From Mungo NP we travelled back to Mildura and then eastward toward Echuca, stopping the night beside the Murray River at Robinvale. Echuca then became our camp for the next 10 days as a heatwave of over 40c days continued. While in Echuca we enjoyed a day on the Murray on the paddle steamer Pevensey. The Pevensey paddle steamer was built in Echuca, Moama in 1911. It was used in the Australian TV show “All the Rivers Run” in the early 1980s. Today it is still powered by its’ original 20 horse power steam engine.
Echuca is situated at the point where the Murray is closest to Melbourne and is also close to where the discovery of Australia’s rich gold deposits caused the goldrush of the 1850s which developed the towns of Ballarat and Bendigo. We had a long day of touring and travelled down to visit both Ballarat and Bendigo.
First stop was Ballarat where Australian Democracy was fought for. The Eureka Stockade massacre occurred in 1854 when the goldfield’s people tried to change the oppressive, unfair and unjust colonial system. A physical conflict took place under a flag – the Southern Cross Flag known as the Eureka flag – that all pledged their allegiance to. We visited the place where this happened at the Eureka Stockade Memorial. Inside the museum of Australian Democracy Carolyne’s emotions ran high where the original Eureka flag is displayed.
The rich gold strikes of Ballarat and Bendigo resulted in an enormous gold rush into the area of people of many nationalities. All were there to discover gold and become rich. We didn’t go into the Sovereign Hill town to view the gold town because of our time restrictions today.
Driving back through Ballarat we passed the Catholic Church school that was a major part of the current Royal Commission into child abuse by the Catholic priests and cover ups by the hierarchy. There were wonderful colourful ribbons and signs of “no more silence” on fences and trees around Ballarat.
The buildings in both Ballarat and Bendigo provide a stunning architectural heritage that remains in the bluestone streetscape of both cities.
Our second stop on the way back to Echuca was Bendigo. The Marilyn Monroe display was currently being shown at the Bendigo Art Gallery and there was a huge lifelike statue of Marilyn erected where the tram stop ran. We always love the trams and it is fun to have trams running up and down as we sight see!
Dai Gum San (meaning the big gold mountain) is the Chinese precinct and the Dragon Museum houses the ceremonial dragons and other old artifacts from the Chinese movement into the goldfields. The Guan Yin Temple is a very simple temple and houses the statue, alter for the religion of the Goddess of Mercy. The Goddess’s symbol is the lotus flower which represents the past, present and future, Surrounding the Museum and Temple are the serene and relaxing Chinese Gardens.
The Sacred Heart Cathedral in Bendigo is huge and reminded me of a smaller version of Notre Dame in Paris. The Pope had visited when in Australia and the purple drapes were still on display.
Lastly we drove out to Eaglehawk where the impressive Great Stupa, the largest Buddhist monument in the Southern Hemisphere is situated. Then it was back to Echuca and a relax at the pool before leaving this region and heading back through Mildura to Broken Hill NSW.
NOTE: Don’t forget to check out our route maps – link is in the menu above.