Week 9 | Ararat to Tintinara

Day 57 – 58: Ararat

Belinda has taken me for a drive to One Tree Hill, you may recall seeing it on the The Biggest Looser in 2014.  I can’t imagine walking up this hill at all – it looks far too difficult! It’s an amazing view looking out over the Grampians. The countryside is so dry, it’s easy to see why fires take hold and destroy so much land. To the other side the mountain is known as the pregnant lady lying at rest.

Ararat is home to J-Ward which was originally the Ararat County Gaol, an Australian prison, of the latter a psychiatric facility to house the criminally insane. Perched at the top of the hill, it overlooks the Alexandra Gardens and lake.

Andrew, Cinta and I wander the gardens. The fragrance of the roses is wafting through the chilly air, they are in full bloom and the bees are busy collecting nectar. There is also a themed Japanese Island but unfortunately it’s closed due to 3 large trees which were recently removed.

A visit to the local market with Bel and Jan has seen a couple of purchases. The first being a pegless clothesline.  It has 12 slides (24 points), 2 bungee cords and is 2 metres in length.  I think it will be great to string up on the awning to hang our towels up outside each day. The second purchase is a pair of heated socks at $2.50 I’m willing to take a chance on these. They look like any normal pair of socks, I’m not quite sure why they are sold as being “heated”.  My feet are quite warm so I’m a happy camper! We all decide that morning tea is in order so we head down to Fred and Bet’s Coffee Shop and let me tell you they have the best Fererro Roche Cheesecake.

Ararat has been cold, windy and drizzly for 3 of the 5 days that we have been here. The wood fire has been burning continuously since we arrived and there have been many conversations with family and new friends, loads of laughs and great memories made. Not to mention a few quiet drinks along the way…

A special mention of new friends Jan and Bones for the home made relish, tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers & capsicum and a very special hand made candle holder. We thoroughly enjoyed their company.

We can’t thank Bel, Mick and Ethan enough, it was so great to spend time with them all and to catch up with Matty at his birthday party. A great home stay and we were so lucky to take away home cooked beetroot and pickled cucumbers. We are truely blessed.

Wildlife: Sheep, ducks, budgies, finches, possum tail, and horses.

Day 59-60: Horsham

Waking up in Ararat to 5 degrees and low lying cloud. I’m very cold. We’ve lived beside the fire for the past few days and our clothes are smelling of smoke. Both Andrew and I have our Machu Picchu beanies on and the clothes are layered. It’s time to pack up and head for Horsham for 2 nights.

Home is the Wimmera Lakes Caravan Park, although it’s not on a lake. It’s a very old park and looks like it needs some TLC. There are a plenty of drive through sites, no grass here though it’s all gravel. The amenities are tired but clean. It’s time for me to catch up on some work again so the afternoon is spent on the keyboard.

We are heading for an overnight low of 6 and sunset is a brilliant orange, it doesn’t disappoint. Sleeping in becomes easier every day in the colder weather and I’m getting used to my morning cuppa in bed. It’s hard to believe that we used to get up at 5am to walk the beach at home and watch the sun rising.

It’s baking and washing day and then some time to explore Horsham. We take a walk along the Wimmera River at Sawyer Park. Horsham is so dry and most gardens consist of stones or chip bark and native plants. There is a modular pumptrack beside the river, a Lions community project, great for the kids.

A visit to the Horsham Regional Art Gallery is also on the agenda. It’s housed in the old town hall, an Art Deco Building. The current exhibition is “In Her Words” curated by Olivia Poloni, it’s a touring exhibition of photography of women focussing on women behind and in front of the camera. There are some amazing photographs in this exhibition.

Wildlife:  Sheep, major mitchells, crested doves, wrens, sparrows, black cockatoos

Day 61: Kaniva

It’s a pleasant 17 degrees when we depart Horsham and head out onto the highway for Kaniva.  There are hundreds of little starlings all perched along the power lines, it’s quite a sight.  We’re stopping at Kaniva as we are getting close to the South Australian border and I stocked up on fruit and vegies before we left Ararat so we’ll have a good go at eating what we can before the quarantine drop off bins.

We pass through Dimboola the wheatbelt service centre along the Wimmera River where wheat, oats and barley are grown on agricultural land.  There are large deposits of the grain alongside the silos all covered with blue tarps.

