The Big Lap 2015 – Bridgewater / Bendigo

The trip from Ballarat to Bridgewater was quite a lazy journey; as we didn’t have far to go we just toddled along at a leisurely pace taking our time. Leaving Ballarat we travelled through the small centres of Creswick, Clunes, and Talbot; we stopped for morning coffee at Maryborough before moving on through Dunolly and Tarnagulla before arriving at Bridgewater on Loddon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridgewater_On_Loddon,_Victoria) just after 11:00 am.

Acres of green grass at the Caravan Park at Bridgewater on Loddon

Acres of green grass at the Caravan Park at Bridgewater on Loddon

At Bridgewater on Loddon (http://www.bridgewateronloddon.com.au/), the local Council has constructed this great caravan park – The Bridgewater Public Caravan Park (http://www.bridgewaterpubliccaravanpark.com.au) on the banks of the Loddon River (we understand that this park replaces an earlier park severely damaged in the catastrophic floods which inundated the town in 2011). There are 98 powered sites set on acres of green grass with modern amenities and only one cabin. There are only a few caravans in the park and it is a very peaceful setting.

Reflections on the water of the Loddon River near our caravan site

Reflections on the water of the Loddon River near our caravan site

A very cold morning at Bridgewater

A very cold morning at Bridgewater

From white frost to white birds at Bridgewater

From white frost to white birds at Bridgewater

On Thursday afternoon we took a walk through the town checking out what is here and speaking to some of the locals. Walking tracks have been constructed along the river so we had quite a walk seeing the sites along the banks. At first sight, there appears to be little here, but closer examination reveals quite a lot of industry. Laucke have a flour mill here which was only completed in 2014 (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/state-politics/bran-new-mill-against-the-grain/story-e6frgczx-1226964274047), there is also a solar system test facility on the outskirts of town (http://solarsystems.com.au/installations/bridgewater) (http://yes2renewables.org/2012/03/22/253bridgewater-solar-plant-commences-operations/) and a variety of rural based businesses located in and near the town.

Bridgewater Hotel

Bridgewater Hotel

Bridgewater Post Office

Bridgewater Post Office

Church at Bridgewater - Only open on 1st and 5th Sundays

Church at Bridgewater – Only open on 1st and 5th Sundays

Railway bridge across the Loddon River at Bridgewater

Railway bridge across the Loddon River at Bridgewater

Old Bank at Bridgewater

Old Bank at Bridgewater

Bridgewater Memorial Hall

Bridgewater Memorial Hall

Solar System test facility at Bridgewater

Solar System test facility at Bridgewater

Solar Arrays at the Solar Test Site at Bridgewater on Loddon

Solar Arrays at the Solar Test Site at Bridgewater on Loddon

Friday morning was a bright clear morning so we drove the thirty-seven kilometres into Bendigo to do some shopping and to take a tour of the Bendigo Tram system (http://www.bendigotramways.com/). We joined the tram at the Central Deborah Gold Mine site (http://www.central-deborah.com/) with a ticket to take us to the Tram Depot and Workshop for a tour and then a further trip to the Bendigo Joss House for a tour there then a return trip to Central Deborah Gold Mine to collect our car.

Central Deborah Gold Mine and Tram Stop

Central Deborah Gold Mine and Tram Stop

Tram 25 at the Central Deborah Mine site

Tram 25 at the Central Deborah Mine site

Old Tram at Central Deborah Mine site

Old Tram at Central Deborah Mine site

Display at Central Deborah Mine in Bendigo

Display at Central Deborah Mine in Bendigo

It was an interesting journey on the trams – we actually travelled on two different restored trams one from Central Deborah Gold Mine to the Tram Depot then a different tram to the Joss House. The return journey saw us on the same tram for the entire journey that we had first boarded.

Church in Bendigo from the tram

Church in Bendigo from the tram

From the tram in Bendigo

From the tram in Bendigo

War Memorial in Bendigo viewed from the tram

War Memorial in Bendigo viewed from the tram

Fountain in Bendigo

Fountain in Bendigo

Statue in park in Bendigo

Statue in park in Bendigo

War Memorial Statue in Bendigo

War Memorial Statue in Bendigo

Entry to the Chinese Section in Bendigo

Entry to the Chinese Section in Bendigo

Bendigo Street view at entrance to Tram Depot

Bendigo Street view at entrance to Tram Depot

Tram Depot and Workshop in Bendigo

Tram Depot and Workshop in Bendigo

At the Tram Depot and Workshop we saw quite a number of trams in various states of restoration and repair and were given a brief history of each of the trams by a guide who later drove the tram that took us on to the Joss House.

