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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Sundowner, Aug 29, 2011.
interesting shit ... thanks:huh
Next morning, after rehanging the still damp laundry in the morning sun a little longer, I start breaking camp looking forward to travelling a bit more again. First off I head to the township of St Arnaud to refuel and seeing as it's lunchtime, grab some takeaway chips for lunch as well as a bottle of Stones Green Ginger Wine for its night time warming effects. Then by rambling along via Logan, I end up at Moliagul, birthplace of the Reverend John Flynn, "Flynn of the Inland", the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and numerous inland hospitals (Oodnadatta was his first and up until a couple of years ago, was still the main medical centre in the remote north-eastern corner of South Australia) as well as a host of amazing innovations that substantially improved the life, even today, of country Australians. A stop at the monument for a photo....
Go here for a great Wikipedia entry on this amazing man's life. It's well worth it. Seriously. Go on, have a look. We'll be waiting here for you when you return.
Anyway, while that fella's gone, let's go look at the second most interesting thing nearby, out at the Moliagul gold field area. This...
It's the supposed exact spot where the world's largest ever gold nugget, The Welcome Stranger, was found. This sign nearby tells a little of the story as well...
After chatting to another couple on a Kawasaki Z1000, I rode onwards, north through the Kooyoora State Park and Rheola goldfield area up to Melville caves. After taking on some pretty average tasting water from the campground and seeing it infested with kids from what appeared to be a Scout camp, I decide to leave. Formed camps really aren't my thing, especially when it's Saturday evening and there's a bunch of lil' bastard scouts everywhere. If they were anything like me when I was a Scout, I'd be lucky if they left me a bare bike frame and the outer tent fly by morning. So with the sun setting, I ride back south through a tiny area proclaiming "Historic Berlin Goldfield", towards the forrest west of Rheola Goldfield. In here, I chase logging tracks in the dark, hoping to find signs of old mining activity. Down one 4wd track called "Stage Coach Robbery Track", I spot really great signs of an area worth prospecting but continue anyway. After what seems like a couple of hours of riding every track in the forrest, I decide to head back to the Berlin field. I'm not sure why, but the forrest just didn't feel lucky.
At Berlin, I find a decent clearing with plenty of firewood, so set up camp in the starlight and then relax by the fire for the evening with the radio and the bottle of Stone's. In the quiet of the night, not too far off I can hear the grunting call of a male koala, answered by the shrill scream of an adult drop bear and the barking of frightened farm dogs. After about half an hour of this screaming, grunting and barking, I hear a single gunshot ring out in the dark from the nearby farmhouse and the screaming cries cease, followed soon after by the bark of the dogs. The koala keeps grunting away late into the evening. He's about 2 or 300 metres west of me, across the road in the other section of the goldfield. He's obviously lonely. I just hope the Drop Bear isn't wounded and headed my way.
Next morning I fire up the metal detector after porridge o'clock and start digging targets within feet of my tent. On the fourth dig, I find a good strong signal that sees me going down about six inches through the firm brown loamy soil. What I finally pull out of the hole really stuns me. I have to look a couple of times at it to make sure it's real. Then a big smile creeps across my face that I can't move all day. I put my find into a zip up pocket of my tankbag pack and continue sweeping the area, digging up any signal I hear. The rest of the day is spent sweeping the campsite and some of the old mine holes and diggings nearby. But I can't help but stop occasionally just to open the zipped pocket and check out my find every so often. I'll show you it at the end of the report. How's that for a deal?
The end of the day finally comes and I reckon I've dug a hundred signals. And I'm loving it. It's like fishing, waiting for a bite to come. That night the koala fires into life again, followed soon by the farm dogs but no nocturnal screaming animals.
