be thankful there were no lowlights. My parcel containing repair tools and a set of gear wheels and prop shaft for the damaged AR Drone arrived. The task of removing the damaged part was not as easy as shown in the tutorial video. The metal shaft pin was bent and was difficult to remove. Once removed it was easy replacing the bent shaft with a new one and using the original gear wheel, propeller and circlip I was back in business. After a quick test flight around the bedroom to check all was working, I packed it all away ready to put on WWWGO.

Tuesday 25th September

Today was beginning to shape up like yesterday but the owners arrived home just after lunch. Hmmm! Looks like I will be moving on in a day or so. Perhaps 5 days earlier than expected. I spent the afternoon re-packing WWWGO with my bits n pieces.

I spoke with Ian who has a mechanical workshop across the road and I have been storing WWWGO there. Ian once upon a time imported used RV’s from the USofA. The RV’s were built on a Chevy Workvan body with a 350 cubic inch motor. Ian would do the conversion from left hand drive to right hand drive add a few touches and on sell. Ian told me that there is still lots of snow at Falls Creek and after 1st October the requirement to carry chains will be lifted. The $25 per person entry into the village will also be lifted. Many visitors will come to Falls Creek after the 1st October to cross country ski. Mostly though it will be family groups come to enjoy the last of the snow and not have to pay the huge prices for entry, car parking, ski lifts and chain hire.

Wednesday 26th September

I left the comfort and security of MB today. The owners arrived home yesterday and although I was welcome to stay I felt it was time to move on. I was on my way by 1.30 pm the sun was shining and it was warm as I drove along enjoying being on the road again. As I drove along the Olympic Highway towards Wagga Wagga, three large Eastern Grey Kangaroos bounded across the road in front of me. As they reached the railway line all three leapt the two sets of railway lines in one bound. That is the first time I have seen Kangaroo jump so high and so far.  I arrived in the small town of Yerong Creek where I expected to Freedom camp for the night. Instead the local council has made power, water, toilets and showers available at the showgrounds for $10. There is no internet signal on the modem and even the phone has no signal bars. Oh well I can live with that. I can see fields of Canola stretching into the distance in all directions. Wow. It looks like fields of gold, especially when the late afternoon sun highlights the yellow flowers.

Canola. A common sight all the way fro Culcairn , through to Wagga Wagga and on to Coolamon.

Thursday 27th September

Dawn arrived… normally these words would be followed by “fine and sunny”… but on this occasion it was overcast skies, the rumble of thunder and big splashy raindrops.  The weather, like our minds, can change. As I drove north and west, through Wagga Wagga the cloud cover was more of a haze, by midday the temp was up around 27° and a hot dusty wind was blowing from the west. In short it was one of those hot windy days which seems to leave a lot of grit in the air and a lot in grit in peoples moods. I arrived in Coolamon around midday and decided to stay for two nights.

Campsite at Coolamon Caravan Park.

The name of Coolamon comes from the Aboriginal word for a basin-shaped wooden dish made and used by Australian Aborigines.In the area around the town are thousands of naturally occurring indentations in the ground called Coolamon Holes which fill with water. This town is in the heart of the Wheat and Canola crops and on one hand appears busy and prosperous while a walk around town reveals lots of old shops closed and empty.

Coolamon streetscape.

Old barn like general store building now the newsagency.

Sign on the side of the current newsagent building once a general store. I am old enought to remember Billy Tea and Mothers Choice Flour.

Balcony on upper level of the old Commercial Banking Company of Sydney premises.

Coolamon Post Office. I wonder if the “S” was layed on its side deliberately?

Coolamon Railway Station

Collapsing cart found in laneway.

Cartwheels.

All the buildings can be accessed by a rear lane. Most of the rear of the buildings have fallen into a state of collapse as shown b y these old stables.

Friday 28th September

I decided to pay for another two nights. I am on level ground, toilets and showers are twenty paces away, I have power, TV reception and excellent mobile phone and internet reception. The main street of town is 250 metres away and a new and large Foodworks store is only 100 metres away behind the van park. The weather is windy and wet and I see no reason to be on the road looking for a freedom campsite without facilities when I am quite snug right here. The town of Coolamon is having their inaugural “Scarecrow Festival” this Sunday. That will give me a chance to look around at more of the old houses.

There are a number of old guns around town.

All the old buildings had toilets at the back. All seemed abandoned but this double dun ny appears to be still in use.

 

I spent an hour looking around the town museum. Basically it was a collection of pre mechanised old farm equipment, which had been collected by a local farmer. Almost all the exhibits had personal notes from the farmer about how he acquired the equipment, how it was used and when he first or last used it. One display of a horse drawn cart caught my attention. The cart was drawn by a team of 8 horses. In order to get 10 hours work out in the paddock, the farmer actually worked 16 hours. That extra 6 hours included getting the horses together, getting each in place and moving out to the worksite. Then at “smoko” all the horses were let off to drink and eat from a nose bag. This was repeated at lunch time and afternoon smoko before going back to the farmhouse and disconnecting all horses and putting equipment away before he got to go inside for his dinner.

