Linda McElhenny reports:
On a beautiful sunny, but cool, Saturday morning we all met at Gaffneys Bakery in Heathcote for coffee before setting off at 9.30am for the Redcastle Cemetery.
Although, some were torn between manual labour and the Heathcote Market, which looked to be of a considerable size, complete with local produce, craft items, etc.
The area had had a fair amount of recent rain and on a track not far from the cemetery gates, in true 4×4 fashion we had to traverse water. (Well, maybe a big long stretch of puddles). It was enough though, to put a nice grey slick on the 4by.
With great enthusiasm, we got out our various pieces of equipment – chain saws, whipper snippers, rakes, weed sprayers, etc. There were saplings to be cut down, weeds to be snipped from around
the graves, fallen trees to be cut up and lots of fetching and carry- ing of debris to either the fire, or the green waste pile.
Glenda’s sharp eye and spotted some small agave cactus, which would have filled a bucket. This find piqued interest in others who also found more cactus.
They were so small they were hard to spot. All our years of tending the cemetery have paid off with such a small regrowth of the agave. Graeme recalled in the early years, the cemetery was quite overrun with it.
With everyone working diligently, we had most of the work done before lunch. A great bonfire, lit to get rid of the dried wood, pro- vided us with some lovely coals for our sausage sizzle.
Graeme and Gayle prepared and cooked the sausages and supplied salad, cheese bread and rolls. A pumpkin and sultana cake and chocolate biscuits followed. Yummy!
After a final look around and a clean up of the last of the debris, it was time to head home. We left after a great day, tired but happy with what we had achieved.
Phytophthora cinnamomi, or Cinnamon Fungus as it was once commonly called, is a foreign plant pathogen. The pathogen is a microscopic water mould that attacks the root systems of susceptible plant species.
Phytophthora cinnamomi (pronounced: fy-TOFF-thor-ah) does not spread quickly by itself across the landscape. Instead people are the prime movers of the pathogen. Numerous activities can lead to the inadvertent movement of infected water, soil and plant material. Overtime, the pathogen has been widely dispersed across Victoria and as yet there are no means to eradicate it in the field.
A Grass tree (Xanthorea australis) that has been killed by Phytophthora.
Heathlands and heath forest communities have been significantly impacted by the pathogen. A key indicator of the pathogen is the iconic Austral Grasstree which is highly susceptible and sadly whose ultimate existence in Victoria is threatened by the pathogen.
In some ecosystems the impact has been dramatic, leading to the loss of many plant species and native animals that depend upon them for food and shelter.
Research into the resistance of some species may provide a key to long-term management. Presently however the aim is to curb further spread. Collaborative efforts are needed to focus on protecting significant public land assets from inadvertent introduction of the pathogen. This requires improving hygiene procedures and appropriate planning of area usage.
A Strategy has been published to help coordinate and direct public land managers in managing this threat in key areas. Victoria’s Public Land Phytophthora cinnamomi Management Strategy was developed in consultation with major stakeholders. It states the objectives, management principles, legislation, priorities and proposed management approaches.
Welcome to our third newsletter. The planning committee has been up in the Pyrenees once a month during winter, and we are working on finalising all the many things that make up a tri-state gathering. We plan to send out further details with the Registration Forms in late November.
We plan on having 4WD trips that range from difficult to easy, plus some social and historical trips, a winery trip and a walking trip. We will supply directions for a number of DIY trips to surrounding attractions, such as the underground caves at Seppelt’s Great Western Winery, where the sparkling wine is stored in three kilometres of tunnels, orAradale, the 1867 historic formerArarat Lunatic Asylum (yes, they will probably let you go at the end!)
Another trip planned is a Fossickers Trip. The Victorian Club will obtain a fossickers’ Group Licence that will enable us to take out groups along 4WD tracks to look for Pyrenees gold. We will supply training and some metal detectors, but if you have your own, please bring it along.