The following morning, after breakfast I go back over the area close to my tent, listening intently for fainter signals. I actually pick up and dig a few signals that I somehow missed, but they're just junk. This makes me grab the bag my camp oven usually lives in, to gather up everything I dig, just to show you what it's like working this old field. Then I slowly work up the hill, closer to the roadway. At what must be about 11am, a white four wheel drive comes to a screeching halt on the roadway near the track into my camp. I'm off a couple hundred metres away, working a grid pattern search of a hillside. The 4wd comes along the track, continuing past my bike and tent and comes to a stop in the darker, thicker forrest nearby. Out jump three male adults and a tall teenage lad. Two of the adults look like real hillbillies, with bib style overalls, no shirts and long, scruffy red hair. The other male, the driver, has one arm in a sling and one leg in a medical brace. He looks like he's just been let out of hospital recently, the way he's moving about slowly. But they've all got sacks, the size of pillow cases, and straight away they start bending down, talking excitedly while picking stuff off the ground. :huh What the Hell? Are they gathering rocks or something. Then it dawns on me....they must be gathering the hallucinogenic "magic" mushrooms that are growing everywhere. I keep working the area, going up and back trying to appear like I'm totally ignoring them, where the opposite is true. One even walks within about thirty metres of me but doesn't say a thing. I've got the headphones on so even if he did, I probably didn't hear him. One thing I do know is that what they're doing is totally illegal, thanks to big signs at the entry of every park and forrest I've seen so far. I'm just glad I'm built like a brick shithouse and don't look like an easy target to cause trouble with. Within about twenty minutes, they've filled their bags and all jump back into the vehicle before zooming out onto the road and away. It's then that I realise I've made a huge mistake by continuing to detect, picking up and placing junk into my scrap bag. It must have looked like I was constantly gathering nuggets. This gets me a bit worried they might return later to rob me. Not the best of thoughts when you're in a forrest all alone. Anyway, by the end of the day I'm tired of gathering trash, so return to camp. Here's the huge haul for the day....
Left to right - pan handle, piece of metal pipe, kerosene tin handle, two modern (1980's) beer pull tabs, under these what might be an old miner's belt buckle piece, next a huge pile of old horse shoe and hand made timber nails, above them some thicker pieces of steel from mining machinery and possibly a shattered firearm breach section, then pieces of lead and steel from food tins and tubes and buckets/billy cans, then a couple of bits of wire.
Just shows it's not as easy as you'd think. But I'd rather be picking this stuff up than nothing at all. Why? Because it means I'm working an area that probably hasn't been worked over yet by anyone else, other than the original miners, which is what you want out on these fields.
Next morning, after thoughts of the four druggies returning all evening, I decide to move on again further east. But before that, I work a small errosion gully with the detector before returning to camp with a bucket of water from a deep puddle. It's time for another bush bath 'cause I can smell myself again and it's not too sweet. I take a full billy of creek water and after making sure it has no frogs in it, boil it on the campfire. Doing this a couple of times, It's great to strip off in the sun and scrub the old hide down with the hot water and soap. I'm glad nobody drove in again, especially long haired hillbillies in overalls.
The red bag (metal detector roll top bag) was my shower mat, bike the soap holder, shower curtain and change room. The collapsable bucket holds twenty litres but a good scrub only takes about five litres. The remainder becomes laundry water. Crude, but it worked well. I bet it's been done out on this goldfield plenty of times before. This field had up to about 4000 miners back when it was rushed in 1868.
While packing up camp, I was reminded of something from a few days earlier. Back when I was shopping in the supermarket at St Arnaud, I had some friendly stranger come up and do the usual, "Your bike's really loaded down, isn't it?" comment. I guess the tyre does make it look like that, but other than the mining equipment and Polar Bear food cooler, it's the same gear as I normally carry. I didn't swing at his stupid grin, instead I just said, "Not really. It just looks that way. It's actually quite light." Maybe you think the same as this stranger? I don't think it's excessive, considering I intended going out on the fields for a fortnight doing unsupported bush camping, but here's a couple of photo's of what was in each bag.
Left to right - Luxurylite cot, Trek-lite Derwent 3 man alloy pole tent, USMC Bivy bag with -10c Synthetic sleeping bag and Exped 9Dlx inflating mattress, above that the new 17inch spare standard duty tube, alongside a silk sleeping bag liner, 4 metre batwing tarp, bubbogears nesting alloy tarp poles, Alite Monarch chair, above that the folding 20 litre bucket, alonside that my stainless camp oven and all cooking gear (spoon/cup/matches/salt/flint firestarter) including some food inside, below that a coleman self-inflating pillow for use with my sheepskin seat cover, a Coleman 185 lumens LED Lantern wrapped in an Andy Strapz combination neck warmer/beanie, then a blue compression laundry bag with two air removing roll bags each containing a spare t-shirt, woolen socks and underpants.