It has turned cold again which makes for a nice snugly warm sleep under the doona.

Saturday 29th October

Up early and off for a walk in the cool morning. The railway station appears deserted but it seems a once a week train service goes to Griffith in the west or to Sydney on the return journey. The day was windy and got colder as it progressed. A number of old artillery pieces are scattered around the town but there are no accompanying signs to say what they are or what theatre of war they were used.

another old gun near the railway station.

Coolamon Hotel.

Coolamon main street.

This shop was called “The Up to Date Store” when it was built in 1909. Today it houses the town library, two museums and a coffee shop museum.

In the afternoon (after speaking with Donnis in Canada via Skype) I watched the grand final AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Sydney Swans. I do not usually watch AFL but I thought it would be nice to see the Swans win. I struggled to understand the rules but enjoyed the spectacle and the to and fro of the score line. The Swans won by 10 points in the final quarter and I must admit it was a tense and cliff hanger game for 4 quarters, well worthy of a grand final clash. Tomorrow is the NRL grand final between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Melbourne Storm.

It was a cold night and I had a heater going up until I climbed into a chilly bed and shivered until my body heat eventually built a cocoon of warmth.

Snorezzzzzzzzzz

Sunday 30th September

Woke to cold legs and feet. The window beside the bed was open and a cold breeze was blowing onto the doona which was slowly becoming colder and colder and it was that creeping cold which eventually woke me. Sigh! I am back in long johns and layers of clothing.

The Coolamon Scarecrow Festival

A few of the more than 50 scarecrow entries. First prize was $500.

happened today and from my point of view the highlight of the day was the Australian Army Band Kapooka.

Some of the wonderfully talented musicians in the Australian Army Band Kapooka.

They are very talented and appear at festivals all over Australia including outback Aboriginal communities where they mentor budding musicians. Despite the cold wind and the progressive overcast there was a good rollup at the festival and I am glad I stayed the extra two days for the experience.

The dinosaur and the lamb were a hit with the crowd.

I once drove a Cadillac of this vintage when I visited Canada several years ago.

 

The main street of Coolamon is a divided set of double lanes with a large park in the centre. By closing off the entry and exit points the main shopping precinct park becomes an ideal location for festivals with a large mall.

In the afternoon I watched Melbourne Storm defeat Canterbury Bulldogs in the NRL Grand Final.

The nature strip verge on some streets had a mixture of grass and flowers.

 

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273. Sunday 23rd September 2012. From Mt.Beauty in the Kiewa Valley to Bright in the Ovens Valley…

24/09/2012

Monday 17th September

As I sat at the Laptop keyboard I was going to write “I did nothing again today”. In fact I started to write, “I did”, then stopped.

Hmmm! It felt like nothing but you cannot do “nothing”. That would mean I was in an unconscious state all day with no external input into my life.

OK.

I did do things today. Nothing exciting or adventurous perhaps but I might mention a few things which occurred.

Each day as I feed the geese, one is more adventurous than the others and comes right up to me and will eat food at my feet. For some time I wondered if it was possible to hand feed her. Today was the day. I offered a piece of cut apple. She came up and took it, gently, then backed off quickly. I tried again. Same result. So she is nervous but willing to try. I think the dog bothers her more than me.

A visitor came today to take photos of the gardens. She asked why I was limping so I explained how the dog bumped into me and hyperextend the left knee. As I finished my tale the dog bumped my left knee and hyperextended it again!!!

Gasp! Shock! Pain! Tears in eyes!

Yep, the visitor had a first- hand demonstration why I was limping.

In the afternoon I talked with Donnis via Skype. Poor girl she went to Canada to visit family and she looks tired.

I visited the airport again and met Doug who was flying a model glider.

I also met the neighbours who have been on holidays.

There, I did do something today.

Oh, the weather has changed to overcast and getting cooler and lots of rain predicted over the next few days.

Tuesday 18th September

“It’s Just Another Day” So sang Paul and Linda McCartney and their friend Denny Siewell on the Paul Mccartney Solo album, Ram. Wings had not yet been formed.

And so it was, just another day. Between showers of rain I went into the garden and took some photographs.

The Tree Fern lined creek running through the two acre property.

One of many varied theme gardens throughout the property.

Pathway following the creek and additionally bordered with rock walls, garden beds and trees.

Other than that I fed the fire as required

Cosy fire.

Firewood.

and fed the geese at their usual times. One female goose has been sitting on the nest for three days while the other is now regularly taking food from my hand.

Wednesday 19th September

The day was bright, sunny and warm for a few hours but I still wore my Long Johns.

A property along the Kiewa Highway has intrigued me since seeing it on our arrival. It seems to be an unfinished umm err… something.

I can only describe this as unfinished.

The property has a fence, umm err, wall or a dividing structure made with whatever seemed to be handy at the time.

A mix of styles and materials in this wall.

Concrete sculptures are scattered around the unkempt yard. The feature piece is what appears to be an attempt at building a castle but somebody had a change of mind part way through and now it is a whatever you want it to be.

NOTDUNALOT CASTLE.

Along the same stretch of highway is the turnoff to Tawonga Cemetery which is quite a few klms from Tawonga itself.

