Travelling Australia - Journal 2010
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6 March 2010 - Hamilton
We went into Hamilton for our regular Saturday morning coffee and did some shopping.

In the afternoon I started working through the number of volcano-related sights around Hamilton. This area has seen much volcanic activity in the past and there are several sites related to volcanoes and flowing lava. Despite the volcanic past the landscape, with few exceptions, is surprisingly flat with gentle slopes; apparently this is because the volcanoes produced very fluid lava which readily flowed down valleys and spread out in sheets over the surrounding land.

The first site I went to is Wannon Falls formed where a river valley was blocked by lava; the present-day waterfall flows over the edge of the original lava flow. But there was insufficient water for the falls to be working; this was symptomatic of the whole region, it may be raining a bit now but much more rain is needed to end the current drought. On the way back to the caravan park I called in at a Reserve at the edge of Hamilton which has been comprehensively fenced (two metre mesh fence extended underground with an electric fence as well) to keep out vermin such as cats and foxes to protect the eastern bandicoot. There were some interesting flowers, trees, animals and birds inside the fence, especially at the swampy end of the dam.

The weather threatened rain for nearly the whole time I was wandering around but only a few drops fell. When I returned to the van I learnt there had been a downpour in Hamilton.

With only a single downpour Hamilton got off very lightly as far as weather was concerned. At about the same time Melbourne was hit by a savage hail storm with hail reliably reported (by the Weather Bureau) as at least 10 centimetres in diameter. Television news showed this hail punching holes through roof tiles, windows, galvanised iron sheeting and car windows without difficulty. The weight of ice caused structural damage to buildings and the large volume of rain caused serious flooding, especially after hailstones blocked the drains. Melbourne's main railway station, Southern Cross Station, had its roof punctured by hail and the National Gallery of Victoria was flooded. The opening roof of the major football stadium was damaged and an AFL match was delayed while the condition of the roof was assessed.

The bad weather was caused by a former tropical cyclone moving south through Queensland and New South Wales and meeting warm, moist air in Victoria. The Weather Bureau radar showed a series of weather streams from the north flowing across central and eastern Victoria. Over Melbourne one of these streams had generated a thunderstorm supercell with strong updrafts allowing large hailstones to form.

But in Hamilton and the Western District this savage weather was remote.

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