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Old 09-11-2011, 12:44 PM   #46
roughing it :)
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great ride report Rich, look forward to reading more.
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Old 09-11-2011, 01:57 PM   #47
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Always nice to see a proper S10 in action!
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Old 09-12-2011, 06:22 AM   #48
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Cheers guys! It's a dirty job but somebody has to do it.
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Old 09-12-2011, 06:48 AM   #49
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After reaching the moderate sized hamlet of Inglewood and doing a bit of shopping, I wander around town trying to find a good source for drinkable rain water. The locals must have thought me odd or lost, because try as I might I couldn't find the suggested caravan park, nor the signposted botanic gardens. I guess you have to be born in these towns to know the secret to these locations. The signboards on street corners seem to point in a general direction to these places, much like a drunk waving his arm to hail a taxi in front of a bar. Getting water has been really easy so far - simply a case of finding a public building with a modern plastic rainwater tank attached to it then making use of the tank tap. However, in this part of Victoria were summer temperatures get up into the high 30's or low 40's, the tank outlets all head straight into the locked building interior, rather than having the usual free access tap. Fair enough as well as some of these towns rely on ground "bore" water or a local pumped creek supply. In the end I find the local football oval and netball clubhouse for my water needs. Then it's north out of town into the twisty tracks of the conservation and forrest reserves, looking for a good campsite for the night.
Is that a road?

Certainly is!

After a couple of hours of scouting around these tracks; A/ Because they're there; B/ Because I can; C/ Because I'm not on any tracks shown on my GPS or maps, I finally start getting into an area shown on an 1860's goldfield map in one of my books. Down a few more overgrown tracks..

And into a really remote old goldfield area just on sunset, where I spot this down a side track off the main winding track.

It's either a fairly well constructed adobe gold miner's hut that's been damaged in storms and a few bushfires or a drug crop site guard dwelling, torched and knocked down since the owners hopefully left the area.

It looked like a reasonable place to camp, except just standing around in the short time to take these photo's, I'm covered in half inch long black ants that're biting the hell out of my legs. "Meat Ants" are what I've always called them out bush, as they'll devour anything like hungry carnivores. I've even seen them eat a whole black garbage bag full of scraps by attacking in their thousands at one of my 4WD camps out in the desert. They left me the shredded, perforated plastic bag looking like a piece of worn out flyscreen, containing anything they couldn't tear apart and carry off - mainly tins and crumpled aluminium foil. So it's an easy decision to move onwards. Just on dark and only a short distance further, I spot another old, tangled and overgrown disused track at ninety degrees to the narrow main track. It leads to a clearing, of sorts, with few trees but a bit of a sandy patch at its lower side. It's good enough for the night. Soon I've got a small fire going and the tent pitched on the soft sand. Dinner time!!...

After dinner and while off having a pee, I become aware of another campsite's light through the scrub about 3 or 400 metres away. I can't get close to have a better look without loosing sight of my own campsite, so I hope it's not a drug growers camp and retire to my area keeping my obvious presence to a minimum for the rest of the evening. Overnight it's absolutely freezing, as the sky is clear and the stars are out in their full glory.

The Southern Cross (Crux Constellation) and above it, The Pointers, two stars from our closest neighbour, the Centuari Constellation. The Cross is the kite shaped group of four bright stars with a fifth fainter star between the left and lower cross stars, at about 40 degrees left and down from the very centre of the photo - it's like a kite flying on it's side. The Pointers, Alpha and Beta Centauri are located above it, at about 45 degrees left and above the very centre of the photo. They are the bright pair, sitting one above the other. These help navigators and astronomers find the southern axis of our galaxy, much like the North Star does in the Northern hemisphere. Clear as mud? I hope so. It's a sight to bring a warm glow to an Aussie or Kiwi (New Zealander) heart, as they are the star group on both our country's flags.

Then a bit above and to the right in winter is my favourite constellation, Scorpius, the Scorpion, for all you Scorpios.

Apologies for the blurring but short of stopping the planet, until I work out the new camera properly, it's the best I can do for you. I like it though.

Next morning, with it being freezing in this open campsite overnight, I decide to move on after a couple of hours looking around the area.

The site is actually quite interesting in that the early gold miners have taken almost all the soil off the top of this area and processed it through a puddler dam nearby, so rich was the soil in gold. Called Surfacing, this was a technique reserved for very rich sections of a goldfield and favoured by the hardworking Chinese miners, keen to find any gold over a shallow based field. It leaves a real scar on the landscape.

I decide to head for Wedderburn Goldfields, only thirty something kilometres away, so I pick a track leading out of the clearing...

