Page 194


The Daylesford Victoria Caravan Park

While in Werribee we had quite a lot of noise coming from around us as people worked on their caravans. We remarked to each other that we wouldn't be sorry to move on. Be careful what you wish for! Our arrival in Daylesford Victoria Park coincided with the arrival of a team of tree loppers complete with a cherry picker, chain saws, a backhoe converted to pick up logs and ... one of those giant mulchers that 'eat' branches and blow the shredded remains into the back of a truck. Ever hear one at work? They are deafening. And they started on a large tree with a broken branch opposite our 'van ... and we'd thought Werribee was noisy. Anyway, they were finished and gone the next day leaving the tree safe and everything peaceful. We found the park very picturesque with abundant tall trees; it was quiet and the staff were helpful and friendly.

So ... Daylesford. We'd heard it was nice and there was a lot to see. It was certainly cold and wet and windy for those first days. On first impression we didn't find the town centre very exciting. In fact, we got the feeling that the place is rather arty-crafty, perhaps just a tad pretentious. The menus in cafés were written in such a way that doesn't really tell you what to expect but are supposed to impress you. You don't like to ask for a translation because that confirms you are inferior - a fact that they already suspected. I'm sure you've experienced the sort of establishment.

Unbeknownst to us, Daylesford was hosting a gay and lesbian festival the first weekend we were there and all accommodation was fully booked. In fact, it appears we were lucky to get a site in the caravan park. There was a very loud concert on the Saturday evening - yes, in the show ground next door. There goes our peace for the weekend.
Picnic at Hanging Rock

Ever read the 1967 book by Joan Lindsay, or see the film of the same name? In 1900 a party of schoolgirls and their teacher visit Hanging Rock for a picnic. Some climb the rock and are never seen again; that's the gist of the story which leaves the reader in mid air, no explanation being given. There is even mystery around whether the story has any basis in fact. Some say Joan Lindsay included a final chapter in her original manuscript which explained all the mysteries but that her publisher persuaded her to leave out that chapter.

One day the Tour Director, after much research, decided we should take a drive to Hanging Rock, visiting Trentham Falls on the way, then returning via the Mount Macedon Memorial Cross. It was a great plan and we had a great day. Oh, and yes, we did take a picnic to Hanging Rock. But first to Trentham Falls ...

Trentham Falls

Trentham Falls would be spectacular after torrential rain but it was little more than a dribble when we called.

Moving on we drove to Hanging Rock which, as you can imagine, has become commercialised. Entry was prevented by a gate and a notice informed us that if we drove forward we could enter, but ... we would need to purchase a $10 ticket to get out again. We moved forward and the gate opened. Come into my parlour said the spider to the fly.

Hanging Rock

Hanging Rock rises boldly up from the plain. Is there something foreboding about it? The tree
covering obscures the rock from view though from a short distance away the top is visible above the trees.

The rock is more correctly named Mount Diogenes but everybody calls it Hanging Rock. Where did that name originate? Gazing upon this haunted, haunting rock you could be forgiven for thinking that someone in bygone days, perhaps a bush ranger, was hanged at the rock. However, the real explanation is far less intriguing; a large boulder is suspended above the ground by other boulders, hence 'hanging rock'. Notwithstanding that, there is something about this rock that sends a little chill down your spine, even on a sunny afternoon. And bush rangers did use the rock but as a lookout for the law on the plain below.

Long before white settlers arrived in Australia, three Aboriginal tribes shared this sacred rock for performing male initiation ceremonies. None of those tribes, however, would ever climb the spooky stone towers, for harmful spirits inhabited the crevices above.

To substantially spoil the atmosphere of the rock, a racecourse has been placed right alongside it and a café has been opened at the foot of it. We, however, had brought a picnic and, the weather being decidedly chilly, we sat in the car and ate it. Did we climb the rock? No. You see, Pam has a sore hip and wouldn't have been able to manage the steep, uneven path. This, of course, was devastating for me because I was raring to go. But chivalry won the day and I remained on level ground with Pam. And yes, we saw several pigs alight in the treetops.