Gold! Gold! Gold!
Moonambel was first settled in 1844, and gold was discovered there in 1860. Signs of the mining years are still to be found in the bush, with some deep mine shafts for the unwary walker. At some places in the bush you might even stumble upon a Chinese oven. Modern day prospectors using gold detectors can uncover coins and other artefacts from places as far apart as China and England. The transportable lockup used on the Moonambel Goldfields can still be seen behind the old police station. Much of the gold mining was alluvial but there were many deep mines.
Today, Moonambel’s population is about 270, but in 1866 there was a moving population of about 30,000 living in tents near the mines, but many more permanent buildings were also established. Moonambel had five hotels, butchers, general stores, at least one blacksmith, a local newspaper, a police station and a court house.
Saturday Night Entertainment
Weather permitting, we plan to have a big campfire for everyone to sit around, and a barbecue. A local bush poet and teller of tall tales will entertain us.
Sunday Dinner and Theme
The theme for Sunday night is ‘GOLD’, so put your imagination to work and create something clever. We have contracted a group of local caterers to provide Sunday evening’s meal in the main pavilion and verandah at the recreation reserve. Please BYO drinks. (You might like to buy some wine from one of the 15 nearby wineries).
To register your interest and join our mailing list for future newsletters,
Easter 2013 – Thurs 28th March to Tues 2nd April. NEWSLETTER NO.2
The Victorian Jackaroo 4WD Club invites you to join us for a Pyrenees Parade!
Welcome to our second newsletter. The tri-state committee has been hard at work checking out the Pyrenees 4WD tracks and developing local contacts for next Easter’s event. This newsletter gives you some background on the region.
Rising nearly 800 metres, the Pyrenees Ranges consist of box-ironbark forests on the foothills, changing to mixed species stringybark higher up. In Spring, native wildflowers abound and the wattle trees make spectacular viewing. Over 200 species of plants and 100 species of birds have been recorded in the forest. The ranges are mainly sandstone with many granite intrusions, which make spectacular formations. The Pyrenees have a dissected surface with moderate to steep slopes and many gullies and narrow to medium valleys – ideal for 4WD exploration.
So far, we have planned a medium to difficult 4WD trip through the Pyrenees State forest to the south and west of Moonambel; an easy to medium 4WD trip north to the St Arnaud National Park with spectacular lookouts; a “Ladies’ trip” to Castlemaine/Creswick and surrounds; a Goldfields and Ghost Towns 4WD historical trip, and a wine tasting trip with lunch at a winery restaurant. Given the popularity of the walking trip at Whyalla, we are working on two trips with a bushwalking component. One of these travels through private property to some ancient Aboriginal rock art sites. And more to come……
A little bit of history
The Pyrenees and St Arnaud Ranges were inhabited by Aboriginal people from at least 13,000 years ago. Most of the native occupants were driven out or died from the effects of grazing and the gold rush which began in 1851. Resettlement in the 1870’s then reduced the native population to almost none.
The explorer Thomas Mitchell travelled through the district on his 1836 journey of exploration. The ranges reminded him of the Pyrenees in Spain where he had served as an army officer. He found the area more temperate in climate and better watered than inland New South Wales, and he encouraged settlers to take up land in the region
he described as "Australia Felix". Mitchell’s glowing report on the grazing land in the Western District resulted in squatters from Sydney travelling south using his wheel tracks as a guide, and squatters from Tasmania came via Geelong looking for new pastures.
Autumn is a good time to stay in the Pyrenees. It certainly is not as cold overnight as Tolmie!
Min Temp °C
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No of rainy days
To register your interest and join our mailing list for future newsletters,
Easter 2013 – Thurs 28th March to Tues 2nd April. NEWSLETTER NO. 1
The Victorian Jackaroo 4WD Club will be hosting next year’s tri-state gathering.
Join us for a Pyrenees Parade!