I'm quite happy with what I took. Everything got used every day. My luxuries were the Alite Monarch chair, the LED lantern, my MP3 player (in tank bag) and transistor radio (in tankbag) and a small folding trenching shovel I used for mining and cooking, as well as digging the toilet hole at each site (strapped to left crash bar). I guess the Luxurylite camp stretcher or the Exped 9DLX mat could have stayed home but together they were better than my bed at home and I didn't mind the weight. I took two spare changes of t-shirt, socks and underpants plus what I was wearing, which gave me a comfortable amount of clothing in this cold weather (0C to about 20C most days.) I also wore an Andy Strapz neck warmer/beanie, which was used to wrap the LED lantern while travelling. I had a thin silk balaclava mask to wear under the helmet when it rained or was too cold. This bag would have weighed less than 20 kilo's, including cans of food.
The 12 pack sized Polar Bear cooler had the rice packets, porridge oats and any other food supplies in. It was going to sit at the back of the rear carrier prior to grabbing the tyre and stuffing my packing plans. It actually sat really well inside the spare tyre. These are a brilliant food cooler for bike touring. This weighs about 3 kilos including all food.
The Ogio bum bag held just enough tools to handle a sparkplug change, basic electrical repairs, tank removal, carby overhaul and chain repair. I could actually tear the engine down with it if I was carefull with the 1/4 inch Metrinch sockets and L shaped screwdriver bit/socket drive bar. The main tool is a high quality adjustable 6 inch long spanner with carefully matched, machined faces - it never rounds bolt heads if adjusted properly. It's mainly for axle nuts and chain adjusters. The bag also holds a tyre repair kit, Topeak Two Timer hand pump (with a mini Slime electric pump in the tank pannier bags), red gasket goo, case repair two part liquid arildite, a few o-rings, zip ties, blade fuses, assorted spare bolts and washers plus the couple of metres of shoestring thickness para cord for binding repairs to handlebars/broken limbs/clothes line. I keep the tyre levers on my handlebar cross pad and about three or four metres of cloth reinforced "100mph" race tape rolled around the mirror stalks (which stops them vibrating as well). The Ogio bag weighs about 1.5 kilos.
All bundled up, the metal detector packed down really well, wrapped in a warm scarf I wore at night with my winter jacket liner taken out of the riding jacket. The methylated spirits bottle was used to carry the port wine from home and later, the decanted Stone's Green Ginger wine. The bottles are super light, really leak proof and very strong. The headphones sit wrapped in the sleeping bag compression sack on top of the detector coil. The orange Exped bag contained a spare pair of MX goggles. The geologist hammer sat under the detector unit and didn't cause any issues. The two inner tube rubber bands (from an old rear tube) work as spare tie down straps usually but were used this trip to stop my MX pants dragging on the ground while walking around detecting. All up, this bag weighed less than 5 kilos.
The Cortech 21 litre tank bag contained my silk helmet balaclava for cold/wet weather riding, a Kodak point and shoot camera, a Panasonic FZ40 super zoom camera, a sharp Gerber folding pocket knife, toiletries, toothbrush, muesli bars, earplugs, rechargeable camera batteries, MP3 player with seperate Altech Lansing amplified speaker, am/fm transistor radio, chewing gum and sugary lollies (emergency food ) plus some Vitamin C drink powder sachets (emergency drink for bore water ).
The Steel Pony tank panniers had my winter gloves (used daily this trip), toilet paper, fire starter cubes, Slime mini electric air pump, prospecting information books with field maps, floppy hat, new tube patch kit (after Horsham) and three MSR 4 litre dromedary water bladders. Basically bulky gear needed daily on the road or camping priority items.
I'd be happy travelling around the country permanently with this kit. The only thing I have at home to add is a Katadyn Base Camp water purifier kit and a Katadyn water purifier pump, plus a set of rear Steel Pony canvas panniers.
Anyway, enough of gear, its time to see things, find new goldfields and meet interesting people. One of those people I meet just up the road, here....
