It has been a dry old time in Victoria’s Goldfields. The wettest day last year was on January 18th when we were deluged with 49mm (2 inches). We had had 21mm nine days earlier. Since then it seemed to have forgotten how to rain. My neighbours are hand feeding sheep and, unless they have a good bore, are carting water every day to keep their stock alive. It’s hard work at the hottest time of the year. Australia is, and always has been, a tough place when el Niño comes to visit.
But there are wetter parts. The hills east of Melbourne are clothed in tall forest and in the gullies there are pockets of genuine rainforest. Some cooler weather was forecast so what better time to visit. A few showers? Well, that would reduce the risk of bush fire. Fifty millimetres, could be uncomfortable in the tent.
I arrived in Australia in August many Augusts ago. I bought a sporty Mazda car with a rotary engine and I was keen to try it out. The ski season was in full swing, snow in Australia, not what I was expecting, must take a look. I took a long spin up the highway to just beyond Mansfield where the snow capped summit of Mount Buller could be seen. Wow. Where to now? I might add at this point, that in England, I had never had the opportunity to drive on a gravel road.
I consulted my brand new map of Victoria and found a road down the east side of Lake Eildon, through Jamieson, the A1 Mine Settlement, Woods Point and on to Marysville. From there it’s a shortish trip to the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. More interesting to make it a round trip, I thought, and set off.
The bitumen ran out. It was raining. It was getting late in the afternoon. It can’t be all that far, I thought.
Soon it was dark, the wind was howling, the rain was lashing down. I was traveling very slowly on a loose stony road that divided its time between climbing and descending steep hills and sharing the valley bottom with a rapidly swelling river. The car was second hand, I hadn’t even checked whether I had a jack or a spare tyre. My way forward might be blocked by a fallen tree or the river in flood. So might my way back if I turned around. My heart was in my mouth. Jamieson to Marysville is 136 km (85 miles). Along the way a Wombat the size of a sheep wandered out into the road and stood looking at me. It could have been asking itself, “What the hell is he doing here?” Which is exactly what I was asking myself.
So there I was, a few days ago, camped at Woods Point, next to the Goulburn River, in the pouring rain. On the way there I had stopped to photograph the Noojee Trestle Bridge. A number of these fine old rail bridges survive, I find them very interesting …
You can see that the area is much lusher than my neck of the woods, there’s even grass.
And tall trees …
it has crossed my mind that given my girth, if I was a tree I would be about a hundred metres tall.
Meanwhile, outside my tent, a very damp Flame Robin was playing in the puddles.
The next morning there was nothing more than light showers. A short walk turned up some wreckage …
for a moment I thought it was my Mazda.
I added 20 more bird species to my year list, enjoyed recounting my first trip down this road and enjoyed the ride in my FJ Cruiser, too easy.
When I got home there was a very welcome 21mm in the rain gauge. May have to service the mower soon.