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Wentworth Coach Trip - 30 September - 6 October 2018

We had 37 Probus members assembled at Rockdale Station at 6.30am for our annual bus trip away as a group of active retirees.

30 September 2018
The bus was loaded and we were on our way with our Driver Ken about 5 minutes before 7am which was a good sign for the rest of the trip.
Our first stop for morning tea was at the Sutton Forest service centre where the Heatherbrae's Pie Shop started a bad example for the rest of the trip with delicious pies and cakes for those who had missed breakfast.
Then it was another couple of hours on the road to Gundagai where we had our lunch stop near the Dog On the Tucker Box which is a memorial to the poem about a Bullock Driver stuck in mud “5 miles from Gundagai”.
From there it was another 2 hours to an afternoon stop at the visitors centre in Narrandera where there was a local market running in the park so it turned out to be a bit longer than just a rest stop. It was good to have a stretch of legs and Ken was keeping the distances between stops very comfortable for all It was another 2 hours on. to Hay which is on the Murrumbidgee River where we checked into the Cobb Inlander Motel.
We had a 6pm dinner then we all crashed into bed as the long drive was quite tiring.

Click here to view our Day 1 photos.

1 October
We got away on the coach early and our first stop was in Balranald at the visitors centre which was very interesting with a great deal of information and lots of statues of the Southern Bell Frog which is an endangered species that tries in the local area.
They had a nice little museum which we were able to visit for a gold coin and there were lots of memories there even a switchboard that Elizabeth used to operate in her first office job.
Then it was a couple of hours to Wentworth and we went straight to the local Bowling Club where volunteers served us a sandwich lunch followed by fresh scones, jam & cream .
Our tour started in earnest at HM Wentworth Jail where a jailor in period costume showed us around the historic jail.
We were lucky not to lose a few of our group at this stop.
It was interesting they used to lock up Salvation Army women for 7 days for disturbing the peace by signing hymns on street corners (outside pubs), men were locked up for 14 days.
Across the road was the Wentworth Pioneer Museum with a huge room full of too many objects to mention but it was very interesting for all. We had a drive around the town with our local guide Lynton from Murray Darling Tours who were the organisers of the trip and accommodation. He pointed out the junction of the Darling and Murray Rivers and the No. 10 Lock on the Murray which allows river boats the reach the No. 11 Lock at Mildura all the way from the mouth of the Murray in Sth Australia.
We checked into the Darling Junction Motel which was to be our home for the next 4 nights a bit after 4 pm we had to be at the Crown Hotel in the Centre of the town by 5 pm for an early dinner as there is a week long country music festival running in town..
It was a very nice meal at the hotel when we finished dinner we walked about 250m across the bridge over the Darling River Bridge to the motel and again felt into bed after another full day.
Some of the group stayed to enjoy the country music.

Click here to view our Day 2 photos.


