Gemmill Swamp Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2318

As we were struggling with contacts at the Lower Goulburn National Park, Marija and I decided to pack up and head off to another park, the Gemmill Swamp Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2318.  The park is located just to the west of the town of Shepparton, and borders the smaller town of Mooroopna.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Gemmill Swamp Wildlife Reserve.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

Marija and I travelled down McFarlane Road at Mooroopna, and soon reached the park, which was to our surprise, signposted.


The Gemmill Swamp Wildlife Reserve is about 170 hectares in size and consists of Goulburn River floodplain forest and wetland between Mooroopna and Shepparton.  The park includes Gemmill Swamp, a high conservation value wetland of State significance, and a surrounding area of relatively natural River Red Gum forest and Tall Spike Rush wetlands.

The park provides habitat for a number of Victoria’s rare and vulnerable mammals, birds and reptiles, including the Squirrel Glider, Turquoise Parrot, and Superb Parrot.

EBird have recorded a total of 208 species of bird in the park including Blue-faced Honeyeater, Crimson Rosella, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Rainbow Bee-eater, and Musk Lorikeet.

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Above:- An aerial view of the Gemmill Swamp Wildlife Park, with the town of Shepparton bordering it.  Image courtesy of Google maps

We set up in a clearing, just off one of the 4WD tracks that travel through the park.  We ran the Yaesu FT-897 and the 20/40/80m linked dipole for this activation.  Sadly there was a lot of rubbish scattered around the park.

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Above:- Aerial view of the Gemmill Swamp Wildlife Reserve, showing our operating spot.  Image courtesy of Protected Planet.

I kicked off the activation by calling CQ on 3.610 on the 80m band.  As it was now 7.15 p.m. local time and the sun was starting to set, we decided to start off on 80m.  First in the log was the ever keen Peter VK3PF, followed by Andy VK5LA, Geoff VK3SQ, and then Adrian VK5FANA.  Many thanks to Adrian for spotting me on parksnpeaks.

The band conditions on 80m were quite good, despite the rather loud static crashes at times.  We also had the cicadas singing in the background in the park.

Within 9 minutes I had qualified the park for VKFF, with contact number 10 being a QSO with John VK4TJ in Queensland.  I logged a further 5 stations before swapping the mic with Marija.


Marija’s first contact logged was John VK5BJE in the Adelaide Hills, followed by Geoff VK3SQ, Tony VK3TNL, and then Ken VK3UH.  Marija also qualified the park for VKFF in quick time, with her 10th contact being a QSO with Adrian VK5FANA.  Marija logged a total of 16 stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5, before we again swapped the microphone.

The 40m band was in pretty good shape, and things were looking promising that I might be able to get the 44 QSOs required to qualify the park for the global WWFF program.  I logged a further 5 stations on 80m before heading over to 7.130 on the 40m band.  It was now 0856 UTC and the 7130 DX was co commence in 30 minutes time.  So I thought calling CQ on that frequency might stir up some activity with people waiting for the net.  And it paid off, as I soon had 44 contacts in the log.  The magical contact number 44 was a QSO with Andrew VK7DW in Tasmania.

I ended up logging a total of 52 contacts from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7 and New Zealand.  It was amazing how the band had come alive from our activation at the Lower Goulburn National Park.


It was now 8.30 p.m. and dark and time for us to pack up and head off to the pizza bar in Mooroopna.  But not before enjoying some amazing views of the moon.


Marija worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5BJE
  2. VK3SQ
  3. VK3TNL
  4. VK3UH
  5. VK2KYO
  6. VK4TJ
  7. VK4/AC8WN
  8. VK4/VE6XT
  9. VK3ANL
  10. VK5FANA
  11. VK3CBP
  12. VK4NH
  13. VK4DXA
  14. ZL4TY/VK4
  15. VK3PF
  16. VK2IO

