Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Mount Gambier - Victoria versus South Australia - 2020

Each year Victoria and South Australia senior cricket teams meet for an annual match so on Monday 10 February 2020, shortly after 6.30 am (Melbourne time), we set off for the 468 km drive to Mount Gambier in South Australia for a game of cricket.
The forecast was for a fine, sunny but humid day and we left early to try avoiding the peak hour Melbourne traffic. We divided the trip into three stages stopping first at a service centre between the Ballan turnoff and Ballarat and then at Hamilton. In Hamilton we stopped at King's Bakery Cafe where we enjoyed a warm savoury scone with a drink. We also purchased some mixed sandwiches to eat later. After a short walk we continued the drive to Mount Gambier.
We arrived at the Blue Lake Hotel at 1.30 pm (Melbourne time). We then needed to adjust to South Australian time which was 1pm.
As we settled into our accommodation for the next two nights a number of other team members started arriving.
View of Mount Gambier from the motel
While the players from the Victorian over 70s team had a quick practice session - it was rather hot - I went for a brief walk.

In the evening we attended the Meet and Greet at Jens Hotel in Commercial Street. A table had been booked for the Over 70s team to enjoy a team dinner after the Meet and Greet but unfortunately this proved not to be a great move as the hotel was apparently busier than usual for a Monday night. We were informed that this was the reason for the service being slow, but it did not account for the delivery of wrong orders and the food was not great. We had obviously chosen the wrong night to eat at this popular location. The Jens Hotel is close to the Cave Gardens a deep sinkhole in the middle of town.

It would be good to say that the next morning dawned bright and clear however there had been rain overnight and it was overcast with drizzle. The game was due to start at 10 am at McDonald Park, a short distance from the motel.
Players Change Rooms and Toilets
There was lots of time for the players of both teams to warm up as they waited until 11.30 for the rain to ease so the game could begin.
Canteen and Scorers' Tent
Meanwhile there were many inspections of the ground in between, and sometimes during, showers.
View through car window
While we waited some of the wives sat in the car and caught up on some reading. From time to time excursions were made to the canteen for a hot drink.
At last it was decided to begin the game. South Australia won the toss and elected to bat. After Ronnie Lovel and Gordon Cowling had each bowled their seven overs the score was 5 for 8. It was a great start by the Victorian team. During the 38th over the final South Australian wicket fell for a total of 67 runs. When Robin bowled he had 2 wickets for 12 runs from his 7 overs. It was a great display of bowling and fielding by the Victorian team.
After lunch the Victorian team batted and passed the South Australian team total shortly after drinks.
After the game the players remembered that in their hast to start the game there had not been time for a team photo so this situation was rectified.
Victorian Over 70s team
Victorian and South Australian team members after the game
Later in the evening members of the Over 50s, Over 60s and Over 70s teams for Victoria and South Australia met for dinner at the Blue Lake Golf Club. On the way we passed the Blue Lake which appeared to be even a deeper blue than when we last saw it three years ago. During the evening the Victorian Over 70s team was presented with the winning shield.
Next morning the weather was still overcast and cool. At 7.30 (S A time) we left Mount Gambier to drive home to Melbourne. There was no time for sight seeing on this visit to Mount Gambier as Robin had to be home in time to coach under 10 cricket. Fortunately we had visited Mount Gambier three years before and had allowed time to explore then.
At Hamilton on the return journey we found this monument erected in 1937 to commemorate the exploration of Major Thomas Mitchell in this area in September 1836.
Nearby was a statue of local soldier, Private Edward Kenna, winner of the Victoria Cross medal during World War II.

Shortly after leaving Ballarat we drove into extemely thick fog which lasted until we cleared the Pentland Hills when we drove out of the fog into brilliant sunshine. We arrived home in time for junior cricket practice.

We enjoyed our expedition to Mount Gambier. It was a great win by the Victorian Over 70s team and we enjoyed catching up with people we knew and making new friends. However as Robin remarked when we arrived home - it was a long way to for a game of cricket!

Over 70s National Cricket Championships - Albury Wodonga - Trip to Albury

The 8th National Over 70s Cricket Championships were held at Albury Wodonga from 19 November to 25 November 2019. However this was the third stand alone Over 70s National Cricket Championships. Earlier championships had been held in conjunction with the Over 60s National Cricket Championships.

