Anne and Gerald originally emigrated from Shipston-on-Stour in Warwickshire in the late 1950's. Gerald and I had been great mates whilst both of us studied Farm and Estate Management at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, Gloucestershire from 1954-1957. We kept in contact by correspondence since then and it was not until 1986 that they managed to arrange a visit home to the United Kingdom and of course we were delighted that they were able to make a visit to us in Scotland during their trip. They had given my wife and I many invitations to come "down under" and pay them a visit but it was not until 1989 when I retired that
we managed to find the time for such a visit which was duly arranged for March/April 1990.We decided that this would be a trip of a lifetime for us and it turned out to be just that. Instead of going to Australia and back by the same route, we decided to go round the World. We first of all traveled out to Singapore and spent four days there but that is a story in itself for a later date. Then we flew to Sydney and onwards to Melbourne where we were welcomed by Anne and Gerald and transported to Geretta which lies about 100 miles North of Melbourne near the small settlement of Tooborac and not far from Heathcote.
What an idyllic place to live. The unit extended to approximately 300 acres but was mainly scrub and Gum trees. They kept a few sheep, goats, hens (or as they said, Chooks) and had a most productive garden giving two or three crops a year. Gerald and Anne originally stayed in Melbourne but decided to move out when Gerald managed to get a job in Heathcote with the local authority and decided to develop the lands of Geretta. Together, they build the single story bungalow and installed all the main services of water electricity and drainage. The supply of water was a problem, but with about half a dozen holding tanks and an excellent circulating system, the problem was solved.
So this was our base for the month we spent in Australia. It was decided that for this first visit we would stick to visiting places of interest in the state of Victoria, though we did wander over the border to New South Wales on occasions. The pattern of the visit soon took shape and we tended to go away for three or four days, staying in Motels, and returned to Geretta at the weekend.
Our first trip out was to Phillip Island where mutual friends Jan and Ian had a holiday bungalow. Here we visited the famous Penguin Sanctuary where we watched the Fairy Penguins coming out of the sea to roost on the sand dunes. It was here on the Island the we also saw our first Koala Bear in the wild high up in a Gum tree. We swam in the sea and looked out towards Tasmania and Antarctica. It is difficult to explain the feeling that is bestowed on one by such a sight and the difficulty of getting to grips with the Sun being in the North rather than the South as is seen in the United Kingdom! But we soon got used to it!
After Philip Island we went to Melbourne for a long weekend staying with Jan and Ian. Ian was a civil engineer and involved in the reconstruction of many of the buildings in this wonderful Garden City.
Here is Edith and I outside Jan and Ian's house in the suburbs of Melbourne. We spent a wonderful three days and visited many of the famous sights of Melbourne. The Art Gallery was a particularly inspiring visit where we saw many original paintings by McCubbin and other famous Australian artists including many items of Aboriginal art. An outing to the Healsville Animal Sanctuary, Captain Cook's cottage in Fitzroy gardens, and a tour of the many palatial villas and bungalows in the suburbs of Melbourne were of particular interest and enjoyment. Eating out in one of the many swell restaurants of Melbourne as well as Jan's provision of a family Sunday meal were also highlights, especially Jan's Pavlova which hasn't been beaten either before or after! After the fine weekend in Melbourne Jan transported us back to Gerreta but we stopped at Jan and Ian's home (and which now in 1999 is their retirement home). This is situated on Paddy's Dam Road about three quarters of a mile from Geretta
As you can see from the adjoining photograph of Edith and Jan outside the bungalow by the swimming pool, it had a wonderful location. The adjoining land also extended to over 300 acres and Ian and Jan kept a few horses. The property provided Ian with many hours of relaxation at weekends when up visiting from Melbourne. There was nothing he liked better than to potter about in the fields cutting grass and making hay with his tractor. It was also here that we saw our first red backed spider. We never saw a snake during our visit, which wasn't for the want of trying by Anne, but we heard many stories about them. One particular story stands out in my mind. Ian's father's family were farmers and it was during one day whilst they were cutting hedges that a snake bit the end of a finger of one of the men. Being isolated and not where near medical help, he put his finger on a fence post and with the bill hook, he chopped off the end of his finger and lived to tell the tale!
Our next outing was along the Great Ocean Road toward Port Campbell. The great Ocean Road was built after the First World War to give employment to returning servicemen and was the first part of a road to encircle Australia. The beaches adjoining this road were just fabulous, Apollo beach being the most striking. Port Campbell National Park was visited and the Twelve Apostles viewed with awe What a rugged coast coming down the Great Australian Bite. Many ships in the old sailing ship days came to grief down this coastline and many passengers and crew perished since, when they were shipwrecked, the cliffs were so huge that they couldn't climb up to dry land. Another interesting feature on this part of the coastline was London Bridge. This was an area of rock linked to the mainland but the action of the sea ate into the rocks and the natural bridge from the land fell into the water leaving some tourists stranded. They had to be rescued by Helicopter!! So London Bridge has now fallen down. A night was spent in Port Campbell in a Motel before heading North again for the Grampian Mountains and Halls Gap. This is the Motel where we stayed at Halls Gap and was typical of the very non expensive accommodation which could be found throughout the State of Victoria. Anne, during her time in Melbourne had worked with the RACV (The Royal Automobile Club, Victoria) and of course had all the relevant information of where to go and where to stay. The Grampian Mountains are most picturesque and are almost like the Grampian Mountains we have in Scotland. It even has a town called Dunkeld which is considered in Australia to be the entrance to the Grampian Mountains and which Dunkeld, in Scotland, is also thought of similarly. So I think that there must have been some Scots who had hand in the naming of the area! The highlight of the visit to this area was an early morning climb to the Pinnacle, a protruding area of rock about 2400 feet above sea level. Finally, before returning to Geretta, we climbed down this time to the McKenzie Falls, a spectacular waterfall.
Another few days at Geretta to stock up on energy and keep the local chores going was next on the list. This included a trip to Bendigo and a whole day trip to Sovereign Hill, an gold mining town which had been preserved as it was in the late 1880s'. There had been more gold mined out of this mine than had been extracted during the whole of the Californian Gold Rush! We had a trip down the mine which gave a very graphic picture what it was like in those early days of Australia where miner's life expectancy was 40-45 years.
Another day trip was to Hanging Rock where we started off with a morning Barbie before climbing this most eerie place which was the subject of a very famous film, “Picnic at Hanging Rock”.
Following on from that was another three day's outing to the Ovens Valley and The Murray River where we were most impressed by the river boats. The town visited on the Murray River was that of Echuca. The Murray, of course, is the boundary between Victoria and New South Wales. Echuca was a most historical settlement and was the site of one of the early River crossings where wool, sheep and other goods were loaded onto to river boats for down river transportation to the sea port of Adelaide. Again the area was the location of another famous film "Where all the Rivers Run". The Star Hotel now a tourist office. Note the hitching post.We returned once again to Geretta for the last few days of our holiday. We even managed a game of golf at the Heathcote Golf Club and a trip to the Mitchelton Winery but time ran out and at the beginning of April we set off from Melbourne for San Francisco - but that is yet another story.
The Twelve Apostles situated adjacent to the Great Ocean Road in Victoria
At Tooborac with Jan and Edith