I  worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK5LA
  3. VK3SQ
  4. VK5FANA
  5. VK3TNL
  6. VK4NH
  7. VK4DXA
  8. ZL4TY/VK4
  9. VK4TJ
  10. VK4/AC8WN
  11. VK4/VE6XT
  12. VK3VRA
  13. VK3FLJD
  14. VK3UH
  15. VK5BJE
  16. VK4HNS
  17. VK2IO
  18. VK3TKK
  19. VK5FMLO
  20. VK3PJM

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2FALL
  2. VK2KEL
  3. VK5MJ
  4. VK4NH
  5. VK4DXA
  6. ZL4TY/VK4
  7. VK5TT
  8. VK4ME
  9. ZL3TV/m
  10. VK5FAKV
  11. VK4SMA
  12. VK2FMJW
  13. VK4TJ
  14. VK4/AC8WN
  15. VK4/VE6XT
  16. VK5KLV
  17. VK2ELO
  18. VK4HNS
  19. VK4HAT
  20. VK2PEP/m
  21. VK5LA
  22. VK3ZPF
  23. VK7KT
  24. VK7DW
  25. VK4FFAB
  26. ZL1XS
  27. VK3NQS
  28. VK6NTE
  29. VK4FARR
  30. VK4GSF
  31. VK2KRN
  32. VK7FRJG

To top off the night we met up with Jason VK3FNQS who joined us for some pizza and a few well earned bundy and cokes.  It was terrific to catch up with Jason.


We then headed back to the motel room for a well earned rest.  It had been a long day.




ebird, 2018, <>, viewed 9th December 2018

Melbourne Playgrounds, 2018, <>, viewed 9th December 2018

Visit Melbourne, 2018, <, viewed 9th December 2018

Day four, Lower Goulburn National Park VKFF-0741

It was now day four of our trip, Monday 19th November 2018.  We had only one planned park activation for the day, and that being the Lower Goulburn National Park VKFF-0741.  This was to be another unique park for both Marija and I for both the WWFF program and the KRMNPA.

The park is located just to the north of Shepparton and stretches all the way to the mighty Murray River to the east of Echuca/Moama.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Lower Goulburn National Park.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

For breakfast we headed to the Windmill at Emerald Bank.  We enjoyed some bacon and eggs and coffee, and purchased some of the chocolates which are on sale there.


We then headed south out of Shepparton on the Goulburn Valley Freeway and into the little town of Murchison, which is located on the banks of the Goulburn River.  The town features a number of cow statues called ‘Mooving Art’.  In 1999, Shepparton’s CBD marketing committee Shepparton Show Me introduced Moooving Arts predecessor – the Merry Moos, for a Christmas campaign.  The Merry Moos were so successful it was decided to expand the concept and Moooving Art was born.  They can now be found in Shepparton and surrounding towns, including Murchison.

We then travelled out to the Murchison cemetery which contains the grave of King Charles Tattambo, the leader of the Goulburn tribe at the time of European settlement.  Tattambo died in 1866.  His son, Captain John, and his widow, Queen Mary, were buried next to King Charles’ grave in 1874.

We then visited the Murchison Italian Ossario – War Memorial and Chapel.  During World War II an estimated 4,000 Italian, German, and Japanese were sent to prison camps in the Goulburn Valley, including Murchsion.  Many died whilst in the camps and were buried in the Murhcison cemetery.  In 1956 the infamous floods of that year caused serious damage to many of the graves.  The mausoleum was completed in 1961 and it was agreed that all Italian POW’s and internees who died in Australian prison camps, should be interred in the mauoleum.

Our next stop was the stately mansion, Thornebridge.  The mansion was built in 1868 by Henry Thorne as a Commercial Travellers Inn, and was known as Thornes Bridge Hotel and Store.  In 1895 it was renamed Gregorys Bridge Hotel and Store.  From that time it was owned by many people until it was delicenced in 1969.  Today, after much loving tender care, the mansion haas been transformed into historic luxury accomodation.  The building is shadowed by a heritage listed London Plane Tree, planted in 1913.  It is the 4th biggest in the State.

We then returned to Shepparton and visited the Shepparton Motor Museum.  And whata  great museum this is, whether you are a car buff or not.  The museum features up to 100 classic, heritage and muscle cars, which have been generously loaned or donated to the museum.  You can also find motorcycles and car collectables.

