Saturday, 19 September 2015
|Being kitted up|
|Ready for the descent (note the neat head gear!)|
|Two miners' lamps - candle and carbide|
|Laurie and his motley crew|
|"Dragon's blood" - not purple but mainly arsenic|
|Sacred Heart Cathedral|
|Charing Cross Fountain|
|"Jimmy Possum" Tram|
|Carbide lamp room|
|Central Deborah Gold Mine poppet head|
|Ore bins and mullock heap|
|Pretty eucalyptus flower|
Yesterday morning we departed Swan Hill, bound for
Bendigo. Unfortunately, the clear, blue skies of Swan
Hill quickly became very cloudy, the temperature refused to move above 15
degrees and we had a steady head wind throughout the drive.
The almond and olive trees, the citrus and grapes, were replaced by green paddocks, sheep, dairy cows, wheat and canola – very pleasant scenery. The road was good – and flat!
With only 190 kms to travel, we were at the Big4 Bendigo Ascot Holiday Park well before lunch and although there were only a few caravans, the park was full of children taking part in the National Gymnastics Competition currently being held in
Bendigo. During the afternoon, we paid a visit to the
Bendigo Pottery which is just up the road.
Not being a huge fan of pottery and believing the $70 casserole
(seconds) was a bit overpriced, it was fairly easy to resist the sales pitches. However, there was a very interesting, and
large, antique shop attached to the pottery and Himself did fall in love with a
little Coalport lady by the name of Joanne.
Saturday morning wasn’t quite so cold, but we definitely did need the heater. We decided to visit the Central Deborah Gold Mine and joined the tour which descended to the 2nd level, 61 metres underground. Laurie (a true showman!) was our guide and quickly had us kitted up with hard hats and miners’ lights before making the descent via a lift (thank goodness). We walked around the 2nd level in the dark, with only our helmet lights for illumination most of the time and listened to Laurie explaining about the life of a gold miner at
Bendigo. Thank goodness that OH&S has come a long
way in a short time. The return to the
surface was fraught with the danger of drop bears (must be the cave dwelling
species) and we did actually spot two specimens clinging to the shaft wall.
After our underground experience, we headed for the Vintage “Talking” Tram Tour through the main CBD of Bendigo, with a stop at the tramways’ depot to change trams, before continuing to the end of the route at the Bendigo Joss House Temple. We then returned as far as
for lunch at a
lovely restaurant on the banks of the lake before once again catching the tram
back to our starting point at the mine.
We then had time for a tour of the mine site and its buildings, as well
as a climb to the trestle way and on to the poppet head, with its views across Lake
Weeroona Bendigo. Bendigo
has some very fine buildings as a result of the gold, including the Shamrock
Hotel where both Dame Nelly Melba and Lily Langtree performed.