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National Landscapes May 2009 Victoria and NSW Famil

Murray River Tri-State National Landscapes famil in the Mildura and Wentworth, May 2009

L-R: Shane Strudwick (Discover Murray River), Karen Arnold (Wentworth Visitor Centre), Alison Stone (Discover Mildura), Lis & Jock Robertson (Chowilla Station), Mark Eckel (Mildura Rural City Council), Tony Sharley, Ray Jones (Euston Club), Graham Clarke (Harry Nanya Tours), Paul Cohrs (Murray-Darling Holidays), Allan Carthew (Renmark Cruises) and Richard Mintern (NSW National Parks)


The National Landscape Lock 9, Mildura (Victoria) Wentworth (NSW) Famil (May 25-26th, 2009) commenced at the Lock 9 Lodge, north of Cullulleraine, Victoria, when we boarded the Discover Mildura bus gratefully supplied courtesy of Alison and Phill Stone. Thank you to Kris Harrington, Mark Eckel, Karen Arnold and everyone in Mildura and Wentworth for the great effort to coordinate and organise our famil.

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Overnight there was about an inch of gratefully received rain in the region and due to the many dirt (now mud) roads we had to change our itinerary. We started with a great trip to the Millewa Pioneer Village at Meringur and received a sense of the harshness the early pioneers endured in the early 1900's.

From the village we headed east to Red Cliffs where we had a short stop to learn about Big Lizzie. Big Lizzie played an important part in the clearing of Red Cliffs. In early 1915 Frank Bottrill commenced construction of Big Lizzie to replace the camel trains which carried wool and other heavy loads in the sandy terrain. It never was able to cross the Murray River and In 1920 Big Lizzie commenced clearing scrub for the proposed 6,000 ha irrigation area of Red Cliffs. This was to provide 700 Soldier Settlement blocks for veterans of World War 1.

We then headed back to Mildura for a guided tour at the Mildura Grand Hotel by Don Carrazza which included the original Astor Theatre now the Mildura Brewery. This formed part of the Chaffey Trail. Onto Rio Vista and a wonderful lunch from the Mildura Arts Centre. Thank you. This was followed by a tour of Rio Vista the original home of W.B. Chaffey and a brief tour of the Mildura Arts Centre. From here we moved to the original location of the Mildura Homestead (then station 1847) which gave George Chaffey his original vision to develop an irrigation colony as was set up in California in 1887. We also took a quick trip to the Homestead Cemetery which has early descendants of the Chaffey family. We then moved onto Chateau Mildura the original winery for the region build in 1888 and the beginning of the successful Mildura wine industry.

We then began the trek back to Lock 9 Lodge to rest, have dinner and our Steering Committee meeting. The location of the lodge is very secluded a great way to escape the world while enjoying the serenity of the Murray River and surrounds. Morning broke to the sound of kookaburras and an amazing fog that shrouded the river and landscape. As the sun pierced the mist it cast eerie silhouettes on the baron landscapes. Truly amazing. Thank you to Paul Cohrs from Murray Darling Holidays for the use of Lock 9 Lodge. Truly wonderful.

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

We drove to Wentworth and had to adjust the itinerary due to the previous days rains. Discover Mildura provided a bus to show our Committee around and gratefully re-organised by Karen Arnold from the Wentworth Visitor Information Centre. From the Wentworth Gaol we experience the amazing junction of the Murray-Darling River's where we discussed the significance of the region to Aboriginals, paddlesteamers and explorers. Wentworth is this year celebrating its 150th birthday and was once the busiest inland port in NSW.

From the junction we were given a special overview of the significance of Thegoa Lagoon. Graham Clark from Harry Nanya Tours explained to us the meaning of the boundary tress in the area, how they worked, how other Aboriginal tribes communicated and the significance of this large corroboree site. The Lagoon was a haven for birds and animals and culturally significant to Aboriginals. We then experience the restoration of the PS Ruby with morning tea and onto the Wentworth Gaol and Folk Museum Pioneer World.

Following lunch at the Wentworth Central Motor Inn we ventured to the culturally significant Perry Sandhills which are dated back to the last Ice Age over 40,000 years ago. Richard from Parks NSW and Graham explained how the hills have formed and how the entire region is linked back to the Simpson Desert. The famil finished at this point and was a great insight for the committee as to how valuable our region is to Australia's National Landscapes.

