Mosey on over to the Wander Inn

57251291_606186926514881_7582235217390206976_o.jpg

Scenic drive? Unique destination? Great food, relaxing atmosphere and friendly service? Check all these boxes and visit the Wander Inn in the Wartook Valley.

Nestled on the edge of the Grampians National Park, the Wander Inn is a perfect spot to break for lunch or dinner.  The mud brick building has an ambience all of its own, with brick paved floors throughout and magnificent exposed timber beams. The enormous open fireplace is sure to be roaring during winter, and established gardens offer a peaceful outdoor experience on sunny winter days.

The Wander Inn is perfect for lunch if you are staying in Halls Gap - take the drive on Mt Victory Rd “over the mountain” and enjoy the spectacular scenery. Visit the picturesque waterfalls on the sunny side of the Grampians – Burrong Falls, Beehive Falls, Fish Falls or the iconic Mackenzie Falls – and “Wander Inn” for a refreshing milkshake.  

Currently on display at the Wander Inn is a collection of works by Australian wildlife artist Pam Thoday. Her beautiful pastels of native animals and plants are appreciated by locals and visitors alike. 

The Wander Inn also stock Tatlock’s Gourmet Produce. Grown in the Grampians, Tatlock’s provide the finest free range gourmet meats from lamb, pork, beef, goat and venison.

The fully licenced café and bar is open during winter for lunch and afternoon tea from Thursday to Sunday. The friendly and welcoming staff will make you feel right at home – if only home included a varied menu delivered to your table while you relaxed. With gourmet pizzas, burgers, curries and home-made pasta, seafood laksa and melt-in-the-mouth salt and pepper squid, risotto, salads, beer-battered fish and more on the menu, there is something for everyone. Vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free options are available. Open for dinner on Friday night, you have the choice to eat in or choose from our takeaway menu.

 WHAT: The Wander Inn

WHERE: 2637 Northern Grampians Rd, Wartook 3401

WHEN: Winter trading hours – bookings advisable

                   Thursday 10am-5pm

                   Friday 11am-9pm

                   Saturday & Sunday 11am-5pm

                   Closed Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday

CONTACT: (03) 5383 6388

The Backyard Tourist

The Backyard Tourist by Amelia Crafter

The Backyard Tourist by Amelia Crafter

It seems like only a few weeks ago the air conditioners were pumping and we were sipping cold beers on the deck looking at the beautiful Grampians. At the time, I contemplated a bush walk but the thought of speedy snakes and my little kids complaining they were hot quickly put the idea out of my mind. 

All of a sudden, the days are cool, but not too cold. The fire is going at night and I have swapped the beer for a local shiraz. Now is the perfect time to set out and find a bushwalk that suits you, or even your little ones. It’s not too hot, not too cold and it’s perfect coming home to a warm house and slow cooker meal after a day in the mountains.

Just a few weeks ago, I set out with my 5-year-olds for our first ever bushwalk. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t nervous, I was very nervous. While my kids are full of beans all the time (I mean all the time!) they can also be lazy and have seriously short attention spans, so I didn’t know how this would go. 

I had talked to a few other people and researched trails and decided on one that was only half an hour drive from Horsham, wasn’t too long, but had something great for them to look forward to at the end- Zumsteins to Fish Falls. What a perfect choice it was! 

It was a cool and overcast day, which meant we didn’t get too hot on the undulating and clear track. And the boys were absolutely in their element. The bridge crossings with informative signs about the local platypus population had to be read in full and out loud and we kept a constant vigil for the elusive monotreme as we made our way along the track that hugs the creek.

This bushwalk definitely counts as exercise at 5km return trip but it is also easy enough for low fitness levels, beginners, or kids. Most importantly, it is stunning and in our own backyard. I am now dedicating myself to becoming a ‘backyard tourist’ as often as I can to show my kids how lucky they are to live in this beautiful part of the world. 

A picnic at Fish Falls is a must and there are plenty of rocks to perch on while you enjoy a break and a snack watching the water crash over ancient rock formation. If you wanted to go further, especially if your kids were a little older, you can keep going another kilometer to get to the gorgeous McKenzie Falls. That little trek will have to wait for another day for us. 

The wander back definitely started to challenge the boys, but despite a few ‘I’m tired’ comments during the last kilometer, they absolutely loved it. At one point they were even chanting ‘this is the best walk ever’.

