A Travellerspoint blog

Merrijig to Bendigo

sunny 31 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

As mentioned in the last blog, the reason for being in Merrijig, nice though it is itself, was to get to the Victorian High Country and Mt Buller so, after some early photos around the motel, we headed up the road to Mt Buller itself. Before continuing, apparently some people think that I took all the pictures but Judith took more than I did and her pictures form a large part of our blogs.

Our morning alarm call

Our morning alarm call

And all the others to make sure we don't sleep in!

And all the others to make sure we don't sleep in!

On the way up we passed a magnificent mountain ash tree which is apparently home to the Mountain Gnomes who look after the mountain pygmy-possums - why not?! Apart from highlighting the vulnerability of these lovely little creatures, the gnome stories and features offer a great diversion for old and young.

View from the lower slopes of Mt Buller on our way up

View from the lower slopes of Mt Buller on our way up

Mountain Ash by the road, home to the Mountain Gnomes

Mountain Ash by the road, home to the Mountain Gnomes

Gnome post box

Gnome post box

We also stopped to see if we could help a young couple who had managed to do an 'us' and flatten their battery overnight but what we had was not able to get them going so we carried on to the township of Mt Buller, basically a ski village. There several sculptures, or perhaps a broader term of artworks would be better, are scattered around the village making for some interesting walks; we particularly liked the Mountain Cattleman and the fairly new Totem Pole. Of course, at this time of year it was deserted and most places were closed but we did find one place where we were able to get a decent lunch. While chatting to folk inside, we learned that the road continued up to a car park from which there was a trail to the summit.

Roadside view on the way up

Roadside view on the way up

View over snowless ski slopes from the village

View over snowless ski slopes from the village

The Totem Pole

The Totem Pole

Part of the village

Part of the village

Mountain Cattleman sculpture

Mountain Cattleman sculpture

Having reached the car park, we saw a young couple toiling up a steep gradient and both agreed that it was probably a bit ambitious for us. After a pause for thought, I said I would just try and went up 40 steps then stopped to rest my leg before doing another 40 steps (these got smaller and smaller as we went up!). At the 'top' there was a plateau with some rocky uneven steps leading to the summit and we felt this was pushing our luck, so enjoyed the views from there. As we prepared to descend, a 'madman', George (unfortunately we didn't get his surname) came running down the steps and stopped for a yarn. He turned out to be an ultra-marathon runner who also coerced people into going just that bit further - he succeeded in persuading us to give the steps ago and we duly reached the summit, by which time he had run down to the car park and back up again! He was doing this run, after an initial run of several kilometres to the car park, ten times that day, just as training. We have no wish to emulate that but from then on whenever we came across a similar challenge we pushed ourselves by saying "What would George say?" - thanks George, wherever you may be! The views from the top were stunning and certainly made the effort (and pain!) worthwhile.

Part of the first ascent - it's steeper than it looks!

Part of the first ascent - it's steeper than it looks!

A lovely selection of grasses by the path up

A lovely selection of grasses by the path up

Still working our way up to the 'shoulder'

Still working our way up to the 'shoulder'

A view from the 'shoulder' - the mountains appeared to go on for ever

A view from the 'shoulder' - the mountains appeared to go on for ever

Panoramic view from Mt Buller

Panoramic view from Mt Buller

Lichens at the summit

Lichens at the summit

We Made It! Those are walking poles NOT walking sticks!

We Made It! Those are walking poles NOT walking sticks!

George - our motivating madman!

George - our motivating madman!

Alpine everlastings

Alpine everlastings

View from Mt Buller

View from Mt Buller


Looking back down from the 'shoulder' on our way back

Looking back down from the 'shoulder' on our way back

On the way back to Merrijig we stopped at a couple of picnic sites and had some enjoyable bird watching, even seeing the first kingfisher since we started out (not counting kookaburras). This was a sacred kingfisher and although we could see its beauty, it was just too far away for a decent photograph. At one of the sites, Judith stayed in the vehicle as the March flies made a beeline for her! She was wearing blue jeans and we later found that March flies are attracted to blue and other dark colours, not that they totally ignored me!

Creek running by picnic spot

Creek running by picnic spot

King parrot by one of the picnic sites

King parrot by one of the picnic sites

Our last sunset in the High Country

Our last sunset in the High Country

The following morning, we were up and ready to go in time to see a lovely sunrise. Our journey took us down from the High Country through areas with high rolling hills which gradually gave way to lower rolling hills (similar to English hills but mainly with a bleached grass cover rather than the soft green of England). The hills in turn dropped behind as we entered straw-coloured grassland interspersed with some craggy hills and granite outcrops.

Sunrise at Merrijig

Sunrise at Merrijig

Some of the high rolling hills

Some of the high rolling hills

A pastoral view as the hills become lower

A pastoral view as the hills become lower

The last of the rolling hills before the flatlands

The last of the rolling hills before the flatlands

It was time for a coffee break by the time we reached Euroa, where we found a lovely spot in a park which is dedicated to three local men who were awarded the VC, one in the Boer War and two at Gallipoli. The town itself seemed very attractive with some very pleasant and friendly folk living there, to judge from our all too brief experience.

A beautiful river gum in the VC Memorial Park

A beautiful river gum in the VC Memorial Park

The statues of the VC winners

The statues of the VC winners

Creek running through the VC Memorial Park

Creek running through the VC Memorial Park

After Euroa, the landscape, I guess all part of the valley or ancient floodplain of the Murray River, was very flat grassland with the odd tree left as shelter for livestock and occasionally a field of maize.

