Australia Day, Oi, Oi, Oi

Australia Day, Oi, Oi, Oi
Swan Hill, Australia

Swan Hill, Australia

We hadn’t really learned from the Blackwood fiasco – still trying to book in at the last minute for a few days rest in the middle of summer. This time we wanted to make sure there was a swimming pool, at least, and definitely no caravan.

This left exactly two caravan parks with vacancies in the entire state – Echuca or Swan Hill. And there’s a reason for that. If you’ve ever been up to the border in summer, especially such a stinking hot summer at this one, the chance you’re going to have every day over 40 is remarkably high.

Anyway, Swan Hill got the nod on account of having bright, large water features on the website. A bucket deposited large amounts of water on little kids, which was enough to send Rosa and Aidan into spasms of excitement.

At least we’d got the air conditioning fixed, which made the four hour trip up largely enjoyable.

The caravan park was full, but we were happy with our deluxe cabin. The kids were in the pool (far too small) quick smart and I was happy to see the weather forecast over the Australia Day weekend set for a relatively coolish (for Swan Hill) 30 – 32.

We divided our time between Aidan complaining the pool was too cold and Rosa then wanting to go into the pool at night, to going into Swan Hill. Went to the Pioneer Settlement. Won $20 bet with Josefa that we’d been there before (we had, eleven years before – I had the photo at home to prove it). Not a bad place, less busy than Sovereign Hill in Ballarat, got to ride in the horse buggy and T-Ford, went down the Murray on a slow moving paddle steamer, spent a long time patting a goat.

The most pleasant time along the Murray is at dusk, when the cockatoos fly from the riverbank to the forests right over the caravan park, the sun sets slowly, the heat cools the sandy roads past the cabin and you can enjoy a BBQ and cider on the verandah. We did that three or four nights in a row before walking along the Murray River watching the Indians playing cricket in the park (Rosa asked for a bat) and the swans drift aimlessley with the current.

A nice long Australia Day weekend, even with half the caravan park carrying Carlton Draught stubbies around for the entire day, the painted faces and the flags on the cars giving Josefa some ammunition about Australian patriotism. Swan Hill is for a very particular Australian, typically those who own 4WDs and speed boats and like to spend the holidays drinking and water skiiing.

35 in the shade

35 in the shade
Blackwood, Australia

Blackwood, Australia

Blackwood Caravan Park in the middle of summer. That’s where you end up when you rob a bank with a screwdriver and are running away with $20 from the law. Or when you try to book in for a few days away during the January holidays. We thought we’d got a cancellation in Ocean Grove for a steal, but that was way too good to be true. So thanks for a friend’s spare caravan and a few empty caravan lots we headed up near Kyneton to the Blackwood Mineral Springs Caravan Park.

The first day was fine, besides a severe lack of things to do in the caravan park. However the night’s sleep was very rough. The caravan lurched dangerously when you rolled over in bed, the kids were covered in insect bites and a group of kids sat behind us near a dead fire talking into the wee hours.

The next day was a furnace. I mean the type of heat you usually feel opening the oven to check the roast. It was horrific. The air conditioning in the car was completely dead, and so where we after driving through Kyneton, Daylesford and Woodend. We had Monty the dog with us (poor bugger) and the ground was so hot he couldn’t walk on the towns we visited. This is definitely country to visit in the winter.

We did find some great cider in Daylesford, but we couldn’t do much else but straggle home. We all took one look at the caravan that had turned into a self-contained baked potato and wondered what to do next. Most other holiday makers were sitting out the front of their vans, picking their nails and looking gormlessly into space. It was that sort of day.

We straggled our way to a deep water hole (who was to know the trickling, muddy creek next to the park would have one?) and all the sweat and tears were washed away. But it refused to drop below 35 and we decided we’d had enough. A three day break turned into one.

Not a bad thing, actually, as it turns out the caravan park was closed the next day because of extreme fire conditions. Everyone out! But we’d already gone.

Next time we book in to Eden six months early. I couldn’t face another little Christmas break like this again.