It was time to catch up with a couple of friends we met on our 2018 Half Lap trip so it was off to Renmark South Australia on the mighty Murray River for 5 nights then onto Cullulleraine for 5 more nights. Our friends Bob & Michelle come from Adelaide so it was so good to get together again. On the way home we plan to call into the country town of Murtoa to check out the famous “stick shed”.
Road trip from Melbourne
Harcourt for Lunch
Sun 16 Jan 2022
We found a beautiful little park in Harcourt (150 kms from home – maplink) for a lunch stop. It was nice to be able to chill-out a bit, have lunch while the cockatoos munched on the oak trees above our heads, showering us with bits and pieces of tree which was quite funny, like they’d waited for us to arrive.
Green Lake Regional Park – overnight stop
Sun 16 Jan 2022
Good old “WikiCamps” delivered again guiding us to a lovely campground located in the Green Lake Regional Park, near Sea Lake (maplink). $20 per night for a powered site – we needed it as the temp was 40 degrees. We soon found out though that you could only run the air-con in our van without the hot water service, microwave or kettle being used (low amperage supply), which was quite funny – e.g. the air-con goes off while you boil the kettle. The campground was great situated on a decent sized lake with many people water-skiing or canoeing. The sunset that night was absolutely stunning with pink and purple colours reflected on the lake.
Mon 17 Jan 2022
Renmark, located on the Murray River, is a prosperous town in the heart of rich Riverland area where limes, olives, apricots, grapes, plums, garlic and oranges are all grown. Like so many towns in the area Renmark is characterised by wide streets and handsome riverbank parklands. This is a town where it is possible to enjoy the majesty of the Murray by hiring a bicycle and cycling along the riverbank; hiring a canoe or kayak and paddling along the river; or visiting the historic boats – the PS Industry and Argo Barge – moored at the river’s edge. (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).
Mon 17 Jan 2022
Arriving at our 1st destination at the Riverbend Caravan Park in Renmark (maplink) we set-up on a fairly tight campsite, actually re-orientating the van 3 times until we could safely fit. Life among the river-gums was a bit noisy with branches, bark and leaves raining down on us non-stop – are the serenity!
This was a fantastic place to stay and totally recommend it. You’re right on the river just downstream from the Sturt Highway bridge, which lifts up at 9.30am every morning to allow the houseboats to pass through. The “Little Miss Daisy” coffee van (Facebook) opens every morning and you are also welcomed by some local kangaroos – sweet.
Dinner and a stroll along the Murray
Mon 17 Jan 2022
Happy Hour at Bob & Michelle’s site on the banks of the Murray River was a great way to begin our holiday. Catching up on what’s happened over the last couple of years since we last met each other. It was then off to the historic Renmark Hotel for dinner followed by a stroll along the riverside parklands. A top way to begin our holiday.
Rustons Rose Gardens
Tue 18 Jan 2022
After a pretty lazy 1st day in Renmark we travelled down to the Renmark Tourist Info Centre to get some tips on places to visit in the region. It was late in the day so we decided the 1st place to visit was the Rustons Rose Garden just outside of town. Even though the gardens were in a bit of disrepair there were still plenty of beautiful blooms to check out.
The Black Stump
Wed 19 Jan 2022
This Black Stump is reported as the largest of 11 known black stumps in Australia! This river red gum root system is about 600 years old and weighs approximately 8 tonne and is 8 metres in diameter. It is housed in the front yard of a residential property in Paringa (maplink).
Wed 19 Jan 2022
It was off to one of the region’s favourite watering holes – the Woolshed Brewery in Wilkadene (about 20kms from Renmark – maplink) for lunch and to sample some of their craft beers. It’s a top spot on the Murray (of course!) and is a fantastic spot to sit back and chill. Totally loved it.
On the way back to Renmark we stopped off at the Heading Cliffs Lookout to check out the beautifully rich colors in the golden limestone cliffs cliffs. Absolutely stunning and pretty high as well (maplink).
Sunset over the Murray at Headings Cliff Lookout
Wed 19 Jan 2022
We returned to the Headings Cliff Lookout to check-out what is reportedly a brilliant sunset location. Well, we missed our timing by about 15 minutes, arriving just in time to see the sun disappear below the horizon. Looks like an earlier return trip is needed! There wasn’t much cloud cover around so hopefully our next effort proves more fruitful – here’s the effort anyway…
23rd Street Distillery
Fri 21 Jan 2022
What better way to spend lunch time in a Gin Distillery! We visited the 23rd Street Distillery in Renmark for what turned out to be a wonderful lunch. The food was superb! It was a shame that the distillery tours have been cancelled due to Covid.
Merrisa and I both had a “flight” of varies types of Gin, Vodka & Whisky distilled onsite.
- Merrisa had the Heart & Soul Flight – 3 samples of Signature Gin, Navy Strength Gin, Limited Release Violet Gin
- I had the Palate Liberator Flight – 5 samples of Australian Vodka, Riverland Rose Vodka, Signature Gin, Not Your Nanna’s Brandy & Hybrid Whisk(e)y washed down with a can of Soda.
Some of the photos below are courtesy of the 23rd Street Distillery website.
On the way back to our caravan park we called into the AlmondCo shop for some local nuts – Noice 😁
Lake Cullulleraine VIC
Sat 22 Jan 2022
Leaving Renmark we travelled back to Victoria, a short distance of just 83kms, to Lake Cullulleraine (maplink).