The Pyrenees Ranges are located in western Victoria, about 180 kms south of Kerang and 70 km west of Ballarat. Avoca is the main town in the ranges and we will be based just west of it, at Moonambel.
The Pyrenees are a southern extension of the Great Dividing Range, with altitudes from 300 metres to more than 750 metres (980–2460 ft). Main peak is Mount Avoca (747 m). There are numerous excellent 4WD tracks, ranging from easy to challenging and some first-rate lookouts over the surrounding countryside.
Melbourne to Moonambel (via Ballarat) 195 km
Adelaide to Moonambel (via Bordertown & Stawell) 560 km
Sydney to Moonambel (via Deniliquin, Kerang & St Arnaud) 990 km
The Pyrenees are central to several good four wheel driving areas. The St Arnaud Range National Park, an excellent 4WD venue, is about 50 km north of Avoca. Nearby Kooyoora State Park has spectacular granite formations, as does Langi Ghiran State Park, south west of Avoca. South of the Pyrenees are the Grampians Ranges, a striking series of sandstone mountain ranges with good 4WD tracks and stunning scenery. The highest peak is Mount William, 1167 metres (3828 ft).
Other regional attractions include the historic Golden Triangle towns, site of Australia’s richest gold rushes of the 19th century, plus a renowned local wine region.
Our base will be the Moonambel Recreation Reserve, in a bush setting just outside the town limits. Once a bustling Gold Rush town, Moonambel is now a quiet village with a population of approximately 270 people, a pub and a general store. It is only a 15 minute drive to Avoca, a town with a range of services. We will be camping on and around the football oval. The Moonambel Recreation Reserve has some powered sites and modern facilities, including toilets, showers, a hall/dining room and a commercial kitchen.
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Colin, Margaret & Kerri Ritchie
Wayne & Christine Scholes
Michael & Jan Martin (2nd day)
Margaret Ritchie reports:
With a very grey start to the day, we all set off from the bakery (where else) at Granville and travelled down the highway towards Phillip Island. The day was designed to be very relaxing looking at some of the interesting sights and finding some of the fauna and flora around Phillip Island.
We took a short detour just before San Remo to admire the view from the top of a hill overlooking Westernport Bay. Due to fog and mist, this was a bit of a fizzer, but a good view of Cape Woolamai could be seen. It was then in to the back of San Remo and across the bridge to Newhaven, where we were to pick up our volunteer guide for the day. My daughter Kerri has lived on the Island for some time and was a ranger with the National Park for many years, so she has a good knowledge of the area.
A short trip across the road from the Information Centre is the Chocolate Factory. Too much to choose from and a little pricey, but we had been told their curries are very good. From there we made a quick stop at the Koala Conservation Centre, where Kerri told us a bit of the history of some of the original vegetation still standing there. She also spoke of the koalas on the Island and why their numbers are declining.
Cowes was next and we had a short drive down the main street, then walked out to the end of the jetty.
By then it was time for lunch, so we were on the move again to Red Rocks Beach. This spot is only a short distance from where Kerri lives, so Colin and I know this beach very well. It is a very good picnic area with toilet facilities and amazing views across to the Mornington Peninsula. We had the whole area to ourselves and got the cameras clicking.
After lunch, a walk along the beach was a must. As we were walking, we could hear gunfire from the Naval Training Academy (Cerberus) just across the bay. Luckily, they weren’t pointing our way! Following this very relaxing lunch stop, we headed off towards Swan Lake. This is the only freshwater lake on the Island and abounds with birdlife. While the others walked into the lake, I waited in the information area. Even in that small area, I saw wrens, spinebills, honeyeaters, thornbills, red browed finches and the list goes on. There were birds everywhere.
When the others returned, they reported they had spotted many different birds, including one which required homework as no-one could identify it.
(Later that night, Colin and Kerri and a bird identification book, decided it was a white fronted chat, a bird not usually seen in the area.)
