Past Events

  Lake Tooliorook weekend

 Lake Tooliorook weekend

Easter/ANZAC - Friday 22nd to Tuesday 26th April, 2011

Lake Tooliorook lies about 5 km from the small country town of Lismore in central-west Victoria, an easy 2 hours drive from Melbourne CBD. The group has held a meet here in the past (Australia Day 2007) but at that time the lake was almost completely dry, and it was nicknamed “Stinky Lake” due to the smell of the dry lake bed. When Doug and I started planning a meet for Easter earlier in the year, this wasn’t our first thought for a venue, but friends told us that the lake had water in it once again and a Sunday afternoon drive in January for a recce confirmed this. What a beautiful setting! Right on the edge of the lake, with great facilities and the help of the campsite management – we knew this was the spot.

It had been a long time since the last Victorian meet, and with work and school commitments, Doug and I hadn’t been out in the camper as much as we would have liked, so the longing for a camping trip was almost a physical ache. We were really looking forward to our long weekend, and with 19 other camper trailers/tents/caravans attending, we hoped all would go well. We were lucky enough to have some extra time so we headed off on Wednesday afternoon, and joined the other early arrivers, Paul and Leanne, Jeff and Karen and the boys and Paul and Annie for our first night in camp. The weather was a bit questionable, but it didn’t matter – we were camping!! Just as we arrived, local wood supplier, Jim, arrived with a ute-load of firewood for us. We knew we would be warm now. We had the pleasure of sharing our fire that night with a couple passing through with their Trayon slide-on camper and spread the word about

Thursday dawned a beautiful sunny morning, with a cool breeze. Breakfast was had and as we enjoyed another cuppa, we took bets on when the first of the days’ arrivals would appear. Right on the money, Jayne and Serena pulled up with their new baby, the Ultimate X-Trak, having had an early start. Hubby David and son Ryan had to work an extra day, so the girls were “doing it for themselves”. We were expecting about half of the campers to arrive today, so the day was spent round camp. People arrived throughout the day and found their chosen spots to set up and it was great sport to watch them!! Paul Mac was busy doing guided tours of his Bolwell Edge camper, but took time out to wash the dirt from the entrance road off his Pajero – wouldn’t do to have the 4WD dirty, would it Paul?? The weather had turned cloudy and windy and warm coats were definitely needed – hard to believe after such a crystal-clear morning. Our original plan was to have one big central fire pit down by the lake, but with the wind whipping off the water and going straight through you, that plan was revised to two more sheltered spots down the back of the site. The fire was lit and that was the cue for what was to become our obligatory 4 o’clock happy hour. Unfortunately, at exactly that time, the rain started – but we campers weren’t to be put off – the nibblies were put under cover and the umbrellas came out and happy hour continued. David W seemed to be having trouble with his wine glass over the weekend – it appeared it had a hole in it, and the wine kept leaking out!!! Last to arrive on Thursday was Janet and Russell from Mt Gambier in their Kimberley Kamper, and it seemed they brought the rain with them. After a wet dinner (well ours was – we BBQ’d in the rain), the rain abated for a while and we were able to enjoy the fire until bed time.

We were awoken on Good Friday by rain on the camper roof so no-one was in a hurry to get up and about, but some were on the road early, as our first arrivals, Jason and Rachel and the kids, were with us at 8.30am. Some others in the campsite arrived even earlier. A group of young people arrived at 6am, and sat in their cars waiting till the sun came up. Where they hoped to camp was right on the lake’s edge, very picturesque, but they would be blown away, so they retreated to another section of the campground. The rest of our group was due to arrive over the course of Friday so another day was spent close to camp enjoying cups of tea, Leanne’s Chelsea bun and or course, the fun of watching others set up. The wind kept up all day, so warm hats were the headgear of choice – some group members looking more like garden gnomes than campers (no names, no pack-drill!) Our last arrival, Dave, Sue and Alana arrived just on happy hour. It was planned that the whole group would bring their chairs to sit and watch them set up, but the distraction of happy hour was too great. And as if on cue, the rain started once again as the tables came out for nibblies. Like a well-oiled machine, tables were moved and glasses were raised to say “Cheers” to another successful day. Dale A was a hit with everyone today, as he produced a box of 12V worklights and proceeded to hand them out to whoever wanted one. It seems they were damaged stock from a friend’s warehouse, so the campsite was aglow with yellow work lights all evening. Thanks for thinking of us all Dale, it was great. Two fires were burning brightly this evening (good thing we had another load of wood delivered by Jim) and people moved freely between the two, ensuring a good mix of friends and conversation. There was a down-side of moving around a dark campsite at night though, with Leanne getting lost going from fire to bed (no alcohol to blame either!) and me doing a swan-dive over an unused fire drum in the dark. I’m still finding bruises in unusual places and have learnt never to move around at night without my headlamp!!

