As increasing numbers of grey nomads seek to escape the hustle and bustle of the crowded coastal routes, inland towns such as tiny Edenhope in Victoria are suddenly finding themselves on the Big Lap map.
Situated half way between Adelaide and Melbourne on the shores of beautiful Lake Wallace, the attractive town is becoming a big hit with birdwatchers and travellers alike. It’s a convenient base from which to explore the surrounding countryside and to take day trips to the myriad of attractions and beauty spots nearby.
Set amidst the undulating landscape of the Victorian Outback, the town was established in 1862 and still has a population of less than 1,000 people. Its focal point is Lake Wallace, which is a renowned haven for waterbirds.
The best way for binocular-clutching grey nomads to spot species including Black Swans and Great Crested Grebes is to stroll along the 5.5-kilometre walking track which wends its way around the lake. There is even a jetty from which grey nomads can dangle a line to catch dinner. When it’s full, the lake is actually a great spot for fly-fishing for redfin and trout.
Edenhope is also well known in some circles as the place where, in 1868, Australia’s first all-Aboriginal cricket team trained. A cairn in Lake Street honours the achievements of this early sporting outfit.
This is the administrative centre of the West Wimmera shire and the town’s facilities include a bank, hotel, post office restaurant and shops.
IN THE AREA
To the north of Edenhope is the 132,000-hectare Little Desert National Park. Despite its name, this is not really a desert at all, but a semi-arid landscape. In the season, it comes alive with wildflowers and it is also home to an abundance of plant and animal life. Indeed, around one-ﬁfth of Victoria’s native ﬂora can be found in the park.
As you would expect, there is also a wide variety of lizards, possums, kangaroos and even sugar gliders in the area … but this is really a ‘twitcher’s’ paradise, More than 220 species of birldife have been recorded here and, if you are really lucky, you may even catch a glance of the rarely sighted Malleefowl.
There are some fantastic camping areas in the park and some excellent bushwalks, too. Stringybark Walk, the Sanctuary-Keith Hateley Nature Walk and the Pomponderoo Hill Nature Walk are all relatively undemanding, but offer great insight into the area’s character.
The Jilpanger Flora & Fauna Reserve, which is about 40 km east of Edenhope, is another place well worth a visit. The area, which is full of sandy heaths and numerous Brown Stringybark and Yellow Gum trees, is unsurprisingly also a magnet for birdwatchers. Species such as the Bush Stone-Curlew, Grey Currawong, and Golden Whistler can all be spotted here.
Just half an hour drive from Edenhope along the Wimmera Highway are the Narracoorte Caves a World Heritage Listed fossil site. They are home to more than 100 known fossil deposits, and preserve the bones of megafauna that became extinct some 60,000 years ago. Naracoorte Caves is Australia’s most complete fossil record for the past 500,000 years.
Like so many places within striking distance of Edenhope, Narracoorte is a place you will always be glad you visited.
Who needs the hassles of the coastal crowds? This is what being a grey nomad is all about!
MAKE SURE YOU
Visit the nearby Coonawarra Wineries; explore the famed Narracoorte Caves; see the green granite outcrops at Bailey’s Rocks; take a bushwalk at Mount Arapiles; walk around Lake Wallace; go fishing at Lake Charlegrark.
WHERE TO CAMP
Lakeside caravan park in Edenhope itself; basic camping facilities are provided at Kiata, Horseshoe Bend, and Ackle Bend. in Little Desert National Park; Bailey’s Rocks Campground 30km south-west of Edenhope is a peaceful spot; great free camping is available at Lake Ratzcastle Camping Area just south of Goroke.