IN THESE GOLD SEEKING DAYS
The grass from yonder flat has faded And all its freshness doomed,
For diggers' picks have now invaded
The ground where wild flowers bloomed
The gold that had for ages slumbered, Locked close, in nature's maze
We diggers trace through drives un numbered ,In these gold seeking days.
The trees that many an acre covered, 'Neath which the emu played
Where bright plumb'd birds so often hover'd,are now for firewood laid.
The wilderness becomes a township, And busy life displays,
Where diggers meet in cordial friendship In these gold seeking days.
And here we toil in search of treasure, Far from our childhood's home;
Bereft of every social pleasure,unheeded and unknown;
Yet hope, the digger' heart sustaining Sheds her effulgent rays;
And bids us strive without complaining In these gold seeking days.
So after leaving the Berlin goldfield, I take a short run west across to the Wehla area but instead of finding the remains of a gold mining area ghost town, I find fenced and flagged off mining leases on the old goldfield. Rather than get in trouble entering onto a possible mining lease, I head east again, towards Kingower. Riding along, I spot the road to the Kingower Cemetery. I'm always keen to maybe learn something of an area's history. Inside the cemetery, it's obvious the locals take pride in the grounds. Colourful flowers grow next to the well tended graves. Some of the early ones have new headstones and plaques. Others simply exist, unmarked save for a numbered peg.
It's a shame all graves don't include a brief history of the occupants, like this.
At least some people have a great sense of humour, even deceased.
One of the really old graves.
Some tell of the terrible struggles to survive in this area prior to modern medical help.
Then there were sites like this, that really are heart breakers.
A 27yo woman, Mary Stewart who lost her fifteen month old daughter, Janet, in May, 1863, then her own life in November, 1863.
The adjoining grave, in what I believe to be a family plot due to its wrought iron fence, is that of Alexander Forbes, who was apparently a Storeowner and Publican, who died only 14 months earlier in September, 1862.
I'm still trying to find a link between Stewart and Forbes and how they died. I'll add that to the report at a later date if I have any luck.
What I have found so far is that Forbes was business partners with a former gold miner, John Catto, who became the Kingower Postmaster. It was behind their premises in the young goldfield town that the (at the time) largest nugget, the Blanche Barkly (1743.5 troy ounces or 145.25 pounds) was dug from 17 feet down. Named after the Governor of Victoria, Henry Barkly's young daughter, Blanche, it was found in August, 1857 by a party of new miners to the Kingower goldfields, brothers Robert and James Ambrose (from Gravesend, England) and brothers Samuel and Charles Napier, (from New Brunswick, Canada) working a joint claim. I'd imagine the trade at Forbes hotel would have been brisk from that point onwards. Aren't graveyards and history great. But to look at just the grave, you'd never know this.
Just as I was walking back to the bike after finishing my tour of the whole cemetary, a car drove in. It was the Secretary of the Kingower Cemetary Board. His wife was recently buried here and he had come by to do some weed control, mainly stopping the young sapling trees from taking over the area. It was great talking to him. We chatted about the cemetary features and history, including about the unmarked Chinese miner's graves and the wooden plaque headstones, the loss of the graveyard records office in a fire, then goldmining, district history and also about my own find, which he was quite impressed to see. We had a few great laughs, including about him being made a "Life Member" of the cemetary. I could have spent all day talking with him, but he needed to attend to his business and I needed to ride. But it was a truly great encounter. One of the best of the trip.
Anyhoo, back on the bike I rode around the area following tracks and trails, exploring this famous goldfield...
Where gold nuggets were once picked up like potatoes from the brown soil. Then down through the forrest...
heading out past the Union Mine site and coming back into the small town's main crossroads three times before finally consulting the GPS and heading towards Inglewood township. Lost? Me? Never!
aahh man this is sooo good ..... making us wait till the end
awesome ride report
looks like a fantastic time
thanks for sharing it all with us
great ride report Rich, look forward to reading more.
Always nice to see a proper S10 in action!
Cheers guys! It's a dirty job but somebody has to do it.
