Explore the Loddon Valley
Published on 04 March 2019
The sculptures – all, remarkably, made out of spanners – are the work of John Piccoli, who lives with wife Sonia near Boort.
John was born in 1941, but contracted polio when he was eight and spent three years in a Melbourne hospital. He has run the family farm from his wheelchair since his teens.
These days, he and Sonia welcome a constant stream of visitors; the Piccolis’ Spanner Sculpture Garden is just one of the pleasant surprises awaiting travellers in Loddon Valley.
Salute Oliva, also at Boort, is a family-run olive business which has won gold and silver medals.
Swiss-born Peter and Marlies Eicher do everything from tending the 2,150 trees and picking the olives to processing, packaging, transporting and sales. They produce cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, table olives, semi-dried olives, olive oil soap and preserves and tastings are available.
Another popular tourist drawcard is Simply Tomatoes, at Boort, where owners Ian and Marilyn Lanyon grow and market specialty green tomato products.
Several years ago, the Lanyons added Aussie Wool Quilts to their business stable, manufacturing wool quilts, under-blankets and pillows, and Woolly Warmers, therapeutic heat pads made from wool and wheat.
Ian and Marilyn welcome visitors for lunch, morning or afternoon tea, factory tours or as an RV Friendly destination.
The 10-acre Boort Lakes Caravan Park sits on the foreshore of Little Lake Boort, a 72ha body of water which is a mecca for sailors, swimmers, anglers and water-ski enthusiasts.
A walking track around the lake can yield sightings of swans, ibis, pelicans and other birds.
At Pyramid Hill, visitors can walk to, around or over the 187m granite hill which gives the town its name and see a cairn commemorating Major Sir Thomas Mitchell, who discovered this area in 1836.
Pyramid Hill has a historical society, formed in 1965, which has amassed a collection of more than 6,000 significant items.
At Mitiamo visit the wonderful Terrick Terrick National Park an ideal park for a scenic drive, bushwalk or picnic.
Further south at Wedderburn’s Hard Hill Tourist Reserve, visitors can see an old goldmine, watch a working eucalyptus stew pot, used to distil the blue mallee eucalyptus oil, and this is also an RV Friendly Site.
The stew pot is a steam chamber, built to an 1852 design, filled with leaves and water and heated. Vapours condense and the oil is collected.
The General Store Museum is Wedderburn's original goldfields shop with products from the gold rush era, including a coach builder's workshop with the original blacksmith forge and horse drawn buggies.
At Inglewood, the gold rush era architecture of the main street is a fitting backdrop for flourishing antiques businesses; visit the Eucalyptus Distillery Museum that offers visitors a glimpse into the rich history and production of eucalyptus oil.
Nearby, the 11,305ha Kooyoora State Park offers open forest and striking rock formations. It has a network of walking tracks and roads and is home to Melville Caves, once a hideout for a hunted Victorian bushranger Captain Melville.
Bridgewater’s pride and joy is the Loddon River, home to national and international water skiing championships and a popular swimming and fishing spot.
In the south of the Shire, in the heart of the Golden Triangle, sits Tarnagulla, a small town still awash with the flavour of its gold mining days of the 1850s.
Monuments at nearby Moliagul commemorate the discovery in 1869 of the “Welcome Stranger” – at about 72kg, the largest gold nugget ever found in Victoria – and the birthplace of John Flynn, founder of the Australian Inland Mission and the Flying Doctor Service.