Living in the Gold Rush

Trip Start Apr 04, 2006
Trip End Mar 30, 2007

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

G'Day Everyone.

     We left the campgound at Warrnambool and headed along the coastal road to the town of Port Fairy to have a look at the old town.  The town had many old buildings and homes that have been kept up really good.  As with many of the small towns of Australia that we have gone through, the towns have kept many of the old buildings that were built in the 1800's.  You could just imagine what the towns were like over 100 years ago.  Port Fairy was one of those towns.  We left Port Fairy and the Ocean road and turned north and headed up to the town of Halls Gap in the Grampians National Park.  Once leaving the coast and entering the farmlands of the state of Victoria, the drought that is gripping the region could be seen.  It was like entering a brown landscape.  Many of the towns in the area are on strict water restrictions.  They encourage everyone to do there part and save water

     We entered the Grampians National Park by midday and much of the landscape looked as it had been recently burned in a fire of some kind.  But many of the trees were quite green.  Later when we got into town and asked, we found out that there was a masive fire last year that burned about 50% of the park.  But in only one year you could really see the regrowth that comes with such fires.  We got to our campsite and set up our tent and went into the small town and had a look around.  We then drove into the hills and had an amazing view over the entire region.  We came back to the camp site and had an intersting night of dinner at camp.  We were surrounded by Koocaburras birds and they were mean.  They would swoop down and try to eat our food.  They waited till they had there chance and came real close.  We let down our gaurd and for a second a bird came down and sat on our pan of food and almost got some but we made him fly away really quick. That night at camp was also the coldest of the trip.  We got out to use the bathroom at night and had a bit of frost on the tent.  It was not much warmer inside the tent either.  But the next morning when the sun came out it warmed up really quick. 

We left the next morning and headed up the the wine region around the small town of Great Western.  There we visited two winerys that began in the 1860's.  Settlers moved into that area during that time as there was a major gold rush during that time.  Two brothers started two winerys and those are the two we visited.  The first was the Best Winery.  The winery was started by one of the Best brothers and is run by another family that bought it in the early 1900's.  It is still family owned and the wine celler and buildings are the original ones used in the 1860's.  We had some samples and talked with the workers and were allowed to walk in the old cellars of the winery.  The cellars were all hand dug and  had some really old bottles.  We then headed to the Seppelt Winery and this is the most famous of the winerys in the region.  This winery was started by the other Best brother but is now owned and operated by the Foster's Corp.  They have over 3km of hand dugged tunnels that were used for aging the wine in the 1860's- to the present day.  We had a tour of these tunnels.  It was very cool underground and that was perfect for the aging of the wine and sparkling wines(which the winery is famous for)  The tunnels are all covered in black mold (harmless) and makes the tunnels all black.   The wine is stored down in the tunnels for as much as 10 years before coming back to the surface.  Both of the winerys were very cool to see and to compare.  One is still family owned and the other by a large corporation (although they would like to be family owned again). 

We left and headed in Ballart and to our last campsite of the trip.  We got in and headed to the store and just relaxed in the camp for the night.  The next morning (3/15), we headed up to one of the most visited tourist locations in Victoria.  The Sovereign Hill Museum.   This museum is a recreated old mining town in Ballarat durning the 1860's Gold rush.  The neat thing is they have workers that dress up in period costume and act from the 1860's.  There were many things too do there, which included going into actual mines and to see an actual gold pour.  we also saw how candles and tin pans were made back then.   We also got to see the old re-created buildings down a main street and old houses used by the workers of the day.  After seeing the recreated town, we headed to the gold museum and saw some of the original tools used by the miners of Ballarat and how the region boomed during the gold rush of the 1860's.  We then relaxed in the camp for the rest of the night and the next day we were off to Melbourne.

See you in Melborne
Jeremy and Suzanne
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