Plaque at entry to Tram Depot

Plaque at entry to Tram Depot

Trams in the Depot for refurbishment or maintenance

Trams in the Depot for refurbishment or maintenance

Diagram of the original tram network in Bendigo

Diagram of the original tram network in Bendigo

Old tram undergoing restoration work

Old tram undergoing restoration work

Restored Tram No. 8

Restored Tram No. 8

The interior of a restored tram

The interior of a restored tram

Tram stripped down and rebuilt ready for painting

Tram stripped down and rebuilt ready for painting

The tram for the Joss House that we travelled on

The tram for the Joss House that we travelled on

The Joss House (http://www.bendigojosshouse.com/) is still used for worship but is open for inspection by the public when not needed for worship.

Joss House in Bendigo

Joss House in Bendigo

The website indicates – From when gold was first discovered in 1851 to the present day, the Chinese community has been a part of the proud history of Bendigo.

The Bendigo Joss House, a Chinese house of prayer, was constructed in the late 1860s. Standing for over a century, the Bendigo Joss House is one of the few remaining buildings of its type in Australia.

Constructed with locally handmade bricks and painted red, symbolising the traditional Chinese colour denoting strength and vitality, the Bendigo Joss House provides a glimpse into Chinese culture and tradition.

The Joss House is owned by the City of Greater Bendigo and has been managed by The Bendigo Trust since 2007

Inside the Joss House

Inside the Joss House

Inside the Joss House

Inside the Joss House

Inside the Joss House

Inside the Joss House

Inside the Joss House

Inside the Joss House

Inside the Joss House

Inside the Joss House

Inside the Joss House

Inside the Joss House

Inside the Joss House

Inside the Joss House

Behind the Joss House is the former munitions factory, now operated by the Thales Group and is the site where Bushmaster vehicles operated by the Australian Defense Force, are manufactured. The Bushmaster Vehicles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushmaster_Protected_Mobility_Vehicle) have been a good choice for the ADF and have proved to be a very safe design as there have been no Australian personnel ever killed in these vehicles.

The barrel of a large gun at the old Ordnance Factory at Bendigo

The barrel of a large gun at the old Ordnance Factory at Bendigo

Ordnance Factory Mark at the end of the monster Gun Barrel

Ordnance Factory Mark at the end of the monster Gun Barrel

Tram No. 25 approaching the stop at the Joss House Bendigo

Tram No. 25 approaching the stop at the Joss House Bendigo

Tram No. 25 approaching the stop at the Joss House Bendigo

Tram No. 25 approaching the stop at the Joss House Bendigo

Inglewood (Victoria not the town in Queensland) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inglewood,_Victoria) is just seven kilometres up the road from Bridgewater on Loddon and we drove to the town on Saturday morning. A walk through the town revealed a lot more shops and businesses than in Bridgewater on Loddon. There are 71 businesses and places of interest marked on the Inglewood Tourism Map compared to 48 on the Bridgewater version (http://inglewood.vic.au/).

Inglewood was founded on gold

Inglewood was founded on gold

Interesting Public Art at Inglewood

Interesting Public Art at Inglewood

Wall plaque at Inglewood

Wall plaque at Inglewood

Inglewood Town Hall

Inglewood Town Hall

Old house in Inglewood

Old house in Inglewood

Butcher shop at Inglewood - apparently makes good coffee also

Butcher shop at Inglewood – apparently makes good coffee also

Dr Bill's house at Inglewood - used to be the blacksmiths

Dr Bill’s house at Inglewood – used to be the blacksmiths

Walking round the town we found a number of Antique and Collectible businesses as well as pubs, butchery, grocery and the other run of the mill shops one normally encounters. In one of the antique shops we noticed gold nuggets for sale – the note attached to the box indicated something along the lines of “Seth’s gold nuggets – not real gold but nice collectible nuggets, only $1.00 each. Seth is raising money to visit the snow.” The gentleman in the shop told us the story of Seth (obviously his grandson) who had cleaned and painted some quartz pieces and sprayed them gold with some old paint – some frustrated fossickers came into the shop and declared they were having no luck so Seth offered them his gold; in turn the fossickers gave Seth $2.00 and that was the start of his enterprise.

