the Degree Confluence Project

Australia : Victoria

1.5 km (0.9 miles) WNW of Tarrengower, VIC, Australia
Approx. altitude: 221 m (725 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreetMap ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 37°N 36°W

Quality: good

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: Ducks take wing from the watering hole adjacent to the confluence east #3: To the south is a utility line and a pair of silos #4: A bird's eye view for a general sense of the area of the confluence, which is just beyond the upper right edge of the photo #5: Looking west-northwest, whence I had come #6: A dried up gully 100m northwest of the confluence gives evidence of the drought that has been affecting this already arid region

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  37°S 144°E (visit #1)  

#1: Cacti and Cairn Curran Reservoir seen from atop the hill a bit over a kilometer west of the confluence

(visited by David C Lawrence)

12-Mar-2001 -- I left my home in northern Vermont on 10 March 2001 at 1:30pm with the aim of successfully visiting my first confluence: 37°S 144°E, near Baringhup, Victoria, Australia, nearly 10,500 miles from my home. I would travel directly to it, by car, plane and foot, and only be satisfied when my goal had been attained.

Still smarting from my miserable failure in visiting 4°N 102°E, I determined to do fewer things from the evil list of Tips for Confluencers, but alas not all of them. I was still headed off to a foreign country where I was not familiar with the laws, didn't have a magnetic compass, and probably could have done a better job of letting people know where I was going and when to expect me back, just in case I encountered some trouble. No worries, it all worked out in the end.

The Flights

My first flight segment took off from Burlington (Vermont) International at 3pm on Friday, and after transfers in Cleveland and Los Angeles, I touched down in Melbourne at 8:15am on Monday, the twelfth of March. Wanting to be more prepared than I was for my previous expedition, I shopped at the airport to pick up some sunscreen, maps, spare batteries and water. I hadn't yet hired a car, so I scanned the available rental counters and made way for Budget. I was a little tired but decided I had the fortitude for the trip.

The Drive

Half an hour and one free upgrade to an automatic transmission later (my bum leg makes it difficult for me to work a clutch), I was finally leaving the airport ... to immediately stop at the nearest petrol station and pick up some snacks for the journey. The cashiers were strangely fascinated by my LL Bean VISA card from the USA.

This now being my second time that I drove in a country which preferred the left side of the road, I figured I'd gotten the mechanics of it all down. It was not to be so – I still frequently put on my windshield wipers when all I wanted to do was signal a turn. I fretted only a little over what the margins were for the RADAR speed monitoring cameras that signs warned me were about; three months later I'm still not entirely sure I am scot free.

I motored up highway 79 in intermittent rain (signalling turns as I tried to clear the windshield, naturally). At Elphinstone I turned off to highway B180 and as I entered Chewton I saw a sign for "Koala Sanctuary". After I passed the road I thought, "When else am I going to see koalas? So what if it is a little out of the way?" I made a U-turn and headed on a secondary road back to 79 and the sanctuary beyond it.

Along the road between 180 and 79 I got a closer look at a strange sight I'd been catching glimpses of since leaving Melbourne, groups of colored little boxes in seemingly insignificant locations. They were milk cartons, in this area thousands of them, set upon stakes in the ground to protect the seedling plants they surrounded from being eaten by grazing wild animals; kangaroos, I suspect.

At the koala sanctuary high on a hill east of Faraday, I was disappointed in that I didn't see a single koala, since they are mainly active at night. I was rewarded, however, with many beautiful birds and even a wallaby. My digital camera is completely unsuited to wildlife photography, so regrettably I got no pictures. The birds I saw included Australian magpies, red lowries (Crimson Rosella; sounds like "red larries" to my American ear), and some little wren-like thing sporting a rose crow and belly with light gray back and wings. The park appeared a bit neglected; I did the main circuit trail of the park, and even in late summer it looked like it had not been maintained in quite a while. On the way out I caught up to a nice older couple who were showing the park to their houseguest from Italy. They said they've lived just 10 kilometers down the road for more than 20 years and had yet to see a koala themselves; that ameliorated my disappointment.

Returning to my route to the confluence, I checked in with my wife from a payphone in Chewton. International Collect Call. Five minutes. Nearly thirty US dollars. Ouch!

From B180 I picked up C282 from Castlemaine to Maldon. Maldon is a cute little artsy town that looks like a very nice place to spend the afternoon, with carriage rides for the tourists and several galleries to visit. Its slogan is "Australia's First Notable Town", a designation that was given to it by the National Trust of Australia for its unspoilt historic character. It was the main population center for a gold rush that gripped this region, the Victorian Goldfields, in the 1850s. The town once was home to 40,000 people but now has little more than 1200. A charming place, to be sure, but I didn't even slow down enough to snap a photo or two. I had a confluence to attend to!

Turning off 282 to the road to Baringhup, I watched eagerly as the distance to the confluence dropped under 10 kilometers. The left turn for the road south to the Cairn Curran Reservoir was easy to find, and this was as close as my maps could get me. Just before the pillars that marked the entrance to the reservoir recreational area, a dirt road headed east. It seemed like a good bet to get me closer to the confluence than the road by the water, but I wanted to see the water so I kept straight. The distance to the confluence continued to drop until the road turned west to continue following the shoreline.

