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Just Me Travel

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Category: Australia

3 OF THE BEST THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN ROCHESTER

My sister and I have been on our road trip around Victoria for 11 days now – stopping over in Bendigo and Ballarat; travelling the silo art trail (not the…

My sister and I have been on our road trip around Victoria for 11 days now – stopping over in Bendigo and Ballarat; travelling the silo art trail (not the silo artworks in North East Victoria that I have previously written a post on); photographing our reflections on Lake Tyrrell; exploring the Lakes District around Kerang; and walking the Koondrook Barham Redgum Statue Walk.

Rochester was our last stop. We stayed just the one night as we were, by now, keen to get home. The next morning, we viewed Rochester’s silo artworks and took the river walk before heading for home early afternoon. These are two of the best things to see and do in Rochester. The third best thing to do in Rochester was eat – well worth mentioning given our food experience on this road trip.

Where is Rochester

Situated on the Campaspe River, Rochester, in Victoria (Australia), is 27 kilometres south of the Murray River Port of Echuca. The Murray River forms the border between Victoria and New South Wales, with the river actually situated in New South Wales.

Taking the fastest route, according to Google maps, Rochester is 187 kilometres north of Melbourne; 27 kilometres south of Echuca; and 240 kilometres south-west of Albury/Wodonga.

Silo artwork

Squirrel Glider and Azure Kingfisher painted on grain silos at Rochester, Victoria

Silo artworks of Squirrel Glider and Azure Kingfisher at Rochester, Victoria.

 

Rochester’s Silo Art project was the initiative of Rochester Business Network, with support from local businesses and the community. The silos themselves were provided by GrainCorp as ‘creative’ canvases for artworks on a massive scale. To give you an idea of perspective, the concrete silo is 22 metres high (approximately 72 feet), while the height of the metal silo is 18 metres (approximately 59 feet).

Located in the heart of town, the silos feature paintings of the endangered Squirrel Glider on the concrete silo and the Azure Kingfisher on the metal silo. Both are native to Australia.

This open-air gallery, completed in 2018, never closes and is free to visit. It is street art at its best.

The artist who designed and painted these magnificent murals, Jimmy DVate, is the very same artist who painted the silos at Goorambat in North East Victoria.

Jimmy is a Melbourne based artist and graphic designer whose talent has been recognised national and internationally. He is passionate about conservation and is particularly keen to highlight the plight of endangered species. Painting threatened Australian native fauna is a ‘signature’ of Jimmy’s artwork.

Of all the silo artworks we had seen on this road trip around Victoria, which took in the Silo Art Trail, the Rochester silos were my sister’s favourite. They rate very highly on my list too. I think I must have an affinity with Jimmy DVate’s artworks as his paintings on the silos at Goorambat also rate at the top of my favourites list.

River walk

Walking from the painted silos, we made our way to Rochester’s Red Bridge; a railway bridge crossing the Campaspe River. Built in 1876, the Red Bridge was our starting point for the 3-kilometre signposted river walk through the urban bushland that makes up the Campaspe River Reserve at Rochester.

The Red Bridge features in the background on the silo artwork of the Kingfisher.

The river walk is indicated by the red dotted line on the map below; from the brochure, Experience Rochester, courtesy of Rochester’s Visitor Information Centre.

The river walk route shown on the map of Rochester, Victoria

Map of Rochester, Victoria, showing the river walk route

 

The river walk meanders beside the Campaspe River through iconic Australian bush. For me, the Australian bush always gives me that sense of being home; no matter where in Australia I am experiencing it. And this walk did not disappoint. It was so peaceful. Just us two and birdsong.

This was an easy 3 kilometre walk along the riverbank. Being flat, it was not in the least bit challenging. Benches along the way provide a place to sit for a while and immerse yourself in the stillness and tranquillity.

The trees provide habitat for local wildlife. My sister enjoyed seeking and identifying the different species of native birds.

Rochester’s river walk through the Campaspe River Reserve is not just a bush walk but a history lesson along the way. Plaques dot the walk at specific points of local historical interest; providing insight into how the local Aboriginal people used the area. For example, pointing out ‘scarred’ trees caused when the bark was stripped by the Aboriginal people to make canoes, shields, containers and shelters. And the grooved rocks from grinding their axes.

The Campaspe River, a tributary of the Murray River (Australia’s principal river), is slow flowing along the walk through the Reserve – as is evidenced in the photos I took of the bush reflected in its waters.

When to go

We visited Rochester in the first week of May; towards the end of Australia’s autumn. The average daytime temperature for Rochester in May is 17 degrees Celsius; with an average of 5 rain days for the month. The temperature was just right for a bush walk along the river.

If you are looking at visiting Rochester at another time of year and wondering what the weather will be, you can find the information you need at, FarmOnline Weather.