There are some real classics here to be viewed.  And they have all generously been loaned for display by motoring enthusiasts all across Australia.  The museum’s collection is constantly changing.

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There is also a Furphy collection here.  What is a Furphy I hear you ask?  A furphy is a water cart designed and constructed by a company established by John Furphy of J. Furphy & Sons of Shepparton, Victoria.  The steel and cast iron tanks were first made in the 1880s and were used on farms and by stock agents.  Many Furphy water carts were used to take water to Australian Army personnel during World War I in Australia, Europe and the Middle East.

Outdoors there is a small collection of tractors and an old fire engine.

The museum also features an extensive bicycle collection.  In fact it is the largest and rarest collection of bicycles in Australia, and one of the largest in the world.  The bicycles are the collecting passion of Paul and Charlie Farren.  The majority of the bicycles are pre 1900, with the most recent bike being from about 1910.  The Farren collection includes penny farthings of all sizes, bamboo bikes, curious tricycles, women’s sidesaddle bikes, tandems/three seaters and “sociables” that allowed riders to sit side by side.

And of course during my visit to the museum I was able to track down a radio collection.

And my thanks to Marija for allowing me to purchase a car during our visit.  Well, not the one I wanted.  But second best, a die cast model of a 1958 Chevy Impala.


We then headed to the town of Tatura, which means ‘small lagoon’ in the local aboriginal language.  We visited the memorial for Private Robert Mactier, who was a Victoria Cross recipient.

We then visited the Tatura Irrigation and Wartime Camps Museum, a fascinating museum which tells the very interesting story of the inturnment of Germans, Japanese and Italians during World War Two.  During the Second World War there were between 4,000 to 8,000 internees held at seven camps in the Goulburn Valley.  Three of the camps housed Prisoners Of War, and the remaining four camps held internees.  Of the internee camps, Camps 1 and 2 were near Tatura and held mostly German and Italian single males.  This museum is a must if you are in the area.

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It was now mid afternoon and we were feeling a bit peckish.  One of Marija’s friends had recommended the vanilla slice at the Tatura Bakery, so that it where we headed for a bite to eat.


We then ventured out to Dhurringile Mansion, a 65 room mansion which was constructed by wealthy pastoralist John Winter.  It was subsequently sold in 1907 to Everard Browne, the son of Rolf Boldrewood, the Robbert Under Arms novelist.  During the Second World War the mansion was used for the detention of German officers.  Today it is used as a low security prison, HMS Prison Dhurringile.  What a waste!  We couldn’t get close to the mansion due to the security, but took the pictures below from the Tatura Road.

Our next stop was the German War cemetery, located next to the Tatura Cemetery.  The cemetery contains the graves of 250 German civilian internees of World War One, and German civilian internees, German Army and German Air Force of World War Two, who died in Australia during the War.

We headed back into Shepparton and went to the SPC Factory Sales.  I thought they were just going to see SPS fruit products here, but I was very surprised to learn that they stock almost everything.  Australian brands of goods are stocked, with 20-70% off normal retail prices.

It was now late afternoon, and time to head off the Lower Goulburn National Park.   We headed out of Shepparton on Reedy Swamp Road and soon reached the park, which was well signposted.


The Lower Goulburn National Park is a large park, consisting of 9,310-hectares (23,000-acres).  The Victorian State Government created the Lower Goulburn National Park, along with other new and expanded parks, in June 2010 to protect and enhance the River Red Gum forests in Victoria.  The park is renowned for its River Red Gums, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, that line much of the course of the Goulburn River and the National Park.  These iconic Australian trees have been known to reach 45 metres and live for more than 500 years.

The Goulburn River, a major inland perennial river of the Goulburn Broken catchment, part of the Murray-Darling basin, flows through the park.  The headwaters of the Goulburn River rise in the western end of the Victorian Alps, below the peak of Corn Hill before descending to flow into the Murray River near Echuca, making it the longest river in Victoria at 654 kilometres.

Explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell explored the area in 1824, naming the Goulburn River in honour of Major Frederick Goulburn (1788-1837), the first Colonial Secretary of New South Wales.


Above: Maj. Frederick Goulburn.  c/o

The River Red Gum forest in the park, along with the wetlands and billabongs provides habitat for numerous significant fauna species including Brush-tailed Phascogales, Barking Owls, Royal Spoonbills and Musk Ducks.  Murray Cod, Golden Perch and Spiny Freshwater Crayfish are found in the river.

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Above:- The Lower Goulburn National Park, stretching from Shepparton to near Echuca/Moama.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

There were some nice spots to stop before we reached our operating spot.  It gave me the opportunity of taking some bird photos.  This part of park, Reedy Swamp is a haven for waterbirds.


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We travelled down one of the 4WD tracks off Reedy Swamp Road and set up our portable station, comprising the Yaesu FT-897 and the 20/40/80m linked dipole.

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Above:- Map showing our operating spot in the Lower Goulburn National Park.  Map courtesy of Parks Victoria.

To kick off the activation Marija and I logged on 40m, Jonathan VK7JON who was activating SOTA summit Mount Mangana VK7/ SC-017.  I then moved up the band to 7.150 and started calling CQ, whilst Marija placed up a spot for me on parksnpeaks.  First to come back to my CQ call was Gerard VK2IO with a strong 5/8 signal, followed by Ray VK4NH, and then Adrian VK5FANA.  Within 10 minutes I had contact number 10 in the log, a QSO with Alan VK3ALN/p at Rye.  I logged one more station, Alan VK2MG, before swapping the mic with Marija.

Marija then called CQ and Ray VK4NH was first to come back, followed by Alan VK2MG, Adrian VK5FANA, and then Rob VK2CRF.  Marija had also soon qualified the park, with contact number 10 being a QSO with Alan VK3ALN/p.  Marija logged a further 4 stations before handing the mic back to me.

I was keen to try to get my 44 QSOs, required to qualify the park for the global WWFF program.  Unfortunately that was not be.  I logged just a further 7 stations on 40m from VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK7.  I tried calling CQ on 14.310 but had no takers there, and had to endure the ever present Over the Horizon Radar which was very strong.

To complete the activation I called CQ on 3.610 on the 80m band where I logged a total of 6 stations from VK3 and VK5.

I ended up with 24 contacts in the log, and had qualified the park for VKFF and the KRMNPA, as had Marija.


Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK7JON/p (SOTA Mount Mangana VK7/ SC-017)
  2. VK4NH
  3. VK4DXA
  4. ZL4TY/VK4
  5. BK2MG
  6. VK5FANA
  7. VK2CRF
  8. ZL1TM
  9. VK7ROY
  10. VK3ALN/p
  11. VK3FDZE
  12. VK5NJ
  13. VK2BAI
  14. VK5KLV

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK7JON/p (SOTA Mount Mangana VK7/ SC-017)
  2. VK2IO
  3. VK4NH
  4. VK4DXA
  5. ZL4TY/VK4
  6. VK5FANA
  7. VK4TJ
  8. VK4/AC8WN
  9. VK4/VE6XT
  10. VK3ALN/p
  11. VK2MG
  12. VK5NJ
  13. VK5KLV
  14. VK7ROY
  15. VK2PEZ
  16. VK2ZEP
  17. VK3FDZE
  18. VK5LA

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3SQ
  2. VK3FDZE
  3. VK3PF
  4. VK5NJ
  5. VK3TNL
  6. VK5FANA





Aussie Towns, 2018, <>, viewed 9th December 2018

Greater Shepparton Visitor Centre, 2018, <>, viewed 9th December 2018

Monument Australia, 2018, <>, viewed 9th December 2018

Parks Victoria, 2013, ‘Lower Goulburn National Park Visitor Guide’.