There are plenty of walks and hikes all over the region and quite a few that kids can handle. So instead of turning on Netflix to occupy your kids this weekend, check the weather forecast and if it’s clear, then hit the trail- you won’t regret it.

A sample of other easy bushwalk options:

Venus Baths walk from Halls Gap – 2.30km circuit

Lakeview Loop from Sundial Carpark in Halls Gap – 1.8km circuit

The Balconies Lookout from Reeds Lookout carpark – 2km Circuit

Clematis Falls from Halls Gap Recreation Reserve – 2.4km circuit

Mount Zero and Flat Rock – 3.6km circuit


Australia's best kept ‘Pioneering Secret’

004.jpg

Sat 8th and Sun 9th of June is the Queen’s Birthday Weekend, when Jeparit Wimmera Mallee Pioneer Museum hosts its Annual Vintage Rally, a fantastic expo on our pioneering history.

 Experience pioneering life right here in Jeparit!! Showcasing the first 100 years of European settlement and development in the Wimmera region, from 1838, when Edward John Eyre passed through this area searching for a direct stock route from Sydney to Adelaide to WWII in the 1940s.

 The Wimmera-Mallee Pioneer Museum has Australia’s largest collection of agricultural machinery, assorted grain equipment, horse drawn carriages and buggies, and household items from the 1890s to 1940. There are farming innovations that helped settle and create the farmland and history of our region, such as the stump jump plough and the horse or oxen pulled Mallee rollers, displayed near the front gate. Many  of the exhibits in the museum are still operating and will be showcased during the Annual Vintage Rally.

 The Museum itself is set out over four hectares of land as a pioneer town, with original local buildings including a hall, church, chemist, state school, jail, blacksmith and family homesteads and farm sheds.

 The museum’s machinery display ranges from the blacksmith-made cultivating machines to strippers and harvesters from the 1890s to the 1940s, including the famous McKay Sunshine Harvester. Many of the machines are even now kept in working order by the enthusiastic volunteers at the Museum, who also give their time and expertise to restoring these examples of agricultural ingenuity. Although tractors are symbolic of farming practices, much of the machinery at the museum was originally horse-drawn by the magnificent Clydesdales owned by all the farmers in the area. At the Queen’s Birthday Vintage Rally, the Clydesdales are on display, strutting their stuff as they did in days gone by.

 Jeparit is the proud birthplace of several prominent citizens of Australian history including: Sir Robert Menzies, Australia's longest serving Prime Minister; Ryko the Byko, 'Edward Reichenbach', who jumped on his pushbike in 1914 and rode from Adelaide to Darwin in a record breaking 29 days; Alfred Traeger, who invented the pedal powered radio that was used by the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Discover their stories and other local history at the Wimmera Mallee Pioneer Museum’s Annual Vintage rally this Queens Birthday weekend.

 This is the 12th annual rally, being held on the Queen's Birthday weekend of the 8th and 9th of June 2019. There will be a vast array of exhibitors attending and assisting with their knowledge and experience and sharing their stories and history of our pioneers. These include vintage car clubs and a huge array of working tractors and engines, as well as crafts and markets, and coffee and food stalls. A fantastic and entertaining day out for the whole family, young and old.

 The Sandy Creek Clydesdales, always a crowd favourite, will be present again, and they will be putting one of the Museum's vintage ploughs to work in the paddock across the road, along with a chaff cutting demonstration at the horse-works. For the ladies and gents alike there will be heritage stalls, and Gayle Newcombe will be returning with her artwork.

 Keep the kids entertained on the Jumping Castle; let them take part in the games their great-grandparents used to play; or watch the slide show in the Woorak West Methodist Church being run by the Dimboola Historical Society. The Church will hold a special service on Sunday morning. The Museum's Blacksmith Shop, still in fully operational & working order, will be, running continuously for the entire weekend, forging some interesting items; and the “Blademan” will be back with his forge, as will the blade shearers (there might even be a race between the blades and modern technology).

 See the Dunmunkle Sump Oilers, with their wonderful displays of vintage engines, Heritage crafts & sewing, displays of die-cast model farm machinery, workshop manuals and magazines, and information on early fashions including early 1900's wedding dresses.

 Or maybe visitors might like a quiet sit around the fire cooking damper and drinking billy tea. The food court is packed with vendors and local charities. Don't miss the yummy Spuds and Roast fundraising for cancer and of course the traditional Lions Club BBQ.

