February 15 2015
This years Australian Whaleboat Racing Championship will be held on the Hopkins river on 15th of February with an estimated 18 teams competing in this years event. The championship dates back to the 1980’s when Flagstaff Hill Maritime village issued a challenge to the American maritime museum at Mystic Seaport , Connecticut to compete in a whaleboat race.
The event also attracted crews from a number of local Surf Lifesaving clubs, rowing clubs, schools and was initially very successful, prompting the organisers to run a similar event the following year, however subsequent events did not manage to capture the excitement of the first race and after several years the event eventually lapsed.
The last few years have seen the reinstatement of the race and although not on such a grand scale, the event is underpinned by a growing international recreational rowing movement which has seen with the formation of clubs interested in rowing traditional wooden boats with the broad outline of improving fitness and a social method of getting to know the people in the area and have a bit of fun along the way. (See our article on the local St Ayles Skiff group)
Locally Flagstaff Hill have established a whaleboat summer series rowing project which uses the Flagstaff Hill’s fleet of whaleboats to introduce people to the activity of social rowing. Rowers and beginners are welcomed to join the series each year, and many of the social groups involved in the series compete in the days competitions..
The Cobden Miniature Railway Park is a great family day out. Built and operated by the local Rotary and model engineers clubs, the park has a over a dozen model trains running on both 7 inch and 5 inch tracks as well as a 18 hole mini golf course plus a family barbecue area. Neat, clean, well run plus extremely well priced and in fact you can spend an entire afternoon with the family for not much more that $20. This is another one of South West Victoria’s hidden attractions and one of my recommend spots to visit - The only drawback is that it is only open on Sundays during School Holidays, with the next two opening dates of 18th and 25th of January.
With the strawberry season in full swing, the Timboon Strawberry Farm is one of the more decadent places to visit over the holiday season. At present the strawberries are at their best, with some the size of small apples, and there is no comparison with what you buy in supermarkets. This is another one of those out of the way places that doesn't seem to get a lot of publicity - possibly because the locals don't want the tourists eating all those delicious strawberries. The berry farm is located opposite the golf course in Timboon and you can either bring your own container or they can provide one for you.
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village was established during the 1970’s to serve two roles, the first as a local tourist attraction and also to preserve the maritime history of the rugged ( and dangerous) coastline along the Great Ocean Road.
The village is a recreation of what a typical coastal port would have looked like during the 1880’s and while quite a lot of the buildings are new, there are a number of historic buildings that have been dismantled and reassembled on the Flagstaff Hill site.
Flagstaff Hill has also been very careful in maintaing the historic aspect of the village and while there has been pressure to make the village more appealing to tourists by adding theme park type activities, so far these have been resisted, this has however come at the expense of giving Flagstaff Hill a museum like atmosphere with people just wandering around peering into buildings and reading plaques on walls.
Recently Flagstaff Hill has made some concession to tourism and added an evening laser sound and light show which tells the story of the wreck of the sailing ship “The Loch Ard” The show uses a laser projector to project an image onto a large water mist screen in front of the harbour buildings at Flagstaff Hill. Unfortunately, like the old Drive-In movies, the show can’t begin until it is dark enough to see the image, which means that during peak summer holiday season the show doesn’t start until after 9:30 at night..