Tawonga Cemetery.

The cemetery is well maintained with gravel spread in a rough terraced format and with concrete guttering help water runoff. Most of the headstones appear to be in very good condition. One small burial plot is unmarked except by a ring of stones and a few toys. Very sad.

Unmarked childs grave with toys.

Another quirky plot has husband and wife together and a fishing rod and reel on the husbands side.

A fishermans Grave.

In the tradition of interesting mail boxes I found a blue painted saxophone sticking out of a letter box.

Saxxy Mailbox

No sooner had I stopped to take a photo than the mailman arrived and the home owner came out to collect the mail. She told me the previous owner was a music teacher and that was how people knew to find her. The fields behind the house were once a vineyard but the new owners cut down all the vines…so foxes did not have somewhere to hide. What a shame they destroyed all the vines as this is a well-respected wine region in Victoria as evidenced by the number of vineyards along the Kiewa Valley.

Thursday 20th September

A day much like Tuesday.

Friday 21st September.

It started out as a overcast wet and cold morning. Ideal for driving to Albury for my weekly shopping excuse. I think of the hour long drive as a bit of a treat. This week I was hopeful the bank had my credit card waiting for me as it is due to expire at the end of the month. It was waiting for me as promised the it was off to get some groceries then my real big budget lunch before thinking about driving back to MB. While shopping at Aldi Stores I noticed a new snack line from Germany. They are called Peanut Puffs and described as “crunchy corn snacks with freshly ground peanuts”.

Hmmm!

When I was a young boy a new snack food hit the Ozzie markets. The snack was called Cheese Twisties. Sometime afterwards the makers introduced two new flavours, Chicken Twisties and Peanut Butter Twisties. I have not been able to find peanut Twisties and earlier this year I approached the manufacturer who said they did not have records of their products stretching back to the 50’s. They do not have a Peanut Twistie. Could it be this product from Germany is something like those old Peanut Twisties???

Yep! They sure are. They are slightly different but in taste and texture I am transported back in time when life was…different.

Tonight I watched Melbourne Storm and Manly Sea Eagles paly in the Rugby League semi-finals. I would prefer the Storm to win and they did,40 – 12.

Saturday 22nd September.

It may be OK to be woken by sunlight and birdsong but sometimes I would like to sleep in beyond 6am.

Sunday 23rd September.

I felt housebound without any adventure or outside interests. Time to get out and explore again, especially as the sun was shining and the weather expected to turn cold wet and windy again. I drove over Mt.Beauty to Bright in the Ovens Valley with the intention of driving to Porpunkah then up to Mt.Bufallo. Instead I discovered it is all National Parks and chains are required to be carried during official winter season which has been extended despite it being spring. I looked around the park on the Buckland River and the Great Walk.

The Great Walk is accessed via a swing bridge over the Buckland River.

Thoughtfully placed nesting box near the swing bridge.

The walk has several destinations the furthest is 16klms one way over rough terrain. Hmmm! That sort of put a halt to any thoughts I may have had to do the walk today.

Then on the way back to Bright I drove to the Tower Hill Lookout which is situated in a pine forest.

Bright is in the foreground and Mt Beauty is where the power lines run over the top of the mountain and Mt.Bogong is in the far distance.

One side of the steep hill was once thickly forested but once trees were cut the hill has been left like a huge scabrous wasteland visible even from space.

Just a small part of the devastation after the trees have been cut.

I seem to have a knack of finding Trig Points. This one is on top of the power transmission tower on appropriately named Tower Hill Lookout.

Flowering trees line the streets of Bright. Today the wind was blowing the white petals off the trees and they were falling like snow and being blown along the streets even piling up like snow in the gutters and nooks and crannies of the buildings.

From there I drove on to Wandiligong, affectionately called Wandi by the locals. A brief history can be found here http://wandimaze.com.au/wandiligong.htm

The town was formed during a gold rush around 1850 and parts of the Diggings has been retained as an historical site.

Another swing bridge. This one is over the creek running through the Diggings.

The National Trust has given the valley a Heritage Listing which means old houses must remain old houses and any work carried out must be in the materials and paints of the day.

The old General store and Post Office. Note the dates of various owners. Note also the old petrol pump.

That could explain why so many houses are empty and falling apart. Who would want to buy a Heritage Listed house where renovations and improvements cannot be carried out? That said, many of the houses and other buildings in the town do have a certain old world charm.

Thats an old restored Morris Minor outside the older restored cafe.

The original Primary School built in 1870 and still in use today. Lots of money has been spent on its maintenance.

I walked around the Diggings and found the Chinese Bridge to be interesting but disappointing. I thought it would be a bridge built by the Chinese during the Gold Rush era. No, it was a recently built swing bridge done in a sort of Chinese style to commemorate the efforts of the Chinese from those long ago days.

Chinese Bridge.

The road from Mt. Beauty to Bright is both steep and winding with most of the corners being 30 or 35 kph. Little wonder the 26 klm journey takes 40 minutes.

272. Sunday 16th September 2012. Beauty tucked into the end of the Kiewa Valley…

16/09/2012

Monday 10th September.

