Monday, October 12, 2009


Deb having arrived back from her conference on Saturday, we went out for a Sunday Drive. The Upper Yarra Valley beckoned again, because it is gorgeous and only an hour away from our front door.

After miserable weather all week, we had glorious spring weather on the weekend. Saturday it was sunny and 27°C (81°F) while on Sunday it was still sunny and still a respectable 22°C (72°F). 22° is warm enough for this Aussie to leave his coat in the car (although not leave his sweater behind).

We shot out to the park at the Upper Yarra Reservoir.
We sat at this funny little table in the park to eat.
I've included a picture showing the detail of one of the tree trunks. Unlike the deciduous trees of the northern hemisphere most of ours are evergreen Eucalyptus species. Instead of shedding their leaves in autumn many of our trees shed bark as they grow in the warmer months.
For those of you who live in the US you can see trees similar to this in California. California has millions of Sydney Blue Gums that have run wild. They are beautiful trees but they are a weed in California and they are part of the reason for the extreme wildfires they get there. Eucalyptus oil is highly flammable!

As a by the bye the fires in Portugal a while ago were also burning in Blue Gum forest. My brother who is a UK resident and holidays in Portugal says Blue Gums are so widespread there that a lot of the locals don't even realise they are not native to Portugal.

Near the picnic area is an old waterwheel.
The wheel is an original one from the 1870's. The frame and flume are mock-ups from when the wheel was moved here. Originally the wheel was used to run a lighting generator and stamper battery for a gold mine near here. When the mine closed down the wheel and lighting plant were bought by an enterprising local publican to light his hotel.
Finally in the 1950s the pub was due to be flooded when the dam was built so the wheel was salvaged to act as a sort of memorial to earlier times.

After lunch we meandered back along the valley towards Warburton. On the way we stopped to see another relic of gold mining in the area. The "Big Peninsula Tunnel", I posted about this tunnel's little sibling a while ago.
The "big" tunnel was cut for the same reason, to allow a section of the Yarra's bed to be mined for alluvial gold.

To get to the tunnel you climb down the side of a ridge and come to the river where the Parks Authority has installed an unusual means of getting across: Then you come to the tunnel which is a lot larger than its downstream mate:
Just for a change I got out from behind the camera to have a closer look:
Back in the car we headed towards Melbourne, stopping a couple of times to take advantage of the afternoon light to snap a couple (of hundred) photos.Warburton lies about 20 km (12 miles) behind the low ridge in the middle distance.
And just because I love this piece of countryside so much a final photo.
Mount Donna Buang is the third mountain (at the back) on the left-hand side. To give some sense of scale the black dots near the right hand side are cows.

As an interesting (and probably useless) piece of trivia the blue tinge the mountains show here is a result of a fine out-gassing of Eucalyptus oil from the leaves in the warm weather. Not surprising they're so flammable!


hmsgofita said...

Just gorgeous! You're a writer and a photographer!

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Beautiful photos, Al! The waterwheel was just fabulous. Put that sucker on a book cover or a postcard, really! Actully, you should think about that. "Al's Photos" sell downloads. Really-- just gret photography.

Lisa said...

Beautiful photos! But a sweater at 72 degree F? We call that a perfect day in Nebraska! Sweaters disappear once the temps hit the 60 degree mark. Guess we're just tougher here; that or by the time we get through 4-5 months of winter, we are sick to death of our sweaters!

Brian, the old man said...

Fantabulous article! It appears you had a wonderful time. I really liked the up close photos you took of the trees and also the waterwheel and the stream and the... I just really liked them all. The temperatures are comparable to those here in Georgia. It is has been really comfortable here as Autumn is settling in. Hope you have a nice day.

Walk Talk Tours said...

Never really thought that Eucalyptus trees and other evergreens shed bark unless they happen to be diseased. Like your photographs, especially the stepping stones pic.

Thanks for the heads up. Realise that my blog needs to be more interactive, but not really very techie. Thankfully, I've got a mate whose promised to give me a hand re: Google Friend Connect/templates etc.

heidenkind said...

Yes, I have picnicked with my family in a forest in California that looked almost exactly like that! How cool.

Al said...

Hi Heather,
Thank you! Well I'm happy with the writer moniker. I don't know about the photographer one. I have an OK camera, think about composition and take LOTS of photos; so some of them are bound to turn out nice.

Hi Christy
Thanks for the praise! Glad you enjoyed the piccies. Hey maybe I'll have to get you to be my agent :-)

Hi Lisa,
Thanks. I know I am a woos when it comes to the weather. To be fair 22°C (72°F) is considered a comfortable temperature here in Victoria. But I am an ex-Queenslander and in Queensland a daytime temp of 22°C (72°F) is considered cold. We don't have a winter anything like yours; even here in the deep south snow only falls over about 500 metres (about 1600 feet)

Hi Brian,
Only to pleased that you enjoyed my post and my piccies. We did have a great time! I think our temperatures are pretty close to Georgia in coastal Victoria, hotter in summer here but it's not humid so probably easier to stand than Georgia's.

Hi Phil,
There are over 700 species of Eucalypts in OZ. Broadly they can be divided into three groups: the smooth barked species of Eucalyptus all shed bark, some in summer as their yearly growth peaks and some pretty much continually; the stringy-barks don't shed as much; and iron barks pretty much don't shed.
I know what you mean the techie stuff doesn't come easy for me either.

Hi Tasha,
A bit of Oz transplanted up north huh?
I understand that they have Koalas in zoos in California (San Diego at least). They can keep them there because there are fresh gum (Eucalyptus) leaves available in the area. As far as I know the only other place they keep Koalas outside Oz is in Tokyo. There they have to airfreight gum leaves in everyday to keep the Koalas healthy.
You guys should be careful, if they escape you could end up with your very own population of feral drop-bears.

Shelli said...

love the pics!

Al said...

Hi Shelli,
Pleased you like them!

Melisende said...

I'm heading out the way next nice week-end - thanks for the pics, Al.

Al said...

Hi Melisende,
Have fun! It's a gorgeous spot.

Diane said...

Thanks 4 visiting my blog! Those are some gorgeous photos you took. That tree truck and water wheel are fabulous. I love visiting other places through pictures...thanks