2 October
The DJ Motel did not have any dining facilities so breakfast was pretty basic with bacon & egg, baked beans or spaghetti on toast delivered to your room but this probably saved a couple of Kilos extra weight at the end of the trip.
Our first day trip stop was at Orange World where Mario took us on a tractor ride around a very big orchard established in the 1950’s in the Murray Irrigation Area (MIA) which is fed with water from the Snowy Mountains Scheme.
Mario was a good host but there is clearly more money in Tourists than in selling Oranges for 30 cents per Kg.
We then crossed the Murray River into Mildura in Victoria and went to Woodsie’s Gem Shop which is on the outskirts of the main town. I was thinking this will be 5 min visit but it was an amazing place. They first showed us how they cast Sterling Silver and 18ct Gold into rings to make the huge range of jewellery they had on display.
The most amazing thing was Aladdin’s Cave which contained a selection of mineral specimens collected from each state in Australia and from around the world. It is the life time collection of Doug Wood who I talked to personally.
He must have been at least 90 years old, he has had a life long passion for collecting and polishing semi precious stones.
From there we were dropped in the walking mall in the main street of Mildura for lunch where there was a stage set up for the country music festival with about 500 Grey Nomads for an audience. Lots of places to buy a quick lunch we opted for a Subway sandwich.
At 2 pm we boarded the PS Melbourne (Paddle Steamer) built in 1912 at the dock on the A$3 Million riverfront development which runs for about 2 km along the river in front of the main city centre of Mildura.
We steamed down river to Lock 11 and passed thru the lock down towards Lock 10 at Wentworth which is about 50 River kms away (about 30Km by Bus). The lock took us down to a river level about 3.5 metres lower we then cruised up river to the weir which creates the different levels. From there we cruised down river past the many expensive homes along the river bank. Lots of birds and happy children enjoying school holidays in the river on a sandy beach at a huge caravan park.
We were back on the bus at 4pm then it was straight back to the Crown Hotel in Wentworth for another early 5pm (and huge} 2 course dinner. Since we were finished early Muriel ran a terrific Trivia Quiz where the answer was either a Fruit, Flower or Vegetable (eg An explorer goes to the toilet in the outback = Sturt Desert Pea). Our team did well with 13/20 so we got to do a lucky dip for winners prizes..
We did not stay for the music which started at 8pm as the lounge where the band was set up for dinner and the show for pre booked diners.

Click here to view our Day 3 photos.


3 October
Today was another big day we were on the road at 8.30 am to do 3 States NSW, Victoria and then on to Sth Aust. At the SA border we had to be inspected for fruit which could not be carried into the state lines..
At 10.30am we had morning tea (another cake bakery & cafe in the main street of the town of Loxton). It has an interesting war memorial and 6500 acres were granted to 250 WWII soldiers all the streets are named after VC winners.
Then it was on the bus and down the hill to the Loxton Historic Village on the banks of the Murray River. This was every impressive with many old buildings grouped on Main St and a full size steam engine at the Railway Station. It brought back many memories to all in our group as we could still recognise many of the memorabilia form our childhood.
From Loxton it was short drive to Berri where we had a nice lunch in the one hotel in the town which faces a nice park on the bank of the Murray River. It was nice lunch but $10.50 for a pint of local beer was a bit of a shock.
We were bit late on the bus as it took quite a while to get our meals then it was on to the Almondco Almond Shop where we had samples of the almonds and lots of purchases were made by all.
There are tens of thousands of Almond Trees planted between Loxton and Renmark so Australia has overtaken Spain to be the second biggest producer of Almonds in the world after California USA.
Just down the road we visited the St Agnes Distillery and Barrel Hall for tasting of their Red & White Wines. Lots of photos of the happy crew enjoying the tastings so a lot of bottles were loaded onto the bus when we left. I did not know they produced and market Sones Green Ginger Wine.
Our final look at SA was a drive thru Renmark which is a fairly large country town on the Murray River at 3 pm and then it was 2 hours back to Wentworth for dinner at the Crown Hotel.
It was actually raining quite heavily which was good for the farmers but not so good for Cheryl who is Driver Ken’s wife as she slipped and fell on the wet concrete in the beer garden. Luckily it proved to be only bruising but it show that the Probus accident insurance is a worthwhile benefit for our members when they are on club excursions.

Click here to view our Day 4 photos.


