Released From our Lockdown, We Travelled as Far As We Could.

Yesterday, was a good day. Victoria reached a point where 70% of its population is now fully vaccinated and some of our covid restrictions were removed. We are no longer under lockdown and can travel anywhere in the Melbourne Metro area. We are expected to reach a vaccination level of 80% next week and then many more restrictions will be removed. We are forecast to reach a vaccination level of 90% just two weeks later. Victoria (and some other states) has gone from being one of the least vaccinated parts of the world to one of the most vaccinated in just a couple of months.

In relation to our lockdowns, I see that Time Magazine has reported that some third rate US right wing political commentator named Candace Owens has spectacularly called for the US to declare war and invade Australia (America’s longest and closest ally) with US troops to rid us of the tyranny of the police state that has locked down our population with some severe covid restrictions.I don’t know who she is, but she seems to have the intelligence level of a camel and the world view of a wombat if she believes that all countries should be the same as the USA. Covid is one aspect where Australians have absolutely no interest in being like the USA!

After adjusting for population size, Australia has less than 3% of the number of Covid deaths as the US. (Who else would politicise a pandemic?) so we would prefer to continue in our well established culture of ‘mateship’ with a developed approach of putting up with some inconvenience in support of the common good. We don’t wan’t to have the same avid prioritisation of individual rights and liberties as right wing Americans do. These, by comparison, just lead to more selfish behaviour and a concern mostly about oneself. All I can say to Ms Owens is that it is far better to keep you mouth shut and let others think that you are a fool, rather than open it so that they are sure of it!

Anyway, back to the main purpose of my blog – to provide news of our activities to our family and friends.

Having been only able to travel for only 5 kms and then 15 kms over the last few months, we thought carefully about how far we could travel yesterday, on a nice sunny day on which these limits have been formally removed.  Our intention was to go to the most distant place that we could from our home in the local government area of Manningham.. My research showed me that the Shire of Yarra Ranges is included in our Metro Covid Area, even though it is not really a part of suburban Melbourne. It contains some of my favourite areas of mountain and bush. The old timber settlement of Cambarville, deep in the mountains, was a natural choice for a day out.

Escpe Day

We packed a picnic lunch of smoked salmon rolls with cream cheese, dill and capers and headed for the mountains. We stopped for a coffee at the Gladysdale Bakery on the highway. It is clearly spring as the nearby paddocks were extensive meadows of buttercups.

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We found a nice picnic table for lunch on the northern side of the Yarra River in Warburton. Our lunch spot was directly opposite a small shed under some tall trees with a stall selling plants that would attract bees. I spoke with the lady who operated this shop, Jane, for quite some time and she had a wealth of knowledge about bee attracting plants. I found, from her, that many of the plants that we have planted in our garden are very suitable for bees throughout the seasons. If you are ever in Warburton look out for her shed and pay her a visit.

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Warburton is a quiet, attractive and charming old gold mining town which wanders along the hillside beside the upper reaches of the Yarra River. In late 1859 gold was discovered near here, at Britannia Creek west of Warburton and at Scotchman’s and Yankee Jim’s Creeks. A settlement called Yankee Jim’s (named after a gold discoverer), was formed on the creek. When an important gold lead was found in 1863 the name was changed to Warburton, after Police Magistrate Charles Warburton Carr. In 1888, the Upper Yarra shire was proclaimed with Warburton as its then administrative centre.

In 1906 the Seventh Day Adventist church established a community at Wonwondah, 1 km east of Warburton. Their school attracted about 90 pupils of whom half were local children. Warburton had two aspects which the Adventists wanted – a clean environment (in keeping with their avoidance of alcohol and tobacco) and copious water flow in local streams to power their printing works for the production of religious literature. They established the Signs Printing Company building and workers’ cottages and shortly afterwards opened a sanitarium and health-food factory. The old factory has been vacant for some years after the food manufacturing operations were relocated to New Zealand. In my early days of bushwalking the Sanitarium Company made the only dehydrated and lightweight foods available. They were once a staple of my bushwalking diet.

Deep in the nearby mountains is the mostly deserted site of the old Cambarville timber hamlet. It is right on the NE border of the Shire of Yarra Ranges and as far as current covid restrictions allowed us to travel. When the state reaches a vaccination rate of 80% in around a week’s time, we will be able to go further into regional Victoria.

Cambarville is noted for its giant mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) trees within the Cumberland Memorial Scenic Reserve, and relics from former sawmills and gold mining. It was established as a timber mill town in the 1940s. Timber mill owners A Cameron and FJ Barton named the town Cambarville. They established the mill to salvage timber from trees destroyed in the extensive 1939 bushfires that ravaged the entire state.

The town had a one-teacher primary school, which opened on 2 February 1943, closed in 1945 due to lack of pupils, re-opening again in 1946, and shut down for the last time in 1968. The main classroom was used as a community hub for various social activities, like plays, concerts, and dances. Life in Cambarville was particularly difficult, with no access to luxuries like refrigeration and other electrical appliances. Single men were housed in huts provided by the logging company, and were provided with meals from a boarding house on Main Street (sometimes there were more itinerants and single men living in Cambarville than families with children). Main Street was never sealed during its heyday. The main saw mill was destroyed twice by fire, the last time in 1971. The town’s population rapidly dwindled after the mill’s closure.  Today, there is just one permanent residence and a National Parks works building.

We sat at a table drinking a coffee and listening to the wide variety of birds that we could hear in the tree tops.

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This old engine powered the timber mill and is now a protected historic relic.

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There is nothing left in the Main Street of the old town other than a few signs that describe the buildings that once stood on various sites.

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Judging by the amount of moss on the fence, this place is obviously very wet and damp.

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This 2 1/2 metre diameter log shows just how big the originally felled trees were. These days, foresters work on trees that are about 70 cm standard in diameter.

One thought on “Released From our Lockdown, We Travelled as Far As We Could.”

  1. Fascinating history to read thanks Bruce. Never heard of Cambarville until now. What a lovely day you had.

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