Wednesday 11th July. Out to Eldorado.
Grey and cold. It had been clear and frosty overnight but now the frost had gone but temperatures were not being nice. I got rugged up in cycling gear and windproof top and set off to cycle to Eldorado where I was to meet Sue for lunch.
The first 8 kilometers were the same as yesterday out to Bowser on the Rail Trail. No sun made the ride a completely different one – no light and shade, just a uniform grey colour that didn’t say “photograph me”, so I didn’t.
After Bowser the track runs under a 4 lane highway section of the Hume Highway (Sydney to Melbourne) via what looks like a cattle underpass but is, in fact, for cyclists. We then get into a pleasant, flat, straight section with small gum trees growing alongside the track and more of the same leads us to the next station site. Just after the station I turned off the trail and took the road along to Eldorado. The road is straight and flat also but in the distance I could see cattle all over it. I assumed someone was driving their cattle along the “Long Paddock” to get them some feed – but no, these were cattle being moved from one paddock to another. As I got near a car came the other way and the drovers made sure the animals were not on the road as we went past.
Just after that I came upon a sculpture of a horse. The farm opposite was dealing with Welsh Cobs and Sue reckoned the sculpture was of one of them due to the “furry” feet. There was nothing to tell us what or why it was sitting next to a driveway.
As I cycled into the outskirts of Eldorado I transferred from the road to a cycle track. It was really unnecessary as there was no traffic but I though “the townsfolk have provided the track, I will respect them and use it”. I could see our car parked near the pub and cycled down to it, folded the bike and locked it away. We then visited the Smallest Pub in Victoria for lunch. Inside was a small gas heater that looked similar to a log fire – but was nowhere as warm. Sue told me the temperature outside was still 5°C and I was quite cold once cycling stopped so a real log fire would have been nice. After we had eaten we joined a lady outside where a fire pit had been fired up and you could feel the warmth.
Finishing a chilled Shiraz (it was at room temperature!) we drove along to check out the Dredge.
Sue at the Dredge wondering when we could get back in the warm car
Eldorado was founded by an ex naval man who was seeking to settle somewhere. He named the place because it so fitted with his ideal of somewhere to live. Not long after gold was found in Reedy Creek that flows through the area and in poured the miners. The information boards do not say what the founder thought about all these people invading his space.
The Dredge was built in the 1930’s to seek gold and tin by chewing away at the river bed and banks, bringing the material on board, extracting the gold and tin and tossing the residue back in behind it. It ran for 18 years and “sailed” from the town centre, down Reedy Creek to it’s current resting spot. In 1954 the returns were not great enough to keep it in operation.
Some facts. The Dredge could be heard 10 kilometers away when working. For the 18 years it ran 24/7 wherever possible. It used more electricity than the city of Geelong at that time. It would have been a hostile and deafening workplace but in the 18 years of operation nobody was killed.
We walked the Eldorado Dredge Historic loop walk. On the way we found these:
I believe these are prickly pear (which is mostly Opuntia Stricta) and was imported for use as natural fences and to start a cochineal industry. They liked it here and immediately set about invading the place. In 1925 the moth Cactoblastis cactorum (great name) was introduced from S America as it’s lavae eat the pear – and great success was had. Some are still around but we haven’t come across any large plants that we remember seeing in the 1970’s in NSW.
I visited Eldorado last year when on my first (and only so far) extended cycle tour. I liked it then and I still like it. Why? I don’t know – it just feels like it has a nice community thing happening created by people who are a little out of the mainstream.
The distance cycled today was 22 kilometers.