After reaching the moderate sized hamlet of Inglewood and doing a bit of shopping, I wander around town trying to find a good source for drinkable rain water. The locals must have thought me odd or lost, because try as I might I couldn't find the suggested caravan park, nor the signposted botanic gardens. I guess you have to be born in these towns to know the secret to these locations. The signboards on street corners seem to point in a general direction to these places, much like a drunk waving his arm to hail a taxi in front of a bar. Getting water has been really easy so far - simply a case of finding a public building with a modern plastic rainwater tank attached to it then making use of the tank tap. However, in this part of Victoria were summer temperatures get up into the high 30's or low 40's, the tank outlets all head straight into the locked building interior, rather than having the usual free access tap. Fair enough as well as some of these towns rely on ground "bore" water or a local pumped creek supply. In the end I find the local football oval and netball clubhouse for my water needs. Then it's north out of town into the twisty tracks of the conservation and forrest reserves, looking for a good campsite for the night.
Is that a road?
After a couple of hours of scouting around these tracks; A/ Because they're there; B/ Because I can; C/ Because I'm not on any tracks shown on my GPS or maps, I finally start getting into an area shown on an 1860's goldfield map in one of my books. Down a few more overgrown tracks..
And into a really remote old goldfield area just on sunset, where I spot this down a side track off the main winding track.
It's either a fairly well constructed adobe gold miner's hut that's been damaged in storms and a few bushfires or a drug crop site guard dwelling, torched and knocked down since the owners hopefully left the area.
It looked like a reasonable place to camp, except just standing around in the short time to take these photo's, I'm covered in half inch long black ants that're biting the hell out of my legs. "Meat Ants" are what I've always called them out bush, as they'll devour anything like hungry carnivores. I've even seen them eat a whole black garbage bag full of scraps by attacking in their thousands at one of my 4WD camps out in the desert. They left me the shredded, perforated plastic bag looking like a piece of worn out flyscreen, containing anything they couldn't tear apart and carry off - mainly tins and crumpled aluminium foil. :huh So it's an easy decision to move onwards. Just on dark and only a short distance further, I spot another old, tangled and overgrown disused track at ninety degrees to the narrow main track. It leads to a clearing, of sorts, with few trees but a bit of a sandy patch at its lower side. It's good enough for the night. Soon I've got a small fire going and the tent pitched on the soft sand. Dinner time!!...
After dinner and while off having a pee, I become aware of another campsite's light through the scrub about 3 or 400 metres away. I can't get close to have a better look without loosing sight of my own campsite, so I hope it's not a drug growers camp and retire to my area keeping my obvious presence to a minimum for the rest of the evening. Overnight it's absolutely freezing, as the sky is clear and the stars are out in their full glory.
The Southern Cross (Crux Constellation) and above it, The Pointers, two stars from our closest neighbour, the Centuari Constellation. The Cross is the kite shaped group of four bright stars with a fifth fainter star between the left and lower cross stars, at about 40 degrees left and down from the very centre of the photo - it's like a kite flying on it's side. The Pointers, Alpha and Beta Centauri are located above it, at about 45 degrees left and above the very centre of the photo. They are the bright pair, sitting one above the other. These help navigators and astronomers find the southern axis of our galaxy, much like the North Star does in the Northern hemisphere. Clear as mud? I hope so. It's a sight to bring a warm glow to an Aussie or Kiwi (New Zealander) heart, as they are the star group on both our country's flags.
Then a bit above and to the right in winter is my favourite constellation, Scorpius, the Scorpion, for all you Scorpios.
Apologies for the blurring but short of stopping the planet, until I work out the new camera properly, it's the best I can do for you. I like it though.
Next morning, with it being freezing in this open campsite overnight, I decide to move on after a couple of hours looking around the area.
The site is actually quite interesting in that the early gold miners have taken almost all the soil off the top of this area and processed it through a puddler dam nearby, so rich was the soil in gold. Called Surfacing, this was a technique reserved for very rich sections of a goldfield and favoured by the hardworking Chinese miners, keen to find any gold over a shallow based field. It leaves a real scar on the landscape.
I decide to head for Wedderburn Goldfields, only thirty something kilometres away, so I pick a track leading out of the clearing...
