Page 102: Three more wet days in Wagga Wagga then on to victoria. at last!
  The Junee Chocolate and liquorice factory  

(Junee has the emphasis on the second syllable - Jew knee.)

There was no way Pam was not going to visit a chocolate factory, especially as she'd spent the previous afternoon looking at aeroplanes. Such days are classified as 'pink' or 'blue'. On pink days we look at shops, crafts, dolls, and . . . chocolate factories. On blue days we visit interesting things. Pink and blue days are supposed to balance out.

However, back to the Junee chocolate factory. Pam will doubtless give you her perspective. When I think of a chocolate factory I imagine something like the Cadbury factory; you know, clean, modern and buzzing with activity. Below is a photo of the Junee factory.

  The Junee Chocolate Factory. "Blimey, it looks more like an old flour mill," I hear you exclaim.
You are so perceptive - that's just what it is.
"Why is one half made of brick and the other tin?" you now want to know.
Flour dust in the air is very explosive. Should it ignite, the tin half would blow out leaving the brick section intact.
Well, that was the theory.
  All the old machinery had been removed from the mill and destroyed by rival mills in case somebody should purchase the building with the intention of re-opening it. Eliminates future competition, you see? I did find a long, overhead pulley shaft in one room and thought, "Ah, there might be a steam engine nearby, something must have driven those pulleys." So I asked the question. The pulley shaft had been brought from elsewhere to make the place look a bit more authentic!

It is misleading to call the place a chocolate factory. It doesn't make chocolate, it imports it from Germany and uses it to coat nuts, raisins, strawberries and the liquorice products which it does manufacture.
  In this room two women were busy coating nuts and liquorice in chocolate in four rotating copper mixers. On the left is a chocolate cascade where molten chocolate runs from the top and flows down to a stainless steel pan. Why? No real reason apparently, the children like looking at it.  

The two ladies shown were the only personnel working on production. Everyone else seemed to be making and serving coffee, supervising free product sampling or selling bags of the goodies they'd made. Other, unrelated items, were for sale upstairs. Liquorice production was at a halt for the day.

Just in case we should get bored, our guide told us we were to take part in a game, the winner of which would receive a free gift.

Look at the picture on the left. We were given a ball of liquorice about the size and weight of a cricket ball. We had to throw it up into the top part of the vertical chute in the centre of the picture from where it would drop down and knock over some of the skittles on the lower level. Were we to catch a falling skittle, we would receive bonus points. We were allowed three throws each.

Pam went first and scored one from her three goes. My second throw scored three so that was it, game over.

I was given a free gift of . . . guess what? Yes, a bag of liquorice.

We concluded our tour of the chocolate works with a coffee each and set off for home, overcome with the excitement of the day.

  Wagga Wagga? It should be called Water Water.  
  It rained and it rained. Then it rained some more. We tried a visit to the Botanical Gardens but there's nothing more depressing than an out-of-season garden when everything above drips on you and everything below sticks to your shoes. And so it came to pass that Monday morning saw us hitch up the mobile Tupperware container and head south.  
  We're in Victoria - just.  
  Yes, we're in Victoria. The N.S.W. border is only 3½ kilometres away but it's a start. Our journey south was again livened up by Alice's antics. Not her fault; the main Hume Highway between Melbourne and Sydney has been re-aligned since Alice's map was last updated. Alice spent the last part of the journey repeating, "Off route. Recalculating" as we appeared to travel across country where no road should have existed.

If you sense that I have empathy for Alice, you could be right. Alice's manufacturer, Garmin, brought out a new range of GPS navigators and to prevent people like me sticking with the likes of good old Alice, they terminated support for the older products. Updated maps can no longer be purchased. Alice is rapidly approaching her use-by date and I know just how she feels. But there's a year or two left in her yet, provided she's aided by the Deputy Navigator with a current map when required.
  Lake Hume and the hume dam  
  I'm sure you already know this, but the Murray River constitutes the state boundary between New South Wales and Victoria. But did you know that "the border was proposed as the Murrumbidgee River, well north of Albury. Due to a clerical error, the boundary was fixed at the Murray River, the new state was named Victoria, and Albury became a frontier border town. The settlement on the Victorian side of the river was originally named Wodonga. It was changed to Belvoir although both names were used for 20 years. This time the original name stuck, and Belvoir was dropped in 1874".