We decided to travel to Albury a couple of days before the carnival so we had time to explore the Albury and Wodonga area, so we left on the Sunday morning travelling via Healesville along the back road joining the main highway to Wodonga near  Euroa. We stopped at Swanpool and purchased sandwiches for lunch.
We then had a walk down the street of this small community before continuing our journey.
The Swanpool and District Memorial Hall, with cinema, was on the other side of the road.
This tree, a lima stringybark, was fenced off and had a sign providing information about its significance.
Click image to enlarge to read sign
We passed a memorial cairn with a plaque stating that the explorers, Hume and Hovell, had been in the area in November and again in December 1824.

Click image to enlarge to read sign
We passed a property with advertising signs for Pest Control and Rabbit Control.
Our car was  parked the car near this fence portraying scenes of Swanpool's past.
We then travelled to the Mercure Hotel in Olive Street, Albury where we were staying during the carnival.
View from our bedroom window.
After we had unpacked we went for a walk to familiarise ourselves with the area before having dinner at The Bended Elbow in Dean Street. Robin had barramundi while I had chicken parmigiana.

Over 70s National Cricket Championships - Albury Wodonga - Exploring Albury

Monday was a day for sight-seeing. During breakfast at the hotel we watched two ducks enjoying life by the the swimming pool. We then set out to explore Albury. Our first destination was the Albury Visitor Information Centre located in a building near the railway station. When we turned into Dean Street we noticed a banner, which had not been there the previous evening, strung across the road welcoming the over 70s cricketers to Albury. This was a good start to the day.
The Albury Railway Station is a most impressive building. It was built during 1880 and 1881 and has been placed on the NSW state heritage register. The information centre is located next to the station.
The lady in the information centre was very friendly and helpful and provided us with pamphlets with information about places we could visit. As we were leaving the centre, Bruce Pooley, who lives in the area, arrived to collect information leaflets for the carnival information bags.
View from Railway Station along Dean Street to the Memorial on the hill
We then walked back in the opposite direction along Dean Street towards the Murray River which we discovered when we turned left at Wodonga Place then proceed to the corner of Hume Street. It may have been easier to walk along Hume Street which runs parallel to Dean Street.
It was very peaceful at the river as we watched a group of canoeists  paddling on the river.
At the end of Hume Street is Hovell Tree Park. In 1824 the explorers Hume and Hovell marked trees in this area near the river. Only the Hovell tree survived. Monument Australia has an image of the Hovell tree and a little more information. If we return to Albury this is one area we could investigate further. The trees were located at a section of the river still known as Crossing Point. A sign provides information about the history of Crossing Point.
Crossing Point sign - click image to enlarge
Several days later when we visited the Botanic Gardens I located a monument to the Hume tree which had been erected on site of the original tree after the tree had been destroyed by fire in the 1840s. The monument was later relocated to the gardens.
A plaque provides additional information.
Click image to enlarge
Whenever we stay in a new town we always look for a shop that sells a good hot chocolate. We located the Chocolate Labrador in Olive Street. Not only do they serve an excellent hot chocolate we also sampled a piece of cinnamon chocolate toast. On another occasion Robin also had a slice of toasted sour dough bread with marmalade. This was the first of several visits to the Chocolate Labrador.
In the afternoon we drove to the war memorial on a nearby hill. The area was closed due to construction works around the site so we parked the car and walked to get a closer look. Waling around the top of the hill provided views of Albury and the surounding area.
Back in the car we drove to the beginning of the Yindyamarra sculpture walk by the river.
We encountered a number of different artworks along the first section of the walk.
Reconciliation Shield (2014) - Tamara Murray
Creature Seats (2014) - students of James Fallon High School
'Googar' Goanna (2014) - Darren Wighton
It was an enjoyable walk.
 There are a number of walks available in this area.
Click to enlarge
We then drove to Wonga Lagoon and Wetlands for another walk.
At the beginning of this walk we encountered this old tank stand
and farm shed, remnants of early days of farming in the area.
There were also examples of a Wiradjuri campsite.
We then continued the relaxing walk through the wetlands.
After a busy day we had dinner at the SS&A across the road from the hotel. It is necessary for visitors to sign in to visit the facility which includes a number of restaurants. For dinner we enjoyed prawn linguine and a sea food basket - great.