We hit the road again the following day, heading back across the Murray River into Victoria.
Our route took us through Mildura, without stopping, and onto the river town of Redcliff.
We have been here a couple of times before, but this time we noticed a sign pointing towards a look out.
You can see why the town was named Redcliff.
No visit to Redcliff is complete until you visit Big Lizzie.
What a beast.
It is worth reading her story. How things have changed since she was built.
There is also a water tower in the same park as Big Lizzie with a mural, albeit on a rather smaller scale than most of those you see around the place.
This depicts various aspects of the local area and was complete in 1991, so well ahead of the times.
From Redcliffs we headed due south, on yet another new to us road, through mallee country to the little town of Ouyen.
For those who don't know, mallee are a multi trunked tree that grows over a wide area of western Victoria.
In Ouyen we had a little wander up and down the street. The old timber Courthouse and adjoining former church were interesting.
I also loved the facade of this old store. What a pity it is empty and you couldn't see inside. I'm guessing it would have had an ornate ceiling and other features.
The faded advertising on the end of an awning, also spoke of former times. Like most small towns, there are a lot of empty shops.
The old cinema building was still in good nick and looked like it was still used, although I was unable to work out for what purpose.
We had heard that the bakery at Ouyen had for many years won the prize for the best vanilla slice, so as it was lunch time we called in to try their wares. It proved to be a very popular spot to eat.
Whenever I am in country Victoria or South Australia I have to try a pasty. You do get them up here, but they are not nearly as common. Yes, it was rather tasty.
The vanilla slice was also tasty, although it looks a bit skewiff on the plate. I may be biased, but I reckon our local bakery at home makes the best ones. They are slightly different, in that the custard in ours is creamier and richer, whereas many others seem a bit jelly like. Ours also have pink icing. I suppose it is just what you grow up with.
After lunch we headed due east through the little town of Manangatang (I love the way that name rolls off the tongue) towards the Murray River once again near the town of Tooleybuc, but didn't go quite to the town itself.
It was interesting driving through this area, with its huge wheat paddocks, as before I met him, Mick worked down in this area for a while hay carting. He, his brother and two mates headed off in a converted old school bus to travel around Australia, getting work wherever they could. All this area would have originally been covered with mallee trees. It must have been such hard work for the original settlers to clear the land and finally make a go of things.
Our destination for the day was Lake Boga, just south of Swan Hill, and in particular the caravan park there. This is where the boys camped in their bus for quite a while, all those years ago.
It was schnitzel night at the local pub on the evening we arrived, so we ventured up there for dinner. The meal was humongous, but very tasty.
The sign on the outside of the pub gives a bit of a clue as to what we were doing the following day.
If you look at the photo of our van in front of the lake, you may notice that the sky looked rather dark. We had been dodging the rain for most of our trip so far, but that was about to change......It didn't matter too much, as we were going to be indoors in the morning.
When Mick stayed here, back in the early 1980s there was a great big Catalina Flying Boat aircraft sitting in a park by the lake. He thought nothing of it and had no idea of its significance. It turns out that Lake Boga had a very interesting part to play in World War 2.
The Catalina that was in the park was located next to the underground bunker that was part of a World War 2 Service Depot for these flying boats.. The local Lions Club commenced a project in the 1990s to build a hanger over the Catalina and create a museum.
As the Japanese forces neared Australia, flying boats were one of the defences we had and many were lost in the bombing of Darwin and Broome. It was deemed necessary to find a safe place to service these machines well out of the reaches and expectations of the enemy.
Lake Boga is a long was south and inland, is nearly circular and isn't all that deep, so was considered the ideal spot. It was deemed a "Service Depot", so not a base as such.
Catalinas were one of several styles of flying boats serviced at the depot.
This is what the depot looked like during its operational times. The only structures left are the bunker and a power house on the edge of the site.
We started our visit with an informative video of the history of the Service Depot and the museum.
The Catalina on display was found, but had lots of parts missing. Replacement parts were sourced from all over the place, as many of the planes were scrapped after the war. It is quite a large plane.
The interior is rather sparse, with no creature comforts.
Attaching the beaching wheels to the planes during winter would not have been a fun job at all.
One of the other style of aircraft serviced at the depot was the Dornier. These were German built, but owned by the Dutch. You can read about them above.
The hull of one was converted to a houseboat, of all things.
It is now in the museum on display.
It's hard to know what you could do with it, given that there is nothing else of it in existence.
Next we ventured down into the bunker.
This was well set out with various rooms similar to what they would have been during those war years.
We wondered what these large concrete items were dotted around the place. They are actually the anchors to hold the flying boats in place.
After we had enjoyed our good look around we went for a drive, as the weather was still rather inclement.
We had heard of a little town called Nyah West, which was back the other side of Swan Hill. We had actually been quite close the previous day.
When we arrived we found a small town that was very down at heel. Nearly every shop front was empty.
Having said that, aren't the facades beautiful. It would have looked lovely in its day.
However, there was a rather unexpected feature in the town.
Aren't they nice and cheerful.
It was then back into Swan Hill for lunch and a little wander.
We had visited here back in the very early 1990s and enjoyed the Pioneer Village. We would have liked to visit again, but the weather just wasn't the best for it.
There also looked to be a nice walk along the river. Oh well, once again, that is a good excuse to return one day.
As well as another of those wonderful old lifting bridges.
Don't you love those beautiful old water towers.
And we found a big thing - a big Murray Cod. Rather appropriate for a Murray River town.
We just had one more place to visit for the day. We hadn’t actually had a look around the village of Lake Boga on the previous day when we arrived.
There’s not a lot to see there, but we discovered a delightful, quirky community garden at the silos. Some garden bed were colour themed, there were quite a few old boats and gnomes dotted around and even a small street library and plant stall. A nice way to end our busy day of exploring, as we did see quite a bit.
More soon, as we start to head north.