For many years, Judith has been in search of a combination of an old house, a water tank and a windmill which we see as iconic symbols of rural Australia. Many times we have found two acceptable items but never three together until travelling along this road, Judith suddenly hammered on the brakes as she had seen what she wanted. Individually, we have probably seen better examples of each but the combination of the three was almost ideal - cameras out!

The iconic image Judith was after

The iconic image Judith was after

Judith felt that sepia toning was appropriate - she does like to play!

Judith felt that sepia toning was appropriate - she does like to play!

Not far from our destination, Moama, we diverted to see Kyabram Fauna Park. Sadly, this did not live up to our expectations. Undoubtedly some people have put in a lot of work and it has been supported by Rotary but it is not as good as I am sure they all intended. it seems to be run by very keen volunteers, but clearly there is a lack of funds to take it up a level. There are some very nice areas but some which are more zoo-like and there is quite a good selection of interesting birds and animal. It just needs a slight lift and it would be a really nice Murray River 'place to go' but I would say it is a 'work-in-progress'. The following photos, except the last, are of animals in captivity, not our preferred way of seeing them but they did seem well cared for.

Koala

Koala

Cockatiel

Cockatiel

Bearded dragon

Bearded dragon

Red-rumped parrot (we think!)

Red-rumped parrot (we think!)

We crossed the border for our last foray into New South Wales and found our Big 4/Discovery Park cabin quite easily - close to the town, RSL and other eateries and with the river a short walk through the site. This was among the better cabins we have stayed in, with the air-conditioning on when we arrived but no fan in the bedroom, so a little warm but otherwise comfortable and a good base. We found birds liked the area just outside our cabin where a sprinkler had been left on and, on a walk down to the river, the local wildlife proved quite friendly.

Eastern rosella

Eastern rosella

Amorous crested pigeons

Amorous crested pigeons

Red-rumped parrots (we think)

Red-rumped parrots (we think)

Eastern grey kangaroo with young one

Eastern grey kangaroo with young one

Swamp wallaby (we think)

Swamp wallaby (we think)

Female superb blue fairy wren

Female superb blue fairy wren

The following morning, we crossed the river into Echuca and did the tourist boat bit of cruising on a paddle steamer. We were on the PS Pevensey (better known to our generation as PS Philadelphia from the TV series "All the Rivers Run"). As it was a hot day, the cruise was very welcome, sitting in comfort in the shade and feeling the 'coolth' of the river, all very pleasant with lovely scenery. I think it would be fair to say that this lived up to our expectations and possibly slightly exceeded them, well worth doing. The port precinct is also very attractive with plenty to keep the mind and camera busy and the scenic drive through riverine woodland is enjoyable - probably would have been more so if we hadn't gone the wrong way and had to edge very gently where the bank was washed away - we had not noticed a 'Road Closed' sign! Nonetheless we did find some quite friendly birds in the area, in spite of the heat.

Paddle steamer Black Shag

Paddle steamer Black Shag

PS Hero

PS Hero

Artefacts from "All the Rivers Run" aboard PS Pevensey

Artefacts from "All the Rivers Run" aboard PS Pevensey

Paddle steamer undergoing restoration

Paddle steamer undergoing restoration

PS Pevensey engine room

PS Pevensey engine room

PS Pevensey moored

PS Pevensey moored

Handsome old locomotive (now, sadly, diesel-powered

Handsome old locomotive (now, sadly, diesel-powered

Locomotive, barrels and log trailer

Locomotive, barrels and log trailer

Tour guide under lace parasol

Tour guide under lace parasol

Old gas lamp in historic port area

Old gas lamp in historic port area

Steve got hot and was glad to find the very pretty Wistaria Cafe

Steve got hot and was glad to find the very pretty Wistaria Cafe

Some of the lovely river gums on the Scenic Drive

Some of the lovely river gums on the Scenic Drive

White-plumed honeyeater

White-plumed honeyeater

Our last day was going to be an 'admin' day but we took a drive out to Five Mile Reserve, a little further to the west of the town and the park. Here we came across a good bird area but also had fun watching speed boats careering up and down the river, practising for a big event the weekend after we left - of course! The town was filling up fast so I guess we were quite lucky that we had booked ahead.

Another white-plumed honeyeater - singing away

Another white-plumed honeyeater - singing away

Sacred kingfisher (best I could get of this lovely little bird)

Sacred kingfisher (best I could get of this lovely little bird)

Jet ski on the Murray

Jet ski on the Murray

Our itinerary then headed roughly south west to Bendigo where we only had time for a coffee stop in a lovely park. We probably could have built one or two more days in so that we could have done places like Bendigo justice but we would probably still be travelling if we had tried that! Maybe next time?

Black duck portrait

Black duck portrait

Purple swamphen

Purple swamphen

Moorhen

Moorhen

Peewee or magpie-lark

Peewee or magpie-lark

Orange-bellied parrot (we think)

Orange-bellied parrot (we think)

If anyone has a different idea of any of the birds or animals, please let us know as we did struggle at times, in spite of having the very handy Pizzey & Knight app on Judith's iPad.

Posted by SteveJD 15:58 Archived in Australia

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Comments

What wonderful photos. Love the birds! An amazing journey.

by Gill Geraghty

Thanks Gill, as I look through the photos and stories I can hardly believe we did it all!

by SteveJD

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