Why Hopetoun Victoria is a TOP Aussie Town!
I don’t know why it is that travellers are routinely described as ‘weary’. If I’m describing myself, I just say I’m a traveller – not a weary one. But when travel publications refer to havens for the weary traveller; and weary traveller’s resting places; and recharging the weary travellers batteries and the like, you start to believe the hype.
So after a long day on the road when we arrived in Victorian mallee town Hopetoun looking for fuel and were overcome by a sudden and inexplicable travel weariness, instead of driving on to our planned destination these two (newly) weary travellers decided to stop and look for somewhere to stay.
Luckily for us, Hopetoun delivered. And delivered so well, we stuck around for a couple more days to check it out.
That was Visit #1.
Which we enjoyed so much, in 2014 we sandwiched a week at nearby Wyperfeld National Park between two more Hopetoun stays.
Because travellers (whether weary or not) who use Hopetoun as a base to explore Western Victoria’s mallee region will find AT LEAST five good reasons why Hopetoun Victoria makes it onto our TOP Aussie Town list!
1 Mallee Bush Retreat
Our camper trailer is like having our very own portable micro-nation. It’s the one constant in our travels – we know what’s in it, where everything is, how it works. So it’s a rare day on the road that I’d rather sleep somewhere else.
But who wouldn’t want to sleep in a Silo?
The Silo Cabins are just two of the quirky and inexpensive accommodation options built from local materials like wood, stone and corrugated iron at The Mallee Bush Retreat on the shores of Lake Lascelles.
Even the public loo gets the rustic treatment!!
The Retreat’s brochure description – ‘an ideal stop for not only the weary traveller but people seeking adventure and excitement’ – was a sign, so I suppressed my disappointment at foregoing the pleasures of snoozing in a silo, and we set up on one of the several grassed, powered sites overlooking the lake.
Which with its easy access to an excellent amenities block, camp kitchen, lakeside fire bucket AND low price tag* quickly became one of our all-time favourite powered campsites ANYWHERE!
In fact, cheap powered sites and FREE unpowered sites make Hopetoun an attractive alternative to camping at Wyperfeld National Park (see #5 below) 40 km away on a fully sealed road (to the southern entrance) – since 1 July 2014 it costs between $34-$37.80** for an unpowered campsite.
2 Lake Lascelles
I don’t know from whom I inherited the compulsion to walk around the perimeter of any given (smallish) lake I find . But despite our travel weariness, we soon gave in to the urge to circumnavigate Lake Lascelles’ shores – an easy 30 minute walk.
More if you’re there at sunset or sunrise with a camera handy.
Named for EH Lascelles, one-time owner of local Corrong Station, the lake is always full thanks to the Grampians-Wimmera Mallee Pipeline. And that meant the sensational sunset, sunrise AND moonrise reflections had me regularly jostling for the best vantage point. Yes, my friends, that’s why I have elbows!
Pilchard’s elbows get used if anyone’s between him and a clear view of the birds that find the lake an attractive home, or in the case of avian weary travellers – staging post!
And at night, the welcoming glow of campfires all around the lake tells us we’re (sadly) not the only weary travellers to have discovered this killer campground!
3 The Bow Bakery
Where does one go when the energy-depleting effects of exercise, exploration and elbow-nudging takes their toll on ones energy reserves?
In Hopetoun that’s an EASY question.
The Bow Bakery, of course!!
An off-shoot of the bakery in nearby town Rainbow (RainBOW bakery, geddit?) it’s another reason why weary travellers might want to break their journey in Hopetoun.
And then visit Rainbow for a go at the original Bow!
It’s a little off the beaten track if you’re not visiting the northern section of Wyperfeld National Park (see below), unless you’ve heard of Patchewollock’s BIG attraction – and my all time favourite Australian BIG THING – the BIG Malleefowl!
Since my only visit to this awesome creation a few years ago, my complimentary*** copy of The Little Book of Big Aussie Icons tells me there are now TWO Big Malleefowl – with rumours they’re going to breed, which means eggs and chicks in the future.
And surely that’s something to excite even the most jaded of weary travellers. If not, then maybe this isn’t the blog for you 😀
5 Wyperfeld National Park
The day of Hopetoun Visit #2 was actually meant to end at Wyperfeld National Park.
Ever since a day trip on Visit #1, we’d planned to return to this mallee wonderland, one of several Victorian Mallee National Parks collectively covering over 1,000,000 hectares.
But another attack of lethargy-inducing travel weariness forced (!) us to settle for somewhere with facilities to recover from our exhausting ~6 hour drive (including bakery stops – Lameroo is GOOD!).
One night turned into two – but in our defence, Hopetoun’s excellent main street was the perfect place to stock up with supplies for a few nights in the mallee wilderness.
And so the long weekend we’d planned for Wyperfeld turned into a week!
Spending 7 days in Wyperfeld was easy.
We hiked the Desert Walk through a strangely beautiful fire-ravaged dune system, recovering from the summer bushfires 6 months before. We walked through spinifex and sand dunes to Mt Mattingley lookout on the Discovery Loop, explored the Park’s history at the Visitor Centre, and its habitats on the Tyakil Walk. We climbed Flagstaff Hill at sunset and drove the Eastern Lookout loop, searching for Mallee Fowl on the Lowan track.
And sometimes we just walked along the roads.
While the park and surrounding area is a 4WD mecca, that meant our walk/rest/eat/sit-around-the-campfire-when-your-travels-make-you-weary lifestyle in the zero degree night air (it WAS mid-winter!) passed relatively undisturbed.
But if you want to know what avid 4WD enthusiasts talk about around the campfire after a hard day on the tracks, then you’ll have to come to Wyperfeld on a long weekend too!!
If sand dunes, space, spinifex, solitude and scenic loos – the Wonga Campground loo is in MY BOOK – aren’t your thing, then Wyperfeld probably won’t thrill you as much as it did me.
In which case, head for Hopetoun and hope like hell the Bon Bon Cafe and Takeaway is still serving their killer pizza!
Back in Hopetoun with 8 days of washing piled up, a pantry ready for re-stocking and two weary travellers in dire need of a shower we reclaimed our site at the Mallee Bush Retreat and sat back waiting for the sunset. Then the moonrise.
Two more nights, and we reluctantly left this little gem in the middle of the mallee despite so many reasons to stay. But many reasons to stay means we know we’ll be back!
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- Hopetoun, Victoria
- The Mallee Bush Retreat, Hopetoun Victoria
- Wyperfeld National Park, Victoria
- The BIG Malleefowl, Patchewollock and MORE Aussie BIG Things
- My FIRST trip to Hopetoun, Victoria
- MORE Victoria Mallee Photos on Flickr
* $20 per night for a powered site; FREE Bush Camping around the lake as at July 2014
** As at 26 Jan 2015
*** Complimentary because MY photo of Ballina’s BIG Prawn is in it!
Next Post: Walk Wild Wilkawillina!
A Day in the Border Ranges National Park