Woke early to another birdsong and sunshine day.

More information about Mt. Beauty can be found here   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Beauty,_Victoria

Today I had two interesting trips. Once again I drove the Falls Creek Road as far as Bogong Village.

I was gobsmacked when I parked near Junction Dam and found the water level was much higher than it was last week when I last visited. Then the dam was low and mostly mud. This week it was around three quarters full.

The dam was muddy last week. Now it is three quarters full and filling fast. It will not be long before water is released.

The access track to the dam wall became an obstacle course. The storms and high winds…gale force, in fact Falls Creek only 16 Klms further up the mountain had blizzards on those days…last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday had blown over a dozen or more trees from the hill above the path.

Some of the trees felled over the dam access path by the gale force winds last week.

Those trees were now across the path.

This is an indicator of the force of the winds. This branch has been speared into the ground and snapped off.

Dam Spillway.

 

Once at the dam wall I noticed steel catwalks allowed access inside the dam wall, well below the current water level and certainly much further below water level when at full capacity.

The staircase to provide access to inside the dam.

Once inside the dam tunnel I could hear a sound like a pump or turbine and lots of running water.

Inside the dam tunnel.

By now it was near dark inside the tunnel and although the noises were quite loud I could not see anything either side or below the walkway. Even the camera flash could not illuminate the distant darkness below. I was having a nervous moment by now. Continue the walkway to the other side or turn back. Nobody knew I was here but I continued on to the other side regardless. I took a look around the other side then took a few deep breaths before beginning the return walk. Once more reaching the centre I had that feeling of claustrophobia but stopped to take a photo of…nothing. If you have never been inside a dam wall tunnel, here is your chance to try it for free.

Bogong Village as seen from the dam wall.

Further on past the village I found the Bogong Power Station and even approaching from the road did not see it until I was right on it. For a number of reasons it was built into the ground and is covered by the hillside above it.

The Bogong Power Station is ten stories high.

The following websites will explain far better than I can and are worth a look as well as the photo gallery. I have a new respect for the way this power station was built and fitted in with three existing power stations using the same water to turn the turbines in all four.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiewa_Hydroelectric_Scheme

http://aglbogonghydro.com.au/bogong-power-station/

The visible external of the building is as tall as 10 stories yet much of the power station is below ground. Without driving around and into the car park, it is not visible from anywhere else except the river. Even then it would be easy to not see it unless you were looking for it. The power station does not have any person there looking after it. In fact none of the four power stations is manned. All are controlled remotely by staff sitting in an office in front of a computer bank in MB.I was given a brief history of the place by a guide who was waiting on two busloads of schoolchildren.

Tuesday 11th September

Today was a long walk with the associated sore muscles and tiredness once I stopped. I had planned a trip to Mountain Creek which is at the base of the northern face of Mt.Bogong. There is a 4WD track to what is known as Granite Spur and I understand a winter hut near the snowline. With plenty of rain these last weeks and the gale force winds last week I could not be sure of the condition of the track so decided to park at the Mountain Creek base camp and walk the two klms to the first spur. Some trees had fallen across the track but had been cut away.

Some of the many trees fallen across the 4WD track.

The track ended abruptly at another of those accursed locked gates just before a creek crossing.

Mountain Creek 4WD crossing.

I was carrying too much gear to attempt a creek crossing with a fast flowing current and ankle snapping rocks so retraced my steps to the camp site. I next attempted the Peppermint Walk which ends in a stand of Peppermint Gums just below the snow line. The walk was 2.5 Klm each way and started off with quite a steep single file walking track. Evidence of last week’s violent winds was in fallen trees all of which seemed to fall across the walking track and involving a bit of climbing over and under branches and trunks or finding a way around. After awhile, I halted and decided to try again another day as the track now started going down which meant it would start to go up again at some point but I was only halfway to the destination. The area is thickly wooded and often the track was difficult to define. Thank goodness the Vic Parks Rangers had placed orange markers every 100m or so. I could find my way in. More importantly so I could find my way out. With two long walks both with a bit of uphill and climbing over fallen trees I was beginning to feel tired and my muscles were beginning to ache. It all proves I am out of condition and need to do more walking to get back into shape. The snow covered north face of Mt.Bogong was tantalisingly visible through the trees, closer, but still out of reach, inviting me back for another attempt next time the weather conditions are suitable.

Sight of the snow line through the gum trees but the track wandered away and downhill and by this point I was too tired to fight the fallen trees any longer.

Gosh, is it Wednesday 12th September already?

During the night something rattled the garage doors below where I am sleeping. It could have been the dog sleeping against the doors and having a scratch and moving the doors. I walked around downstairs with a torch checking the doors. The dog came to the side door…from the back of the barn, not the front where the garage doors are. Ooooh. Kinda scary. I locked the side door, something I never do and went back to bed. Now the dog normally barks at anything which moves and she did not bark last night so it probably was her bumping against the door. In the dark my senses thought it was the garage doors.

Whatever.

It was enough to get my senses on alert and it took ages to get back to sleep.

I woke with an aching knee, the same knee which was hyperextended by the dog the day I arrived.

