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Be warned, this map is probably inaccurate. It encompasses areas that are remote and isolated and the roads marked on it include large sections of gravel surface. However the local inhabitants are very friendly and the wild life abounds. If you are interested in holes in the ground, ancient and modern history, some remarkable bridges and what was the world’s largest gravity feed irrigation system, then you have come to the right place. Don’t venture out without water, a hat and sensible shoes. You may be only ninety minutes north of Melbourne – one of the world’s most liveable cities – the country described here is country without reliable mobile phone coverage and in some places you could be way beyond the Black Stump.
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Let us begin…
Goulburn Weir, Kirwans Bridge and Reedy Lake – Head north out of Nagambie and take the first left down Lobbs Lane. At the second right angle bend you have a choice – left to Kirwans Bridge or right to Goulburn weir. They are both worth looking at and both can be reached by travelling along byways.
Goulburn Weir was commissioned in 1895. Until 1975, when the Aswan High Dam on the Nile was commissioned, Goulburn weir supplied water to the world’s largest gravity feed irrigation area. There is a Public Park with BBQ, and an information centre on site; it’s possible to walk across the weir wall. Some adventurous souls carry their bicycles across; you sometimes have to sweet talk the Weir Keeper for permission. On the opposite bank is the Old Weir Church which is now a private residence.
Kirwans Bridge on the other hand, is a quirky crooked bridge named for a Mrs Kirwan who used to own land in the area. Built in the 1890’s it connects the exclusive community of Kirwans Bridge to the rest of the world. Nagambie Fishing Club’s rooms are on your left on the western bank. On to the local CFA Headquarters. Turn left to head home or right Reedy Lake.
Reedy Lake is a lake that is often not there but when it is it’s teeming with bird life and when its not – well it’s an empty lake! At the Kirwans Bridge CFA HQ turn right and then take the 2nd left – Wedgemore rd. At the next T junction take the right hand fork and you are on the Reedy Lake Rushworth rd. This whole area is interesting. It’s a place where you can see “canoe” trees, enormous middens made up of thousands and thousands of fresh water mussels, see the remnants of sand dunes laid down eons ago which run parallel in a n/w – s/e direction and also find, when the season is right, truffles, dancing Brolgas, and a plethora of other wild life and flowers. They are all there but none of them are easy to find! If you survive the bird watching and truffle hunting continue on to Days Rd. This is a track not for the faint hearted, so unless you feel competent and adventurous now is the time to turn around and head for home. However Days Rd will take you through to the Rushworth Nagambie Rd – turn left and head south. Keep your eyes open for Hudsons rd going off to your left or to the east. Don’t panic if you miss it for the Rushworth Nagambie road will take you back to civilization and Nagambie. Hudsons Rd eventually joins the Reedy Lake Nagambie Rd – turn right at the junction and head for Nagambie. You cross the Goulburn river via the new Chinaman’s Bridge. The old Bridge is down stream. Built in the late 1890’s it was designed by a railway engineer and originally had a lifting central span to allow the local river traffic to pass unhindered. You now head for Nagambie.
Tahbilk and Michelton Wineries: Head south out of Nagambie and at the Service Station, (incidentally it sells the cheapest fuel in Nagambie,) turn westwards down the Heathcote Rd., then first left, signed to Tahbilk Winery. On to the first right also signed to Tahbilk Winery, on, on, past the famous Wood Nook Horse stud, past the Gate House Cottage, Nagambie’s best kept secret (www.gatehousecottage.com), through the Tahbilk Estate’s entrance then on to the Cellars. After leaving the Cellars turn south down Mulberry Ave, past the Tahbilk Café and the possibility of a cup of coffee or two, then cross the anabranch of the Goulburn river, past the oldest commercial Shiraz vines in the world, through the vineyard and at the T junction turn right. You are now on Mullers rd, at the next T intersection turn right again. Cross the Goulburn river and note the fine old wooden bridge on you your right. Grape vines to your right and grapes vine to you left. The entrance to the winery is not much further on your right hand side. On the way home take the scenic route. Turn right out of Mitchelton, past the Major Mitchell’s memorial cairn marking the place that great colonial explorer crossed the creek now named after him, over a rickerty wooden bridge and you are now on the Wattle Vale Rd. There are three vineyards down this road. Lewis’s, Keane’s and Goulburn Terrace. Unfortunately none of them have Cellar door sales. Eventually you cross Sandy Creek and join the Heathcote Nagambie road turn right for Nagambie. On the way you pass the birth place of Black Caviar, the mare that set the horse racing world agog in 2013.
And finally…Feeling deprived of traffic noise and fumes but want to travel safely
From Nagambie go south to the Service Station which serves the cheapest fuel in town, head for Heathcote, take the first left down Mullers Rd, keep on going until you come to a T junction. Turn left. Continue to just before the roundabout, turn south or right down the service rd. You are now travelling alongside the Freeway. Enjoy the exhaust gasses and noise. Follow the road to the banks of Hughes creek. Pass under the freeway. Come up the other side. Now it’s up to you. If you require an additional fix turn left and find your own way home. Otherwise turn north or right. Keep on parallel to the Freeway, turn left over the Freeway bridge. If you want to live dangerously take the Nagambie exit, otherwise take the Mitchelton winery exit, then first right. If you want to settle the nerves take the first left and follow the signs to Tahbilk Winery. If not continue straight on to the next T junction. Take a right and head for Nagambie.