Shepparton Motor Museum, 2018, <>, viewed 9th December 2018

Wikipedia, 2018, <>, viewed 9th December 2018

Wikipedia, 2018, <>, viewed 9th December 2018

Whroo Natural Features Reserve VKFF-2229

Our next intended activation, and the final one for day three (Sunday 18th November 2018), was the Whroo Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2229.  The park is located about 9 km south of the town of Rushworth, and about 161 km north of the city of Melbourne.

This would be the first time that the park had been activated for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Whroo Nature Conservation Reserve.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

After leaving Spring Creek, Marija and I drove east on the Heathcote-Nagambie Road, and then north on the Nagambie-Rushworth Road.  We soon reached the southern boundary of the park which was well signposted.   There is a lot of scrub out here, and it could be confusing if you are actually within the park boundaries.  So if you intend to activate this park, you will need to ensure that you are within its perimeter, and not in  another section of scrub.  And don’t get this park confused with the Whroo Historic Area.  They are completely separate parks.


The Whroo Natural Features Reserve is 5,367 acres in size, and is located on both the eastern and western side of the Nagambie-Rushworth Road.  The park supports a range of threatened flora and fauna species, including four threatened orchids.  It is of national significance as it is a key site for Swift Parrot and supports four other threatened fauna species and six threatened flora species, including the Squirrel Glider, the Grey-crowned Babbler, and the Bush-Stone Curlew.  The park was previously known as the Rushworth State Forest.

The park takes its name from the ghost town of Whroo, pronounced ‘roo’.  It is thought to be derived from an aboriginal word meaning lips.  Gold was discovered in Whroo in October 1854, one year after the discovery of gold at nearby Rushworth.  The location of the gold find was named Balaclava Hill, as it coincided with the Battle Balaclava in the Crimean War.  As a result of the rush, Whroo’s population exploded to the thousands.  However, within 4 years the population had dwindled to around 450.

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Above:- The view is of the “Balaclava Hill Whroo, from the north in about 1858/​9, with the workings on the horizen: the wind sails ventilate the shafts, and the drums are the whims for raising quartz by horsepower. The tramway on the left runs down to Lewis and Nickinson’s crusher. A small hand operated crusher is visible in the centre foreground.  c/o Trove

The township of Whroo was surveyed in 1856, 2 years after the discovery of gold.  In 1857 the first school had been established in Whroo.  By 1865 Whroo had a steady gold mining industry and included a mechanics’ institute and library, Presbyterian and United Methodist churches, three hotels, a cordial factory and three ore crushing mills.

Marija and I pulled off the Nagambie-Rushworth Road, into Le Deux Road, and operated from the vehicle for this activation.  Again, the equipment used was the Icom IC-7000, 100 watts, and the Codan 9350 antenna.

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Above:- Map showing the Whroo Nature Conservation Reserve.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

Our first contact from Whroo, was a Park to Park contact with Gary VK2GZ/p who was activating the Seven Mile Beach National Park VKFF-0447.  We then moved down the band to log another Park to Park, this time with John VK5FLEA/p in the Mylor Conservation Park VKFF-0785.

I then propped on 7.115 and started calling CQ after Marija had popped up a spot for me on parksnpeaks.  Andrei ZL1TM in New Zealand called in with a good 5/5 signal, followed by Andrew VK2PEZ and then Graham VK7ZGK.

I soon had 10 contacts in the log, qualifying the park for the VKFF program, with contact number 10 being a QSO with Adam VK2YK.  I logged a further 2 stations on 40m before heading down to 3.610 on the 80m band where I logged 3 Victorian stations.

It was now around 4.30 p.m. and we still had hoped to have a look at the historic town of Rushworth before reaching our destination of Shepparton.  So we hit the road again, with another park qualified for VKFF.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2GZ/p (Seven Mile Beach National Park VKFF-0447)
  2. VK5FLEA/p (Mylor Conservation Park VKFF-0785)

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2GZ/p (Seven Mile Beach National Park VKFF-0447)
  2. VK5FLEA/p (Mylor Conservation Park VKFF-0785)
  3. ZL1TM
  4. VK2PEZ
  5. VK2ZEP
  6. VK7ZGK
  7. VK4NH
  8. VK4DXA
  9. ZL4TY/VK4
  10. VK2YK
  11. VK5FANA
  12. VK7EE

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK3SQ
  3. VK3TNL

After packing up we drove into the Whroo Historic Reserve.  This includes the site of the former Whroo township and the Whroo goldfields.