I was about two kilometers (1.6 miles) west of the confluence at this point. To the east a paddock rose to a steeper hill that looked a bit interesting, so rather than driving back up the road by the reservoir area entrance, I opted to pull the car in to what looked like the end of an old ranch access road and start my hike from there. It was 1:40pm when I arrived, with a stiff wind keeping things cool on the hot, sunny day.

The Walk

I hopped the fence into the paddock; since there were no signs or houses around, I figured (perhaps incorrectly, I'll admit) that it wasn't so much meant to keep people out as it was to control other animals. Crossing the paddock and hopping the fence at the other side, I stood at the base of a moderately steep hill. During my climb up it I particularly liked the cacti and boulders that covered the hillside.

At the summit of the hill I had wonderful views in all directions: the reservoir to the west, a ranch to the south, the confluence area to the east, and the ridge of the hill to the north. The wind was notably stronger on the bald hilltop. There was also a surprising amount of scat around; it looked an awful lot like deer scat to me. Perhaps it was kangaroo poo?

Making my way down the slightly more gentle eastern slope of the hill, I found many bones of varied sizes, bleached by the sun. They were quite well preserved.

At one kilometer from the target I encountered another paddock fence near a large storage shed. With still no signs suggesting that my presence was unwelcome, and having heard tell of how friendly Australians were, I opted again to hop the fence. As I made my way across the field I spotted some horseback riders beyond the road I could see in the distance. I waved to get their attention but they either didn't see me or didn't care, and so I made way for the building they had gone to.

When I finally reached the fence outside the building, another large storage shed that was doubling as a barn, it took a few minutes to finally get their attention. When I explained what I was doing, they seemed a bit mystified by the technology and surprised that I would come all the way from America to bother taking a picture of the middle of a paddock, but were otherwise happy to oblige. They told me they didn't own the paddock the confluence was in, but that they were sure the owner would not mind.

The Confluence

The road came within just 200m (650') of the confluence, and there I hopped one last fence into the final paddock. Two sheep watched me suspiciously as I made my way across the field, through a dried up gully, and zeroed in on the spot with the zeros. 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m, 10..7..5..2..0! Bingo! My first successful confluence. The satellite signal was very strong and I had no problem holding the zeros as I made several attempts to get a good closeup of the GPS.

The confluence itself was about six feet down a slope from the lip of a watering hole to the east. After taking a picture of a tree a little west of north, I ascended the slope to the side of the watering hole and took my remaining confluence spot pictures from there. Several birds were at the hole as I came up, but alas my Kodak DC260 is just not up to the task of decent wildlife photography. I really need a digital camera with swappable lenses.

I took a couple of pictures of the hills to the east, one of the silos and utility line to the south, and then another of the trees to the northwest the way I'd come into the paddock. I also noted a large nest in the tree to the north, with a pile of wool beneath it. Apparently the birds had been poaching sheep.

The Return Trip

After making sure my photos were usable, I headed back to the barn where I'd talked to the folks who said I could go into the confluence paddock and asked to take a snapshot of them. They politely agreed and were all smiles for the shot.

All that was left to do was to trek back over the hill and drive into Melbourne to my hotel. The walk back to the car was pretty much the same as the walk to the confluence, except I went slightly more north and found an interesting spot where boulders were balanced precipitously on a long slab of rock. I made it back to the car by 3:50pm.

I wanted a different route back to Melbourne, one that my maps indicated was on scenic roads. First I drove down the washboarded dirt road that passed immediately to the west of the confluence, coming out on C283 just north of Welshmans Reef – "Reef" here being a term for the gold-veined quartz that was mined after the alluvial gold of the first rush was mostly recovered. My drive took me past many fields of sheep and beef cattle (herefords and angus, mostly) through Newstead, Daylesford, Trentham, Newbury and Blackwood and several other small towns. Roadside advertisements indicated that this was also a region of spas, but I didn't avail myself of any of their services.

When I hit M8 I turned east to Melbourne and made pretty good time until I hit rush hour traffic near Deer Park. The clot of cars moved tediously forward from traffic light to traffic light until finally I reached M80 and could take the expressway the rest of the way to the Centra Hotel downtown.

As enjoyable as my trek was, it was also a relief to finally be at the hotel around 7pm. I'd been effectively traveling non-stop for nearly 40 hours with only a bit of unsatisfying sleep in a cramped coach class seat across the Pacific. A full night in a real bed was most welcome.

Two days later I was off to 38°S 146°E, east of Melbourne!

For those who might still be wondering, I did not go to Australia solely to bag this confluence. While I can imagine doing something like that someday far in the future when I have more disposable income and free time than I really know what to do with, I was in Melbourne on business, for ICANN and MINC meetings.

You get one guess as to what happened when I returned the USA, got in my own car again, and tried to signal a lane change.

 All pictures
#1: Cacti and Cairn Curran Reservoir seen from atop the hill a bit over a kilometer west of the confluence
#2: Ducks take wing from the watering hole adjacent to the confluence east
#3: To the south is a utility line and a pair of silos
#4: A bird's eye view for a general sense of the area of the confluence, which is just beyond the upper right edge of the photo
#5: Looking west-northwest, whence I had come
#6: A dried up gully 100m northwest of the confluence gives evidence of the drought that has been affecting this already arid region
ALL: All pictures on one page