Despite the knee, I walked around the MB control pondage, a distance of 3 Klms.

Mt.Bogong seen from the Control Pondage.

The Kiewa River is diverted just below the number 4 power station. Some water continues along the original river bed, some comes out of the power station along what is called a tail race and emptied into the control pondage. The control pondage is higher than the river and at a certain point is discharged back into the river. The walking track has a bridge over the point where the water re-joins the river. For some reason there is a pumping arrangement and concrete obstacles to slow the water. Standing on the bridge watching the water I could also hear the same sounds which bothered me inside the dam wall a couple of days ago. Although that seems to settle my mind there was the memory at the dam of little more than a trickle of water being released. Here at the pondage water was churning and thundering along the canal to the river. Along the way I passed a child minding centre and was surprised to find a mound of snow in the yard and being played on by the children. One of the mums told me the Ski Resort at Falls Creek sends a truck load of snow every year. It will last up to three days depending on weather.

Children playing in the snow which has been trucked from the ski fields at Falls Creek.

I visited a doctor and it seems I may have pinched and bruised a tendon when Sienna bumped against my leg and hyperextended the knee joint. It will repair itself…in time. His only suggestion was to avoid anything which aggrevates the knee.

Ummm. Sleeping, sitting, standing, driving.

Whats left? Floating in a relaxation chamber???

He recommended Panadol Osteo three times a day while the knee heals itself.

Thursday 13th September

Heavy rain woke me a couple of times during the night.

Mail finally arrived but does not include my new credit cards which according to the bank were mailed to me in August.

The sun was shining but there was no warmth in it.

Friday 14th September.

A cold morning followed by a cold day and a cold night. Went shopping in Albury and that was the highlight of my day. The lowlight was the loss of North Queensland Cowboys to the Manly Sea Eagles with Manly being awarded two controversial tries. The Cowboys can now hang up their boots until training begins in 2013.

Saturday 15th September.

The sun was shining and there was some warmth.

Amazing! I can control the drone in flight AND take a photo at the same time.

I took my Parrot AR Drone to a bridge over the Kiewa River, near Tawonga for a flight. This is an area which is below road level, is flat and has picnic tables beside the fast flowing river.

Yet another view of Mt.Bogong from across the Kiewa River.

I reasoned that being below road level and beside a bridge it would be sheltered from breezes and not interfere with my training flight. The river at this point is beginning to be wider, deeper and fast flowing. Water, from many creeks, some substantial, flow into the river between here and MB. Many more creeks will flow into the river over the next 100klms or so before the Kiewa and another river system, the Mitta Mitta, joins the Murray River as it continues its 2,375 Klm journey to the mouth at Goolwa in South Australia as it empties into the Indian Ocean.

On my way back to MB I stopped at Tawonga and saw a long line of Renault cars.

A long line of sporty Renaults at Tawonga.

The Victorian Branch of the Renault Car Club of Australia was having a rally at Winton Raceway not far from Wangaratta later in the day. They had driven from Wodonga along the Kiewa Valley Highway and stopped at Tawonga for a break. I followed them towards MB where they turned off to take the mountain road to Bright. That particular piece of road is popular with motor sporting enthusiasts as it is steep and has lots of tight bends requiring many gear changes. From Bright it would be a leisurely cruise to Wangaratta then along the Hume Highway to Winton.

Sunday 16th September.

Woke to overcast and cool conditions. I had allowed the fire to go out during the night and the barn had lost much of its warmth. I had been lulled into thinking the weather was becoming warmer and did not realise the amount of accumulated warmth from the fire.

Sigh!!! I started the fire again and will have to wait while the warmth builds up during the day.

Note to self. Keep The Fire Going All The Time.

Not much happened today. Flew the drone in the car-park at the Neighbourhood Centre. Went for a three klm walk, spoke with Donnis  (she is on Vancouver Island) and pretty much wasted the day.

271.Sunday 9th September 2012. More beauty at Mt.Beauty…

09/09/2012

Monday 3rd September

Whew! From my viewpoint it has been a busy day.

In the morning I joined a group sponsored by the Adult Education Centre. Today was a focus on elderly persons and the digital age. All were asked to bring along a portable digital device and were encouraged to learn or share their knowledge. I thought I might learn something or be able to pass on something to others. I was surprised there were a dozen people in the group and all had devices of some sort. Smart phones, iPads, laptops, Android Tablets and all had different reasons for using them. I soon learned the facilitator was a little out of her depth but was pleasant and trying to be helpful. One dear lady had a new Samsung Android and was ready to smash it on the desk. She could not get email and there was no sound. Sound was easy to fix for her and then I spent 20 minutes trying to sort out her email. I found an App and after putting in her user name and password she was overjoyed at getting email for the first time. Listening to the comments of those present it seems all are frustrated with their devices and they get angry when things do not work as they should. These Adult Education classes are good for them as they learn something and leave the class happier than they came in. From my point of view I was pleased they were prepared to have a go and learn something. Perhaps next week I will go again.

I baked a loaf of sourdough rye bread. Actually it should be more accurate to say I put the ingredients into the breadmaker and it did all the work. I took the loaf out to let it cool.