Further along we come to the Pink Lake.  I’ve seen many beautiful photos of the lake at sunrise and sunset.  The salt lake gets its colour from the red algae that grows after intense rain, this is also the best time to view the lake.  There hasn’t been any rain lately so the lake is a very pale salmon pink.  It’s amazing to walk on, it’s quite crystalised and really hard under foot, but to the touch it’s soft almost like powdered snow.

Tonight we are staying at a very small caravan park in Kaniva right beside the local swimming pool.  There is no-one else there when we drive in, so we decide to have some caravan reversing practice rather than taking one of the two drive through sites.  Andrew has quite a few attempts to reverse in and then he let’s me have a go at it.  We haven’t had to reverse much on this trip so far and now I know why.  Patience is a virtue…  Along comes another van into the drive and I start to panic as I’m cutting off the whole roadway.  Andrew quickly explains to the couple that we are having reversing practice and I slowly manouvre the van so that they can drive past to their site.  Andrew then takes over and drives out and heads straight for the drive through site.  Later in the afternoon, the couple drive past and ask if Andrew would like to give his wife driving lessons – if only they knew…

After we set up we head into town to have a look around the township.  Kaniva has a population of around 803 people and there is some interesting sheep artwork in the main street, so I’m keen to see what that is all about.  The sheep art was a community project to acknowledge the importance role sheep have played in the past and present.  Thirty five community groups and over 150 locals painted the sheep which depicted the daily life of the the town.  Each sheep also has a tiny hidden windmill motif.  They are so bright and colourful and a definite asset to the main street.  A few of my favourites are below.

We also stumble across the Kaniva Puppet Shop, one of only a few still operating in Australia.  It’s an amazing store filled with finger puppets, hand puppets and marionettes.  Children are encouraged to perform an impromptu puppet show while visiting the store.  It’s a real fun place that I could recommend stopping at if you are travelling with children.

It’s afternoon tea time and we can’t pass by the Heart Felt Cafe without stopping in for a cappucino and cake.  The store has a lot of vintage 60’s furnishings and home made cakes and slices. It did not disappoint!

Wildlife: Starlings, dead kangaroos, sheep.

Day 62 – 63 Tintinara

It’s 10am before we head off from Kaniva and it’s already 21 degrees.  It is warming up and we are expecting 34 degrees later today.  The caravan park had a drop box for left over fruit and vegies and other guests were welcome to help themselves or any leftovers are distributed to needy families in the area.  What a great idea.

We are free camping for the next 2 nights at Lake Indawarra in Tintinara.  There is no one at the site when we arrive and we’ve read on Wikicamps that some sites were very sandy.  We take a walk around and choose our spot away from the sandy patches.  The lake has recently been dredged and is slowly being refilled.  The photos of the lake pre dredging are beautiful and you can easily see that it would be spectacular on sunset.    There is a clubhouse for the Action Club, they are a not for profit club that raises money and works hard for their community.  The only facilities at the Lake are toilets, a cold outdoor shower and bbq facilities.  Donations are requested, we are more than happy to leave one.

Tintinara is on the Dukes Highway and also the Adelaide-Melbourne rail line.  The rail line is right beside the lake, however it’s not as noisy as we thought it would be.  There is under 300 people live in Tintinara and there is not much to see here.  I was lucky to just catch the local foodworks store as they were about to close at lunch time on Saturday and managed to pick up a few supplies.

There is a terrific Visitor Information Centre that stocks local arts and crafts.  It’s packed with knitted and crocheted beanies, jumpers and lots of childrens clothes.  There is home made jams, relishes and biscuits just to name a few.  It’s well worth a visit if you are passing.

Waking up this morning to a pea-souper.  The fog is so thick we can barely see the silos.  It’s travel day today and we decide as there is no one left at the camp site we’ll do some caravan reversing practice.  We’ve done a few YouTubes overnight so we set up a parking bay and Andrew is up first.  He has 3 tries and does really well, the final trial run gets him into the pretend site in 5 minutes.  Then, it’s my turn.  After 30 minutes I’m in the pretend site next door, I didn’t quite make it.  Never mind, more practice is required!

Wildlife:  Sheep, crows, dead rabbit, parrots, crows.

Week 9 total expenses:  $770.83

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That’s a wrap for Week 9 of the Lap of the Map.

PS: Don’t forget to leave me a comment!

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