Great RR Rich. Should have called in down the South East on the way for a cray and some Majella.
Thanks mate. I'll take you up on that one day soon - probably high summer when I'm melting up here. That forrest down your way has some great looking riding tracks. The caves are on my list of things to really check out properly as well, as is the coast.
So disappearing towards where I saw the camplight glow last night and also heard bit of timber hammering coming from early the next morning, I expected to find something amazing. The tracks were definitely rarely used. I doubt you'd get a 4WD vehicle through this one anymore without serious paint and panel damage. On the bike, these are good fun.
And past a deep looking dam. If only the day was hotter, I would've considered this a perfect site for a swim.
Man-made dams like this seem common on most goldfields. Abandoning claims due to extreme temperatures over the extreme summer months or during drought times was fairly common. It was apparently not unusual for diggers to walk away while gold was still being found, simply because no water was available to keep going.
Finally out onto the secondary dirt roads, until I spot Mt Korong Scenic Reserve. I have to check this huge granite boulder strewn mountain out.
Following a faint track up to a great lookout...
Looking out across this area, I can't help but think of all the gold that must still be sitting in the ground in this rich area, just waiting to be found. At night around the campfire I'd been wishing that for just a moment, the gold would give a shining halo over where it could be found throughout the still, dark forrest. A bit of "Gold Fever" starting to develop? Possibly. I wonder how many other prospectors have had that exact same wish or dream.
Anyway, back to reality. Down the track again...
Past an amazingly old, gnarly gum tree...
And into beautiful Wedderburn township..
"Git off ma lawn"
From the local Returned and Services League and ANZAC Memorial grounds.
After speaking to the great folk at the local Tourist Information office, I head out towards a nearby goldfield, past "Dodge City"...
Which had an amazing collection of vintage cars and even an old steam tractor (which I really should have got a photo of, but didn't, sorry).
And past a local Apiarist's operation, carefully...
Into the forrest, riding the tracks to find a likely place to try my luck one last time. And set up camp, just on sunset.
this report is awesome thanks so much.
whenever work gets to be a little much I read a update that makes me feel I'm there with ya relaxing, camping and searching.
I love all the pics of local wildlife and thank you for sharing you vast knowledge of em and your great country.
Magic read Sundowner. It's nice to read a report which isn't rushed from dawn to dusk....and the anticipation! Can't wait to see what you have in store at the end of the rainbow.
Great Adventure you are on there Sundowner! Unlike any RR that I have ever read. I guess part of it is like the previous post stated, no schedule to keep, or at least it doesn't appear to be. And the other reason is that you have such a profound knowledge of nature and habitat and history of the gold fields. Really interesting. Keep it going!
Thanks for the kind comments guys. I'm enjoying writing it, as it gives me reason to research some of the areas I visited on the road.
Just on sunset, another prospector drives past camp and we get to talking about the area. He's spent all day walking the area with the very latest $5000 Minelab detector. He's pretty keen on it being a great area so I'm looking forward to working hard at it the next day even with my outdated old unit. Before leaving he shows me photo's of two of his most recent finds on his Iphone. They're two good sized nuggets from another field near Bendigo, some eighty kilometres away. I don't bother asking how he went today at this field, simply because I doubt he'd give anything away. But it looks promising.
This field is far more level and open than the previous sites, but well worked over by the early diggers
And also by modern prospectors. I seemed to spend all day working the same ground as my mate from the night before and others beforehand. The only surprise for the day is digging one target that seems to have somehow missed by everyone else right next to a group of other fresh but refilled pick holes. But it turns out to be rusty junk. I actually dig far less targets here all day compared to an hour anywhere else so far, which tells me the field is probably flogged out, at least for the depth my unit can detect to.
Back at the campsite just before sunset, I decide to break camp early the next morning to head for home. I've got an important meeting to make on Saturday so that gives me all of Friday to do the 600 odd kilometres run back at a nice, leisurely pace. For my one last night out bush, I knock together another damper bread as a treat plus easy food for the run home.
It turns out really well and tastes as good as it looks.
Once the dew covered tent and tarp are well dried the next morning, packed away ready for the next adventure, I head north deeper into the forrest. For one last look around the Victorian goldfields, past more diggings, a heavily erroded creek bed and to a huge dam, complete with a big flock of ducks.