What a tale of incompetence and bungling! Thank the good Lord that eveything is different today. Ha-ha.

As the Murray wiggles and wriggles its way west, doubling back on itself like a demented snake, so too does the border. It must be a most impractical border in many ways. Imagine being tasked with calculating the area of one of these states.

Anyway, just east of Albury-Wodonga, the Murray has been dammed to form Lake Hume. As the Hume Highway was named after Hamilton Hume who pioneered the Sydney to Melbourne route in 1824, it seems logical that the lake was too.
  Lake Hume from the dam wall. The minimum level is reached each March. It is now mid-February and lake is at 18% capacity. The picture shows the tops of the trees in the flooded valley. The maximum level is achieved in November.  
  The Hume Dam incorporates the Hume Hydro-electric Power Station which employs two generators to supply 30,000 kVA (approximately 30 megawatts) to Victoria and New South Wales, thus saving the planet 525 tonnes of greenhouse gases per day. I know this, it's written on a sign on the power station wall.
  The Murray flowing away from the Hume Dam which was commenced in 1919 and opened in 1936.
The hydro power station is in the lower left corner of the picture.
The dam height was increased around 1950 to greatly increase the storage capacity of Lake Hume.
  Another spillway view of the dam from the other side of the river. The power station is at the far end. Step-up transformers on the river bank increase the output to 66,000 volts and 132,000 volts for transmission to Victoria and N.S.W.  

Looking straight down into the water we could see fish swimming and many turtles surfacing to breath. Pelicans, cormorants, gulls and other birds sat in the sun nearby, taking no interest. Already full, perhaps?

We had decided to camp in a tourist park in a place called Ebden, just out of Wodonga. It's on the banks of a little inlet off Lake Hume - or so we thought. We picked the location while still in Tamworth. Many years of drought has resulted in the level of Lake Hume falling, leaving our 'inlet' as just a grassy dip in the landscape. There's been no water there for ten years. As a result we can't see the lake from the caravan but the main body of water is close by, screened by trees.

Pam read in the park literature that our drinking water is pumped straight from the lake and allowed to settle in a tank before we get it.

  Albury and wodonga  
  This, folks, is written primarily for friends and relatives in other countries. Albury (Orl-bree) and Wodonga are sister cities that face each other on opposite banks of the Murray River. They were linked by a single road bridge until the M31 Hume Highway was re-aligned. Now there are two bridges. The cities are separated geographically by the Murray River and politically by a state border: Albury on the north of the river is part of New South Wales while Wodonga on the south bank is in Victoria.

Although in many senses the centre operates as one community known as Albury-Wodonga, it has parallel municipal governments and state government services.

We noticed that many of the large retailers that would normally service a population of this size (100,000) with a single store, were represented in both places. The rationale, I suppose, being that if shoppers cross the river to visit a specific store, they'll more than likely do the rest of their shopping there too.

Although we visited different look-outs in the hope of photographing both cities in one frame, we were disappointed. And the pictures looking down on the individual cities were pretty boring - just lots of roof tops in the distance slightly obscured by haze.

  Albury has a tall, pure white obelisk commemorating those fallen in war.
It stands on the summit of Monument Hill overlooking the city and is visible for miles around.

At the foot of Monument Hill are the Botanic Gardens, an oasis of shade, green grass, colourful flowers and beautiful trees - some over one hundred years old. Mixed in with elms, oaks and beeches were towering palms which looked like giant feather dusters for sweeping cobwebs from the sky.

Right: Looking up from the base of one of the palms.

The gardens were beautifully kept and one of the staff that we spoke to made no secret of his pride in his place of employment.

Leaving the gardens we drove into Albury for some items from the shops, then set off for a place Pam had found in the tourist literature. The Ettamogah Pub is described as unique - though there's another in Queensland. Never-the-less it was well worth a visit . . . if we could only find it. The directions lacked much detail. We had to follow the Hume Highway north for 'ten minutes'. That was all very well, but we couldn't even find the Hume Highway from the centre of town.

Alice had the highway marked but what used to be the Hume Highway in Alice's day is now renamed and the Hume Highway has been re-routed to bypass the town centre.

We found it in the end, of course, and set off north. As we came closer to the Ettamogah Pub we began to pick up signs and found it with no further trouble. Ettamogah, it seems, is taken from one of the Aboriginal dialects and means "a good place to drink". See page 103.