The forecast for the Saturday just gone was horrid – heavy rain, wind and cold.
So what did I do? Off I went to explore Hamilton in the Southern Grampians shire – about 140kms from where I live. What can you do when you find yourself experiencing cabin fever and Sweetie the wondervan demands an outing?
After stopping in Dunkeld for a restorative coffee and cake at the cosy Old Bakery and Wild Plum Cafe (yum) I eventually arrived. I was on a mission to start with to find as many op shops as I could – I was looking for a small shelf unit to put my music folders in, no luck. Only two shops were open, though there were at least another 3 that I saw – very disappointing for a Saturday morning I thought.
As I continued my drive around the town, once again, I found myself in awe of fine botanic gardens and some of the architecture to be found here in Victoria – check this pic out for example, I had to pinch myself to be sure I wasn’t in England.
I find it interesting how often churches appear to cluster in the same area of many towns and cities, for example in Ballarat as well as here in Hamilton – where I found the Protestant and Anglican churches facing off across the street. Strength in numbers? Or keeping a close eye on the ‘enemy’? 🙂 I noted the Catholic church was way off on the other side of town…
I was a bit sad about the long row of empty shops I found under and running along from a shopping centre with the misleading name of The Hub (it didn’t appear much like a hub of anything if I’m honest) in the town centre – all backing onto the main street and facing a busy car park full of shoppers visiting nearby Safeway and other big name shops. I really hope they are all empty because there’s an exciting new redevelopment planned for the building, and not just because no tenant businesses can be found for them.
I had heard before about the fantastic adventure playground in Hamilton, and stumbled upon it by accident when I went to explore around Lake Hamilton. What a fantastic place! If it hadn’t been tipping with rain, I would have been trying it out that’s for sure. I don’t think you can overestimate the value of something like this for attracting families to an area when they’re holidaying or passing through. It’s just a shame there doesn’t seem any attempt to convert those visitors into supporters of local business – the site is removed from the main town centre, and I didn’t see any evidence of promotion or suggestions on where they should go next to get some lunch or a coffee or some supplies…
Sheepvention is on this week in Hamilton. Great name for an event huh? It is a huge agricultural show, which doubles the population of the town for the couple of days its one. Extraordinary. I did find the showgrounds as I was driving around, and all the marquees and stands set up already was certainly very impressive. I hope it brings as much business and vibrancy to the town as it usually does by all reports I’ve heard.
Despite having called off my planned run with a friend for later that day because the weather was just too nasty, I eventually started heading home anyway. And then the rain stopped. I pulled over some way down the road to marvel at the now bright blue sky, white clouds and brilliancy of the glistening countryside So here’s the view south from that road where I stopped…
And when I did a 180 degree turn to face north, here’s what I saw…
It was a funny changeable kind of day, watching the weather fronts roll across the countryside, the dominant peaks and ridges of the Grampians National Park shrouded in cloud and invisible to me both times I drove by its southern tip. Jen and I did manage a walk though at least at the end of the day, I’m happy to say. And they I got stuck on the boggy, grassy, slippy drive out from her farm… very embarrassing! Hurray for her hubby Simon who pulled me out with the truck, and her father-in-law Rod for assisting – all in the penetrating darkness of the countryside. I won’t be driving into their property again in a hurry while it’s wet!
And one last thing of interest – this captivating little water hole right by the side of the road intrigued me so much I had to turn around and return to stop and take some photos.
Was it naturally formed? The whole of the south west of Victoria (and south east of South Australia) is extraordinary geologically – old volcano country.
Or did someone drop a bundle of gelignite sticks to blast out the rock? It was almost perfectly round with steep rock sides all round. Curious.