After lunch I did the Mt.Beauty (hereinafter I will refer to it as MB) Gorge walk. Midway along the walk there is a swaying suspension bridge

Suspension Bridge over the Kiewa River on the Mt.Beauty Gorge walk.

over the Kiewa River then the track follows the river,

Kiewa River / Mt. Beauty Gorge walk along the steep hillside.

climbing steadily and in the heat of the afternoon my layered clothing had me perspiring. Except when the track was in shadow and the rocks, plants and mosses never dry out at this time of year. Once in shadow it became quite cool. The sides of the gorge are, for the most part, narrow and steep and I saw evidence of recent rock falls and one rock just balancing,

A balancing rock high above the gorge walk.

either from an earlier fall or will be a fall in its own right one day.

I then drove the steep, narrow and constantly twisting Falls Creek road. I know I cannot access FC unless I carry chains so I stopped at the halfway point, Bogong Village.

Mt.Bogong from near Bogong Village.

Entrance to Bogong Village.

The village was built in 1938 to accommodate staff during construction of a dam for the hydro-electric power station. Once the dam was full workers were moved to MB. It is now a privately owned holiday accommodation village open to the public and includes an Outdoor Education Centre. There is a general store and next door a restaurant.

Bogong Village General Store waith Bogong Jacks Restaurant next door.

A dam at the bottom of the hill below town is almost empty. I suspect the water has been deliberately maintained at a low level in expectation of the run off from the melt when spring finally arrives.

Junction Dam below Bogong Village.

Along the way I stopped at Clover Power Station.

Clover Power Satation where the turbines are set far below ground.

The first and only hydro power station built on the surface.Hmmm! Perhaps there is a reason it is the only one.  The power station is tiny compared to the Murray One Hydro Power Station we visited at Khancoban in March this year.

Tuesday 4th September

Another big day for me.

First I drove up Mt.Beauty and stopped at the two lookouts on the highway.

Along the road to the top of MB is this spring water outlet.

At the topmost lookout I met a lady, in her 70’s, trying to sell postcards which she made from her original oil paintings. The unique thing about her paintings is most are in the snow and painted in real life. In other words she does not take a photo and paint from that. Many of the scenes are locations which cannot be accessed in the winter as the roads are closed. She ski’s cross country and carries her painting equipment with her. Skiing 30 Klms in a day is nothing for her.

From the top lookout on MB is the panorama of the Kiewa Valley and MB itself.

From the top of the pass I then took a rough gravel track to a much higher lookout, accessible by 4WD and is known as the SEC (State Electricity Commission) Lookout.

Track to SEC lookout.

The lookout is located at the base of two huge power transmission towers and nearby is a Telstra Tower, Repeater Station and Microwave Transmitter.

SEC Lookout at the base of power transmission towers at the top of a knife edge ridge.

Standing beneath the power towers I could hear the clicking of power running through the lines. I also found another trig point.

A trig point on top of MB.

From here I could see Mt. Buffalo

From the SEC Lookout I could look in one direction towards Bright, Mt.Buffalo and Mt.Hotham.

in one direction and Mt. Bogong in the other.

In the other direction I could see Mt.Bogong and the town of MB.

I could also see Mt. Feathertop normally not visible from most lookouts.

Interesting tobacco drying kilns in MB with Mt.Bogong as background.

Next I drove to the other side of town and turned off on another gravel road to the Big Hill Lookout. Hmmm! Eight Klms of gravel road according to the signs. The road deteriorated to little more than wheel tracks, corrugated on corners and had almost sheer drop offs on both sides. This was a nervous drive for me. At 7.2 Klms I arrived at a clear area but trees prevented any view. The track went around a bend but there was a closed gate with a sign saying it was closed during winter months. Grrr! Why couldn’t they put the sign at the bottom of the hill?

Near town I found another walk along a deep ravine thickly covered in undergrowth and fallen tree trunks.

Creek walk.

Several of these log bridges are in place along the creek walk.

Old car wreck found along the creek walk.

The National Flower of Australia, the Wattle, is in full bloom everywhere at the moment.

Native Australian Trees tend to not shed their leaves in winter. Many species shed their bark instead.

Boys on their way home from school took time out to do a bit of fishing in the Kiewa River.

The rough path followed a gurgling creek for about one Klm and then required a climb up a steep track to regain the 4WD track above.

It was a delightful sunny and warm spring day.

The Wattle, Australia’s National Floral symbol, all species, is in full bloom everywhere I look.

After two big walks in two days, my back and leg muscles are protesting.

Tomorrow the forecast is for strong winds in the Alpine regions, cold, rain and snow above 600m.

I baked the simple fruit cake mentioned in this blog a few months ago. The only oven in the barn is microwave convection combination. I have never used one before so I was pleased the cake turned out as well as it did.

Wednesday 5th September

Today is the tomorrow I referred to yesterday.

WWWGO has been parked at the front gates to the property. It is parked on an angle and has a full fuel tank. Diesel has leaked onto the bitumen and started to melt the tar. Not good. I moved WWWGO across the street to a mechanics for storage. Now I need lots of detergent and a cheap scrub brush to wash down the huge stain.

