Colourful Cows and Orchards

Trip Start Jan 14, 2012
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Trip End Mar 13, 2012


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Where I stayed
Victoria Lake Holiday Park

Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Thursday, February 16, 2012


SHEPPARTON….

Has a population of 27,707 and is 182km north of Melbourne. “City on the Goulburn River, Shepparton began as a river crossing location in the 1850s. McGuires Punt was used to cross the Goulburn River and later this name was changed to honour Sherbourne Sheppard, an early Irish settler. In 1912 Irrigation reached Shepparton, this led to increased fruit growing and dairying which therefore saw the development of canneries and milk processing companies.”

We finished our NSW fruit in Albury before we left. We didn’t want to be responsible for any nasty little NSW fruit flies harming the Victorian fruit! We were not sorry to farewell the enormous Albury crickets that emerged from their daytime hiding places and spent the night jumping around the caravan park. We found some of them covering the bottom of the camp kitchen sink trying to hide from the hungry starlings who were excited about the feast before them. It wasn’t long before we were on the Hume Freeway crossing the Murray River on the ‘Spirit of Progress’ bridge and soon we were back in country Victoria. Today we have only 140 km to travel, most of it on the Hume Freeway so the cruise control on the Pajero was set to 90 kilometres per hour and the car was left to its own devices until it was time to take the side road leading to our destination. We left home exactly a month ago today and having spent 27 days in NSW, we plan to spend a couple of weeks in Victoria and then of course back home through South Australia having as many stops in that state depending on how cool it is but if it is too hot we will just head home with the necessary stops for safe comfortable travel. 

Most of the way we passed cattle grazing in the countryside but at one point we were surprised to see a flock of sheep with black faces…..so not only popular in the UK. Ten kilometres before Shepparton, orchards began to appear along the road growing all kinds of fruits. We are so looking forward to enjoying the fruit from the area. Early in the afternoon we booked into the caravan park and quickly set up next to our first ensuite bathroom since our night at Port Augusta near the beginning of our trip. The park is located between the Victoria Lake and the Victorian Railway line amongst large beautiful trees. We were assured that no trains run between 9.30pm and 7am so we would not be kept awake at night and during the day it was fun to hear the horn of an approaching train before it whizzed by eager to reach the next railway station. 

After relaxing in the shade all afternoon, the weather suddenly changed as we got our dinner underway.  We didn’t have time to finish eating outdoors before the rain started and whipped across under our awning so we ran inside with our plates and glasses in hand. It didn’t last long however  and it was a warm night before waking to a sunny morning and enjoying our breakfast outside once more. The caravan site is next to the Visitor’s Information Centre which is delightfully decorated with painted cows of the Mooving Exhibition, celebrating 100 years of Dairy Farming in the region. We had read in the guide book “As you travel through Greater Shepparton, you may be taken aback by the sight of a special breed of cow. More than 100 life-sized, three dimensional fibreglass cows from our unique MooovingArt collection with designs ranging from the artful and fanciful to whimsical and those representing the stories behind our local communities, with their designs clearly created by local artists.”

Knowing there were more of the cows somewhere in town, mid morning we set off to explore the town and to find the Railway Station to where the trains were going after whizzing past our caravan. We found a spot in a parking garage and walked down the main street to the Railway Station which turned out to be not as impressive as we had imagined. We picked up a timetable to help with our train spotting. Besides the couple of goods train, during the week there are three trains a day to and from Melbourne and at the weekends, two a day. It was getting warm as we walked down the busy roads, with numerous traffic lights, till we reached a long wide mall. Sitting under the tall shady trees on the benches was so relaxing after the hustle and bustle just a block away. We had been watching the children in the playground in the middle of the mall when we noticed the Telstra Tower and saw people climbing the stairs, so 174 steps later, we were looking down at the panoramic view of the one and two storey town buildings, across to the residential houses on one side, and on the other, the wooded area around the Goulburn River. Back in the car we drove north out of town before setting the GPS to the Emerald Bank Leisure Land at Kialla which took us south along a different road past our caravan park. Kialla looked impressive with the windmill and the big Motor Museum with a few interesting cars parked outside but we decided the entry fee was over the top and decided not to go inside.  After buying a bottle of apricot port and passion fruit ice creams at the Lloyds Produce Store, we headed back into town to the park to look at and photograph the cows we had spotted earlier. We didn’t hang around too long as the sun was hot and found it much more comfortable to relax and read under the shade of the trees back at our caravan with the breeze coming off Victoria Lake. At 9pm, we heard the last passenger train coming down the track and were just in time to open the caravan door to wave to the passengers at the train window visiting the country from Melbourne for the weekend.

On Saturday morning after breakfast we headed into town to the SPC Ardmona Factory Sales Shop. “Some of the world’s largest food processing plants are based in Greater Shepparton and you have the opportunity to purchase bargains direct from the manufacturer.” We didn’t bother to go to the Campbell Soup factory which is further out of town and not being the weather for soups but the SPC Ardmona factory appealed to us as we use their tinned tomatoes in our curry and pasta dishes.  “…The SPC Ardmona Factory Sales, the country’s biggest cash and carry food clearance centre.” We were impressed with the selection and price and stocked up on all sorts of things including a packet of gnocchi to have with our chicken and tin tomatoes for our evening meal. From there we parked outside the impressive SAM (Shepparton Art Museum) building which was opening today after refurbishment. Today was also the beginning of the Sir John Longstaff Portrait of a Lady Exhibition with portraits of all the influential women in the late 19th and early 20th century who could afford to have their portraits painted. The dress and styles were interesting and the artist captured their expressions and dress with detail. On the upper floor is the highlight of the exhibition of a talented young Melbournian artist Sam Jinks, titled ‘Woman and Child’ - a life size silicone based sculpture “…that immaculately replicate human form and feature…” After having seen so many pictures of the sculpture in the Guide Books, the real thing didn’t disappoint and was incredibly life like to the smallest detail.

Back at the caravan we had our lunch and then relaxed in the shade listening to the birds perching high in the trees and reading till late afternoon when we had a walk around Victoria Lake right on our doorstep and on the edge of the City Centre. This area seems to be a popular place also for the locals to relax, fish and swim.  We stayed outside after dinner as long as possible as the evening and night was particularly warm.  We did though manage to sleep and by morning the air was comfortably cool when the birds began their morning songs and the train blew its approaching whistle at 7am.  After our few days on the Goublurn River, it was time to head back to the banks of the Mighty Murray, this time at Echuca.
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