 This year, we will have the delightful company of Phillip Molesworth, resident historian from Rainbow, and an expert on Albacutya homestead and its first owner John Coppock. Phillip will be giving a talk about John Coppock called 'A squatter Coppock and the Albacutya Run'. He will also entertain us with a Pantomine about the Hold-up of the Station by the bushranger Mad Dog Morgan, titled “Morgan's Gold”. This entertainment will take place at 11-12am, and 2-3pm on Sunday. Perhaps our impromptu actors (3 boistrous men, 1 woman and a child) will come from our appreciative audience.

 Around the town, the Town Garage Sale is also back, so drop by the Museum for a map and discover how beautiful Jeparit is while you are here.

 Then, stay on for Monday and join in the ‘soup n scones' lawn bowls tournament at the Jeparit Bowls Club.

 Everyone who attends our Rally can experience first-hand the early years of living in Rural Australia, especially in this area.

 It is truly an amazing and unique event, and we encourage everyone to come along and enjoy the experience of what we have on offer.

 Our Museum really is “One of Australia's Best Kept Pioneering Secrets"

 For more information or details, please contact any member of our committee, who will be delighted to assist you in any way that they can. Or follow us on Facebook at “Wimmera Mallee Pioneer Museum" to stay informed about the various interesting “doings" and projects going on at the Museum. You may even consider becoming a valuable volunteer, always needed and greatly appreciated.

Experience the beauty of Australia from your doorstep

Photo and article by Andrew Kube - A Kube Aviation

Photo and article by Andrew Kube - A Kube Aviation

Have you ever thought about taking an aerial safari into the outback - seeing some unforgettable sights that draw people from all over the world? This could be you…

Your aircraft gently banks over the expansive Strzelecki desert. In the shimmering distance is Birdsville. 1000 feet below, the Diamantina River winds its way sedately southwest. Pelicans paddle in the warm Queensland floodwaters, hawks and egrets circle on thermals above clay coloured waterholes, searching for food and sharing a bird’s eye view of the vast outback. Thirsty trees hug riverbanks. 

This flight is over the incredible Goyder Lagoon, just south of Birdsville. A massive wetland of fibrous channels and lagoons all rich with wildlife. It’s one of the outback’s unexpected hidden gems, only really appreciated from the air. The lagoon empties into the Warburton Creek and then onwards to the enormity of Lake Eyre. The elongated cinnamon coloured dunes of the Simpson Desert disappear northward, the russet gibber plains of the Strzelecki Desert stretch southward into the distance.

Ahead is the crystalized surface of Lake Eyre. Glacial white and crusty with salt. Soft blues and sometimes pink with beta carotene pigment where the water lays . Exquisite pastel browns of every shade on a slowly baking surface. 140 kms long - the awe-inspiring Lake Eyre leaves passengers in a state of quiet reverie. 

On a 3-day trip with A Kube Aviation you will see some of Australia’s most iconic locations. Lake Eyre/Kati Thanda and Birdsville, Innamincka and the Dig Tree. The Flinders Ranges, the Murray River and the Big Desert & Sunset Country.

You might prefer a day trip over the Coorong in SA or a short flight around the Wimmera taking in the Grampians and the many lakes and farm land. Anything is possible. From the window of your private high winged Cessna you will marvel at exquisite views and savour your personalised unique adventure. 

Flights with A Kube Aviation depart from Horsham or Nhill, giving you the opportunity to breathe in the beauty this country has to offer from your doorstep, you’ll even be home in time for dinner!

Contact Andrew to plan your trip or for more information visit akubeaviation.com.au

Serenity under the stars at Nhillbilly Farm

Nhillbilly1.jpg

Located just 10km from the township of Nhill, Nhillbilly Farm is a B&B farmstay like no other. Hosts Sharon and Lofty offer a unique experience with glamping style accommodation and wholesome dining, all within the serene setting of their beautiful farm.

Nhillbilly Farm is set upon 100 acres of trees, birdlife and dams, providing a serene and secluded setting, surrounded by many of the natural attractions the Wimmera has to offer. The farm, located on Uthmeyers Road, was bought from the Uthmeyer family and has since been home to Sharon Maloney and Lofty Turgoose.