It was an early start on Saturday morning. As there were activities going on in town that morning, it was decided last night that a group of us would make an early start for the walk into town. So at 8.30am, about 15 walkers, including kids and dogs, set off for town. What we thought was about 5km turned out to be about 6.5km and it was fun to see how the various walkers fell into groups according to pace. The group spread out over about a kilometre and the cloudy but fine morning meant it was a pleasant walk that took about an hour. There was a car boot sale in the centre of town, offering all sorts of goodies from flowers, local produce and all sorts of treasures from attics and cupboards and then the majority of us descended on the local café and bakery for coffees and goodies – I don’t think the poor café owners knew what had hit them and the lattes were being churned out in great style. For those who had had enough walking, there were lifts back to camp, but a brave few started out on the walk back. They were saved by a rain shower, which sent rescue vehicles out to pick them up. Unfortunately we had to bid farewell to our South Australian members, as they packed up and headed for home today. Poor Janet had given it her best shot, but was overwhelmed by the dreaded lurgy and they decided she needed to be home to recover. Thanks so much to them for making the trip to Lismore to join us and we hope we see them again soon. Our planned walkabout was delayed till after lunchtime, but when it came, it was great to see all the participants getting excited about showing off their set-ups and getting a chance to have a good look round others. We were lucky enough to have a visit from representatives from the local historical society in the afternoon, who gave a very interesting presentation of the history and stories of the local area. Thanks very much to Lorraine and her friends for giving their time so willingly to share their love of Lismore and its surrounds. Our afternoon passed happily, with the kids having a session making Easter baskets, and before we knew it, it was happy hour once more. And you guessed it – the rain started. Not to worry – we were experts now. A different slant on happy hour today was the slightly delayed presentation for Peter’s birthday – Jill, his sister is never one to miss out on a practical joke, and the contents of his box were illuminating to say the least – it warmed every “little” part of him!! Another warm night was spent round the fire and slowly people drifted off to bed. Funnily enough, no one was moving around in the dark tonight.

At last we had a sunny morning to greet us when we got out of bed on Sunday morning. The Easter Bunny had been up early, and visited all the campers in the group. Breakfasts were had and coffee smelt good around the campsite as we spent a leisurely morning chatting and enjoying the sun. It was the morning for the fishermen (and women) amongst us to try their skills and before long there were tales of wonderful catches, most of which were caught and released. Jason was particular successful and kept coming back with some beautiful trout and young Andrew had a smile from ear to ear when he caught his trout. Karen told me it was beautiful eating. In the afternoon Leanne and Paul led a small drive to Lake Goldsmith, about 60km to the north of us. This is another of the lakes in the area that have filled with water over recent months and it was lovely to see all the birdlife enjoying it. We then detoured to Smythesdale to visit Nimmons’ Bridge, part of the Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail. Our little outing gave Ryan the chance to test his four-wheel driving skills, if only to drive through a puddle! Ryan’s pride and joy is his early model Land Cruiser and it provided interest for all the guys over the weekend whenever the bonnet was up for some tweaking. It’s lovely to see that the young people still want to come with their parents to meets and we hope that they continue to do so, they’re wonderful. Sunset tonight was spectacular, and attracted a lot of attention. And it was the first happy hour that didn’t attract rain – things can only get better! The highlight of tonight was our “Long Dinner” with a Mad Hatter theme. It was a chance for the whole group to come together to share a meal together. The amount of effort and ingenuity that went into everyone’s hats was amazing and brought everyone together for a fun evening. Thanks to all for your participation. The fires were ramped up after dinner, and when the dishes were done, there was a good atmosphere around the fires. So much so that Doug and Dale B felt so comfortable that they went to sleep. And there’s photographic evidence guys, so don’t try to deny it!!