Along with our travelling buddies, Bob & Michelle, we pulled into Bushman’s Rest Caravan Park for 5 nights. The park is located on the shores of Lake Cullulleraine and is a 40 minute drive from Mildura on the Sturt Highway.
Werrimul Pub and Historic Homestead
Sun 23 Jan 2022
We met a guy in the caravan park who gave us some tips for checking out some of the local “tourist hot-spots”.
There weren’t many but he said we should check out the Werrimul Pub and the also have a peak at this historic homestead on the way. So off we travel on our hot-spots tour of the Cullulleraine district. Well, we found “historic homestead” on Google and followed the map to it to find a run-down old house at the end of a dusty 1km track, rook some photos and high-tailed it out of there ASAP.
We got to the Werrimul Pub (Facebook) and no-one had heard of this “historic homestead” and it turn out there is a “pioneers village” further up the road at Meringur; but more on this later.
The pub was real nice and the beers were cold. we decided to come back for dinner in a couple of nights (maplink).
Millewa Pioneer Village
Sun 23 Jan 2022
Millewa Pioneer Park was established to recognise the efforts of early settlers creating a livelihood from humble beginnings, which is run by a voluntary committee.
Originally, the Millewa area was an experiment in close settlement dryland farming in the Mallee region, previously sparsely occupied by Latje Latje Aboriginal peoples. It nearly failed due to the limited earthen channels for domestic and stock water supply. At its peak, the settlement comprised 700 farms in 1928, declining to 200 in 1945. After reallocation in 1948 farms became larger and decreased in numbers again and this trend has continued until present through natural economic pressures.
Lunch at the Gol Gol Pub in Mildura
Mon 24 Jan 2022
We travelled the 60kms into Mildura to visit the Trentham Winery (which we did in November 2019) to discover it was closed 😠.
So, heading back into Mildura we came across the Gol Gol Pub and headed in. The guy at the door tells us that most of his staff are off on Covid related leave (a bit scary) but we could have a pizza, which we did. After pizza we took a stroll down to the Murray for a look.
Murtoa is a small wheat-belt town in the Wimmera. It is notable for its wide streets, its interesting 19th century buildings, the charming Lake Marma and its importance as a major historic grain receival centre (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).
We generally like to travel about 300 to 350kms a day towing the caravan and the distance from Cullulleraine to home in Melbourne is 615km (a bit too far) and being retired – why not take an extra day.
So we try to select a location where we had not visited before. This time it was the town of Murtoa (maplink) in NW Victoria. They have a special attraction called the “Stick Shed” (see below) which we missed on our Silo Art Tour in 2019 (blog link).
We pulled into the Murtoa Caravan Park situated on the banks of Lake Marma for a 1 nighter ($25 power & water). This is a lovely location and the Bailey’s windows did the view justice especially when we got smashed by a very heavy storm at dinner time.
As we have discovered, a late afternoon storm is generally followed by a brilliant sunset, and this was again true in Murtoa. Here’s our photos from the spectacular sunset…
The Stick Shed
The Stick Shed is a type of grain storage facility built in Victoria during the early 1940s. The Marmalake / Murtoa Grain Store No.1 was built in 1941-42 during a wheat glut, to store wheat that could not be exported during World War II. It is the earliest & last remaining example of this particular grand Australian rural vernacular tradition. It is no longer used to store grain and is now an absolutely fantastic tourist attraction (open 10am-2pm daily) and function centre and has now been registered on the Australian National Heritage List #101 (Wikipedia).
- The shed is 265m long, 60m wide and 19m high at the ridge, covers 16,000 sq meters, with a capacity of 3.5 million bushels, or about 92,500 tonnes of wheat.
- The hipped corrugated iron roof of the shed is supported on 560 unmilled mountain ash hardwood poles set in a concrete slab floor and braced with iron tie rods.
- A steel shortage meant the shed was built largely from readily available timber, some 560 (56 rows of 10) unmilled mountain ash poles erected into the auger-dug footings in the ground.
- The slender mountain ash poles were salvaged from native forests in East Gippsland (VIC) burnt during the 1939 bushfires.
- There is over 150 tonnes of corrugated iron on the roof, which covers 16,000m2 of land. The roof angle was sloped to reflect the same angle a pile of wheat forms naturally. This has a rainfall run-off of about 35 megalitres of water per annum.
- Incredibly, the massive Stick Shed was constructed in only four months between September 1941 and January 1942 and filled with grain within six months of its construction. The wheat stayed in storage until 1944.
- A second and much larger Stick Shed, with double the capacity, was erected in 1942/43 at Murtoa using poles largely supplied from forests at East Gippsland and Beaufort. This second shed was demolished in 1975.
- The No.1 Grain Store, the last Stick Shed used in Australia, also became surplus to the wheat industry’s needs in 1989 and was emptied for the last time by the Grain Elevators Board in 1990, when its last contents of 30,000 tonnes were railed away.
- The building was listed on the Australian National Heritage List in 2014, as entry number 101, recognising its place “as a significant part of Australia’s history associated with Australia’s wheat industry and the impact of World War Two on the home front”. This meant that, with the Historic Buildings Council it was now protected, with funding provided for the entire restoration via Heritage Council funds in the 2009-2011 period.
Some Historic Photos & YouTube Video..
This YouTube video is run in the visitors centre and covers some of the history about the Stick Shed…