Tree hugger.
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Old 09-12-2011, 01:39 PM   #50
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Great RR

Great RR Rich. Should have called in down the South East on the way for a cray and some Majella.

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Old 09-13-2011, 09:04 AM   #51
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Thanks mate. I'll take you up on that one day soon - probably high summer when I'm melting up here. That forrest down your way has some great looking riding tracks. The caves are on my list of things to really check out properly as well, as is the coast.
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Old 09-13-2011, 09:25 AM   #52
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So disappearing towards where I saw the camplight glow last night and also heard bit of timber hammering coming from early the next morning, I expected to find something amazing. The tracks were definitely rarely used. I doubt you'd get a 4WD vehicle through this one anymore without serious paint and panel damage. On the bike, these are good fun.

And past a deep looking dam. If only the day was hotter, I would've considered this a perfect site for a swim.

Man-made dams like this seem common on most goldfields. Abandoning claims due to extreme temperatures over the extreme summer months or during drought times was fairly common. It was apparently not unusual for diggers to walk away while gold was still being found, simply because no water was available to keep going.

Finally out onto the secondary dirt roads, until I spot Mt Korong Scenic Reserve. I have to check this huge granite boulder strewn mountain out.

Following a faint track up to a great lookout...

Looking out across this area, I can't help but think of all the gold that must still be sitting in the ground in this rich area, just waiting to be found. At night around the campfire I'd been wishing that for just a moment, the gold would give a shining halo over where it could be found throughout the still, dark forrest. A bit of "Gold Fever" starting to develop? Possibly. I wonder how many other prospectors have had that exact same wish or dream.
Anyway, back to reality. Down the track again...

Past an amazingly old, gnarly gum tree...

And into beautiful Wedderburn township..

"Git off ma lawn"

From the local Returned and Services League and ANZAC Memorial grounds.

After speaking to the great folk at the local Tourist Information office, I head out towards a nearby goldfield, past "Dodge City"...

Which had an amazing collection of vintage cars and even an old steam tractor (which I really should have got a photo of, but didn't, sorry).

And past a local Apiarist's operation, carefully...

Into the forrest, riding the tracks to find a likely place to try my luck one last time. And set up camp, just on sunset.

Tree hugger.
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Old 09-13-2011, 12:20 PM   #53
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this report is awesome thanks so much.

whenever work gets to be a little much I read a update that makes me feel I'm there with ya relaxing, camping and searching.

I love all the pics of local wildlife and thank you for sharing you vast knowledge of em and your great country.
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Old 09-14-2011, 07:07 AM   #54
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Magic read Sundowner. It's nice to read a report which isn't rushed from dawn to dusk....and the anticipation! Can't wait to see what you have in store at the end of the rainbow.
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Old 09-14-2011, 10:52 AM   #55
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Great Adventure you are on there Sundowner! Unlike any RR that I have ever read. I guess part of it is like the previous post stated, no schedule to keep, or at least it doesn't appear to be. And the other reason is that you have such a profound knowledge of nature and habitat and history of the gold fields. Really interesting. Keep it going!
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Old 09-16-2011, 04:57 AM   #56
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Thanks for the kind comments guys. I'm enjoying writing it, as it gives me reason to research some of the areas I visited on the road.
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Old 09-16-2011, 05:47 AM   #57
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Just on sunset, another prospector drives past camp and we get to talking about the area. He's spent all day walking the area with the very latest $5000 Minelab detector. He's pretty keen on it being a great area so I'm looking forward to working hard at it the next day even with my outdated old unit. Before leaving he shows me photo's of two of his most recent finds on his Iphone. They're two good sized nuggets from another field near Bendigo, some eighty kilometres away. I don't bother asking how he went today at this field, simply because I doubt he'd give anything away. But it looks promising.
This field is far more level and open than the previous sites, but well worked over by the early diggers

And also by modern prospectors. I seemed to spend all day working the same ground as my mate from the night before and others beforehand. The only surprise for the day is digging one target that seems to have somehow missed by everyone else right next to a group of other fresh but refilled pick holes. But it turns out to be rusty junk. I actually dig far less targets here all day compared to an hour anywhere else so far, which tells me the field is probably flogged out, at least for the depth my unit can detect to.

Back at the campsite just before sunset, I decide to break camp early the next morning to head for home. I've got an important meeting to make on Saturday so that gives me all of Friday to do the 600 odd kilometres run back at a nice, leisurely pace. For my one last night out bush, I knock together another damper bread as a treat plus easy food for the run home.

It turns out really well and tastes as good as it looks.

