Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Visiting Bendigo, Victoria, Australia

Tourist brochures tell us that Bendigo and the nearby Heathcote Regions of Victoria are among the fastest growing areas in the state. The local population is around 100,000 which probably doesn't mean much to those of you in Mumbai or Mexico city, or perhaps in Indonesia.

Between 1850 and 1900 Bendigo mines produced more gold than any other place in the world, about nine billion dollars worth. But now the mining era has been and gone and all that are left are the stories of immigrants who became millionaires overnight and the remnants such as the poppet head in the photo at left.

I've visited Bendigo several times previously, the most recent perhaps 15 years ago and have always found it a pleasant, nice place to be, although prone to cold weather; I wouldn't want to live here.

Among the many things to do at Bendigo are:

1. do an underground mine tour of the Central Deborah Gold Mine which is situated within the city area (strange to see a poppet head sticking out from the suburban streets)
2. go for a trip on the Bendigo Tramways' "talking train"
3. visit the Bendigo Pottery and watch a wheel thrown pottery demonstration as an expert potter shows how easy it is to transform a lump of damp clay into a work of art
4. visit the Chinese Museum and cultural centre and associated gardens
5. follow a map to visit many of the very old buildings that date back to the early days of Bendigo's settlement

If none of these appeals to you, there are plenty of pubs, a nightclub, restaurants, shops and other things to do here.

There is an excellent tourist information centre here with dozens of brochures, maps and stuff to buy. Although we don't by any "tourist stuff" anymore, Christina and I found it nice walking through the beautiful parks and gardens and around the route covering the old buildings (even grey nomads need exercise). Many of the tree varieties here eg, Dutch elm and oak are not found in Central Australia, as are many of the flowers and shrubs, so it's uplifting to walk among them and admire their beauty, depth of foilage and the birdlife they attract.

We stopped at a business which is a coffee shop, restaurant and bar and had a cup of coffee and garlic bread with three accompanying dips. Fortunately, we only bought one to share as it was huge and one each would have been simply too much. We are finding more and more now that serving sizes have become inordinately large, so it's common for us to buy one meal and share it.

After all, every calorie counts!


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Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Popularity of Caravaning

We've been on the caravan trail in Victoria, Australia now for almost four weeks and I never realised exactly how popular an activity it is. Even in the chill of our southern Spring.

Every caravan park we have been to has had a large number of happy caravaners, RVers, people in tents and of course those who book cabins.

The standard of caravan parks has been impressive. All we have been to have had good amenities including play equipment or rooms for kids, barbecues, swimming pools, and other facilities like "jumping pillows".

While the travelling caravan population consists mainly of older, retired or near-retirement-age travellers, there are also younger families with pre-school age children having a few days holiday. Also, we have noticed that there are groups of "clubbers" ie, people with a common interest who are travelling together.

At Marong (20 km from Bendigo) where we are at present, there is a group of Jaycar caravaners who are members of a Probus Club. Apparently their group travels to a different town every three months to meet other regional Probus Club members and socialise. Way to go!

Given that our current nightly rate is $27 AUD, it's a much cheaper option to caravan than to be paying rent or perhaps a mortgage. This amount includes use of amenities, water and power although if you want to do your clothes washing, usually you have to pay for use of the equipment. We have a small Lamair on-board top loading washing machine, so we haven't had to pay for anything additional.

Marong Caravan Park has about 30 caravans here at present. Given that there are thousands of caravan parks about around this huge country of ours, I can only guess that there must be tens of thousands of people travelling from place to place at any time of the day.

Today we are off to Bendigo to take in the local sights.


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