The couple originally transformed their space into a place for family and friends to stay when they had their wedding on the property. The weekendlong event was such a success and left their guests gushing with excitement, so much so that Sharon and Lofty decided that others might also like to discover and experience the hidden gem they call home.

From the moment of arrival at Nhillbilly Farm, Sharon is a warm and welcoming host and has a real passion for providing guests with a memorable experience. A city-dweller most of her life, Sharon uses her own perspective to really highlight the simplicity and magic that makes rural life so special.

The camping area of the farm includes ten glamping-style bell tents tucked away between the trees, with comfortable bedding and ample room to relax and enjoy. The fire pit and eating area sit upon the edge of the dam, which is perfect for a quick dip to cool off in the summer months and home to a few local yabbies, making for a tranquil and serene setting. Rustic and completely charming, the old horse stables of the farm are home to the bathing and toilet amenities and the open air showers and bathtub are truly a unique experience in themselves!

If you’re after a taste of some wholesome country dining, Sharon offers guests the chance to have her cook for you. And, with a background of cooking and food photography (and so much more!), combined with the luxury of having fresh local produce at her fingertips, the sensory experience is hard to beat. “Breakfast is included in the price of the overnight stay; we do a cook up of bacon, eggs, tomatoes and that sort of thing with fresh orange juice, we can also provide a two course dinner if guests would like.” Says Sharon. “We’ve also put in a pizza oven and have been doing takeaway pizzas on the weekends for the public. It’s gotten so busy I’ve had to put on staff!”

Nhillbilly Farm has been a destination for many travellers up and down the Western Highway, with most guests stopping in for one or two nights and some staying up to a week. The farm has also hosted birthdays, hens parties, family gatherings and more, with Sharon and Lofty looking to develop the space even further.

See more and book your stay at Nhillblly Farm here

Prepare to be blown away!

_B134225.jpg

Located just 15km south-east of Halls Gap, James McMurtrie’s Glass Blowing Studio and Gallery is one of the hidden gems of the Wimmera, offering a rare opportunity to see glassblowing in action. 

Stunning, unique and Australian made, James’ work takes the form of lights, bowls, vases, garden sculptures, glass scapes and more. The artworks are inspired by the Grampians Mountains that surround the studio, its ever-changing landscape, colours and moods. James also takes inspiration from travelling and historic architecture, with a particular interest in work that utilises local materials in the building process. 

With 25 years of experience, an arts degree and a background of working with clay, James credits his interest and the enjoyment he gets from making things with his hands to his childhood growing up on a farm, and his mother’s passion for textiles. Combining these practical skills and artistic flare result in eye-catching work, which are not only found in the Pomonal studio but are showcased in galleries across Australia.

The studio houses a furnace running at 1100 degrees, which molten glass is drawn from and incorporated with colour from New Zealand and Germany using tools similar to those used in 1st century BC. When pieces are finished they are placed in a kiln to take all the temperatures down slowly. James says he finds the firing process most fascinating and opening a kiln to look at the results of a days work is always an exciting moment. 

“Working with tools similar to that dating back to the first century B.C. fills me with a sense of history and tradition of the old techniques. Glass blowing proves to be an exciting medium with which I can experiment and express my ideas with immediate results on a daily basis” says James. 

“Glass captures the world in a whole different light. Its fluidity and availability to achieve instant results reflects my desire to create beauty and interpret the world in which I live.”

The studio is open to the public to visit and the furnace runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for most months of the year. While the furnace is running, glassblowing demonstrations are available subject to work schedule, or you can organise an appointment.

James McMurtrie Glass Blowing studio

63 Springwood Hill Rd, Pomonal

Open Tues – Thurs, 9am – 2pm

Join in the fun at Wimmera River parkrun

Parkrun2.jpeg

If you’re up early on a Saturday morning and venture down to the banks of the Wimmera River, you’ll see over 120 parkrunners: adults and children, runners and walkers, out and about, going through their strides. 

Parkrun organise free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world, and we are lucky to host our own parkrun along the Wimmera River, kicking off at 8am each Saturday morning. The volunteer-lead events encourage walkers and runners of all abilities to come along and race against the clock.

Each week over 120 participants come together and enjoy the scenic course along the river, starting at the Horsham War Memorial, crossing the river and looping back around. In addition to those participating, you’ll see a turn out of about 20 support crew, plus 7 or more volunteers who rotate weekly as it is just as fun to help as it is to join in.

