Lake Mountain, Victoria

It’s mid-October which is Spring in Australia, and while in shorts we enjoyed 22C at the base, there were remnants of snow on Lake Mountain, Victoria, providing me with my very first view, although it had frozen over to ice.

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The drive here showcased many landscapes and sweeping views of mountain ranges. Traveling from Healesville along the well-maintained and signed Black Spur Scenic Drive, we were awed by the forest trees, reminiscent of Denmark and the tall trees of Western Australia.  The biggest difference was the multitude of towering tree ferns.

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Mountains sweep away to either side of you and in Winter, the Alpine resort is very busy with snow-goers. Several lookouts are provided along the way to enjoy the view.

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I don’t know if you have spotted it, but we saw an odd change in the landscape.  While some hillsides are green and thick with vegetation, others had these strange pelts of white sticks.  We walked to the summit (1433 m) but not the ridge lookout. From here, the sticks were obviously trees. If you enlarge the next picture you can see the ‘bristles’ on the top of other mountains in the distance.

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You can see over the Victorian Alps and the small town of Marysville nestled in the centre of the rolling hills. There was often vegetation at the base of the trunks, or strips of green revegetation along hills, but the ghostly silhouettes led us to inquire.

Gum trees need very high temperature/heat to germinate. The fires, that are not uncommon in Australia in Summer, serve to spread the growth of gum trees. However, in 2009, ferocious fires of an historic magnitude swept the area and Black Saturday was born. Destruction, of humans, environment and buildings, was on a scale never seen before and not since. Marysville was almost completely destroyed. People lost their lives, their homes and their livelihoods.

New solar-operated signs now warn us of the danger of bushfire and we should heed them.

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I am aware that similar devastation has recently occurred in California and it is shocking for a country. People do band together and they rebuild and never forget. Things don’t return to how they were and we have to move with the difference.

The heat was so extreme on Black Saturday that the gum trees will probably never regenerate. Once the centre of Australia was rainforest and 500 000 years later it is desert. Lake Mountain will evolve and we can still enjoy its breathtaking scenery and charming villages.

Safe travels. Take note of bushfire signs.

Passenger in time

I had wanted to visit Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement since I was in primary school and my friend not only sent a letter (gone are those days) but brought back photographs. Constantly lost in my imagination (those days aren’t gone) it took me back in time and brought to life the television programs of the day – Whiplash, for example.

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Forty years or so later, and with a few pioneer villages under our hats, my husband and I travelled to the river region of Victoria and New South Wales and stopped at the BIG4 Riverside caravan park. It is an excellent park, with good facilities and a great location. It is right next to the Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement, separated by a gate and a short walk.

The settlement is delightful, with a carefully planned township that is accessible and historical. Gardens, shops, homes, faith, education, industry and transport, you are carried back, to life in the mid- to late- 1800’s and early 1900’s in Australia. Being a young Nation (on the oldest continent) that is about as far back as European settlement goes in the area.

Transport options abound, as they once did, and you can be a passenger aboard a horse drawn carriage, steam train, riverboat or vintage automobile. Other forms are on display, but you cannot ride them, such as a penny farthing bicycle and horses.

Treat yourself to an afternoon of discovery as you walk the streets, taste the fare and make sure you visit the Kaiser Stereoscopic Theatre, where a person once may have imagined they were a passenger on far away journeys.

 

Due to flooding and a very high river level, the famous Laser Light Show was immersed, so we missed that, but there is plenty to do in the area.

Safe travels. Don’t forget the hat and water (and maybe an umbrella).