Once the dew covered tent and tarp are well dried the next morning, packed away ready for the next adventure, I head north deeper into the forrest. For one last look around the Victorian goldfields, past more diggings, a heavily erroded creek bed and to a huge dam, complete with a big flock of ducks.

Then a short bit further on, another smaller dam with a ruined eucalyptus oil distilling plant on it's bank.

Down some little used forest trails, I have to run the gauntlet of another bee keeper's busy hive boxes, this time lining both sides of the track.

And onwards to what became a dead end to neighbouring grazing land.

Only to have to go back through the agitated swarm again...

Eap!! Note the bees arse sticking out of the helmet liner from the first run through them.

Before hitting the more open and flowing farm land areas once again...

In search of a decent hot shower and some fuel.
Tree hugger.
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Old 09-17-2011, 12:35 AM   #58
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So the run home starts with a quick visit to Charlton to try for a shower at the caravan park next to the Avoca River. No luck there, because there's no caretaker onsite, but a quick look at the adjoining river reveals this...

Can you say WTF?, because I certainly did. Even the sign doesn't explain why this deep water fish is about 300km away from salt water in a drought prone tributary of the Murray River. Somebody was obviously given a government grant and went straight down the liquor store with it.

Rolling on to the next town, this art in the main street strikes me as quite clever, being made from all sorts of scrap metal.

After finding a $2 hot shower and shave at the local caravan park, I'm keen to motor on, via the near death town of Hopetoun, where I replenish the camelback from the town's park area. About twenty kilometres down the track, I take a deep pull on the camelback and swallow half of it before registering the water tastes like rat or mouse dung. So skirting the edge of the Big Desert park area, I head to Patchewotlock, dump the dirty water and grab some much cleaner rainwater from the general store tap. Out onto the dirt once again...

Eating the miles and dodging 'roos.

Until well into dark. I love my HID lights. They're the best mod to date.

Through the backroads from Karoonda to Mannum, where I spot this beautiful lady, the Paddle Steamer Marion, ready to steam up the mighty Murray River in the morning..

So never being shy, I gain permission from the Captain for a quick look in the engine room. Go here yourselves for more detailed information. The engine room and stores area...

The fuel bunker, containing about forty tons of cut redgum, donated by local farmers, one of the heaviest and hottest burning woods in Australia that produces good, cubic, long burning coals with little waste ash.

The twin 11" bore by 16" stroke single stage, non-condensing steam cylinders...

That run through a spur gear crankshaft...

To the single flywheel and along shafts to the twin sidewheel paddle wheels that have driven this ship since 1900...

Through the steam produced by this, the original steel 120psi Marshall & Sons of Gainsborough, England, boiler unit....

That's gradually brought to life over a couple of days prior to sailing...

Just awesome to see, hear, feel and smell this living collection of handcrafted metals, constantly attended by it's dedicated crew.

Patiently waiting for the long night to end...

What a beautiful old girl, one of the last of her kind...

Finally jumping on the bike for the last ninety kilometre run to home, the City of Adelaide...

So, that's the end of the journey and I hope you've all enjoyed coming along for the ride. It hasn't been huge kilometres every day, nor were all days particularly great riding days, but I enjoyed every moment and can't wait to do it again. You're all welcome to join me once more.

And what did I find that had me well pleased and so excited to find?
Well, this little link to another miner from back in 1865 or there abouts, only a few years after small amounts of gold were found in the area and possibly lost just when the main rush started in 1868 at the Bervie (later mistakenly called Berlin) Goldfield. I'd camped only feet from this item, lost in the old tent township area next to these rich fields. Maybe lost in one of the sly grog huts while celebrating a lucky strike or from a threadbare pocket in a supply store after weeks of struggle or even inside the miner's personal tent, stashed amongst a few simple belongings, enough to keep going just a little bit longer. And hundreds of people since would have walked over it, through sloppy mud and baking soil, until I was lucky enough to unearth it once again 146 or so years later, just by chance.

It's no huge lump of gold like I'd wished for during all those daylight hours, but it tied me to a past where at night I was fortunate enough to experience and envelope myself in the same basic joys and hopes of any person ever visiting the fields. And that's a great thing to find in any journey.
Tree hugger.

Sundowner screwed with this post 09-17-2011 at 12:41 AM
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Old 09-17-2011, 12:47 AM   #59
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That was an awesome ride report. Thanks for taking me / us along
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Old 09-17-2011, 12:57 AM   #60
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Not into detecting at all... but finding something like that would really make my day! Awesome find

Great ride report, great bike, great photo's and great find...

I'll be looking out for your next ride report, top job!
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