Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Holtie and Wazza Journey to Victoria Part 1

A few months ago I rang Peter (Holtie) and suggested we

should make arrangements to go on holidays to Lake Awoonga

to try our hand at barramundi fishing. There is no closed season

for barramundi fishing, like there is in the rest of the state.

Due to unforeseen circumstances we had to put this trip on

hold and we decided instead to drive down south to Victoria

and visit Peter’s sister, Merle and also check out some of the

tourist sites in Victoria. I haven’t been to Victoria for over

30 years although Peter was often down there as a lot of

his relatives live there.

We set off on a Sunday morning and our first overnight stay

was in Dubbo. This was a long journey of 890km (about 550

miles). Leaving Dubbo we travelled 800km (about 498 miles)

to Mildura where we were going to stay for a few days.

Before we arrived at Mildura we called into Parkes some

120km south of Dubbo. It was here we decided to see the

Parkes Radio Telescopic.

Peter walking into the grounds of the Parkes Radio Telescope.

Since its opening in October 1961 the Parkes Radio Telescope

has been an icon of Australian science. Famous for its reception

of the television images of the first Moon walk in 1969, it is

normally used to detect the faint radio emissions from objects in space.

The fictional film 'The Dish' was based on the real role that Parkes

played in receiving the first video footage on the first Moon walk

by the crew of Apollo 11 in 1969. Although designed and operated

as a radio telescope for astronomical observations Parkes has also

been used for tracking and receiving data from many space probes.

It has contributed to other space missions including the Galileo probe to Jupiter and the various Mars missions in early 2004. In January 2005 it was

a key element in a global linkup of 17 radio telescopes observing

the descent of the Huygens probe through the atmosphere of

Titan. With a diameter of 64 metres, Parkes is the largest single

dish telescope in the southern hemisphere dedicated to astronomy.

Its large collecting area makes it a very sensitive instrument

ideally suited to finding pulsars, rapidly spinning neutron stars the

size of a small city. Two-thirds of the 1,800 known pulsars,

including the only binary pulsar system, were found using this telescope.

Photograph by John Sarkissian (CSIRO Parkes Observatory).

Mildura is a regional city in northwestern Victoria, Australia,

and is located in the Sunraysia region, and is on the banks of

the Murray River. The city's population is about 30,500.

Mildura is also known as the centre of Victoria's Food Bowl

and is a major producer of citrus fruits (especially oranges),

and wine. It is also notable for its grape production, supplying

80% of Victoria's grapes. In 1937 it officially became a city.

Apex Caravan Park where we stayed in Mildura.

Explorer Captain Charles Sturt arrived in the area in the 1830's

in the search for an inland sea. He entered the headwaters of a

wide river, which he named the Darling. On a subsequent

expedition he entered a mighty river, which he named the Murray.

In 1830, while navigating the Murray, he came across a river

junction, which he was convinced was the confluence with the

Darling. Settlers and drovers began arriving in the area, bringing

cattle and sheep to graze the natural pastures.

...................................Langree Avenue in Mildura.

In 1886 George Chaffey came to Australia and selected a

derelict sheep station at Mildura as the site for his first irrigation

settlement signing an agreement with the Victorian government

to spend at least £300,000 on permanent improvements at

Mildura in the next twenty years. After much political wrangling,

the settlement of Mildura was established in 1887.

It was named after the Mildura sheep station that provided most

of the land. The name is of Aboriginal origin, and means either

"red sand" or "sore eyes"

Chaffey Bridge in Mildura crossing the Murray River.

The economy of Australia, particularly between 1860 and 1880,

“Rode on the sheep’s back”. The simplest way to transport all that

wool to the ports on the coastline was by river. A thriving industry

of paddle river steamers arose on rivers like the Murray to deliver

this wool to ports, where it would be loaded onto ships bound for

England and Europe.

View of the Apex Caravan Park from the Murray River.

Peter’s ex Julie also lived in Mildura, so we contacted her when

we arrived and that evening we went out for dinner. I have

known both Peter and Julie for over 30 years. Julie now operates

her own quilting business where she creates her own designs.

Julie demonstration how she operates the quilting machine.