Carved Tree Stump at Hanging Rock

Tree Carvings

Carved Stump

Close to Hanging Rock was a tall tree stump. Felled by lightning, the top part of this 200-year-old
Manna Gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) had been cleared away and the council commissioned renowned wood
engraver, Tim Jones, to carve the stump in keeping with the legend of Hanging Rock and adjacent racecourse.

The Mount Macedon Memorial Cross

The Mount Macedon Memorial Cross is located six kilometres south of Hanging Rock and about sixty kilometres north of Melbourne. This twenty one metre high structure stands near the summit of Mount Macedon, however it is not the original. The first cross was commissioned in 1935 by early resident, William Cameron, as a memorial to his son and the others who died in World War I. The later cross is dedicated to all service men and women who gave their lives for Australia in all conflicts.


The Memorial Cross On Mount Macedon

The original cross was constructed of steel and finished with a layer of tiles on the outside. William Cameron donated it to the people of Victoria. Unfortunately this first cross was to have a sad history. In 1965 its plaque was vandalised, in 1975 it was struck by lightning and severely damaged and in 1983 the Ash Wednesday Fire finally finished it off. It was deemed unsafe and dismantled. For about twenty years there was no cross and then the Grollo family of Melbourne came to the rescue. In 1995 an almost identical cross was constructed of reinforced concrete and coated in the tiles recovered from the earlier cross. The work was undertaken by concrete engineers, brothers Bruno and Rino Grollo, who donated the cross to the people of Victoria. The landscaping was restored and the Memorial Cross now dominates the mountain in all its former glory.

Looking at the photo above you'll see that the horizon is obscured by atmospheric haze. However, using full zoom and a few other software tricks you'll see below what lurked in the murk ...


Yes, it's Melbourne, sixty kilometres to the south.

Cross Reserve Landscaping

Looking north from the Memorial Cross towards the café and carpark.

At the Memorial Cross car park is the 'Top Of The Range Café and Gallery' which is well worth a visit. The café has a connection to The Seekers - remember The Seekers? Athol Guy lives nearby and makes regular appearances at the café. I wonder if Judith Durham ever appears? I love her voice.
Another Memorial on Mount Macedon.

Also on Mount Macedon is another memorial, though far less prominent than the Cross. On November 8th 1948 a Douglas DC-3 Dakota that belonged to Australian National Airways crashed on Macedon soon after taking off from Essendon Airport. The flight crew - the captain and first officer - were killed. Miraculously the cabin staff and all of the nineteen passengers survived, largely due to the calm professionalism and heroism of Hostess Elizabeth Fry.

Before take-off Captain Harry Warlow-Davies had been briefed to expect cloud between 4,000 and 8,000 feet (fact). This is relevant because a direct vector to his first destination, Deniliquin, would take him over terrain rising to 2,300 feet over the southern end of the Great Dividing Range (where it bends to the west north of Melbourne). The flight was to be undertaken on Visual Flight Rules (V.F.R.). Simply put, the pilot would ensure the flight's safety by looking out of the window - no blind flying could be undertaken. The ground rose to 2,300 feet and the cloud base was forecast to be 4,000 feet. Captain Warlow-Davies would fly at about 3,900 feet, just under the cloud and only 1,600 feet above ground. Would that be enough? Was the forecast accurate?

Captain Harry Warlow-Davies, was already 17 kilometres west of his course just 14 minutes after taking off from Essendon. He was a very experienced pilot with over 4,000 hours in his log book; why he was so far off course has never been explained. However, it placed his Dakota close to Mount Macedon which rises to 3,300 feet and Mount Macedon was shrouded in cloud. The aircraft was seen flying below cloud and very low just before the crash. Passengers said that immediately before impact they were flying in cloud when suddenly the tops of the trees appeared immediately below the Dakota, some striking the underside. The passengers heard the engines roar as full power was applied and the nose of the aircraft lifted. However, luck was not on their side and the starboard wing struck the trunk of a very tall pine tree inboard of the engine, spinning the Dakota through 180° (according to witnesses). It descended onto a fire break and eventually came to rest. Amazingly there was no immediate fire; there would have been a lot of fuel on board so early in the flight.

