About Us

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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

In search of the Auzzie canals

Took just an hour to reach Melbourne. Hardly any traffic and a real pleasure to drive on the highway. First views of the Melbourne skyline from Pipemakers Park.



So we found them, all four of the Melbourne canals. The first was easy as it was situated right by the Maribyrmong river in the Pipemakers park. This from WiKI 

Maribyrnong Explosives Magazine Canal

The Marbyrnong Explosives Magazine Canal was constructed in 1875-76 and opened in 1878, as part of the large Victorian government explosives reserve, known as Jacks magazine The magazine was intended for bonded storage of all gunpowder coming into the colony, and was used for both military and industry, in particular the growing hard rock mining industry. Barges transferred explosives from ships in Hobsons Bay up the Maribyrnong River and into the 400m long canal then, offload at the canal dock just outside the magazine walls. A tramway also ran along the length of the canal, with another section going from the loading dock into the magazine proper.







The next was not that easy to find. A road closure scuppered the sat navs directions so we had to continued on blind (so to speak). Finding a 3hour parking bay by the docks we thought we may as well try to walk to where we thought it was and what should we find... we had somehow got within several yards of it. This from WiKi again

Coal Canal, West Melbourne

The Coal Canal was constructed in the 1870s and 80s, initially as part of the drainage works for reclaiming the West Melbourne Swamp and was enlarged to allow coal barges to unload imported coal for the North Melbourne Locomotive Depot.







 With us being parked in a three hour zone we thought we may as well explore the area. We came across the Melbourne Star, a Ferris wheel overlooking the city. For $35 each we had a 30 minute "flight" to see the sights. Amazing views and another 'more by luck than judgement moment' when Ian spied the Coode canal in the distance.

Coode Canal

That's the Coal canal




 Coode Canal

The Coode canal was constructed in 1886-92, to designs for Sir John Coode by the Melbourne Harbour Trust to shorten and straighten the route up the Yarra River to Melbourne's docks


Elwood Canal
 The Elwood Canal was built in stages as part of a grandiose scheme by the Public Works Department to reclaim the South Swamp, a ubiquitous feature in Elwood in its earliest phases of post-contact settlement. Following the alignment of Elster Creek, the canal was intended to drain the marshy land east of St Kilda Street. Originally, the canal was designed to carry only flood water, with a large pipeline to each side to carry the stream at all other times. Construction commenced in May 1889, with the contractors, Messrs Hendon, Clarke & Anderson, engaging sixty workmen at a cost of £14,000.







And seen in and by the Elwood canal






Saturday, 3 December 2016

Sovereign Hill

Sovereign Hill didn't open until 10am so a bit of a lie in this morning. The attraction re-creates Ballarat’s first ten years after the discovery of gold in 1851 when thousands of international adventurers rushed to the Australian goldfields in search of fortune. It’s just like stepping back in time with the ladies and gents all dressed in costumes of the era. Even the school children got involved, dressing up and re-enacting parts of the history.


Chinese quarter.

The town



Chinese tents








Gold!!!

The boilers (R) that power the everything related to the mines including the stone crushers. below L

Pub 


Looking at the trees you would think it is our Autumn. Spring growth makes them look very colourful.

They need an undertaker.

And a doctor, veterinarian and dentist. One man for all the needs.


Firing the musket. and a cap lock pistol.

We spent all day there. Yes it has so much to see and do but was kicked out by 5pm. Then at 6pm the doors opened again for the Christmas Market. We stayed to see what was on offer. All I can say was a big disappointment as the goods on offer were the same as when we were walking round looking in the shops. But the place was heaving. Obviously a very popular market for the locals.

Tomorrow we are off to see if we can find the Auzzie canals in Melbourne. Wonder why we have been wished good luck???!!! .

A Silkie Bantam doing the deed (Kept in the Chinese quarters for the eggs and food during the gold rush ) and an Auzzie wasp.

Cock Silkie





Friday, 2 December 2016

Christmas decorations Ozzie style

Time to leave Dunkeld and we hitched up the van and drove to Ballarat. The journey of about 170 km was via Ararat. The site owner warned us the shorter route of 147 km was rough and with our history of losing wheels, maybe not a good idea.  Ballarat means resting place from the origin "Balla" and "Arat" given by the Aboriginal people. Not in any hurry and with the road excellent, we took our time stopping for a tea break half way. Got a decent site 3km outside the town centre and then went to find a tourist information. Told of a must see attraction at Sovereign Hill so we have earmarked that for tomorrow. Now that we are near to Melbourne we also plan to find the canals! Yes there are canalised rivers and our mission is to find and write about them for our canal society magazine. Planning that trip for Saturday I gave Roger and Heather nb Celtic Kiwi a ring. First contact was back in November as we set off for our 6 week Great Ocean Road trip. Living near to Melbourne we had hoped to meet when we were in the area but unfortunately they have commitments this weekend so it is not to be. But we have arranged to meet with Elly and Mick  who travelled the UK waters on nb Parisian Star before selling and returning to Oz. Bendigo is their home town and we leave to see them on Sunday. So a lot planned for the next few days.

Early morning reflections at Dunkeld lake.

Gateway caravan park



 




Only this critter today.

Another spider but this time on the caravan . Jumped from one side of the door to the other. Assumed it is a jumping spider.

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