So after spending two weeks swealtering in the heat at Craig’s parents house in Benalla. We re-wired the back of the Ranger, serviced the camper, repacked all of our belongings in the garage and packed the car and camper with everything that we thought we would need. We were ready to hit the road.
On leaving we got a rather large fanfare send off by both of our sets of parents, they lined the driveway and sent us off with party poppers and toy whistles. We were not sure whether they were happy or sad to see us gone.
Our first destination was Tocumwal, a distance of roughly 90km from Benalla. A strategic move in case we forgot anything – in our true style we did forget stuff, nothing huge just all of the kids sheets – whoops. For our first night we were treated with a magnificent sunset, one of many we am sure of. The next day Craig’s parents dropped off the kids sheets, and also treated to a lunch at the pub – surely we were not looking malnourished already and visited the Big Murray Cod. The second “big thing’ to be erected in Australia.
After Tocumwal we headed off to check out some of Craig’s old family camping areas in the Barmah National Park. After following a few dead end tracks and a few slippery bog holes that nearly put us in the Murray we found ourselves at the Tongalong Beach. A place that holds great memories for Craig – he broke his toe here when his Nan told him not to ride his bike with thongs on, so what did he do, rode his bike with thongs on and promptly had a stack and got his big toe squashed between a tree root and the pedal breaking the toe and tearing the nail out. Lily, in true style decided to follow in Craig’s footsteps and decided to go walking with Campbell and Craig, in thongs, and promptly stubbed her toe on a tree root and nearly ripped her toenail off. We met some lovely folk from Nathalia who were more than happy to share some of thier favourite places from around Australia, thanks for the cuppa Don and Gayle – we will keep the Keep River on our itinerary.
After heading out of Barmah we decided to head to Echuca as a package that Craig had ordered before we left Benalla had arrived and we realised we had left a few more things in Benalla. So we got another lovely visit from Craig’s parents in Echuca and once again thanks for lunch – picnic in the park this time. We spent two nights in Echuca, not doing much but spent a fair bit of time in the pool.
From Echuca we headed off on our longest trip so far through to Warracknabeal and had a very lovely night at the Creekside Hotel with some of Vanessa’s oldest friends. Since we were in the area we took the opportunity to visit the 101st item on the National Heritage List – The Murtoa Stick Shed. It was amazing how something that was meant to be only temporary during WWII has lasted this long. The Stick Shed was in operation as a bulk grain storage until the late 80’s. It is the only one of its type left in Australia.
After doing half of the Silo Art Trail we pulled into the free camp at Lake Lascelles near Hopetoun, we just happened to pull up beside Dani and her dog, Dumpy, who we got chatting to at Tocumwal on our first night. In 37 degree heat the Lake was fantastic right up until bed time. We then completed the second leg of the Silo Trail the next day.
We wanted to have go on the rope swing but the locals kept hogging it, they were really noisy playing on it too.
So we have survived the first week and have decided to try and ride out the next lot of 42 degree days in the pool at Mildura. So far there have been tantrums, raised voices and stress. But we are sure that this will become easier as we get used to life on the road.