Sunday 14th June - Friday 19th June 2020

Leader: Peter

Participants: Roger, Daniel

After a non-eventful drive from Melbourne and scrounging a couple of pine pallets in Echuca to use as kindling, we arrived about 4 pm Sunday at our camping spot on a bend of the Murray River, complete with a beautiful sandy beach. Once our tents were set up we lit a good warm fire and cooked some vittles and continued into the night with a few sherbets and had a full canopy of stars, comets, sputnicks etc. After a good night’s sleep and breakfast was consumed, we set out to collect some lovely red gum fire wood not too far from our camp site, spotted by Roger (“Buck”) on his morning constitutional accompanied by his pooch Nellie. The rest of the day was spent around the camp fire eating, drinking in moderation and readjusting our accommodation.

Tuesday we left camp after a hearty feast of bacon, eggs and beans. We travelled through Lietchville on the way to explore Bald Rock and Mount Hope in the Terrick Terrick State Park near the quaint rural town of Pyramid Hill, named by Major Thomas Mitchell. It was also the place of Burke and Wills’ campsite No Eleven. After spending considerable time exploring the very large boulders and granite outcrops, we drove past some extensive cropping paddocks and dairy farms on our way to Cohuna situated on the Gunbower Creek, birthplace of golfer Stuart Appleby. (How do I know this? Because my father lived there in retirement.) We fuelled up in Cohuna, both man and machine, before heading towards Koondrook which has a large Redgum Sawmill and is the last town before you cross the Murray into Barham NSW. Leaving Barham we headed east towards Moama and Echuca. We were soon onto the 106 km dirt River Road, following the Murray on the NSW side and that’s when the fun began. First of all our sat-navs did not recognise the dirt road and if we drove too far into the forest, would we have to turn around and go all the way back through Barham, Koondrook, Cohuna and Gunbower to Echuca? As it was now approaching dusk we decided to keep going and eventually our S/Ns recognised where we were. As it had rained recently we came across some very muddy slippery bog holes and washouts made worse by log trucks operating in the immediate area. Many  kangaroos were seen hopping from the road, several with suicidal tendencies. Also spotted was an emu and two eagles hoeing into carrion beside the track. Eventually with our vehicles looking like true off-road warriors we reached Moama, crossed the river and arrived at our campsite just on night fall. Fire lit and dinner cooked and eaten, it was off to bed. It had been a very long day for three old codgers with arthritic bones.

Wednesday we woke to lovely sunshine and the screeching of many corellas in the gum trees. “Buck” spruced himself up and went to visit an old Salt that he was in the Navy with, where he feasted on home-made pies and sausage rolls. Some were left over but he didn't think of his buddies left minding the fort out in the bush (go figure). He assured us that he didn’t partake in a hot shower but he came back smelling a lot better than when he left. Even Nellie looked all spruced up. Daniel and I stayed in camp admiring and critiquing his new Jayco Penguin Outback. Methinks me must have one, so watch this space. Permission has been granted. (PS. One tent for sale.)

Thursday saw Buck, Nellie and Peter go into Echuca and visit the Port area and shops. The town was very quiet with many shops vacant or closed. The river is very low, not uncommon for this time of year with a few paddle steamers sitting on the river bottom completely out of the water. Daniel stayed in camp sorting out his emails etc.

Friday after breakfast and packing up we headed for home in convoy via the Calder Highway through Bendigo. I think we all enjoyed getting out of quarantine for the week. The weather was very kind to us, sunny still days, cool evenings with clear skies. There were no frosts or fog and at no time did we think, what the hell are we doing here its  b*** jolly freezing. The only time it rained was at night, not too heavy just nice to hear the pitter patter on the tent roof. There was lots of bird life including cockies, corellas, kookaburras, stone the !!! and the infamous Mighty Magpies.