The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

29 April, 2013

Rutherglen winery tour & birthday bash

The reason for our stay in Albury was not only to endure the cold but to celebrate our daughter Briony's 30th birthday.  Briony insisted that it was a mile stone so a celebration was to be had!! It was to be a mystery winery tour taking in some of the winery's in the Rutherglen area and dress was 'race attire'. Family and friends had flown in from all points of Australia so a good time was to be had.

The birthday girl and dad

First Winery, Morris - before sampling (no sunnies)

Only one winery into the day and the sunnies are starting to come out
First tasting for the day "I can do this".
Olive tasting at Gooramadda Olives

John Gehrig wines, very friendly and nice wines

Hels was happy to play Granny with the kids rather than taste .... but then she did get 2 bottles of wine!!

The bus picked us up from the caravan park at 10 am and we headed across the mighty Murray into the depths of the Victorian wine area of Rutherglen.  The first stop was Morris wines, (Hels has taken over writing this blog report as she has a clearer recollection.... might be an age thing) followed by a visit to Gooramadda Olives where we sampled various olive products and was informed by the lovely owner regarding their history and products available.  Quite a few purchases were made from this stop and would highly recommend a visit if anyone is passing this way.  Continuing our journey, with Briony consuming her first of many wine 'roadies" supplied by her guests, we called into John Gehrig Winery which is a family run business and also highly recommended for a visit.  By this time Geoff and I were hanging out for a coffee so called into The Wicked Virgin boutique winery where the service was far from friendly (perhaps the lady had a bad day) although the setting was beautiful.  We sat outside in the beautiful sunshine enjoying a bottle of wine supplied by Todd.  Continuing our journey we tried to get into 'The Pickled Sisters' for lunch however quite a number of other people had the same idea so we lunched at the Victoria Hotel situated in Rutherglen.  Once again more wine was had and a glow was appearing in all faces!  After lunch we visited and sampled wines at Campbells, Pfieffers where we had cheese, dip and biscuits on a bridge - even feeding the carp and tortises, Cofields & All Saints.  At this stage only one guest 'fell' out the bus (but no names hey Nat!) which was good going considering the number of samples participated at each winery.

Sunnies on, getting into the tasting now

Todd, that sherry is for later .... now get on the bus

"Before I get too old and the wheels fall off, I want to ....."
Enjoying the ambience in The Wicked Virgin  gardens

Wooden horses at Campbell Wines - Briony couldn't work out why her head was swaying and they weren't rocking horses.
I'd like to take one of those barrels home for "Crawf"

What can you say?

Having cheese and wine over the river at Pfeiffers Wines
Suppose to be looking at the fish .... ha

Nearing the end of the day at Cofield Wines

I don't know what you are but I worship you.
Note at the end of the day see how mum & dad are holding the young-ins upright

The wine tour completed at approx. 5.30pm with Geoff & I being dropped off at the Caravan Park to take care of all the bottles of wine purchased by various guests, and the young'uns continuing into town for dinner and a few drinks ( as you do after a day of wine tasting).  We drove into town and upon arriving at the Mexican Restaurant the sight ahead was alarming!  There they were drinking various margaritas out of 'fish bowls' - and not to be outdone, Geoff was conned into ordering one and with a little help from Nat, his choice was the most potent!!  Not only did I have some little chickens to look after I also had an old Rooster to try to manage.  My night was going to be 'challenging'.  Upon completion of dinner and the fish bowls Geoff and I drove back to the Caravan Park leaving the birthday party to find some more entertainment in town. 

The famous "Fish Bowl Margareta"
Like raspberry cordial with a kick of Sambuca ..hic!

I can do this, just work with me

On the Sunday which was the actual Birthday date, we celebrated again with brunch at the River Café on the banks of the Murray River which was a lovely setting.  After participating of the birthday cake it was time to take guests to their various means of transport for their journeys back home.  All in all it was a fantastic celebration with family and friends.

Autumn Leaves in the park
Breakfast at River Café on the banks of the Murray River

Coffee and Birthday cake with the River Murray in the background.

Today I worship you .. you're the only one for me

At the Albury railway station as they start to head back to all points of Oz.

21 April, 2013


Was a nice sunny Sunday after we arrived in Albury so decided to take a drive with Briony and see some of the country side around Albury, even venture into Victoria!  We first headed towards Lake Hume as this caravan park was one of the options we had considered to stay at while catching up with Briony.  Pleased that we did not stay there as much further to travel into Lavington where Briony lives.

