Yarrawonga - December 2016

Day 6 - exploring Lake Malwala

Wednesday 7th December

In a rather uncharacteristic turn of events this morning, I found myself actually getting up before Sandy. It happens. It’s rare, but it does happen. Today being one such occasion, I thought I’d take the kids out for breakfast and let Sandy enjoy a lie in. So, quiet as a mouse, I snuck out of bed, skulked across the room mission impossible style, slowly got dressed and left her to sleep. The kids wasted no time in deciding whether my idea of a Maccas breakfast was a good idea. The transition from lounging around to fully awake and alert was something to behold. They were also both dressed and ready to go faster than shit through a goose.

As it was Wednesday, the very nice lady that previously gifted us a couple of Internet vouchers was back on duty at reception, so I popped over there to thank her in person. She was very nice and really did seem to enjoy reading my blog. As a gesture, I autographed a free copy of my book for her, which she seemed to appreciate.

The kids and I were gone for probably forty-five minutes to have breakfast just up the road. As I anticipated, Sandy was up and about by the time we got back. We found her snuggled up on the couch polishing off a chocolate sprinkle sandwich – don’t ask, she’d Dutch

We thought we’d pick up the pace a bit today. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been really quite happy to just lounge around all week but there are some touristy things we still haven’t yet done and so we thought we’d tick some of those off the list today. Principally among those was a cruise around Lake Mulwala so I rang the boat operator to see what we could arrange. The number wasn’t answered and went over to voice-mail, so I hung up. As I was checking their web-site to make sure it was indeed operating today, I noticed a missed call and an incoming voice-mail. I called the boat operator again, thinking it was them calling me back, and a man answered asking if my name was Chris. Um, actually, yes it is. How did you know that? I just listened to your voicemail. Oh, right, of course. Travis turned out to be a very nice man and we chatted briefly about the lunch cruise, which we wanted to embark on today. He did want me to know they didn’t have EFTPOS on the boat, which was good to know, as I would otherwise have arrived without the means to pay. We’ll pick up some cash on the way through town.

We all piled into the car. Funny enough, I found the Westpac ATM exactly where the reception staff said I’d find it, and I duly liberated about $150 from my account. There’s a tourist information office just before the bridge on this side of the lake so we stopped in there just to be sure we weren’t missing out on any other important activities. The staff there are all really friendly. A woman behind the counter called Helen was especially bubbly and chatty and we got talking about my writing and having published a book. Before long, I was autographing the second free book of the day, which went down very well and we exchanged photos for our respective social media outlets for good measure as well. As we were there anyway, we also bought our tickets for the river lunch cruise. It was the same price and would save some time doing so on the boat. Whilst there, the kids picked up a little something each as well. With a boomerang, cuddly wombat, decorative teaspoon (don’t ask!) and our tickets for the lunch cruise, we said our goodbyes and headed over to where the Paradise Queen was docked. We could have walked but I re-parked the car a little closer to where the boat was moored, as there were a few trees there which would help keep the car cool in today’s heat. On this, our penultimate full day in Yarrawonga, the skies are a cloudless blue and the mercury is topping the thirties again – lovely 🙂

After parking the car, we walked up to the boat, where a man was welcoming some other guests onto the vessel. As I approached, the man said ‘Welcome, Chris. Nice to have a published author on board today.’ Um, OK, now that’s just a little freaky I guess. I smiled and surmised he must have just been chatting to the staff at the tourist information office, who had, after all, just sold us the tickets. Travis, the man that welcomed us aboard, was also the captain and an extremely nice fella. We parked ourselves on the upper deck at a table right next to the steering wheel where he sat. He gave us a running commentary throughout the hour and a half cruise and even let both kids steer the boat for a bit, which they absolutely loved. The Paradise Queen is a two story ferry that trundles at idling speed in a set course around the lake, past a few points of interest and through the eerie forest of dead trees we could see from the RSL balcony last night. Travis’ commentary was quite interesting. Along with some fascinating information about the points of interest he was telling us all about, we also learned that Lake Mulwala is man-made. It came into being when a dam was installed elsewhere along the Murray River. The forest of dead trees was once a living forest that was submerged after the dam’s installation some fifty-odd years ago.

Lunch aboard the cruise was a buffet of various meats and salads. For the cost of admission, it was really very good food and quite reasonable for the money spent. We all ate plenty, so that’s a good indication itself of just how good the food was. In a particularly brilliant piece of advanced parenting, I actually managed to convince both kids to eat some of the lamb off my plate (they each claim they don’t eat lamb) simply by telling them it was pork. The both loved it and even ate seconds. I high-fived myself in my mind. Once of the points of interest along our route is Chinaman Island, which is named after a Chinese gold prospector that gave up his search and settled down on the island. It very nearly became the sight of a casino, had it not been for the local council rejecting the proposal.