4 October
It was a lovely sunny morning so we decided to walk across the bridge into town after breakfast with Brian & Sue so I could get a photo of the PS Ruby moored in the Darling River near the centre of town .
At 9 am the bus dropped the bulk of the group at Rubys Cargo which sells arts and crafts produced by local artists.
Lots of interesting pieces but we have nowhere to put more souvenirs .
A few doors down the street was the Wentworth Military Collection with lots of military memorabilia from WWI thru to Vietnam.
They had a lucky door prize and an Anzac Two Up kit was won but I am not sure who was the lucky winner.
Elizabeth and Betty had a discussion with the local council gardener as they were looking at the beautiful perfumed Red and Yellow Roses growing in the centre island of the main street.
At 10.30 am we were at the Varapodio Estate for our Olive Oil tasting. First we were shown how they crush the Olives in a small Hammer Mill and then use a Centrifuge to extract the oil which is still classified as “Cold Pressed”. Joe who is Mario’s brother-in-law showed us the range of Extra Virgin and Flavoured Oils which we were able to sample. We bought some Early Season Olive Oil and some Honey Vinegar for Fiona to try. They had a nice cafe so this was also our morning coffee stop so again more money in tourists than olives or citrus trees.
Back on the bus we crossed the Murray River again for a drive around the churches of Mildura we were dropped at the Mildura Central shopping mall where we had lunch in the food court and the ladies had a look at the shops.
After lunch we drove about 10 Km to Red Cliffs (which is on a bend in the Murray with high red cliffs on which the town is built) to have a look at Big Lizzy who is in a park on the Calder Hwy.
Big Lizzy was built in Melbourne in 1915 and weighed 45 Tons and could on do just 2 miles per hour. It was supposed to cart wool around Broken Hill but could not cross the Murray River so carried up to 80 MT loads of Wheat on two 30 Mt trailers to the rail head. In 1920 the Victorian government contracted Big Lizzy to clear trees and Mulga Scrub for the biggest soldiers settlement area at Red Cliffs she could clear 50 Acres a day.
Then it was back to Wentworth we stopped at the Big V Auto Museum where we had afternoon tea. This was a real surprise as we were all a bit tired after another busy morning but everyone enjoyed the old cars including an immaculate 1963 White Valiant. The star of the afternoon was Max a small Staffordshire Bull Terrier who was a rescue dog and he did the rounds of the group looking for a pat and scratch on his head.
We had a bit of a rest back at the motel and at 6 pm headed back to the dock in Mildura to board the Paddle Boat Mundoo for a dinner cruise on the Murray River. The boat is not steam driven and is a new side paddle wheel vessel which can seat up to 180 for dinner.
Lynton & Sandra from Murray Darling Tours joined us for the evening their organisation was great as it had been all thru the tour as we were seated on the first 5 tables and got to be first to the very nice buffet.
As dinner progressed we sailed up river with big searchlights shining on both banks of the river. After dessert there was great music and dancing to cap off a wonderful evening.

Click here to view our Day 5 photos.


5 October
Today we started our long trip of just over 1000 Km back to Sydney and Lynton was there to help Ken load the bus and wish us well for a safe trip home. The organisation of the tour was great with just the right mix of historic and touristic things to do each day while sleeping in the one bed for 4 days.
Our first stop was at Balranald where the Bakery was now open they set up tables so all could enjoy a coffee with a cake or meat pie. In the community centre the local ladies of the CWA (country womens association) had a lot of local arts & crafts for sale I was able to pick up a couple of books to replace those read so far on the bus.
Then it was on for 2 hours to Hay where we had our lunch stop and we had a bit of a walk around the town centre.
We arrived into Narendra at 4.30 to check into the Gateway Motor Inn so we again had a stroll up the main street to the War Memorial Park with the Royal Doulton Fountain donated in 1922 to commemorate the soldiers who fell in the 1914-18 war.
Dinner was in the Lazy Lizard Restaurant attached to the motel they served a nice 2 course meal.

Click here to view our Day 6 photos.


6 October
After a huge buffet breakfast we were on the road for our final day our first stop was at the service centre at Gundagai where the Dog was still on the Tucker Box.
The lunch stop was at the service centre on the South side of Goulburn as the city has now been by passed by the highway.
The Big Merino has been moved to the site so after a last pie in Trappers Bakery I climbed up about 5 stories to take photos from the ram’s eyes.
Cheryl arranged a group photo by the side of the coach and then it was on the road to Rockdale arriving just before 5pm ending a fabulous to week away with friends.

Click here to view our Day 7 photos.


John & Elizabeth Paterson