You don’t have to be a seasoned runner to tackle the course; Wimmera River parkrun sees many walkers, prams and of course kids. The only rule to keep in mind is that children under 11 need to be supervised at all times, and strictly no bikes or scooters. Dogs are welcome too, but must be on a short lead at all times and one dog per person. No one finishes last as there is always a volunteer tail walker. The events really are focused on encouraging a healthy community and a fun social outlet for everyone.

The Wimmera River parkrun was launched in August 2018, lead by Candice Muszkieta and Andrew Sostheim, who applied for local grants to get the events up and running. “Both Andrew and I noticed there was something missing for those people who didn’t play sport i.e. netball, football, hockey etc. how can we get them to join in and be part of the community?” Said Candice. “What if they were new to the town, or injured and still wanted to socialise but weren’t ‘club’ affiliated? We thought parkrun would be a great fit for Horsham and so far we are more than happy with the local involvement and all the continuous new faces we see each week”. 

The parkrun team are planning various themed events throughout the year including a Christmas run. Plus, each week the parkrunners grab a post-run coffee; the venue is on a rotation basis and announced each week on Facebook and at the run briefing.

How do I participate?

1.    Visit parkrun.com.au/register to enter your details 

2.    You will receive a confirmation email with a link to your personal barcode

3.    Print the barcode and make sure you scan before the run

4.    Meet at the Horsham War Memorial at 8am on a Saturday, and run like the wind!

5.    Login to your profile on the website or the parkrun app and see your time

Want to volunteer?

If you’re interested in volunteering to help out with a Wimmer River parkrun, please contact wimmerariverhorshamhelpers@parkrun.com

Course details

Horsham’s parkrun is a flat, out and back course along the banks of the Wimmera River. The course starts adjacent to the Horsham War Memorial before crossing the river using the Centenary Bridge. After the river crossing, turn left along the sealed path towards and under the Western Highway Bridge to the turn-around point. Then return to the start/finish area using the same paths. The track is a mixture of sealed surfaces.

Mighty May Park

May Park, Western Highway Horsham

May Park, Western Highway Horsham

Almost halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide, Horsham is the perfect rest stop for those enduring the long trips up and down the highway. An oasis in the centre of town, May Park, has seen many a local and traveler enjoying a bite to eat and some shade on a hot summer’s day. 

May Park is conveniently located on the Western Highway and offers plenty of parking, takeaway food options, BBQ area, picnic tables, playground, shade areas, grassed sports area, accessible toilets and a service station close by, making it the ideal location to recharge the batteries. Plus, if dining in is more your style, the Horsham Sports and Community Club and Victoria Hotel on the Park are just a stone throw away. 

May Park hosts the Annual Car and Bike Show in March, and over the years has been home to many sports events, Carols by Candlelight and Art Is festival.

A brief history of May Park…

The land that was to become known as May Park was owned by John Gillies when he sold it in 1864 to the Wimmera Shire Council for £77/15/0. It was originally a dam for drainage (including from the May and Millar foundry on the northern side of Victoria Parade - now Dimboola Road), then became a grazing ground for the cows belonging to the residents in the town, followed by a clay pit (used in the 1890s by a local potter George Abbott) before becoming the recreation and garden area we know today.

May Park was transferred to the Borough from the Shire in 1932 and the land was gifted from the Shire to become council property in 1938. The Borough had paid for a bandstand (constructed in 1921 then repaired in 1923) which was sadly removed after World War II - its roofing was used on the city oval booth but that structure was demolished during the 1980s. During the years 1947 and 1948 May Park received renewed interest from both the Borough and the local progress association and so the Millar fountain, which had stood at the intersection of Firebrace and Wilson Streets since 19 February 1902, was moved to its current Park location to be re-roofed in later years.

After being open to the public for some years in 1920 an ‘Official Opening Ceremony’ took place, and May Park was officially declared open by the Mayor of Horsham Cr J Bennett.

In 1921 The Horsham Times reported on May Park Improvements - “A quarterly general meeting of the above association was held in the Town Hall on Thursday evening. Mr J A Morcom presiding over a fair attendance. The President reported that the gross receipts of the collections for the four band recitals held in May Park amounted to £45/14/6, and the expenses, includingadvertising, printing, posters, erection of band stand, etc would amount approximately to £10.

A May and Millar wagon was restored and housed in May Park in February 2017.