The following morning we boarded the paddle boat steamer

“Melbourne” where we went on a two hour cruise down the

Murray River. There are a number of weirs and locks on the

Murray and these are used to regulate the flow of the river

and to lower and raise the level of the river to allow the large

number of houseboats and tourist paddle boat steamers that

ply up and down the river. Here we were able to observe the

operation of the locks as we maneuvered through the locks

to get to the lower level of the river.

The Paddle Boat Steamer "Melbourne".

The Murray River is permanently navigable to the top of the

Mildura Weir pool, a distance of 970 kilometres from the mouth.

Eleven weirs with locks, each raising the water level behind it by

an average of 3.1 metres, create a continuous series of stepped pools.

A lock is a rectangular chamber of concrete with gates at each

end. The locks permit boats to move from one level to another.

For a boat to pass downstream through the Lock, the water

inside the chamber must be at the same level as the top weir

pool, to allow the gates to open. The top gates are opened by

hydraulic powered arms to allow the boat to enter. The gates

are closed behind the boat and the water in the lock chamber

is released by opening large hydraulically operated butterfly

valves. Water flows from the lock chamber, via tunnels, to the

weir pool below. As the water level in the chamber drops, the

boat is lowered with it, until equal to the level of the lower weir

pool. The bottom gates are then opened and the boat continues

on its way. The water levels in locks are raised and lowered

entirely by gravity; no pumps are used.

To travel upstream the reverse occurs. After the boat

enters the lock chamber and the gates are closed behind

it, valves are opened above the upstream gates to fill the

chamber, via tunnels from the top weir pool. Water enters

the chamber from the tunnels through ports spaced along

the bottom of each wall. This is to distribute the inflowing

water to minimise turbulence in the lock chamber as it fills.

When the water level in the lock chamber is equal to the

weir pool, the gates can be opened and the boat can proceed.

It takes only 7 minutes to empty or fill the lock chamber but

it normally takes 15 to 20 minutes to pass a boat through the lock.

Should you visit Mildura or any of the towns along the Murray,

a cruise on one of the many paddle boat steamers is well worth

the experience.

In Part 11 we travel onto the historic township of Echuca, which

was established around 1850 and is now a thriving tourist town

and a visit here is essential. We only spent a few hours at Echuca

as we wanted to be in Shepparton that evening. We would be

spending a week visiting Peter’s sister, Merle and also driving

down to the Great Southern Road to view the Twelve Apostles,

an amazing collection of sandstone pillars standing in the Southern Ocean.


Merle said...

Hi Warren ~~ I enjoyed reading about
the first part of your trip with Peter. Great job, as always with lots of pictures to illustrate.
Looking forward for part two. Hope all is well at your place, Damn hot here 41 C today - and way too hot.
Take care, Love & best wishes, Merle.
It's Robyn's birthday today, 20th.

Peter said...

I've been waiting so long for this post I almost missed it, well rit buddy.

Jeanette said...

Gday Warren," Happy Astralia day "
loved your email.
Just popped over to see if you had updated and Surprise, surprise.
Wonderfull post commentry and photo's on your trip with Peter trip to Victoia,,' Take care look forward to part 2... Jan

Jim said...


I came over to wish you a HAPPY AUTRALIAN DAY! and see that Jeanette beat me to the punch. Of course she is "Aussie" and you guys are really proud of your historical start.
I am too, for you. So, HAPPY AUTRALIAN DAY!

I thank you also for putting on this trip you and Peter did. It sound like real fun and the thing buddies should be doing.
I will check for more soon!


Merle said...

Dear Warren ~~ Thank you so much for your concern about the terrible fires all over Victoria. I am about an hour or so from Bendigo, Seymour and Beechworth. Should br safe here in town. The weather is cooler 27C a hell of a lot better than 46C on Saturday. Guess it will be known as Black Saturday - worst we have ever had. 107 dead and more to come still
Watching and reading about it all has been awfully upsetting. Thank also for the jokes - they will help
Take care of yourself, my friend, Love, Merle.

DellaB said...

wow.. sounds like a great trip.. thanks for sharing with us.. but I bet you left out a few bits?

Jeanette said...

Happy birthday Warren..how about an update.. Jen