By Katrina Griffiths
We spent 3 days in Castlemaine visiting family and Abie had an absolute ball. The girls were free to explore the bush surrounding my Grandmother’s house with their cousins. In fact one of the twins fell out of a tree. When I was young my brother and sister and I often fell out of trees and all the neighbours did too. We wrote on the plaster casts of those who were lucky enough to break a bone, and they wore their injury like a badge of honour. I grew up thinking that falling out of trees was a rite of passage so even though its probably wrong for me to feel this way, I was thrilled that she had reached this milestone!
It is always so wonderful to catch up with family, especially since we rarely get to see each other, so I relished my time in Castlemaine. The town itself is very pretty and there is a long history of goldmining in the area, so if you are here as a tourist, there are plenty of things to do and see. The tourist information centre has all you need to know. If you have some time to spend and fancy a walk, the tourist office has a free “i spy” game where you go on search of various sights in the town. I did it with the girls and it was fun. They said they felt “adventurous”.
Next we moved on to Echuca, on the Murray River, made famous by the movie “All the Rivers Run” which was filmed there. What a lovely place! The feeling there is “oldie worldy” and very interesting for the children. Among other things, you can take paddle steamer trips down the river, explore the town or just go on some beautiful walks along the Murray. We stayed on the other side of the bridge at the Moama Riverside Caravan Park, which had the best facilities we had enjoyed so far. It was completely booked out, being the Easter holidays, and as there were so many children staying there, it was paradise for my girls.
On our way out of Moama, we stopped at the local shops to grab a coffee for the road and the friendly woman who made them asked me if I was in Moama for the “big race”. I had seen a couple of speedboats in the caravan park so it all fell into place; why all the caravan parks were booked out and why there were so many people around. The boat race usually takes place in February but due to heavy rainfall the river was too dangerous, so they moved it to April. She really made me laugh:
Nice Lady: “Are you here for the big race?”
Me: “No, I only just found out about it.”
Nice Lady: “Do you know how much those boats are worth?”
Me: “No idea.”
Nice Lady: “Those boats are worth about a million dollars each! Guess what the first prize is.”
Me: “I don’t know. What is it?”
Nice Lady: “A trophy! They spend a million dollars for a trophy!”
With this she burst into joyous laughter, which was so contagious, I couldn’t’ help but laugh along with her. I doubt those boats are really worth a million dollars, but I wasn’t about to tell her that and spoil her fun.