This long weekend (10 March – 12 March, 2007) we will again be going to Mildura. We will be staying at the River Road Caravan Park.
We will be visiting Wentworth and hope to visit most of the following attractions.
St John’s Church of England was erected in 1871 of stone and mud mortar with bricks around the edges. Owing to the fact that it was the first church to be built on the Darling, it has been classified by the National Trust. Next door to the Anglican Church is Wentworth State School, some of its buildings dating back to 1860. Also of historical interest in Darling St are the post office, the 1885 water tower (prefabricated in Scotland), the old customs officer’s house and Wentworth Courthouse (1879), a brick building with timber verandahs.
The old courthouse building, a slab cottage, is also extant. It is located in Fotherby Park, just over the Darling River Bridge. Also in the park is the dry-docked paddlesteamer Ruby, near the junction of the Darling River and Tuckers Creek. One of the last steamboats engaged in the passenger and cargo trade, it is currently being restored and will be moved to a position alongside the new wharf.
The statue in the park is a monument to a local legend. The inscription reads: ‘David James Jones 1901-1982. A will o’ the wisp nomadic recluse who lived for 54 years in the bushland downstream of Wentworth’. Jones was known as ‘The Possum’ because he often slept in trees. Nearby are the remnants of the old Wentworth Bridge and bits and pieces of old agricultural equipment. Also in the park is a bunya pine, the seeds of which were much sought after by the Australian Aborigines.
If you cross the bridge to the southern side of Tuckers Creek and take the road to the hospital on your immediate right you can park your car and walk across to the northern bank of the Murray where there is a canoe tree – one in which a section of bark has been removed for the construction of an Aboriginal canoe. If you walk westwards along the narrow stretch of land between the two rivers towards the river junction there is a walking path through a wildlife reserve.
The old Wentworth Gaol is considered the best example of a small Victorian gaol in NSW. It was built from 1879-1891 of a million locally-made bricks with bluestone trim from Victoria and slate brought from Wales as ship’s ballast. It was a small but notoriously harsh prison for more serious offenders with 10 male and 2 female cells, massive 45-cm thick walls, lookout towers, a stretching rack, a whipping stool, stocks, and shackles set into a boulder in the unshaded centre of the courtyard. The gaol closed down in 1929. Today it houses the Morrison collection of antique bottles, gemstones, minerals and Australiana and a statue of Harry Nanya, his partner and their child. Harry Nanya, who died around 1880, was one of the last full-blooded, free-roaming Aborigines of the local tribe. The prison is open every day from 10-5 in Beverley St, near the intersection with Francis St, tel: (03) 5027 3337.
On the other side of Beverley St is the Museum. Open from 10.00am – 5.00pm daily it has 3000 items including fossil remnants found at Perry Sandhills of extinct Australian megafauna, including the diprotodon (a sort of giant wombat) and a giant kangaroo. There are also replicas of some of these animals situated in a diorama. The museum also has an unusual redgum tree trunk. When it was cut down in 1971 it was found that the tree had grown around and entirely engulfed another tree stump which had been felled with an axe. The inner tree has been dated at 200 years. There is also an enormous mural, several pieces of locally-found space junk from satellites dating back to the 1960s and some interesting and antiquated machinery, including an example of the world’s first outboard motor.
Monument to a Tractor
There is a monument to the Ferguson tractor at the corner of Adelaide and Adams Sts. This is probably the only monument to a tractor in Australia. It commemorates the saving of the town in 1956. During that year the floods rose to a point where the entire town was threatened. The locals, with the help of about 35 Ferguson tractors, worked day and night for months to build levee banks. It is widely accepted that these levee banks saved the town.
The town hall wall in Adelaide St has an unusual war memorial – a wooden roll of honour made by a German internee during World War II. It is fashioned into a book with leaves that turn and a wooden bookmark.
St Ignatius High School
St Ignatius High School, restored by the National Trust, is situated on the northern bank of the Murray at the corner of Short and Cadell Sts. Opened in 1911 it was run by the Sisters of Mercy until it became a kindergarten in 1925. Further west along Cadell St is a nunnery built by Wentworth’s first mayor, William Gunn, in 1892.
William Gunn also built what is the oldest-surviving private residence in the district, Rendelsham House, which dates back to 1868. Located on the corner of the Silver City Highway and Adams St it is now privately owned and, so, can only be viewed from outside.
Junction of the Darling and Murray Rivers
Those wishing to have a good look at the river junction can access a viewing tower at Junction Park. Turn left off Cadell St as you head west and turn into Alice St, following it to the riverbank. It was here that former prime minister Bob Hawke launched his Environmental Statement Policy by planting ten red gums as part of his billion-tree program – a major replanting effort intended to replace the millions that had been cut down since European arrival.
Lock Number 10 and Weir
To see Lock Number 10 and Weir (built in 1929) go all the way to the end of Cadell St where there is also a boat ramp. Opposite is the cemetery. The river system is ideal for power boating, fishing, rowing, waterskiing and houseboats (available for hire locally ).
You can take a first-hand look at the features of the river system by taking a two-hour cruise on the MV Loyalty, built at Goolwa in 1914. It is the oldest propellor-driven riverboat operating in Australia today, The Loyalty was used as a milk boat until it became a passenger vehicle in the 1950s, tel: (03) 5027 3330 or 019-331192. It departs at 1.45 every day bar Saturday from the rear of the Wentworth Services Club car park off Darling St.
If you cross the bridge over Tuckers Creek and follow the Silver City Highway east for 12 km you will come to the small township of Dareton. It is well worth stopping to have a look at Tulklana Kumbi Aboriginal Galleries at 33 Neilpo St, where there is a guided tour of the premises, tel: (03) 5027 4691.
About 6 km east of Dareton along the Silver City Highway, to your left, is the Stanley Wine Company, open for inspections and wine tastings every day until 4 pm, tel: (03) 5023 4341.
Orange World and Australian Inland Botanical Gardens
Almost directly opposite is Orange World where you can take a tractor train tour through their orange, mandarin, grapefruit, lemon and avocado orchards. It then returns to their packing centre and nursery where there is an informative talk about how to grow citrus at home, how to test fruit in the shops and a look at their own processing procedures. The tour takes about an hour and operates twice daily every day but Saturday. For further information phone (03) 5023 5197.
Orange World is situated on the corner of the highway and River Rd. Turn into the latter and it will lead you to the Australian Inland Botanical Gardens (well signposted), open from 10-4 every day except Saturday. Return to the highway and follow it to the small township of Buronga. From here head east along the Sturt Highway.
A few kilometres will bring you to Gol Gol. There is a walking track on the right that follows the river to Drings Hill where there is an ancient Aboriginal midden. You can also take a tour of the yabbie farm at Gol Gol Fisheries (Carramar Drive, tel: 03-5024 8613). There is a hatchery, yabbie fishing in season, yabbie races, cooked yabbies, free train rides, refreshments and barbeque facilities. Another 6 km along the highway (towards Euston and Robinvale) is Trentham Estate Winery and Restaurant at Trentham Cliffs, tel: (03) 5024 8888