Another coffee bakery, nice and warm in the sun, great coffee

The old mixing with the new

From here we took the Beechworth Wodonga Road to Beechworth.  We had hoped to have a coffee on the way but couldn't find a suitable coffee shop - just as well as Beechworth has a well know bakery and coffee shop, so that was the first stop on arriving in the town.   Was a very busy spot however managed to find a table on the balcony over looking the street with live Jass music being played, you don't get this at too many bakeries!!

Not quite Abbey Road

Bank of Victoria with PO in background, note some of the cobblestone road.

Beechworth was established and grew after gold was discovered in 1852 at Spring Creek.  As with many early gold mining towns the wealth from the gold rush built Beechworth with a population exceeding 10,000 at its peek.  Today with lots of pubs and many restaurants to satisfy the tourists appetite, Beechworth is known as a historic and cultural precinct.  The weather certainly brought out the crowds and the streets full of cars and people enjoying everything Beechworth had to offer.

Beechworth Court House building

Not quite the judge and jury

That's not Ned but is where he sat in 1880

We walked the streets in ore of the buildings most built in the mid 1800's.  The Court House was one which we decided to take a closer look and opted to pay the entrance fee .  The Court House was built in 1858 from local honey coloured granite.  The court room lays clam to having Ned Kelly tried in 1871 for a Horse Receiving charge, other members of the Kelly gang also appeared in this court. It was great to walk through and sit at the original settings within the court house - some of which activated a voice recorder re-inacting  past hearings.

Next to the court house was the telegraph station, Briony sent a telegram to Todd for $2.00, which had not arrived 5 days later!!  While chatting to the telephonist?? he mentioned the railway station and said to have a look in the back room where they had a model railway station which was a replica of the old Beechworth Station.  As the line was a spur line, it was remove and only a couple of building still exist which are in need of restoration so the model was all the enthusiasts could provide.  Sorry no piccies.

20 April, 2013

Dubbo to Albury

After leaving Tamworth we could see the change in the country side - the grass was brown and much dryer. The Autumn leave are starting to fall.  It's been a while since we have experienced season changes as we are used to Wet and Dry, so this was great to see.  The streets of Tamworth and Dubbo looked great with all the Autumn leaves falling.

We were hoping to camp at the Warrumbungles N/P however after calling into the information centre in Coonabarabran we were informed that the Warrumbungles was closed for camping due to the fires earlier in the year which devastated the NP.  We started to look for suitable alternatives but most were close to the road, so finished up going to a recommended (red tick) free camp just 10km north of Dubbo.  This turned out to be one of our longest days so far, roughly 340km.  The camp was off the main road and quite a nice spot along the river for about 8 or so caravaners.  When we arrived late afternoon we would have been around number 14 or 15 so was a bit crowded.  Would have finished up with 20 or more staying overnight and had heard that at times the access road is full of campers, must be 30 plus.  The group was a friendly lot so sat around the campfire for happy hour and traded travel stories.  More and more travellers are staying in the free camps as Caravan Parks increase their fees.  We had been told that all the parks in Dubbo were booked out over the weekend as Triple J had a music concert on Saturday night, so staying in Dubbo was not an option.

Free Camp 933 at Terramungamine north of Dubbo, a popular spot .. hey!!

We set off the next day into Dubbo for a look before going further south.  We walked up and down the main street and was surprised that Dubbo has a Myer store, had a quick look at the old Goal and had lunch on the park lawns. After hearing how difficult it would be to get a site in Dubbo we found a Property about 26km from Dubbo on the Obley Road that would be suitable for a couple of nights. As we travelled past the Dubbo Zoo heading along Obley Rd, Hels remarked on the bike sculptures on the road side with various animals made out of various old farm implements sitting on them.  Nothing more was mentioned until later, when we were heading towards Molong.

Our camp on the property out from Dubbo

Oliver and his new mate, might have to get some sunnies for Oliver to be cool!!

Campsite on the property out of Dubbo

Oliver playing on the Harvester
Even though the camp area was basic it was a most relaxing spot just to chill out for a couple of days, Hels had time to finish reading her book and I just enjoyed the warmth from the sun, but the nights were cold!  Oliver was excited as he found a new friend and was allowed to play on some of the old farm machinery, a 1930's Sunshine Harvester.  Ian & Betty brought a lovely dinner to share one night and both Helen and I were in ore of the travels they had done, especially taking their Harley to the USA and travelling around - they had some great stories.

