state park, victoria
Melbourne Cup long weekend at Middle Creek
go to Nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune
once more” – John Burroughs
Middle Creek Camping Area is in the Mount Buangor State Park,
approximately 15 km west of Beaufort, a small town located in an
agricultural-pastoral area 165 km NW of Melbourne on the Western Highway.
This was the beautiful setting for the Victorian Melbourne Cup Weekend meet
over the first weekend in November. The park contains a variety of flora and
fauna and several camping areas, the biggest of which is Middle Creek. It’s
a huge cleared area in the forest, with good shelter if needed, and pit
toilets. When Doug and I decided to host this weekend meet we expected to
have a good number attending, but as the poll on the website kept going up
and up, we secretly hoped that it wouldn’t go too high. Cup Weekend in
Victoria is always a popular time to get away, and we hoped we would all fit
We left early on Friday morning, braving the traffic to make
our way through suburban Melbourne and head out the Western Highway towards Ballarat. Some of our fellow campers were arriving the night before us, and
we got a call from Leanne and Paul to say “Hurry up and get here, it’s
filling up fast!!!!” We arrived just before lunch and were met by a small
group who had spread themselves out and tried to claim spots for the 20 or
so camper trailers or tents still to come. As the afternoon passed, more
people arrived and the camp ground was getting busy. Not too busy to be
uncomfortable though and we all enjoyed spending the beautiful afternoon
setting up and watching others do the same. We had arranged for a delivery
of firewood and the dependable Ross duly arriving during the afternoon to
dump a large load of lovely dry wood beside the fire area, and we proceeded
to get the first fire of the weekend going. With the pile of firewood we had
to get through we thought we could keep the fire going 24/7, and after
everyone had had their dinner and cleaned up, the usual gathering around the
campfire meant that the weekend had commenced in earnest. We thought we were
going to be in for a storm later in the evening as we had a few flashes of
lightening and rolls of thunder, but the splashes of rain didn’t come to
much and quickly passed. Apparently Melbourne copped the storm after it
by-passed us, so we were lucky. And one by one, quietly (well, some of us!!)
we all disappeared to bed.
Saturday morning was bright and sunny, the start of a lovely
day. The remaining members began to arrive around 9am and slowly trickled in
over the course of the day. Some of our group got off to an active start and
headed off for a walk up to the waterfall, while others took their time over
a leisurely breakfast. Some went into nearby Beaufort to see what the town
had to offer (which included a trip to the local winery!). I don’t know if
it was just the long weekend, or if the good weather was also responsible,
but the Western Highway was very busy that Saturday morning, and while we
were in Beaufort, Doug and I were concerned that all this holiday traffic
was headed to Middle Creek. We needn’t have worried, because although it was
busy, we still had plenty of room and weren’t camped on top of each other.
Robert was even so kind as to reserve a prime spot for Paul, who arrived on
Saturday afternoon. It’s that kind of selfless behaviour that makes being a
member of this group such a pleasure!!
As the afternoon shadows lengthened, nibbles came out, and we, again, did
our best to get through the enormous pile of firewood. After dinner, there
was general merriment and the evening finished with a group of die-hards
round the fire. Let it be known that the writer did manage to find her way
back to her camper in the dark, contrary to popular belief!!
It was a cool, misty morning that greeted the campers as they
gradually appeared after a good night’s sleep. It was a perfect morning for
a group of “happy campers” to set off for a walk, whistling as they went!
Although it hadn’t really been planned, there were several requests for a
walkabout, where people could give an outline of their set-up and others
could gain ideas and thoughts for the future. It was especially good for the
new members of the group who hadn’t experienced a meet before to have a
chance to look around and poke their noses in others campers. It was a shame
that some of our number had to leave so early, after only arriving the day
before, but we were very happy that Lee and Chris took time out of their
busy weekend to stop by for a night. We hope they’ll join us again. By lunch
time the sun had come out again and the day was warming up nicely. We had a
special evening planned, and therefore there was preparation necessary and
the camp was a hive of activity in the afternoon - although there was still
time for a few to catch a “nanny nap” or just have a relaxing chat in the
sun. One of the planned activities for the weekend was a “Pot Luck Supper”
on Sunday evening, where people brought a contribution to a communal table
and we all shared some time and a meal together. With thoughts of
Melbourne’s Longest Lunch in mind, we went for Camping’s Longest Dinner,
where all the tables were joined in a chain and we all sat down to a
candle-lit feast. What a spread we had, with everything from beautiful
nibbles before dinner to a wide range of mains, including stews, chilli,
fried rice, chicken wings, and Lindsay’s “road kill special” to name but a
few. Dinner was finished with some wonderful chocy creations and a cake. We
were a bit worried when we thought of this dinner, thinking that it could be
a bit of a disaster, but how wrong we were – it was a delight and I think
everyone enjoyed spending time together. As the cleaning up got underway,
the fire was ramped up to full and we all gathered round to the end the
night in the best way we know how.
