1 – 7 July

Thursday 1st July

Woke up to find thick fog hanging heavily over Lake Charm. Cold and wet!

Set off once again, across country following the route of Mitchell.

The Signposting here  (in Victoria) is quite good, especially compared to NSW, where there is None!

Visited Reedy and Third Lakes, where there is a fab Nature Reserve, Bird watching ‘hide’, info etc. Many of the lakes around here are protected under RAMSAR wetlands umbrella. Excellent.

Continued on thru Kerang, to Cohuna, via a wonderful side trip along the Barr creek.

It was great to see a waterway which wasn’t dug into a staright line-channell, and where there has been enviro restoration work done. Beautiful.

Arrived Cohuna. Dinner at Tavern. O/night at Caravan Park, on the Gunbower Creek.

Friday 2nd

Foggy weather again. Met Ian Creek, and dog Cindy, my camping neighbours and went for fantastic drive through Gunbower National Park (proclaimed Nat Park this week). Magnificent area, which will benefit greatly from added protection, as it has been a State Forest for many years, and subjected to much logging, etc. Gunbower Creek and Murray River, both dotted with great camping sites, and not quite enough old trees. – including lots of older trees which were ringbarked, by Axe, so ages ago, still left standing. These are usually the largest trees still standing. Was it to ‘thin’ the forest, and allow the other trees more light to grow?

Cooked up yummy dinner,, and stayed extra night at Cohuna.

Sat 3rd

Another Fab drive in Forest, partly to see Biggest Living tree. It’s Huge!! –towering over all the others, and with a girth of approx 10+ metres. Ian knows the area well, having camped there a lot!

Then headed back to Kerang, to visit my mums cousin. Lovely evening with Beth, Bruce, Cam, Kirsty, and kids Emily & Annie.

Drove around the farm, alongside Lake Merran- also now dry. Great to see their farm management, as they are ‘biodynamic’ and caring well for the country: diversity, low stocking rates and revegetation.

Sunday 4th

Spent morning with Cam & co.

Then headed back to Cohuna, again on the M M trail.

Hadn’t progressed far: Leitchville, when I met Bill Vickers.

He took me on a great drive further along Gunbower Creek /Murray River, to see where Stapylton had done side trip from the rest of the Party. His sites haven’t been recognised, despite being 2nd in command on the Expedition, and documented on Mitchells Map.

Dinner with Bill, Maureen & Norman, Camped my van the night in their yard, amongst the museum of old tractors, etc.

Monday 5th.

Another drive with Bill in the Forest. : along National Channell to Torrumbarry Wier, which has been the underpinning of much of the irrigation throughout the area.

Fascinating to see this area as Dairy Country. It must have been Very tough throughout the drought years, and is looking its’ best this year. Most of the cows have been fed on grain & hay brought in from Hillston area. Certainly adds to the food miles on a litre of milk.

Drove on, via Kow Swamp, to Mount Hope. Climbed the hill for sunset, and

camped in picnic area, amongst the boulders etc! Stunning.

Tuesday 6th

Sunrise on the mount, lots more photos, etc. So spent the morning sorting through, editing, etc. Wish I could get a few up onto the site, but never seem to quite catch up with myself on the new, let alone the previous.

Afternoon, met up with Peter, the new owner of Mount Hope Station. Great tour of the houses and environs. This place is Amazing!

Mitchell came through first, and was completely enamoured of the area, not surprisingly. The granite boulder outcrops and hills were a huge relief after months of travelling through very flat country.

T  L Mitchell Three Expeditions…

“ENTER A MUCH BETTER COUNTRY.

The plains we had crossed this day were covered with excellent grass; and

in many places detached groups of trees gave to the country a park-like

appearance very unlike anything on the banks of the Darling.

VIEW FROM MOUNT HOPE.

On reaching the summit of Mount Hope I saw various higher hills extending

from south-south-west to west-south-west at a distance of about 35 miles.

They were not all quite connected, and I supposed them to be only the

northern extremities of some higher ranges still more remote. I perceived

along their base a line of lofty trees, but it was most apparent on the

horizon to the westward of the heights. The intervening country

consisted, as far as the glass enabled me to examine it, of open grassy

plains, beautifully variegated with serpentine lines of wood. In all

other directions the horizon was unbroken and, as the trees of the Murray

vanished at a point bearing 143 1/2 degrees from North on the border of a

very extensive plain, I concluded that an important change took place

there in the course of that river or the Goulburn (of Hovell and Hume);

for it was uncertain then which river we were near. The granitic range of

Mount Hope terminates in the plains, one or two bare rocks only

projecting above ground on the flats westward of the hill. On its summit

we found some plants quite new to us and, among the rocks on its sides, a

species of anguillaria different from that on the plains, being larger in

the stem and having a dark brown ring within the chalice, the edge of the

leaves being tinged with the same colour.* We found here again the

Baeckea micrantha seen on the 24th instant, also a remarkable new species

of Eriostemon forming a scrubby spiny bush, with much the appearance of a

Leptospermum,** and a new and very beautiful species of Pleurandra, with

the aspect of the yellow Cistus of the Algarves.*** A remarkable hill of

granite appeared 5 1/3 miles from Mount Hope, bearing 30 degrees 10

minutes West of South. It is a triangular pyramid and, being quite

isolated, it closely resembles the monuments of Egypt.”

This area was settled (occupied) not long after Mitchell had travelled through, mapped and described it. Burke and Wills also came through, amongst many others!  Alfred Deakin, etc It is magnificent, and wonderful what Peter is doing to restore the houses, and renew the land.

Eg: Trust for Nature Covenant, etc.

It is Living History, and I feel very special to have been welcomed here so warmly.

Camped near an old quarry, again, amongst giant granite boulders, and nature. The bush is recovering nicely after the rain, as are the Bunnys and weeds. But at least many of the plants and grasses Mitchell describes are still here.

There is a giant wedge tailed Eagle nesting not far away, lots of birds, roos, wallabys, etc.

Wednesday 7th

Walk up mount for sunrise over Pyramid Hill. Fab!