The day started out fine and sunny but by mid-morning the clouds rolled in, light rain fell and the wind picked up. Not the forecast howling gale but windy enough to knock out TV reception.

It is somebody’s birthday today. Someone who is close to me, shares every day with me and as Donnis has just arrived in the USA I thought I would take myself out for my birthday dinner. No such luck. The Chinese restaurant was closed, the Country Club was empty, just two staff, the pizza shop was closed, it was raining and windy and so I went back to the barn and reheated some leftover chicken wings and celebrated with two glasses of wine.

Yahoo.

What a bloody miserable birthday.

Thursday 6th September

Another day like yesterday only more rain. All day.

Friday 7th September.

I drove to Lavington (a shopping centre suburb of Albury) to get some groceries As I drove the 90 plus klms from MB I heard on the radio all the damage throughout Victoria, particularly Melbourne and suburbs, from the gale force winds over the last three days. MB in the sheltered end of the valley has missed the worst of the winds. As I got closer to Albury it was noticeable just how strong the winds were. Once I parked and got out of the car the cold wind chill factor again reminded me how MB is sheltered.

While in the car-park I spoke with Donnis on Skype using the iPad.

On the news tonight the same reports about gale force winds and rain and cold continued. In fact a blizzard was raging through Falls Creek and reports of snow, now over 2.5m thick blanketing the ski fields. I would have loved to have seen that.

I have not seen the mountains for the last three days due to the low cloud cover and constant precipitation.

Rain continued throughout the night.

Saturday 8th September

Another cold wet and overcast day. I did a lot of nothing.

Oh, Donnis called me on Skype.

Oh, I watched the preliminary Rugby League finals. Melbourne Storm defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs and North Queensland Cowboys defeated the Brisbane Broncos.

Sunday 9th September

I woke to birdsong and sunlight.

While the sun was shining I took the opportunity to get out and about. I drove further up the mountain to Fainter Falls which also happens to be the point at which it is illegal not to carry chains. Along the way I stopped at the deserted village of Clover.

Moss covered steps at the village of Clover.

One of several timber chairs throughout the village.

Moss grows through a tree stump in the village.

The village comprised 17 houses to accommodate families from Europe. Built in 1941 and deserted around 1955 due to unhealthy dampness. Some of the foundations, stairs, paths, garden walls and rock retaining walls, now covered in moss can still be seen on this 5.5 hectare historical site.

I may have been the first visitor to Fainter Falls for some days as I saw no signs of other footprints in the soft earth and mud.

Narrow pathway prone to slippage on the way to Fainter Falls.

The track is about 1.7 Klms return and in places, although not difficult is challenging especially the narrow steep stone stairs with no handrails. The path winds over the hills and a clear view of the wild Pretty Valley Branch of the East Kiewa River. Fainter Creek erupts over cliff faces and joins the rushing noisy torrent of the East Kiewa River below.

Fainter Falls.

Tree Fern growing precariously in the midst of Fainter Falls.

During the walk I reflected on the Wild Rivers walking track in Tasmania and I feel this walk is similar although a lot easier to reach. The steep steeps and narrow pathway did give my leg and back muscles a good workout. Well worth the visit.

Fresh snow has fallen in the last few days evidence of which was on the hills further up the valley.

Fresh snow clouds drifted above the falls in the early afternoon.

Other walking tracks are signposted along the narrow twisting road from MB so perhaps another workout is in store this week.

270. Sunday 2nd September 2012. Where we found beauty at Mt.Beauty…

03/09/2012

Monday 27th August

We have not yet arrived in the Victorian Alpine Country so it was a surprise to wake to a very cold (thank goodness for the snuggly warmth of our feather doona) WWWGO and when I stepped outside found TERIOS covered in ice as was the grass. Spring will begin officially in six days but according to the weather forecasts, winter, cold temps, snow and chilling winds will continue in the Alpine regions. The ski season will continue for some time to come.

Tuesday 28th August

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, its off to snow we go. We left Culcairn and drove the Olympic Highway until it connected with the Hume Highway and continued along through Albury and turning off just before Wodonga onto the Kiewa Valley highway. Even from a distance we could see snow covered mountains ahead of us.

Along the Kiewa Valley, dotted with lush pastures and dairy farms we could see the snow capped mountains ahead.

We stopped for soup at a lookout at Tawonga where Mt.Bogong sits in the background.

An hour or so later we were in Mt.Beauty. We arrived at our house sit and moved much of our belongings into the huge Red Cedar barn like building beside the main house.

The Barn. My home for the next month.

The property is 2 acres and is intersected by a fast flowing creek around which the owners have built some wonderful gardens with dry stone walls terracing the sloping block. They have flower gardens, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, geese runs and a beautiful workibg observatory.

We are in sight of Victoria’s highest peak, Mt.Bogong at 1936 metres is snow- capped.

The prominent feature of the valley, Mt.Bogong. Incidentally the Bogong Moth, reported in a post earlier this year was named after this region.

