Day 2 Monday 7/11/2022 Fryerstown, humid 24 passing thunderstorm
I wake to a warm sunny morning. But perhaps that’s because I slept in so late. With power available on the veranda, we move our coffee machines over there and sit in the sun eating breakfast and reading papers. Real papers. The phone signals are weak and flaky, so Woody has driven into Castlemaine early for the papers.
After breakfast, we take a drive to check out the other free camps we’ve stayed at before in this area. Warburton’s Bridge has been flooded but the campsites are now dry. It’s a different story at Vaughan Springs. The campground and picnic areas are closed awaiting repairs and looks to have had quite a lot of flood damage.
It’s a short drive into Castlemaine for toppings for tonight’s pizza. We return to find Toothless under our van and in a pool of mud. We had mentioned that the water tanks were leaking and he’s endeavouring to fix them. But he’s unable to solve the problem.
I take a walk around town. Out front there’s the old courthouse and a canoe tree (a tree that has had a swathe of bark removed to build a canoe). There are two trees that I can’t identify that were once used to chain prisoners, one for women and one for men awaiting sentence.
Across the stonework-lined Fryers Creek a wisteria climbs 30 metres or more up a tree. The avenue of elms showcases what must have been the heart of town. Where once there were 20,000 people a rabbit hops across a deserted High Street. Residents now number 228 (2016 Census) though I’d guess that quite a few of the miner’s cottages are country retreats as there is a feeling that a lot has been spent on ‘sensitive’ renovations behind closed doors. A Tesla in the driveway can be a bit of a dead giveaway.
The boys fire up the pizza oven and pace about hoping for enough heat. None of us has used one of these before. A noisy storm moves quickly overhead with more thunder than rain. I stand at the outdoor sink washing dishes in the rain and can’t help but think how wonderful it is; warm air, cool raindrops, and the sparkle of raindrops caught in a spider’s web behind the sink. You don’t ‘feel’ weather like this when you are at home.
The locals keep popping by to drop off empty milk bottles and as we eat the now-cooked pizza Milkman Ollie arrives to put a load of milk in the fridge. Ollie informs us that there’s an Eco Community of 20 homes at the end of the road, hence the number of passing cars. He explains that his partner Tess runs a micro-dairy and they supply the local community. Having grown up in a dairying area I just about fall off my chair when I learn that their herd consists of only 10 cows! Having already eaten our fill we give Ollie our last pizza, the best one, to keep him sustained on his delivery round.