Don’t you love unexpected places?

We found a delightful place on our travels from our overnight camp at Willows Park RV Park near Rosedale. First though, we got onto Highway 1 heading towards Melbourne. At Morwell, Highway 1 becomes a freeway and it became a double-lane dual carriageway. Richard did enjoy letting the Iveco have its head and I had to remind him that now we are a heavy vehicle since doing the GVM upgrade our maximum speed is 100km/h not 110km/h . He had to back off a bit!

As we passed Morwell we saw a huge open cut coal mine and thought that might be worth a look. We followed signs to a mine lookout but, alas, when we arrived the gates were closed and locked. So, no view of the big hole in the ground at Morwell. We did drive around to check out the Loy Yang power station. The power station generates electricity for Melbourne using coal mined in the open cut mine. Loy Yang provides 30% of Melbourne’s electricity needs. The power Station and the mine operate 24 hours a day 7 days a week and employ 600 people and over 200 contractors.

Disappointed we couldn’t get a closer view of the open cut mine we continued our journey until we came to signs for Yallourn Power Station and Mine. Worth a look. Alas, the gate to the lookout at this mine was also locked. Oh well. No looking at big holes in the ground for us.

The La Trobe Valley is the heart of brown coal mining in Victoria and the three huge open cut mines have a volume of 3 times Sydney Harbour. There is talk of filling the mines with water when they close to mining and using them as water storage. It is estimated it will take 25-30 years for the big holes to fill. Hazelwood Mine closed in 2017, Yallourn is due to close in 2032 and Loy Yang in 2048.

We got back onto the highway at Moe until we took the Nilma exit and headed northwards. What a beautiful scenic drive it was to Yarra Junction. We drove through forest with very tall trees and tree ferns. We passed a timber mill and an interesting apple orchard where the trees were all espaliered to make them easier to pick the fruit.

So what was our unexpected place? As we go along I’m usually the navigator. Who navigates in your RV?

I usually use WikiCamps as I like to click on all the points of interest along the way to see if any of them appeal to us to stop at. This day I discovered a gem, the Blue Lotus Water Garden in Yarra Junction.

The garden is situated on 14 acres and consists of lakes, ponds and waterways with some 3km of walking paths. There are bridges, fountains, waterfalls, lots of little pavilions, a fairy garden, a plant nursery, a cafe and a gift shop.

We drove in and found the car park very full and nowhere for us to park however an attendant waved us forward and we found an overflow carpark at the rear of the property with plenty of room to park our 26’ motorhome. It’s always a bit of a concern when we drive into a carpark as to how we will be able to turn around and back out again!

Allow at least a couple of hours to check out the garden. We had lunch in their cafe and then strolled around the amazing gardens for a couple of hours. You can bring a picnic and eat it under one of the pavilions and we saw a lot of families doing just that. Some of the pavilions even have free BBQ’s for visitors to use.

The garden has been owned by the Cochrane family for over 50 years and started life as a market garden where the family grew vegetables. In mid 1990 Geoff Cochrane decided to diversify and further develop the property into a fly-fishing resort which resulted in the construction of a new dam, ‘Lotus Lake’, and a number of smaller dams and ponds.

A range of water lilies and lotus flowers were planted to beautify the dams and give shelter for the fish. The conditions were perfect for the plants and Geoff decided to commence farming water lilies and lotus as a commercial crop to supplement the cabbages usually grown. The fly-fishing idea was scrapped.

In the early 2000’s Geoff continued landscaping the property and in 2004 developed a retail nursery specialising in water plants. The garden was opened to the public in 2005 and has grown to the 14 acres it is today. Thousands of visitors come to see the amazing water plants each year.

I took so many photos and I’ll let them do the rest of the talking. Suffice to say we loved our visit to this incredible garden and recommend it to all garden lovers.

After walking around for a couple of hours we decided once we got back to the motorhome that it was time to find a camp for the night. We found the Doon Reserve Caravan Park in Yarra Junction and for $45 per night we had a riverside site with power and water.

I took advantage of the power and water to get four loads of washing done while Richard had a nap and a read. The river is very close by and occasionally I saw kids coming back all wet and heading back upstream where they get in then float downstream. I’m sure the water was very cold but they looked like they were having fun.

The Doon Reserve Caravan Park is quite large and has a large percentage of permanent sites as well as unpowered and powered sites. When I went for a wander around the park I discovered it is situated on a couple of bends in the beautiful Yarra River. The river was quite shallow but running very quickly over the stony bottom. Doon Reserve is accessed by driving through the park however it is a Day Use Area only. It had a large grassy area with picnic tables and would make a perfect free camp if the gate was open.

It was just on dusk as I walked around and I was astonished to see a huge population of rabbits. There’d be a group of them and as I approached they’d quickly run underneath a permanent site. Looks like they make their home under there.

Many of the permanents were quite neglected and in serious need of some TLC whilst others were immaculate with beautiful gardens and looked like they were permanent homes. There are two amenities blocks in the park but as we don’t need them I didn’t check them out.


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