After we cleared the first stage of our course around the lake and came out from the dead forest, Travis said that we could, if we wished, take a dip in the lake by means of getting into the boom net. It’s a three by five meter frame with a net hung beneath it that you could sit on and be just a little submerged in the water as the boat drifted along. Jennifer and me were both game and I have to say the very pleasurable experience was one of the highlights of the trip for me so far. Throwing caution to the wind, I stripped down to my undies and clamoured in. I do have to admit that I’m not bashful and not at all ashamed of my body…which I’m told is half my problem. But, I digress. The water was absolutely gorgeous at a rather comfortable 22 degrees Celsius. I ended up laying down on the net with the water rushing under me and covering me to about half way. With my hat covering my face for shade and my head resting on the net just slightly out of the water, the feeling of the gushing current rushing along my body was just a marvellous experience. I could feel changes in the water temperature as the boat meandered along its path. The feeling was oh so refreshing and I could have spent the rest of the afternoon there just relaxing and taking in the crystal clear skies. In truth, I was a little worried about getting sunburnt, so I stumbled out after about twenty minutes or so. The tingling of the fresh lake water along my back and sides left me feeling wonderfully relaxed for the remainder of the afternoon.

Our sojourn around Lake Malwala ran its course and we arrived back where we started on the Victoria side. I couldn’t let the experience go unrewarded so I resolved to do a nice write-up for the staff on Trip Advisor and, after a quick trip to the car, I parted with my third free autographed book of the day.

Literally just a stone’s throw from where the Paradise Queen is docked is that inflatable assault course that we noticed a few days ago. We had decided that today would be the day that we had a crack at this so we wandered over. As it would just be Jennifer and me taking on this watery challenge, Sandy drove Joey back to base camp and came back with camera in hand to snap a few shots of my favourite daughter and me having a go. I was relieved of around $30 dollars, or thereabouts, and we were each issued with a life-vest. Mine was a little tight fitting but it didn’t really bother me and it would at least keep me afloat. There were about 10 of us in our group for this hour-long session and we were all given a safety briefing before being told to jump in and to swim out to the course. That part was easy enough, as the water depth at the point of entry was just shallow enough that I could touch the floor with my toes. It was probably around 15 metres out to the start of the inflatable course and getting there wasn’t particularly challenging. What ‘was’ particularly challenging, however, was simply getting onto it once we got there. The entire apparatus is made from industrial strength inflatable material and is very well pumped full of air with no discernible air leaks anywhere I could see. It’s bright yellow and green and there are handles everywhere to help you navigate. That notwithstanding, hauling my overweight potato sack of a body up and onto the darn thing zapped my fecking energy from the get-go. To make matters worse, the entire thing is shifting in the water as all the other younger and more energetic thrill-seekers were running around. This made the task of simply standing up also an arduous one. After about five minutes of being on this thing, it became abundantly clear to me that this was a younger person’s activity and not necessarily designed for the middle-aged, slightly balding and desperately obese crowd to which I just happen to belong. Still, I have to confess it was a lot of fun. It wasn’t just me that struggled to get up and onto the platforms. Others were having difficulties as well. Everyone gave each other helping hands as and when the needs arose, which was good. The obstacle course included a number of thrilling challenges, including monkey bars, a swing, ramps that you had to run at fast enough to make it all the way to the top, otherwise you’d slip and slide back down again – which must have been particularly hilarious for the onlookers each time I tried this. There were rock walls, with handles instead of rocks of course, a trampoline and various platforms from which to launch yourself into the water. After about forty-five minutes, I was so out of puff with it all that I could quite literally barely breath. Fortunately, just as I was contemplating whether to signal to the supervising lifeguard that I was no longer fit to supervise my daughter, the klaxon sounded and we all had to make our way back to the bank. As luck would have it, there was a slight current and I was practically able to drift there with minimal effort from any of my limbs. Getting myself out of the water, however, must have been a sight to behold. It was somewhat reminiscent of a natural history program I once watched, where someone was trying to free a beached whale. Jennifer had a beam on her face the entire time, so that was good.

With the exertion now over with, I mustered enough energy to physically stand up and we made our way back to the car. The Ice Creamery beckoned as we drove past. Well, after all, I do have a shape to maintain (spherical is a shape, right?).

Back at home base, the kids wanted to get into the pool again, so that’s exactly what we did. There were still no clouds and it was still baking hot, so we spent the first half hour in the outside pool. I had a hankering for the sauna, so we eventually all made our way to the inside pool, where I spent the better part of half an hour warming up my blood in the wooden cabin. In fact, we spent another good hour and a half in the inside pool, which was nice.

After all drying off and getting into something more comfortable, Sandy whipped us all up a lovely home-cooked dinner and we chilled out some more. The bedtime routine was painless and swift tonight, and I can now relax for having finished this blog entry. Tomorrow is our last full day here. We’re not exactly sure what were going to do but I venture to suggest that another trip to the RSL will be on the cards for tomorrow night.

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