|Travelling Australia - Journal 2010|
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|9 March 2010 - Hamilton to Echuca/Moama|
Several long spells of rain on the roof during the night continuing into the morning made me glad I had connected EuroStar and Pathfinder last night.
We left Hamilton on the Glenelg Highway through Dunkeld to Glenthompson where we turned off to Ararat on the way to Echuca/Moama. Traffic was very light, the road good (at least to Glenthompson), and the weather wet with low cloud and drizzle in the distance and closer as well.
Between Glenthompson and Ararat we left the volcanic region; the road passed a number of nearly circular lakes with very shallow beds, most had little water in them. This area was still devoted to grazing sheep and growing crops, with a few cattle; there appeared to be more grain grown than around Hamilton as we began passing properties with clusters of grain silos on stalk legs, as well as the now regular bales of hay (rectangular or rolls, but more often rectangular bales) in open air storage under a roof or piled up in the open.
The road through Glenthompson to Ararat, Avoca, Maryborough and Castlemaine is the B180, locally known as the Pyrenees Highway although that name is not used on the RACV map we are using. The B180 remains at between 200 and 300 metres elevation making its way between higher ranges (one called the Pyrenees) at 500 and 800 metres. The road surface was variable; sometimes 90 kph was comfortable, at other times 70 kph was bumpy and unpleasant. The weather very slowly improved as the day continued. Signs pointing to wineries became common as we moved further north into the Bendigo area but sheep grazing remained the major economic activity we could see from the road.
At Castlemaine we joined the Midland Highway to Harcourt then onto the Calder Freeway for a few pleasant kilometres. After the uneven surface and frequent curves of parts of the Pyrenees Highway it was a pleasure to set the cruise control at 90 kph on a smooth road surface with a few mild bends. But that didn't last long and soon we were on the Midland Highway enroute to Bendigo which is big enough to take some time to pass through.
From Bendigo we continued on the Midland Highway north to Elmore where the Midland continued towards Shepparton while we turned onto the Northern Highway for Echuca. Approaching Echuca we crossed a main feeder irrigation channel as a reminder that we were entering the irrigation area.
Passing through Echuca and Moama we drove to the caravan park we had selected to find that it was a large collection of cabins and on-site caravans (at least a hundred) with a small, grassed picnic area available for half-a-dozen caravans; no sites were marked out, water came from three shared taps around the edge of the area and electricity points were in the roof of the picnic pavilion. Vans staying here need long hoses, multiple nozzle adaptors and plenty of electric cable. Using a day picnic area for overnight caravans is a recipe for conflict because of different requirements.
We have devised a rule-of-thumb that a caravan park with an untidy entrance road spoiled by pot-holes and deteriorating bitumen edges is probably not going to be a pleasant place to stay and this park confirmed that belief.