Where to eat

On our 12-day road trip around Victoria, we struggled to find decent food. Food that gives you that feeling of satisfaction. Food that lets you know you have eaten well. We could count on one hand the number of good meals we had on this road trip. But Rochester scored 2 out of 2 – dinner at the Shamrock Hotel and breakfast at Kits Kafe.

Our decision to try the centrally located, historic Shamrock Hotel for dinner was good one. I had crumbed lamb chops on a bed of mashed potatoes, with seasonal steamed vegetables. My sister had the Thai Beef Stir Fry. We both agreed the food was excellent. These were some of the best pub meals we had ever eaten and were thoroughly enjoyed. Had we been staying another night, we would have gone back for seconds as there was much more on the menu we wanted to try.

Breakfast at Kits Kafe was a yummy affair. We both had the pancakes – mine with maple syrup and bacon and my sister’s with fruit cumquat and bacon. The service was excellent, the food delicious, and the coffee was worth going back for after our river walk.

We could see the silo artworks across the road from the Kits Kafe.

Where to stay

We stayed at the Rochester Motel, but there are other accommodation options available.

Our main reasons for stopping overnight at Rochester was to break the journey between Kerang and Albury, and to see the silo artworks, of which I had heard much about. The river walk was a very pleasant added bonus. As was our food experience. In all, we came away feeling very satisfied with our visit to Rochester.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. Unless specifically stated, all photos are my own and remain a copyright of Joanna Rath.

 

For more on Australia, read:

Unique Silo Art Celebrates Local Communities and Fauna

Food is Free laneway Engages Authentic Community Spirit

High Tea on the Yarra River, Melbourne

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FOOD IS FREE LANEWAY ENGAGES AUTHENTIC COMMUNITY SPIRIT

  Dear Meg, Down a laneway in Ballarat is a hidden gem that inspires a true sense of community at its best. Pip had recently seen a feature story on…

 

Fresh fruit, veggies and herbs in Ballarat laneway

Food is Free Laneway Ballarat

Dear Meg,

Down a laneway in Ballarat is a hidden gem that inspires a true sense of community at its best.

Pip had recently seen a feature story on the ABC’s Gardening Australia about Ballarat’s Food is Free project. So, when arriving in Ballarat on our Victorian road trip, our mission was to find the laneway where Food is Free is happening.

It was not the best day for a walk as it was bitterly cold, with the wind-chill factor making it difficult to walk because we were freezing. But we persevered and eventually found the Food is Free Laneway.

From the Gardening Australia story, we already knew the Ballarat Food is Free Laneway was founded by Ballarat resident, Lou Ridsdale in October 2014 and that it is located in the laneway beside her home – at 305 Ripon Street South; near the corner of Ripon Street South and Warrior Place.

We also had foreknowledge about the purpose of the Food is Free Laneway; that it is, as the name implies, about sharing food for free. People drop off their excess produce which is then accessible to all at no cost (except perhaps a chat with a neighbour). This sharing has gone a long way to building community interconnections and engagement.

The Laneway is lined with boxes and tables of fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs that are donated by the public for people to take as they want. There are also drawers of seeds, and excess pots and jars for the taking.

We didn’t meet Lou but chatted to the volunteer who was manning the laneway and keeping things in order. She told us that a team of volunteers help out at the site. This is important as people will want to drop off, for example eggs, but only fresh veggies, fruit and herbs can be accepted.

The Food is Free Laneway is a unique project for sustainably managing excess food, assisting those less advantaged, and building community through collaboration. It is a credit to Lou and the volunteers, who donate their time to this community initiative. It is also a credit to the Ballarat community who have embraced Food is Free.

As we were leaving, a lady arrived to drop off some vegetables. We were off to find hot soup.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are my own and remain a copyright of Joanna Rath.

 

For more on Australia, read:

Unique Silo Art Celebrates Local Communities and Fauna

3 of the Best Things to See and Do in Rochester

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HIGH TEA ON THE YARRA RIVER, MELBOURNE

Photographs by Meg Speak at Speak Photography   I love having high tea and have partaken of a few around the world. It always makes me feel spoilt and so…

Photographs by Meg Speak at Speak Photography

 

I love having high tea and have partaken of a few around the world. It always makes me feel spoilt and so special.

I love river cruises. Having been on 13 cruises, I am happy to admit I am addicted to river cruises.

Bring the two together and, for me, you have an experience made in heaven.

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day in Australia. What better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than to spend it with my daughter? Her choice of celebration showed just how well she knows me. My Mother’s Day treat was a high tea river cruise.

The high tea cruise on the Yarra River is operated by Magic Charters, Melbourne. The two-hour cruise sails from Victoria Harbour, Docklands to Williamstown, Hobson Bay (return) on Saturdays and Sundays from 2.00pm to 4.00pm.