We couldn’t believe how lucky we were – the weather turned on
another great day on Monday. Hmmmm, what to do? Breakfast was followed by
some intrepid campers heading off for a tour in the Grampians and others
deciding it was all too hard and opening the paper. Others had to face the
task of packing up and heading off – something that always proves
entertaining for those sitting back and watching!! Mount Buangor State Park
has several interesting tracks and things to see, so Doug and I thought it
would be a good idea to see who was interested in a small 4WD trip up the
hill to see what we could see. So I did a quick run round all the campers to
see who was “in”, and while chatting to Lindsay and Sandra, we discovered
that Lindsay had a guide book to the tracks in the area. We were more than
happy to delegate the lead to someone with detailed information and at 11am
eight vehicles left in convoy packed with lots of happy travellers. One
group in our convoy was in a 2WD and as we left the campground, they turned
right while the rest of us went left, with instructions to meet further up
at the next picnic area. Now, far be it for me to cast doubt as to the
reliability of our leader, but after a short while, and many curious
comments over the radios it was decided we were lost!! Well, not really
lost, but somehow, we’d managed to stray onto a circular walking track.
Now, picture this, 7 cars
on a rough, single lane, overgrown track (remember the Commodore was waiting
for us at the next picnic ground). There was no room for turning round and
so the decision was reached to carry on. All well and good but………there was a
bit of an obstacle - a fairly large tree over the road. It’s OK though,
cause Doug had his chainsaw in the car. Well to be more accurate, he had
Barbie’s chainsaw in the car, but it eventually did the job. With the
combined efforts of all the big, strong men, the tree was cut and then
dragged out of the way so we could all carry on. Until the next one. And the
next one. By that time, it was thought to be easier to take a very off road
route through the forest to go round the tree than try and cut another one
out of the way. We were very nearly back to the start of the loop and ready
to take up where we should have gone in the first place, when we were met
with another problem. Up in front of us, stuck firmly in the mud, was an
on-coming Landcruiser. Thankfully there was enough room for us to creep past
him, and pull into the nearby picnic area. Dale and Karen in the Commodore
had long ago given us up for lost and taken off on their own travels. Ron
stayed on to help get the Cruiser out while the rest of us enjoyed the
surroundings and had an impromptu lunch stop. When we left that morning, we
only expected to be gone an hour or so, so not many had brought lunch with
them. It had taken us about 2 hours to get to this point – about 2km from
where we started. It’s amazing what you can put together out of the supplies
in the back of the car when you have to.
At this point, by popular vote, Lindsay was sacked as group leader, and Paul
took over. When Ron re-joined us, we were on the road again and we then
spent a very pleasant afternoon travelling up to the lookout at Mount Buangor and round to look at the dam. We had all enjoyed our little
adventure so much but when Lindsay and his family decided to take a back
route into Beaufort, surprisingly, no one put their hand up to go with them.
We wound our way back down the mountain and back to camp by 3.30pm, and all
decided it was one of the best days we’d had in a long time. Round the fire
that night Lindsay revealed that he had another look at his book and
discovered it was published in 1976 – and back then, the track did go where
he took us. Guess what he’s getting for Christmas??
Sadly Tuesday came before we knew it, and for most of us,
that meant packing up and heading for home. There were a few of the group
lucky enough to be able to stay longer. The morning passed quietly and
slowly campers were folded and cars packed. It took ages to say all the
goodbyes and promises to see each other at the next meet.
We always have such a good time when we attend Campertrailer
Group meets, and this one was no exception. The people come from all walks
of life, and all parts of the state – in Barry and Michelle’s case, from
interstate – and we all enjoy the company, the scenery and the time to
relax. Doug and I want to thank everyone that helped make the weekend what
it was – too many of you to name – it was a pleasure to host.
Just to finish, here’s a quick quiz for those who attended.
How much do you remember?
doesn’t like sitting round a pilot light?
gave us moving house to spend a night with us?
showed that women could 4WD with the best of them?
wouldn’t go to the loo without the Glen 20?
now got the nickname “Hot Lips”?
shot himself with the kids rocket?
missing the hair on her forearms and why?
were the names of the 5 dwarfs?
Nigel No Friends?
wanted to see Jill’s shower tent topless?
suffered from uneven ground syndrome and fell off her stool?
kept the best fireplace to himself?
made himself popular with his generator (I dream of a Genie!!!)
likes green chops?
spent most of Monday folding up two shower tents?
younger member got himself a new girlfriend?
former publican can’t pour himself a beer?
the Dancing Queen?
Maureen and does she really exist?
There were lots of other great memories, but as the old saying goes,
“What happens on camp, stays on camp!”
Doug and Jeannie
Gary (dropped by for a visit)
Paul and Leanne
Erin and Peter
Jill and Gary
David and Lena
Rob and Eve and Ann
Dale and Karen and Nick and Jez (broken collar bone and all)
Chris and Lee and friends
Lindsay and Sandra
Wayne and Tania and Braeden and Jordan
Jason and Rachel and Darcy and Alana
Andrew and Sharon (it’s fun, honest) and Arielle
David and Jane and Serena
Barry and Michelle