War memorial at Inglewood

War memorial at Inglewood

Old Wesleyan church at Inglewood

Old Wesleyan church at Inglewood

Antique shop at Inglewood

Antique shop at Inglewood

Grocery museum at Inglewood

Grocery museum at Inglewood

Hardware shop at Inglewood - real grape vines growing across the front of the shop

Hardware shop at Inglewood – real grape vines growing across the front of the shop

There were a lot of interesting building in Inglewood and we took photos before we visited the Eucy (Eucalyptus) Distillery Museum (http://inglewood.vic.au/eucymuseum). The modern museum building is built adjacent to an old eucalyptus distilling plant which has been closed for some time. At the museum you watch a DVD –an Australian Story (ABC) episode about the TAIG family (http://www.australianeucalyptusoil.com.au/); then give a practical demonstration of the distilling of eucalyptus oil from the leave of the blue eucalyptus plant (more a bush than a tree) using the model distillery built in the museum. A very interesting visit on the day.

The Eucy Museum at Inglewood

The Eucy Museum at Inglewood

The old eucalyptus distillery at the Eucy Museum at Inglewood

The old eucalyptus distillery at the Eucy Museum at Inglewood

At the old eucalyptus distillery at the Eucy Museum at Inglewood

At the old eucalyptus distillery at the Eucy Museum at Inglewood

At the old eucalyptus distillery at the Eucy Museum at Inglewood

At the old eucalyptus distillery at the Eucy Museum at Inglewood

Inside the Eucy Museum at Inglewood

Inside the Eucy Museum at Inglewood

Inside the Eucy Museum at Inglewood

Inside the Eucy Museum at Inglewood

Inside the Eucy Museum at Inglewood

Inside the Eucy Museum at Inglewood

We drove on to Wedderburn where little seemed to be happening, found a small café open and had some lunch and coffee before heading on to Boort (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boort). Boort is located on the edge of a very attractive lake system and the local caravan park is perched right on the edge of the lake. The town (http://boort.com.au/) is a very attractive looking small town but as we arrived after 1:00pm on a Saturday there was virtually nothing open in the way of business – didn’t check the pub but I guess it was open for business.

Memorial Hall at Boort

Memorial Hall at Boort

The old Court House (now a museum) at Boort

The old Court House (now a museum) at Boort

The Lake at Boort

The Lake at Boort

Contemplation interrupted along the Federation Walk at Boort

Contemplation interrupted along the Federation Walk at Boort

Railway Hotel Boort

Railway Hotel Boort

Boort is also home to the Spanner Man – John Piccoli (http://www.loddon.vic.gov.au/Visit/Local-attractions/Boort/Star-Spanner-Sculpture-Garden), however we didn’t get there as one has to make an appointment to visit; we did however, see some of his work on display in the town.

A statue by John Picoli - The Spannerman - at Boort

A statue by John Picoli – The Spannerman – at Boort

Those spanners are cold on the posterior

Those spanners are cold on the posterior

We walked around the town and drove to a local lookout (not a lot to see through the large trees) before we left Boort driving towards Durham Ox (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durham_Ox,_Victoria). There is virtually nothing here except the Ox.

The Ox at Durham Ox

The Ox at Durham Ox

Turning south along the Loddon Valley Highway we headed for the township of Serpentine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serpentine,_Victoria) where we turned off the highway to the Bridgewater road and back to the caravan park. The Tourism Officer at the Loddon Shire Council (http://www.loddon.vic.gov.au/Visit/Loddon-Discovery-Tours) would be pleased with us as we had followed one of the tourism routes recommended by the Council; we enjoyed the day and found the area very interesting.

Sunday was a day for late rising (but the frost was still evident in the caravan park) and essentially preparing for the next phase of the journey. Cleaning the interior of the van was in order and filling of water tanks and containers (lovely soft water here) was achieved. The rest of the day was spent doing very little. Tomorrow we move on to Echuca for a couple of days.

More later!

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