Overnight was a cold one, with hot water bottles and thermals being brought out to keep out the cold. Monday morning brought a thick, dense fog, which blanketed the campsite with dew. Everything was dripping and damp! Later in the morning, the sun came out and the day turned into the best day yet, bright and sunny and warm. With the sun brought the first of our departures, with both Peter and Mila and Ryan packing up and heading for home today. Such a shame that they were going just as the weather was improving. The morning’s serenity was broken by the noises coming from Jill and Gary’s Ultimate. As with a lot of parts of the country just now, there seems to be an abundance of mice in Lismore and a few of them had made their way into our campers. Jill and Gary had heard noises through the night, but during the morning, they had found the little critter and were busy chasing it round the inside of the camper. It looked like a scene from a cartoon, but they managed to chase it out of the camper and outside. There were a lot of us more vigilant about open doors from that point onwards, let me tell you. The campsite had good facilities, but their hot water system wasn’t amongst them, and for those that didn’t bring their own camp showers, the trip to the shower block was not one that was looked forward to, with the majority having “brisk”, short showers. More pleasant was the hot showers to be had in our own shower tents, but one should always remember to bring a towel with you, shouldn’t one Sue? The highlight of today was our planned walk up nearby Mount Elephant. We are appreciative to Stan, the President of the Management Committee, who made himself available to give us access to the mountain, and to offer information about it’s history and advice of the best way to approach the climb. It took just over an hour for us to climb to the highest point of this ancient volcano and back down again, and the climb wasn’t for the feint-hearted. Alright, it made me feel like an old woman when young Joel went bouncing past me wondering what I was huffing and puffing about. A group photo of the intrepid climbers was taken, just to prove we had made it. Even pint-sized Princess Molly the dog made it to the top. What a perfect day to do the climb, we were very lucky. Back to camp, and jobs to do before happy hour and dinner. One of the catch-phrases of the meet has to be one that Karen B started, but rubbed off on several of the rest of us……”Dale, you might want to……….”. Trust me, you had to be there, but it was funny! I think a lot of us were feeling the effects of our climb as the evening was a very quiet one, with two wonderful fires.

Another cold and foggy morning on Tuesday, but we knew it would burn off before too long so that was ok. And true to form, the sun came out and it was another glorious day. Unfortunately today was the day that the majority of our crew was packing up and leaving, although no one seemed in too much of a hurry to do so. There was lots of slow, leisurely pack ups over cuppas and conversations. It’s great to see the sharing of ideas and advice when this group gets together and people see what others have done, and how they’ve done it. Poor Doug has come home with quite a long list of projects for our camper and 4WD. Then there were lunches to be had. Hmmmmm, trying to delay the inevitable I guess. Another mouse was found in Dale and Karen’s camper, with much noise from the girls, but Missy the Wonder Dog proved to be a wonderful mouser and was deployed to find and dispatch the invaders. By mid-afternoon the last of those leaving were on their way, with sad farewells and promises of doing it all again soon, and then the remainder of us settled down for some quiet time before our last happy hour. It was strange when only a small group of about 10 of us gathered, after the large crowds that had mingled over the weekend. We had a monster fire tonight, trying to use up the last of our firewood, and it kept us toasty warm, but it was early to bed after a busy weekend.

We counted ourselves lucky to have an extra day to add onto the weekend and enjoyed our Wednesday in an empty campground. Wednesday morning was yet another foggy start, but the sun came out much earlier, and again, it was a stunning day. The canvas was drying nicely after the morning dew, but nobody seemed in any hurry to pack up. Do a bit of work, have a cuppa…………… do a bit more, have a chat…… a bit more, have some lunch……………do a bit more, oh nearly finished!! By early afternoon, the last of us were packed and were heading away, wishing that we could all just keep going and head to somewhere other than home and work!

I’m not really sure where to start with our thank-you’s and acknowledgements. This meet was probably the best that we have hosted, and it is only made possible by the great group of people that make up the CamperTrailers Group. We had some “old-timers” who’ve attended far more meets than us, and some brand new members who were attending their first meet, we had young children, teenagers and young adults, young families and those who would prefer I didn’t mention their age, and everyone seemed to mix well and form a lovely group of like-minded souls. You all made it very easy for Doug and I, and we thank you for that. Our thanks also must go to Geoff Campbell, of the campsite management committee, who assisted us with all the organisation, to Lorraine Graham of the historical society for her presentation and to Jim, the firewood provider, who kept us all warm.

Now, who’s doing the next one????


Doug & Jeannie