The experience

Boarding was done incredibly efficiently by the crew. At the gangway, we gave our name, were given a table number and off we went. Our table was upstairs and, while the boat holds up to 130 people, we were not crowded; with plenty of space between tables. I had held concerns that we might be required to share a table with strangers. I did not want to do this as I just wanted to spend the time exclusively with my daughter. But tables were set for two, three and four people; with larger groups also catered for.

The tables were set with white linen tablecloths and napkins, with china crockery and silver cutlery. A red rose was on each table. It all felt very posh and added to my feeling of being pampered.

Our high tea was a relaxed experience with efficient, friendly and attentive crew. We even had the option to help the Captain sail the boat – a spacious catamaran.

The serving of food was well-paced throughout the duration of the cruise. Magic Charters was not scrooge over the amount of food; and all that was provided was yum.

Once away from Docklands, I was surprised by the ugliness of the section of river the cruise took in. This is an industrial harbour with all that goes with that – oil tankers, container ships, cranes, and holding tanks. This is not a picturesque landscape and not what I expected. I hadn’t given it much thought, but I assumed there would be much green space. However, at one point, we did get a fabulous view of Melbourne’s skyline under a very moody sky.

Melbourne skyline from the Yarra River under moody clouds

Melbourne city skyline from the Yarra River under a moody sky

High tea menu

As soon as we were seated, we were offered sparkling white wine, which flowed throughout the cruise. Orange juice was an available alternative.

A tiered plate of hot and cold savouries was the first food to appear on our table; consisting of finger sandwiches, rolls, pies, tarts and arancini balls.

Our next tiered plate was filled with warm scones, jam and cream (plenty of cream) on the lower tier and various deserts on the top tier. Deserts included tubs of panna cotta with raspberry, macaroons, chocolate brownies and cupcakes.

According to Magic Charter’s website … “We can cater for some special dietary requirements such as vegan, gluten free, dairy free and some other. Please advise us about your special dietary requirements when you place your booking with us.” 

A note on cost

The two-hour high tea cruise normally costs $118.00 per adult through Magic Charters. However, occurring one Sunday per month, Magic Charters sells their high tea cruise at the ‘special promotional price’ of $69.00 per adult, and can only be booked through their website. Vouchers can also be purchased through RedBalloon and Groupon at $79.00 per adult.

At $79.00 per adult, this high tea river cruise is value for money. If you have an afternoon free in Melbourne on a weekend, I highly recommend you add the high tea river cruise with Magic Charters to your itinerary.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are Meg Speak’s and remain the copyright of Speak Photography.

 

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UNIQUE SILO ART CELEBRATES LOCAL COMMUNITIES AND FAUNA

In mid-April 2019, I travelled with a group of friends to view North East Victoria’s silo artwork. Empty grain silos are scattered around rural Australia. Silo art projects (with the…

In mid-April 2019, I travelled with a group of friends to view North East Victoria’s silo artwork.

Empty grain silos are scattered around rural Australia. Silo art projects (with the first being undertaken in 2015) have become a national phenomenon; appearing in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australian, South Australia, and Queensland. The silos provide a canvas for creations that are reinvigorating some of Australia’s smallest and remote regional towns. They have become a lifesaver for rural communities; bringing tourism to towns that have been seriously struggling due to economic decline. These towns now have a future.

Perhaps the best known are the painted silos in western Victoria; in the Wimmera-Mallee region. These 6 painted silos stretch for a distance of 200 kilometres from Rupanyup in the south to Patchewollock in the north.

I will be taking a road trip with my sister to these painted silos at the end of April. But that is for another post.

Silo art North East Victoria map

Google map of North East Victoria silo art trail

North East Victoria’s painted silos are located in four small towns between Yarrawonga and Benalla – Tungamah, St James, Devenish and Goorambat.  They are fairly recent attractions to these town, with the first being painted in 2018 and are within close proximity to each other – a distance of 33 kilometres from first to last.

Why you should see the silo artworks

  • This is street art at its best.
  • The murals are painted on an unusual ‘canvas’.
  • The artworks are in a public space; in open-air galleries that are open 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. And they are free to visit.
  • It is artwork on a massive scale. How many paintings do you know that require an extended cherry picker to complete?
  • The murals painted on the silos depict local history and fauna; giving an insight into the area.
  • The silos themselves have been ‘painted’ on Australia’s rural landscape since the 1920s.

Getting there

Silo art map Tungamah north east Victoria

Google map of Wodonga to Tungamah silo art

 

Coming from Wodonga, North East Victoria’s silo artworks are an easy one-day road trip. From this direction, the first painted silos are at Tungamah; about 1 and a half hours from Wodonga.