There was a continued overwhelming positive response from all attendees as we can see the significant benefits of all committee and other stakeholders learning more about our new community and landscapes as we enthusiastically move forward our Murray River Tri-State National Landscapes application. Click here to return to National Landscapes page. | Learn about the National Landscapes Program.

Millewa Pioneer Village

Margaret Kelly from the Millewa Pioneer Village explained the story of the Millewa region and its pioneering past. Looking at the family tree board linking back to the pioneering mallee families in the district. The village is thoughtfully managed by passionate locals in the region and a real little secret in the mallee. It also showcased a great range of classic artifacts from the period.

Mildura Grand

Mildura Grand Hotel (opened 1891 as the Mildura Coffee Palace). Don Carrazza explains his story working as a bellboy 30 years ago to now owning the Mildura Grand Hotel. The hotel's extensive renovations in the foyer. Looking back at the extensive changes of the Mildura Grand since 1891.
Guided tour by Don through the beautiful gardens of the Mildura Grand. Don's parents are an excellent example of Italian immigrants that worked hard to develop a new life in Mildura and Australia. Part of the Mildura Grand complex is the Mildura Brewery which started life as the Astor Theatre in 1924 and is now a beautiful award-winning micro brewery. Discussing the hardwoods used on the table within the original projector room at the Mildura Brewery.

Rio Vista, Arts Centre and Mildura Homestead

Rio Vista was the home of W.B. Chaffey, it is Spanish for “River View” and was completed in 1890. The house represented the wealth and prosperity message being sold to the world with settlement and irrigation began to flourish. In the foyer of Rio Vista with guided tour. Murray pine and red gum as well as imported timbers. Work is currently underway to restore the Rio Vista mansion to its original condition. The layout included five bedrooms, a bathroom with marble bath, a drawing and breakfast room, a smoking room, a polished black wood staircase, jarrah floors and cedar doors, as well as a ballroom with a sprung timber floor for dancing in the basement.
Permanent collection of the Mildura Arts Centre. A continuous program of exhibitions by Murray Darling artists and touring exhibitions of art, craft and social history complements the permanent collection including pastel by Edgar Degas. Lunch gratefully supplied to the Committee. The Old Mildura Homestead formerly known as Mildura Station Homestead. It is a reconstruction of the first Mildura station established by the Jamieson brothers in 1847. It was here that the Chaffey vision for the irrigation colony evolved. P.S. Melbourne cruises by on the Murray in front of the homestead. Originally launched at Koondrook in 1912. Built for the Victorian Government as a work boat, it was fitted with a huge winch which was used for hauling fallen trees and snags from the river, keeping the main channel open for navigation for other paddle steamers.

Chateau Mildura

Guided tour by Lance Milne from Chateau Mildura. In 1888 the Chaffey brothers planted 150 acres of wine grapes on their Belar Avenue property ‘Chateau Mildura’ commencing the region’s wine industry. Views across the vineyards of Chateau Mildura. Chateau Mildura became part of Mildura Wines, then later Mildara Wines specialising in the production of brandy and sherries until the late 1990’s. In 2002, the property was purchased by a local (4th generation) horticulturalist who has taken the historic complex back to its original purpose of table wine production. Cellar door and a great insight to a cultural wine experience.

Lock 9 Lodge

On the Discover Mildura bus back to Lock 9 Lodge. Discussing the great connection between a rich irrigation story (Mildura and Renmark) that stretches from Australia to California and Scotland. There is a long term aim to extend the localised Chaffey Trail. Another beautiful sunset over the Murray River at Lock 9 Lodge near Lake Cullulleraine, Victoria. Lock 9 Lodge has a fantastic barge built on pontoons on the Murray River which includes a modern and spacious kitchen and outdoor entertaining area.
Relaxing drinks before dinner and the meeting as the sunsets. You can sit, fish, relax all day or jump in a kayak, tinnie or take the bbq boat out on the river for an amazing river experience and no neighbours. Peaceful sunrise with mist and kookaburras at Lock 9 Lodge, Murray Darling Holidays. Lock 9 and weir shrouded in mist as the sun slowly breaks through to reveal a new day. Simply divine and highly unique.
Sunrise over the Murray River at Lock 9
Sunrise as the Murray's bird life begin to stir at Lock 9 Lodge.
Australian Pelicans silently zig zag for fish in the waters nearby. Set back off the Murray, Lock 9 Lodge is a well appointed, self-contained house with lots of room and lots to do...all to yourself. Paul from Murray Darling Holidays and Richard from Parks NSW discuss the size of the Murray Cod's caught in the waters around Lock 9...fisherman's paradise.