After Swan Lake, it was a short drive down to the famous Nobbies for a stroll along the boardwalk.
Most of the nesting birds had left the area at this time of the year and unfortunately, there were no late chicks left to see. We spent some time in the Nobbies Centre watching the seals out on the rocks via cameras placed out there. Their gift shop also attracted our members.
From the Nobbies, we followed a little known road around the coast that cuts through the old Summerlands Estate. The Government has been gradually buying back these lots for more than twenty years and has finally removed the last house from the penguin colony. The work being done to re-introduce the penguins to the area is obvious, with new nesting boxes and grasses planted everywhere. From the cliff overlooking Summerland Bay, where the penguins come in every night of the year just after sunset, Kerri gave us some information on the Little (or Fairy) penguin. Did you know that they always swim west towards Phillip Bay from Phillip Island? Or that they can stay at sea for up to three weeks and that they mate for life?
There is a count done by the rangers of the penguins as they come ashore each night. The count for the night before was 1,156. The count is done from the minute the first group of five or more penguins crosses the beach and the count lasts for fifty minutes. Why fifty minutes? As Kerri explained, most of the birds come ashore within that time. All across the area, there are many thousands of penguins coming ashore on any night, but only those at the parade stands are counted. From this count, the rangers are able to assess whether there are any problems with the colony.
The view from above the Penguin Parade is quite spectacular. One can look back along the coast towards Cape Woolamai and Pyramid Rock in the distance.
Back on the main road, we passed the famous and very beautiful Phillip Island Grand Prix Motor Racing Track. There were races taking place, but we were unable to stop and watch as it was getting a bit late in the day and tents still had to be erected.
We said our goodbyes for the day at the Newhaven Information Centre and took our guide back to her car.
Wayne, Chris and Tom were all staying at the caravan park in Newhaven, so they didn’t have far to travel. Colin and I headed home to Wonthaggi, about thirty five minutes away. By the way, if you have ever wondered why some of the dead kangaroos along the side of a road have a pink cross on them, it is to tell others that their pouches have been checked to make sure there are no live young in them. If a young joey is found alive, it is taken to a volunteer wildlife shelter and, hopefully, reared to adulthood whereupon it is released back in the area where it was found.
Christine Scholes reports:
Sunday morning started for us at about 5.00am with a huge thunder clap right over the top of us. It was followed by heavy rain. Great! Now we would have a wet tent to pack up. By brekkie time, the rain had eased back to a light drizzle. But we still had a messy pack up, so much so, that we were a bit late for our meeting time.
After meeting the others at Bass, where Michael and Jan Martin joined the trip, the group left at 10.30am, which wasn’t too bad all things considered. Our morning trip took us to the new desalination plant, then on to Kilcunda Beach, the trestle bridge and finally to the State Coal Mine historic No.20 shaft.
Here, in 1937, thirteen miners were killed in an underground collapse. (After living in the area for many years, this was the first time our trip leader Margaret had been there.)
From there it was on to the Wonthaggi Information Centre and then collected Molly, Colin and Margaret’s dog. She joined us for the afternoon. Our lunch stop was at the State Coal Mine picnic area, a pleasant relaxing stop.
After lunch, we went through the museum, which was most interesting (and free!) and saw the most amazing vegetable garden and chicken run. I wish it was mine! It was then back on the road and off to Eagles Nest to view the coastline from Venus Bay to Inverloch. We left the coast and travelled north through the most beautiful rolling green hills through Kongwak, Glen Alvie and on to Kernot. Here we stopped for afternoon tea among the quaint inhabitants of Gnomesville, Frog Hollow and Fairy Dell.
During our break, Margaret received a phone call from Kerri with the news that a heavy thunder storm was heading our way. We quickly decided to call it a day and head off on our separate ways home. It was a disappointing end to what had been an interesting and great day.
Thanks to Colin, Margaret and Kerri (and Molly) for a well planned trip.