Leaving Wodonga on the M31 (Sydney to Melbourne freeway), turn off at the Rutherglen/Yarrawonga exit (B400; Murray Valley Highway). At Rutherglen, take the C372 to Tungamah; skirting the towns of Bundalong South, Yarrawonga South and Boomahnoomoonah (no, I have not made up this name).

Coming from Melbourne is not, in my opinion, a day road trip. The first painted silos from this direction are at Goorambat – a distance of 228 kilometres; taking about 2 and a half hours. Staying overnight in Benalla might be a good option.

From Melbourne, take the M31 (Melbourne to Sydney freeway) to Benalla. At Benalla, take the A300 to Goorambat.

Silo art north east Victoria map

Google map of Melbourne to Goorambat silo art

 

Tungamah silo art

The Tungamah concrete silo highlights Australia’s dancing Brolga. Famed for their elaborate courtship dance, Brolgas are Australia’s most iconic birds. There is even an Australian Christmas carol about dancing Brolgas.

A number of traditional Aboriginal legends and dances are associated with the Brolga, with movements mimicking their graceful performance.

The Kookaburra painted on the metal silo is a well-known symbol of Australia’s birdlife. The Kookaburra is also the inspirational subject of a children’s song.

Silo art at Tungamah north east Victoria

Silo art of dancing brolgas and kookaburra at Tungamah

 

Western Australian street artist, Sobrane painted the birdlife on the Tungamah silos using spray cans and roller. Internationally known for her signature bird inspired art, Sobrane is the first Australian female artist to take on a silo art project.

St James silo art

The wheat silos at St James are painted with a sepia-toned portrait of Sir George Coles, the founder of Coles supermarkets and a local of St James. His first store opened in 1910 in St James township; with the shopfront captured on the silo under his portrait.

The horse and cart being painted at the time of my visit on the third silo depicts how the wheat was originally delivered to the silos.

Silo art at St James in north east Victoria

Silo art of C.J. Coles at St James in north east Victoria

Local artist, Timothy Bowtell painted the murals on the St James silos. Timothy is due to complete the horse and cart mural by the end of April 2019.

Devenish silo art

Focusing on the role of nurses in service and how that role has evolved over time, this artwork is a visual tribute to the 50 young men and women from the Devenish community who enlisted in military service in the First World War. The artwork represents the historical image of a First World War nurse juxtaposed with that of a female combat medic.

Melbourne street artist, Cam Scale, has captured the past and present and acknowledges the important role our medical personnel play in caring for military and civilians during wars and national disasters, including peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

At the time of visit, Cam was putting the finishes touches to the Lighthorseman he has painted on Devenish’s final silo.

ANZAC silo art Devenish north east Victoria

ANZAC silo art at Devenish with artist at work

 

Cam Scale is a well-renown fine artist and mural painter in Australia; exhibiting work in galleries across Australia and internationally.

Cam works primarily with aerosol, oil and acrylic, specialising in large-scale figures and portraits.

Goorambat silo art

The Barking Owl painted on the concrete silo is a tribute to this endangered species. With fewer than 50 breeding pairs in the wild, the Barking Owl is the most threatened owl in Victoria. North East Victoria remains a stronghold for wild populations.

Ironbark is the Barking Owl’s habitat. This tree is depicted in the forefront of the typical, Australiana farming scene on the second silo.

The third silo features three Clydesdale horses that resided in Goorambat. Clydesdales are an intricate part of the Goorambat area. They are literally the work-horses of the country and rural areas like Goorambat might not exist without them.

Jimmy Dvate is a Melbourne based artist and graphic designer. He is passionate about conservation and is particularly keen to highlight the plight of endangered species.

While in Goorambat, don’t miss the beautiful mural of “Sophia” painted by the artist, Adnate inside Goorambat’s Uniting Church. Painted in 2017, Sophia was created to depict the female aspect of the Holy Spirit. This tradition draws on the spirit of God as it manifested in the Old Testament times and the post Pentecostal period. Sophia is by nature wise, nurturing, comforting, inspirational and ever present.

Goorambat Uniting Church mural

‘Sophia’ mural painting in the Uniting Church at Goorambat

 

You can visit “Sophia” daily from 9.00am to 5.00pm.

Where to eat

We had morning tea, cake and coffee, at the Tungamah Hotel. I recommend the lemon slice.

We lunched at Goorambat’s Railway Hotel. With an extensive, reasonably priced menu, we were spoilt for choice. My hamburger was delicious.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. Unless specifically stated, all photos are my own and remain a copyright of Joanna Rath.

 

For more on Australia, read:

Food is Free Laneway Engages Authentic Community Spirit

3 of the Best Things to See and Do in Rochester

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