Murray-Darling Junction and Theoga Lagoon, Wentworth

National Landscapes committee discuss Australia's great Murray-Darling River's junction, Wentworth
National Landscapes committee discuss Australia's great Murray-Darling River's junction, Wentworth
Graham Clark, local Paakantyi (river people) man and committee member describes the boundary trees in Thegoa Lagoon, Wentworth. The story of the trees was awesome and defined tribal boundaries and rituals that extended over thousands of years. The impact of paddle steamers on tribes was immense as important trees were cut down for firewood when Europeans began to populate the region. Graham draws in the sand the different landscapes and tribes of south-eastern Australia. Beginning with his mother's tribe to the Flinders Ranges to the oceans. It was a real honour being part of such an amazing experience and story of our diverse and complex Aboriginal culture. A marker tree which the Aboriginals used to indicate directions to specific locations. Thegoa Lagoon is a natural lagoon, immediately west of Wentworth at the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers. The lagoon has particular Aboriginal significance and showcases a dense collection of canoe trees, box trees and boundary trees.

PS Ruby restoration, Wentworth

Built in 1907 in Morgan, South Australia the PS Ruby transported cargo and passengers between Echuca, Mildura, Wentworth and Goolwa. Restoration of the Ruby began in 1995. Leon the PS Ruby Captain shows some of the committee the restoration and the newly purchased full steam engine from Sydney. Jock from Chowilla Station at the wheel of the PS Ruby. The restoration is a fine example of a community working to preserve our river heritage while fostering a long-term vision of youth involvement in the project.

Wentworth Gaol & Rotary Museum

Built in 1879-1881 the Wentworth Gaol operated until 1927 and is an excellent tourism attraction in the region. In the courtyard, there were not successful escape attempts. The bricks were made from the local clay on site by Joseph Fritz and bluestone was transported from Malmsbury, Victoria. The male wing of the cell block.
Fold Museum Pioneer World, Wentworth. The museum is a nice collection of local artifacts from the region and is run purely by the local Rotary Club of Wentworth. The museum showcases a nice display of local mega fauna where fossils have been found locally between 10,000 and 1.8 million years ago around Perry Sandhills, Lake Victoria, and at places along the Darling River. This model of a Megalania Prisca was up to 9 metres in length and weighted up to 800kg died out about 100,000 years ago. Skeletal remains were found near Tilpa on the Darling River upstream from Wilcannia.

Perry Sandhills

National Landscapes committee at the top of a ridge at Perry Sandhills, Wentworth
National Landscapes committee at the top of a ridge at Perry Sandhills, Wentworth
A great lunch and break at the Wentworth Central Motor Inn thanks to Simon Wuttke. Graham and Richard explain the significance of the Perry Sandhills. They formed after the last ice Age (40,000 years ago) and are formed by wind erosion over thousands of years. Graham explains the amazing characteristics of this old red gum tree. It's approximate age is 600 years and is a sight to behold.
Richard explains where the Murray Valley extends from. Following a ridge of trees on the horizon right around for hundreds of kilometres. Climbing the sandhills for a great view. Skeletal remains of the giant mega fauna (kangaroos, lions, emus and wombats and the giant goanna) have been found there. An amazing view of the vast sandhills which were used by Aboriginal tribes to camp and hunt. Nowadays the hills are used as a backdrop for many films, shows and ads and a regular concert under the stars. Perfect family spot.
March 2009 famil, Riverland, South Australia   Back to National Landscapes page
August 2009 famil, Renmark, Chowilla Station   National Landscapes Program


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