The broad skies that open up after crossing the Great Dividing Range are exhilarating. Endless blue and at this time of year golden stubble in the vast paddocks. Sunday was the perfect day for a long drive through Central Victoria, hot, still and little traffic on the roads.
First stop was the Castlemaine Golf Course, venue of Colour Magic an exhibition of the Castlemaine Branch of the Embroiderers Guild of Victoria. The setting was enough to make you want to take up golf, on this course more than a leisurely walk. At the entry was a work basket and chair created by Castlemaine Floristry. No photographs of the work inside was allowed, so just a general shot showing the retrospective display of Beverley Downie’s wonderful work across many techniques and genres. I particularly liked the crewel work on the stomacher of a replica 18th century dress and her landscapes of the local area in mixed media.
I was able to find Denise, the maker of the stunning cauliflower pincushion who gave her permission for a photo. It is a design by Julie Kniedl published in Inspirations, and according to Denise not for the faint hearted.
The second exhibition for the day was in Maryborough. I had two choices of road, north through Maldon and Baringhup or south around the back of Cairn Curran the vast reservoir formed by the damming of the Loddon River. I chose the second route along the Pyrenees Highway. This took me across the Moolort Plains, a beautiful almost treeless basalt plain dotted with wetlands and old bluestone buildings.
If you have seen the film Romulus My Father you will know this country.
I turned off at Joyce’s Creek where the now closed Maryborough-Castlemaine Line crosses the upper reaches of Cairn Curran to take a few photos of the landscape.
Looking back down the side road to the water with Mt Franklin in the distance.
The Biennial Golden Textures exhibition in at the Central Goldfields Art Gallery is curated by Maryborough local Jenny Bacon and features many significant Australian textile artists. In a side room were a few works from the permanent collection including these two by Jenny Bacon.
No visit to this town is complete without viewing the station. It is registered by the Heritage Council of Victoria and the plaque states it was built for the Victorian Railways between 1890 and 1892. The station’s distinctive design and scale make it one of the most outstanding railway stations in Victoria. The cyclists were pleased with themselves for reaching their destination.
I then took to the road again, back to the Moolart Plains then cross country heading south towards a plume of smoke in the distance. The back roads took me through wheat farms and into volcano country with Mt Mooroobyle to my right and Mt Kooroocheang to the left. The smoke turned out to be a small stubble burn off, attended by a fire tanker.
Smeaton is a town dominated by poplars but I found the memorial drive at Kingston far more impressive, so did a little research when back home. The 2.9 km avenue of 285 trees, mostly Dutch Elms, stretches from tiny town to the Midland Highway. It was planted for the Creswick Shire in 1918 and commemorates with individual trees the men and women from the shire who enlisted in WWI . Such plantings were encouraged by the State Recruiting Committee in 1917 so that intending recruits could be assured their name would be memorialised in an Avenue of Honour. 218 avenues were planted to commemorate WWI in Victoria.
On I drove, to Dean then through potato country, over the Western Highway and finally to Lal Lal and a friendly welcome and a delicious cup of tea.
The road home was not nearly so interesting, but it was a lot quicker.