1930's Sunshine Harvester

Sunshine Harvester

On leaving the farm we continued on Obley Rd travelling towards Molong.  We had forgotten about the Animals on bike sculptures until they started to appear again, which made us wonder what and why.  We stopped in Cumnock to talk to Todd on the phone and noticed outside the hardware store was another Animal on a bike, this time there was a caption on the sign which referenced a web site - this explains the paddock art sculpture trail from Molong to the Dubbo Zoo.

Zebra and Hippo on bikes in Cumnock

Animals on Bikes

Animals on Bikes

From Molong headed to Eugowra a small rural town between Molong and Forbes on the Mandagery Creek.

Were attracted to Eugowra as the Camp 6 made reference to "The Fat Lamb Hotel" for accommodation, and after staying at the Blue Healer Hotel and dinning at the Golden Dog we thought this would be an obvious choice. Now have a look at the 'piccie' as to why we did not stay!!!! Camp 6 Reference NSW  503 no longer exists as it burnt down.  We did however stay at the show grounds, this provided a great backyard, as on Sunday morning we had the trots trials for the local club, it's great to have a different back yard now and again.

Fat Lamb Hotel Camp 6 Ref 503, I think they left the roast on for toooo long.

After breakfast and watching the trots we went for a drive to Forbes about 40km to the west and then up to Parks to have a look at the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope (as in the movie 'The Dish').

Hels checking out the Dehavilland Vampire Single Bomber the park at Forbes, looks more like a model plane however it was a real one.

CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope 20km north of Parks, became famous in the move "The Dish"

Sent Hels to the naughty corner .... no not really. 
This is a sound amplifier, you whispered into it and the sound travelled to another dish about 50 meters away.

We left Eugowra late after coffee and headed for Gooloogong, a long trip across the other side of the Lachlan River at trip of approx. 25km, yes 25km total!  Decided to stay in the Free camp 2km west of Gooloogong near the site of the first Anglican Church, not sure why this is the first as haven't been able to find out much more information.  The only site we found was the old grave site. Light rain tonight which brought out the huge moths which particularly liked the lights in our van!

Gooloogong camp 6 Ref 505. Not sure if we actually saw the site of the First Anglican Church .

After leaving Gooloogong we travelled further south through lush farming land which reminded us of  the SA country side with lots of gum trees and undulating fields. Travelled through Grenfell (Henry Lawson's birthplace) and on passing through Young which is known for the cherry crops the weather started to get even cooler!!!!  Travelled through Cootamundra (Badman's birthplace), Bethungra and Illabo, decided to stop for lunch at Junee, about 50km north of Wagga Wagga. Discovered Junee has a lot to offer as they have the Railway Station which was built in 1883 and in great condition, the Roundhouse Museum which houses the turn around train repair shop, the Liquorice and chocolate factory (Hels thought she was in heaven!) so decided to stay the night.  Junee also has Australia's most Haunted House, Monte Cristo Homestead, so we hoped the ghosts didn't stray too far that night.

Coffee in the railway station tea room at Junee

Junee Railway station

Junee railway station, built 1883

The Loftus Hotel, Junee, Est 1896 one of many pubs in the town

Oliver escaped out the car and would not come back until we went into sample the products of the Liquorice & Chocolate Factory.

Monte Cristo Homestead - Australia's most haunted house

Left Junee after a quick drive past the round house, the railway repair workshop where the trains would have been driven in then turned around on a turntable after being repaired and sent on their way.  Also checked out Monte Cristo Homestead but as neither were open continued on our way.  We decided to go to Sandy Beach Camp [Camp 6 Ref 800] for a couple of nights before heading into Albury.  Had a great camp on the Murrumbidgee River East of Wagga and enjoyed our first camp fire with another couple Norm and Pat - great company.
Sandy Beach Camp [NSW 800]

Thanks Target ..... Coat $19, Trackky dacks $8, Slip-ons $6 ... I will survive the southern cold!!

On Friday headed into Albury and after setting up in the caravan park went to surprise Briony at work, I think she had been expecting us since early morning - was great to see her.  Will stay in Albury now for the next week or so enjoying her company and of-course celebrating her 30th Birthday.