Then a short bit further on, another smaller dam with a ruined eucalyptus oil distilling plant on it's bank.
Down some little used forest trails, I have to run the gauntlet of another bee keeper's busy hive boxes, this time lining both sides of the track.
And onwards to what became a dead end to neighbouring grazing land.
Only to have to go back through the agitated swarm again...
Eap!! Note the bees arse sticking out of the helmet liner from the first run through them.
Before hitting the more open and flowing farm land areas once again...
In search of a decent hot shower and some fuel.
So the run home starts with a quick visit to Charlton to try for a shower at the caravan park next to the Avoca River. No luck there, because there's no caretaker onsite, but a quick look at the adjoining river reveals this...
Can you say WTF?, because I certainly did. Even the sign doesn't explain why this deep water fish is about 300km away from salt water in a drought prone tributary of the Murray River. Somebody was obviously given a government grant and went straight down the liquor store with it.
Rolling on to the next town, this art in the main street strikes me as quite clever, being made from all sorts of scrap metal.
After finding a $2 hot shower and shave at the local caravan park, I'm keen to motor on, via the near death town of Hopetoun, where I replenish the camelback from the town's park area. About twenty kilometres down the track, I take a deep pull on the camelback and swallow half of it before registering the water tastes like rat or mouse dung. So skirting the edge of the Big Desert park area, I head to Patchewotlock, dump the dirty water and grab some much cleaner rainwater from the general store tap. Out onto the dirt once again...
Eating the miles and dodging 'roos.
Until well into dark. I love my HID lights. They're the best mod to date.
Through the backroads from Karoonda to Mannum, where I spot this beautiful lady, the Paddle Steamer Marion, ready to steam up the mighty Murray River in the morning..
So never being shy, I gain permission from the Captain for a quick look in the engine room. Go here yourselves for more detailed information. The engine room and stores area...
The fuel bunker, containing about forty tons of cut redgum, donated by local farmers, one of the heaviest and hottest burning woods in Australia that produces good, cubic, long burning coals with little waste ash.
The twin 11" bore by 16" stroke single stage, non-condensing steam cylinders...
That run through a spur gear crankshaft...
To the single flywheel and along shafts to the twin sidewheel paddle wheels that have driven this ship since 1900...
Through the steam produced by this, the original steel 120psi Marshall & Sons of Gainsborough, England, boiler unit....
That's gradually brought to life over a couple of days prior to sailing...
Just awesome to see, hear, feel and smell this living collection of handcrafted metals, constantly attended by it's dedicated crew.
Patiently waiting for the long night to end...
What a beautiful old girl, one of the last of her kind...
Finally jumping on the bike for the last ninety kilometre run to home, the City of Adelaide...
So, that's the end of the journey and I hope you've all enjoyed coming along for the ride. It hasn't been huge kilometres every day, nor were all days particularly great riding days, but I enjoyed every moment and can't wait to do it again. You're all welcome to join me once more.
And what did I find that had me well pleased and so excited to find?
Well, this little link to another miner from back in 1865 or there abouts, only a few years after small amounts of gold were found in the area and possibly lost just when the main rush started in 1868 at the Bervie (later mistakenly called Berlin) Goldfield. I'd camped only feet from this item, lost in the old tent township area next to these rich fields. Maybe lost in one of the sly grog huts while celebrating a lucky strike or from a threadbare pocket in a supply store after weeks of struggle or even inside the miner's personal tent, stashed amongst a few simple belongings, enough to keep going just a little bit longer. And hundreds of people since would have walked over it, through sloppy mud and baking soil, until I was lucky enough to unearth it once again 146 or so years later, just by chance.
It's no huge lump of gold like I'd wished for during all those daylight hours, but it tied me to a past where at night I was fortunate enough to experience and envelope myself in the same basic joys and hopes of any person ever visiting the fields. And that's a great thing to find in any journey.
That was an awesome ride report. Thanks for taking me / us along
Not into detecting at all... but finding something like that would really make my day! Awesome find
Great ride report, great bike, great photo's and great find...
I'll be looking out for your next ride report, top job!