By 5 pm the warmth had gone out of the sun and it was quite chilly. The fire was lit and fed lots of wood until we went to bed at 10.30. I had half formed plans to drive 32 Klms up the mountain to the ski fields at Falls Creek. I have now shelved that idea as we will need to carry chains for the wheels and will need anti-freeze in the radiator.

Anybody reading this post would get the impression I am as excited as a little boy seeing the snow for the first time. Their impression is correct. I am excited by the snow, no excuses. The CO-PILOT will leave on Friday bound for Canada. She comes from the land of snow and it is all quite natural to her.

A rising moon over Mt.Bogong

My main tasks while staying at this house is to attend to three geese, one male, two female and an Italian Mareema Sheepdog. For those shaking their heads not knowing what a Mareema is, see the explanation on Wikipedia.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maremma_Sheepdog Basically they are a BIG white dog about the size of a medium polar bear. In fact this one looks like a polar bear. He guards the geese from intruders, especially those pesky foxes.  She loves to play and cuddle. Cuddles I can do but playing with something twice my weight means I am gunna have to get in shape.

Fast.

Sienna the Mareema Guarddog/Sheepdog relaxing while off duty.

Even while off duty and relaxing she still has one eye open and keeping watch. Double click on the photo to see the thick fur which looks similar to that of a polar bear.

Wednesday 29th August.

Our first full day in the high country and most of it was taken up with loads of washing and moving things in and out of WWWGO as we needed or not needed them. The CO-PILOT final group certificate arrived in the mail so we made an appointment to see a Tax Agent in Wangaratta  tomorrow. It is a 1.5 hour drive over a mountain range to Bright then to Wanga.

Thursday 30th August.

We saw the tax agent and after lots of paper work it was announced I would get a modest return while Donnis will get a very healthy return. Yahoo! On the strength of the information, Donnis insisted on  a hobby for me while she is in Canada. The hobby is a Parott AR Drone Remote controlled helicopter, operated from the iPod.

The Parrot A R Drone with outdoor hull ready for take off. I plan to learn new skills from this device.

Halfway back to Mt.Beauty, while shopping at Myrtleford the tax agent called. Oops! A mistake has been made. Instead of Donnis receiving a healthy return she now ends up owing the tax man lots of money.

Sob! Sob!

This is not a good situation.

Friday 30th August.

With thoughts of the big lump of dollars owing to the tax man bumping around in our thoughts we drove to Albury Airport. After a less than satisfactory lunch Donnis boarded her flight which was 30 minutes late and arrived in Sydney before I had arrived back at Mt.Beauty. Donnis is now on her first leg of the trip to USA, Canada and Mexico. She will be gone for three months.

Boo Hoo.

Sob Sob.

Tonight was very cold but I stacked up the fire with extra logs and was soon snuggle warm under the feather doona.

Saturday 1st September.

Slept all night which was a minor miracle considering;

It was minus 1° overnight.

I was alone in a big barn.

Stairway to the loft.

My sleeping quarters in the loft.

 

Thoughts of tax money kept haunting me up until the moment I fell asleep.

When I went to feed the geese and change their water I found the water had frozen during the night and the ground was a thick coat of white frost.

The gregarious male goose, more interested in protecting his space and his girlfriends than he is in eating the food I bring him.

Hmmm! That is a good excuse to keep the fire burning all day and to start making a beef broth for a beef and vegetable soup.

The property owners left on their holiday this morning so now I am all alone in the big barn.

The property owners have a fair dinkum, ridgey didge, real working observatory on the property. We had a look through the telescope using several lenses. The moon was the only feature bright enough to see on the cloudy night.

Last night I charged up the batteries for the Drone. Today I started my first flight inside the barn and mastered the art of take-off. I can move forward and back, left and right, gain and lose altitude and landings have been anywhere but where I want to land. In fact most landings have been the result of a crash.

Sunday 2nd September

I visited the airport today in the hopes of meeting model aircraft enthusiasts and get some help flying the drone outside.

First up I was surprised by the number of gliders just umm err gliding above the snow- capped mountains. These gliders are amazing. They are sort of catapulted into the sky in less than 20m and can glide around for hours.

Glider ready for passengers with snow capped Mt.Bogong in the background.

Glider takeoff is sudden and near verical before reaching gliding speed when the tow cable is released. Enlarge the image and you can see a yellow bag in front and beneath the glider. This is a parachute to allow the tow cable and fitting, once released to fall safely to the ground.

 

Several small planes were parked beside the runway. Gradually people started arriving with ski gear. They told me they fly down on Friday afternoon, ski all weekend and fly home Sunday arvo.

Packing planes with ski gear ready for the flight home.

While waiting to launch my drone a helicopter arrived dropping off passengers and picking up others and taking them to the Falls Creek Ski slopes. Model planes were zipping around the edges of the runway. Between all the different craft landing and taking off, this is a busy little airport.

The local information people told me this has been the coldest winter in 31 years and the ski season has been extended for several weeks. It seems this has been the best ski season in years.

I have planned a few walks in the vicinity of Mt.Beauty and Bogong Village over the next two days as bad weather is predicted to return on Wednesday.

Cold, wind, rain and above 500m, snow.