We visited the historic Whroo cemetery.  The town of Whroo was established in 1853, however the earliest burial record at the Whroo cemetery is 1858.  It would appear that the cemetery was used for burials before it was made official.  There are about 400 graves recorded in the cemetery, however not all are marked.  Just inside the gate to the right was the Chinese section.   The 1863 Census indicates that of the 702 residents at Whroo, about 15% were Chinese.

Among the people’s sirnames at Whroo, the countries represented during the gold rush era were England (Lewis), France (Bartholmi), Sparin (Manuel), New Zealand (Murray Cluney, Rush & Bregan), Ireland (Ryan, SUllivan, Scarry, & O’Brian), China (Cheong), Prussia (Schleswig), and Austria (Holstein).

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A short distance down the road we found an old Puddling machine, which became the main method for working the alluvial fields.  Large quantities of gold bearing clay were taken from the gullies and mixed with water in the puddlers.  A single horse would drag harrows around the circular trench to break up the clay and allow the heavier gold to settle to the bottom of the trench.


Above:- A puddling machine, c/o

This particular puddler was owned by William Puckey.  Records from 1863 indicate that there were 17 puddling machines at Whroo,  The Chinese operated four puddling machines around Rushworth and eigh around Whroo.


We then entered the town of Rushworth.  Right on the edge of town there is an information board about ‘The Gold and Ironbark Trail’, a tourist drive which can be undertaken to relive the Victorian gold rush.

There is also a historic sign, the Rushworth Whistle Post.  Its purpose was to instruct the drivers of Steam Traction engines to warn any approaching horse-drawn vehicles to wait whilst the Traction engine could proceed up the narrow road and avoid frightening the horses.   There were originally two whistle posts; the remaining post is as original and was erected about 1906 to assist Anderson and Colliver, Timber Contractors, to haul timber from Whroo Forest to the Rushworth Sawmill.

We stopped of in Rushworth for about 30 minutes, and take a walk around the town admiring the many historic buildings.  Today Rushworth is a service centre, but was once a thriving and bustling gold mining town, originally known as Nuggesty.  The town was named by Richard ‘Orion’ Horne, a poet and a friend of Charles Dickens.  The exact reason why the town was names Rushworth is not known.  One option is that Horne simply took ‘rush’ from goldrush, and added ‘worth’.  While others suggest that during his journey to Australia, Horne had befriended two fellow passengers named Rush and Worth.

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Also within the town are two busts/monuments for Air Marshall Sir George Jones, who flew 120 offensive patrols and 20 bombing raids during WW1, and was awarded the distinguished Flying Cross Award.  And also Air Vice Marshall Francis ‘Frank’ McNamara, who in 1917 became the first and only Australian airman to be decorated with the Victoria Cross.  Both Jones and McNamara were born in Rushworth.

We then travelled out of Rushworth on the Rushworth-Tatura Road, stopping briefly to have a look at the Waranga Basin, an important off-river storage, where water is diverted from the Goulburn River at Goulburn Weir.

We had hoped to stop in the town of Tatura to have a look around, but we were running short of time, so we continued on to Shepparton.  We booked in to our accomodation, the Addison Motor Inn, which we were very impressed with.


After freshening up a bit we headed out for tea at the King City Chinese Restaurant and had the all you can eat smorgasboard.





Aussie Towns, 2018, <>, viewed 9th December 2018

Environment Conservation Council, <>, viewed 9th December 2018

Goulburn Murray Water, 2018, <>, viewed 9th December 2018

Victorian Places, 2018, <>, viewed 9th December 2018

Victorian Heritage Database, 2018, <;, viewed 9th December 2018

Whroo cemetery Victoria, 2018, <;, viewed 9th December 2018