Ballarat- Bendigo - Echuca

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Sovereign Hill

Was celebrating it's 35th anniversary in style, the summer attraction that year was 'Waterloo's Circus'  aka Circus in a Suitcase.   Great attention has been paid to the details and the staff were not only in costume but in character and happy to chat about their 1850's lives.   I did not make note of the cost of entrance, just that it was good value for money and that I wished we had allowed more than an afternoon to enjoy

The Grand Parade

The banner promises "Great Antipodean Deeds of Grand and Lofty Tumbling, Astonishing Displays of Strength and Fabulous Feats"
And look who is heading the bill at the Victoria Theatre - our very own Lola Montez fresh from the Royal Theatre Castlemaine no doubt

A bearded lady, how exotic

An impromptu ensemble of children blow horns and wave tambourines

The end of the working day and time for us to go back to the 21st century.  Where's the Tardis when you need it?

Bendigo

Alexandra Fountain

 

 

 

 

The wonderfully named city of Bendigo was our 'go to' shopping center for anything not available in town 

The city was named for Bendigo creek, which in turn was named for a local sheep run employee who was handy with his fists

He earned the nickname Bendigo for the English bare-knuckle prize fighter William Abednego  (Bendigo) Thompson 

He was one of triplets and yes you've got it, his siblings were Shadrach and Meshach

With Tonys' increasing mobility it became feasible to consider camping for the second half of our trip.  We wanted to upgrade from the items included in our car rental.  On the assumption that we could get the tent back to Canada, we came here and invested in a tent with a bit of extra room, good quality (dingo proof ?) sleeping bags and a stove.   When it came to cooking pots, crockery, utensils etc we scoured the charity shops.  We knew every Vinnie's (St Vincent De Paul)  Salvo's (Salvation Army and Op (Opportunity) Shop in the Goldfields
Central Deborah Goldmine

 

 

Central Deborah ceased mining many years ago but a new elevator shaft has been sunk to take up to 40 visitors to level 2 for a one hour guided tour.  Those wanting the 'full Monty' can climb down several steep narrow ladders in narrow shafts to reach level 3 which is more cramped and much the same as it was when the last miner left in 1954.  It's dark, wet and strewn with rock, rubble and old mining equipment. So naturally that is the tour we chose

Only we two had booked the longer tour,   Bob, our guide met us in the miners changing room where we had donned our coveralls, wellies and pit helmets.  Having assured him we were fit for the ladders and not claustrophobic (?), we took the elevator

In spite of our confidence, I was quite apprehensive about spending 2.5 hours 250' below ground with just the light from our helmet lamps for illumination and was relieved not to be using the old miners cage which goes all the way to the bottom on level 17
Operating the Mine Drill with a steadying hand from Bob

  Engineering by Thompson of Castlemaine
A wonderful tour. Bob was a mine, (pun intended), of information and so enthusiastic that we didn't see the light of day for 3.5 hours.  We had a noisy, wet and dusty experience operating the vintage drill, but not of placing any of the ICI explosives, for that they had a mock up of the placement and we turned off our helmets while the sound and light show did the rest.  We met 'Whitie' an old timer who demonstrated the various ways he could smuggle small quantities of gold out of the mine, leaving others to our imagination and had an authentic Cornish pastie and salad in the underground crib.  At least the pastie was authentic I doubt that 'real men' in Australia started eating salad until quite recently, about the same time they discovered it wasn't emasculating to admit to drinking wine
                                     I think the trip now goes to level 9 !

Mining activity re-commenced beneath Central Deborah in 1998 and hopefully they will bring the first gold up to the surface in a month or two.  It has taken 7yrs and cost a fortune to reach it

I am unable to confirm re-commencement of viable gold mining operations  at Central Deborah.  However....

Bendigo Family Strikes Gold  

Mothers Day 2019, a 12 yr old girl walking their  dog 'Lucky' with her family, kicked a rock and asked her Dad 'is this gold'? They weighed it in the supermarket deli, 23oz and it is indeed gold,  worth $35,000 Australian. Happy Mother's Day

 

                 More outbuildings to explore

         

Port of Echuca formerly Hopwood Ferry

From 1850 when ex-convict Henry Hopwood bought a small punt to ferry across the Murray river to 1870 the newly named Echuca rose to be the largest inland port in Australia.   He had chosen his location well, it's proximity to Melbourne attracted the railway's and Echuca boomed.  But not for long

  The railways tolled the death knell for the river trade which declined in the 1890's leaving the wharf and original buildings abandoned but serendipitously intact and decaying,  awaiting restoration and the arrival of tourists

Echuca historic 75.5 meter wharf is now on the Australian National Heritage List  

The riverboat trade along the Murray Darling River System was of national importance, opening up inland Australia for settlement and the growth of the wool industry.  Along with wool, wheat and other grains, were livestock and red gum timber for pit props.  During the boom years the wharf expanded from it's original 92.4m to 332m and handled a quarter of a million pounds of worth products. It was shortened to it's present length during WWll
No Mississippi style paddle steamer this, just a simple workhorse

It was here I realised that all the tourists in Victoria at this time of year are seniors.  A tribe of grey nomads gadding around the Victorian Gold Fields doing our best for the local economy.  It was like being transported back to the set of the movie 'Cocoon'
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