Day 2 Friday 11th January 2013 Bendigo
We wake to the smell of the bush and a summer morning with the prospect of a very hot 40˚ day ahead. Breakfast over we have a ‘pommie’ shower* and a quick pack up, which is pretty easy considering that, for safety purposes, we didn’t unhitch last night. Once again bushfires are predicted and strong northerly winds have been forecasted, you can feel it in the air, so we decide to move to the Bendigo Showgrounds in Holmes Road. For a small fee, we’ll be in a safe spot and be able to unhitch the van as well.
Once more Gabby leads us on a merry dance around Bendigo and after what seems like a thousand turns, we find ourselves in Holmes Road which is nothing more than a very short suburban street with about a dozen houses and certainly no showgrounds. Hmm, nice houses but where are the showgrounds? We’re getting a bit edgy about this damned GPS. After a little tweaking, we discover that there are indeed two Holmes Roads in the Bendigo area and we finally locate the showgrounds.
We’ve been here before, to a Sunday Market a few years ago. There are half a dozen vans dotted around a large area, it costs us a mere $20 for a powered site with water, clean toilets, showers, and a dump point. The only thing lacking is the garden setting and shade that most caravan parks provide, but on the other hand, we’re not all jammed in like sardines and we’ll be safe from bushfires. The RSL is opposite and the local pool is only a block away.
A searing northerly wind is picking up already forcing us to drive the 2kms into the city rather than walk. The much-awaited cup of coffee at the Olive Tree Cafe in Bath Lane is excellent. We mosey around the shops and laneways admiring the handsome old buildings and succumb to a second cup of coffee which sadly, is barely drinkable. It’s almost lunchtime and with air conditioning as important as nourishment we pop into the Foundry Hotel which looks pretty good. It is blessedly icy cool inside, and we have two huge plates of Greek Lamb Salad and a couple of really cold beers to slake our thirst. Emerging into the heat we grab a few groceries at the Woolworths opposite and then head off in search of a couple of sights that piqued our interest yesterday when we were following Gabby’s circuitous instructions.
The first stop is the Big Stupa in Allies Road, a Buddhist temple that is being constructed on the outskirts of town. It will be huge when it is finished, but it looks like that may be several years away. The next stop is an historic stone pub called Pratty’s Patch in Monsants Road. Built in the 1850’s it is a delightful curiosity pub with a colourful history and …it’s cool inside. The dining room looks welcoming, the publicans are both charming and we find it hard to leave. The publican and the regulars recommend campsites at Mt Franklin, Laancoorie, and Cairn Curran Reservoirs, especially Ford Bridge and Joyce’s Creek (Pleasant Creek).
Back at the campground it is boiling hot and windy, too blowy to put out the awning, so we sit in the shade of the van and settle in for a quiet read. One of our neighbours, a Dutch chap, drops by for a chat. His kids have all moved to Australia, so he and his wife have bought an old Holden and a Jayco camper trailer. Each year they escape their harsh winter to tour Australia. We ride out the heat with cold showers, icy poles and don’t even bother with dinner, just a few biscuits and cheese. Thankfully our new Companion Evaporative Cooler does its job and we get a good night’s sleep.
Towing Kms: 23Kms
2022 Notes: *Pommie shower, a quick wash as we didn’t have a shower in the pop-top. Nor did we have air conditioning. How did we survive?
The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion has now been completed and it is indeed huge.