Hostess Elizabeth Fry, although suffering facial injuries, began organising and evacuating the passengers as fast as possible. When they were all clear she returned with some uninjured passengers and dragged the Captain and First Officer from the flight deck. Seconds later leaking fuel ignited, destroying what remained of the aircraft. Captain Warlow-Davies was already dead. First Officer James Barrington Keyes was badly injured; an ambulance rushed him to hospital but died an hour later. A few passengers were also injured but all recovered. Young Hostess Elizabeth Fry was awarded an inscribed silver tray by Lloyds of London in recognition of her heroic actions. This was the first award of its kind anywhere in the world.

Crashed Dakota

The burned out wreckage of the Dakota, still smoking.
This is a photo from the internet - not my copyright.

There followed an inquiry and, as often happens in air crash investigations, there was misleading evidence given by some passengers and witnesses and - surprisingly - the radio officer of another aircrew who testified that Captain Warlow-Davies had twice called Air Traffic Control for clearance to descend from 11,000 feet to 7,000 feet due to severe icing. His calls were said to have gone unacknowledged and his final call announced he was descending to 7,000 feet. This evidence makes no sense because:

Fact: At 7,000 feet, Harry would still have been well clear of Mount Macedon's 3,324 ft peak.
Fact: A Dakota is simply not capable of climbing to 11,000 feet within 14 minutes of take off. (Assuming the timing is correct.)

According to the enquiry, the probable cause of the crash was that Captain Warlow-Davies:

   (1) Failed to adhere to his approved Flight Plan, and
   (2) Flew in cloud in contravention of the Visual Flight Rules, thus violating the conditions of his flight clearance.

Done and dusted, Harry's the bad guy. In 1948 they didn't have the advantage of Flight Data Recorders or Cockpit Voice Recorders (so-called 'black boxes') and the two pilots were dead. Was there more to it, did anybody ask? Why was Harry Warlow-Davies so low? Was there a problem with the aircraft? And why was it so far off course? We'll never know, but if the pilots were to blame, they paid the supreme price without the opportunity to give their side of events.

A fictional but possible scenario

The flight crew, climbing on course, found the cloud base lower than the forecast 4,000 feet. (The Dakota was in cloud at 3,000 feet when it crashed, okay?) As they approached the high ground, the crew realised it was unsafe to continue on that course. Visibility to the east looked bad but to the west it was brighter. There was a possibility of finding a hole that they could climb through to get on top of the cloud. Their first (or a subsequent) destination was clear or they wouldn't have taken off. Harry asked the First Officer James Keyes to notify Air Traffic Control of the change of course but the radio was on the blink - this was 1948, remember?

The terrain to the west was higher so care was required to keep a safe height above terrain. Harry Warlow-Davies was a good pilot; three years after the war had ended there was a huge over-supply of pilots. Only the best were employed by the leading airlines.

On approaching Mount Macedon the Dakota was flying over rising terrain and below low cloud. In effect, into a wedge. As the terrain rose, so Captain Warlow-Davies hugged the cloud base closer. Still they found no suitable break in the cloud and eventually the captain, as cloud started to envelop his aircraft, decided to turn back. He was too late, the rising ground caught him and its trees snagged his aircraft. Rest in Peace, Harry and James.

Another Day Out

The Tour Director does it again. We were to visit Mount Franklin, Maldon and Malmsbury where we would find attractions at each stop. Well, that was the theory.

