We’re on the road !
To help set the mood, here’s a song with some tongue twisting Aussie place names. And yes, TRH (The Retired Husband) and I have been to many of them over the years….
TRH and I eventually hit the road at 1045 am this morning. Big Red, with her generous capacity for fitting stuff in, enticed us to pack generously. With room to spare. Perhaps I’ll find some interesting country markets along the way!
The countryside is verdant. Rain has coaxed the wildflowers to poke their heads out to reach for the sun. Dotted along the road side are clusters and fields of orangey yellow daisies.
Top left – Lameroo, winner of KESAB (Keep SA Beautiful) Tidy Town. Grain silos. TRH had a pit stop here. We were still in SA at this stage.
Shortly after, we crossed the border into Victoria. Top right – the fields of hay bales looked like dinosaur eggs.
At 1530, after approx 450 kilometres of driving, we stopped at a country town by the name of Ouyen. Having driven around the metropolis, we decided to call it a day and booked into a motel for the night. All the country towns we had driven through were notable for lack of open shops and activity. Bottom right is the main street of Town Centre in Ouyen. We had to check at the motel to see if there was anything open for an evening meal. There was – a roadhouse cafe, a local pizza shop and the pub. We opted for a pub meal.
The area was first occupied by the Wergaia Aborigines. Ouyen is believed to be derived from the Wergaia word “wuya-wuya”, which some believe means “pink-eared duck“. Others say it means “ghost waterhole”. It was established in 1906 around a railway station. A current population of approx 1,200 Ouyen is the commercial and transport centre for the surrounding agricultural and pastoral properties. It is the sixth largest livestock exchange centre in Victoria. Harvest time is busy with trucks transporting products for processing and milling.
Ouyen is predominantly dry-land agriculture, including growing wheat and barley as well as and Prime Mallee Lamb production. The quaint Court House, bottom left, now houses the district’s historical information and resources
The Ouyen hotel was the biggest building in town. In its heyday it would have been magnificent. The side entrance where TRH is posing had beautiful ceramic tiling, glazed posts and marble. Inside, old world charm was evident everywhere. Stained glass windows, a Ladies Parlour, ceiling roses, antique furniture. Sadly it was all badly in need of cleaning, repair, painting. The food was a typical, tasty and generous pub meal of chicken schnitzel and chicken kiev with a decadently delicious garlic bread.
Since 1998, the Great Australian Vanilla Slice Triumph has been held in Ouyen. Judging criteria include “when tasted, should reveal a custard with a creamy smooth texture and a balance of vanilla taste with a crisp, crunchy pastry topped with a smooth and shiny glaze/fondant”. Unfortunately there was none of this delectable delight available for us to taste. However, we were kindly supplied with a lemon and lime cheesecake slice to take with us for supper later in the evening.
When we left the pub, we found our Big Red had become Little Red. This monster truck was parked next to her.
The Mallee was the last region to be settled in Victoria. We drove through hundreds of kilometres of mallee scrub. It is a low lying, very hardy shrub. The town’s symbol – the mallee stump, serves as a reminder of the difficulties new settlers faced in clearing the area. Drought resistant, the mallee was very difficult to remove and destroy. Roots left in regenerated. The wood is very dense. Nowadays it is used for wood turning and burning. The Mallee Stump in Ouyen is the largest of its kind in Australia. (Apologies for the illegible photo bottom left – and the other slightly blurry ones. I must have been half asleep when I took them.)
Day one is over. TRH is snoozing after a day’s driving. He drives. I sleep. We stop. He sleeps. I blog.
© Raili Tanska