There was a lookout at Mount Franklin, or so we were led to understand. The GPS directed us to take a nonexistent turn over a sheer drop. After a brief discussion we elected not to. Nowhere could we find this lookout so we wondered about Mount Franklin bottled water - did that come from here? There didn't appear to be anything, let alone a bottling plant, near Mount Franklin. The answer was on the internet. 'Mount Franklin’ is a registered trade mark of Coca-Cola Amatil and has no connection to Mount Franklin, Victoria. So there you are. It's free from every tap ... it falls from the sky ... why pay the Yanks for it?

So we drove on to Maldon where the attractions were a steam railway and a dredge. It seemed a bustling if small town. This time Alice, our GPS, gave us good guidance and we were soon at the railway station where a steam train from Castlemaine was due any minute. The train was thirty minutes late. Finally it hove into sight around a bend along the grass-overgrown track. It was struggling with the gradient and belching thick, black smoke. Its headlight glowed orange for no apparent reason.

Steam Train

Global Warming? Greenhouse Gases? Atmospheric Pollution? What Atmospheric Pollution?

The reason for the smoke became apparent as the locomotive passed. On top of the tender was a large cylindrical tank. Having seen it elsewhere I recognised it as an oil tank - the loco was not burning coal or wood, it was powered by waste oil.

Oil Tank on Tender

Gotta do the return run at three o'clock. Better top her oil up.

Are you a steam loco buff? Have you ever noticed what a good-natured, happy crowd always congregates around steam trains? Maldon was no exception, half an hour late or not. There were ten thousand school kids on the train - or was it fifty? Anyway, even they didn't spoil the occasion.

Reluctantly leaving the railway station we went in search of the dredge ... and almost bumped into it as soon as we set off.


This is ... was ... a dredge. It looks like a boat. Technically it is a boat - only now it has a large rust hole in its hull.
When it was operational it floated in a pool of its own making. Note the watermark on its hull.

We covered the operation of the infinitely larger Eldorado Dredge on Page 112 of this tome. In a nutshell, the dredge has a moving chain of buckets at the front end which dredges up the bed of the pool ahead of it. The contents of the buckets are tipped out on the dredge, processed to remove any gold-bearing material and the waste is tipped out of the back. Since very little of what is dredged up is gold, most of the excavated material fills in the artificial pool behind the dredge as it moves forward. The problem is that the rich, fertile topsoil from the front of the dredge gets mixed in so the surface layer behind the dredge will be good for very little for many years.

Dredger Buckets

The inverted descending buckets are hidden behind the ascending buckets in the photo. They disappear below the 'water', gouge out all they can hold as they rotate around submerged pulleys and travel back up to dump their contents on the dredge ... then descend again for more.

The dredge moved and steered itself by pulling on thick steel cables attached to sturdy trees using on-board winches. Dredges were powered by electricity fed via thick cables from the local grid. (The people of Harrietville in Victoria's High County, much as they loathed the constant noise and the destruction wrought on the environment, were thankful to the dredge in their town because electricity brought out to power the dredge was also connected to the town. At the time it was the only way they would have got it!)

Leaving the rusty hulk in its dried out pond we carried on to Malmsbury where we were to see a historic viaduct.

Malmsbury Viaduct

Malmsbury Viaduct has 5 arches. It spans 100 metres and is 25 metres high. Constructed 1860.

Stockport Viaduct

Stockport Viaduct has 27 arches. It spans 546 metres and is 33.8 metres high. Constructed 1840*.
The small picture (inset) shows just 15 of the 27 arches.

* The construction date of 1840 applies to the right (western) side of the viaduct. The left side was added around 1890 so that it could accommodate four parallel tracks. London and North Western Railway didn't want express trains to be held up by slower trains. Note the comparative height of the old five-storey mill building!

I grew up near Stockport Viaduct; for me it has always been there. Despite its historical value and engineering accomplishment, it is a blot on the landscape - a huge, ugly brick wall across the Mersey Valley, overshadowing the town. Many bridges are beautiful; this one isn't, it is purely functional. However, compared to Stockport's viaduct, Malmsbury's viaduct is outclassed in every respect except aesthetically.

So that, folks, is why I don't rate the Malmsbury Viaduct very highly. You don't give a damn? I don't blame you. Hey, there was a fatal train crash on the Stockport Viaduct one night in 1948 in darkness and thick fog. Go tell someone who cares? Okay, I've got the message.

A bit of excitement in the night.

We were in the caravan last night, just watching Doctor Lucien Blake solve another totally bizarre murder and sipping the red nectar. Do you ever wonder why we employ the police? All the murders get solved by landscape gardeners (Rosemary and Thyme) or priests (Father Brown) or old ladies (Miss Marple) or small Belgians (Hercule Poirot) or forensic pathologists (Silent Witness) ... and usually in spite of the police.

Where was I? Anyway, we heard a helicopter approaching and fly overhead very low. Then the noise receded a little before increasing again in volume. Pam said it sounded as if it was landing next to us and on opening the caravan door, discovered it was! I mentioned before that the Show Ground is next door, just through a wire fence, in fact. All the brilliant flood lights were on and a police vehicle was parked in the middle with its red and blues flashing and its headlights on. A largish chopper was touching down in the added illumination from the car's lights. It had 'AMBULANCE' written on it. Once settled on terra firma it spooled down its two gas turbine engines and turned off its lights. All was silent.

Nothing much happened for a while. A woman with two small children in their night attire arrived in a car and alighted to watch the entertainment. More police vehicles arrived and officers just stood around, talking. No wonder Lucien Blake was left to solve all the murders. Then an ambulance arrived and parked next to the chopper but still nothing appeared to happen. Of course, a patient might have been being prepared to move from ambulance to helicopter, or vice versa, but behind the fence it was getting very cold. And those kids shouldn't be out in this temperature, either.

Helicopter and Ambulance

And they all stood around chatting for what seemed like a half hour.

While they are all just standing there, let me tell you what I discovered about HEMS 3 (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service 3) ...

HEMS 3 began operations on the 1st July 2001, operating out of Bendigo Airport. Crewed by a Pilot, Observer and 1 MICA Flight Paramedic, the twin engined, IFR, 15 seater Bell 412 EP aircraft can carry 2 stretcher patients or 1 stretcher and 4 sitting. Powered by it's 2 x PT6T-3DE engines with 1920 shaft horse power, it can cruise at 120 knots with a normal operating range of 300 km. Other features include a 76 metre rescue hoist capable of lifting 272 kg and a Nitesun directional search light with 30 million candlepower.

Equipment is generally standard gear found on the road MICA units including ambulance stretcher, oxygen resuscitator, advanced airway equipment, defibrillator, standard IV and drug kits, trauma equipment, with additional gear including a patient ventilator and Propac monitor.

Something's moving out there ...

Stretcher Transfer

Eventually a patient was transferred from the ambulance to HEMS 3 and then another long delay occurred before the ambulance moved away and the helicopter started its engines and lifted off. And that was that, everybody went home. Lucien had caught the killer, it was the personal assistant to the actress who was jealous of her boss. The nasty police chief was outwitted again and became even more determined to get rid of Lucien who still hasn't made a move on Jean.

Well, folks, nothing much more happened to us in Daylesford. It transpired that the ambulance patient suffered a heart attack, or so I was told. It made me wonder, given the lengthy time the chopper spent on the ground and the number of paramedics and police involved, what this operation would have cost and was it justified? Please don't misunderstand, if that was the best and fastest way to get the patient to a Melbourne hospital, then fine. But if the ambulance could have gone there directly by road - without taking any risks - in an hour or so, then perhaps that would have beeen better ...

The manager of the caravan park told me that there was an established procedure for medical evacuations from Daylesford using a different sports oval. Who decided to use the Show Ground near the caravan park - and why? People were not aware how to turn on the arc lights, for one thing.

That's it for this page. Please click on NEXT PAGE below right.

Next Page

Previous Page

Index Page

Page Top