JustClik News and Blogs

Views, news and features about the Goulburn Valley. Showcasing a variety of local writers and their views.

Ruffy Produce Store — Yum!

Ruffy Produce Store — Yum!

The produce store is primarily a laid back eatery. Pretty plain vanilla but a hoot. The menu is simple but the food good. Wait staff are also a hoot, especially the visiting Italian. A little on the chaotic side (the bill included three glasses of wine instead of three bottles) but a fun evening. Next day we returned and had a light lunch under the trees outside.

A great day trip from Shepparton, taking a little over 1 hour to drive.  The most direct route is via Longwood and the easiest is through Euroa and down the freeway.

Definitely a tour worth taking. Don't foget to book.

More information: JustClik here.

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G'day, G'day ... Where's the Cow?

G'day, G'day ... Where's the Cow?

Just Clik can proudly say it has found Peter Russell-Clarke's robot "pretend" cow, famous for starring in Pete's 1980s TV adds.  And it's here in Shepparton!

The "pretend butter" cow was the brainchild of an advertising company explaining the benefits of "natural" butter over "artificial" margarine.

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A Holden Hatchback on Steroids

A Holden Hatchback on Steroids

Shepparton's resident Torana aficionado, Neil Heard, has taken his Holden obsession to a whole new level.

Neil posted on FaceBook today photos of his newly acquired SS Torana "Hatch Hutch".  These camping/tent thingamejigs were all the rage in the 1980s and had long faded into obscurity.

Neil found a supplier of reproduction hutch and proudly shared his backyard photographs this week.

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Old Boundary Hotel Cruise

Old Boundary Hotel Cruise

Old Boundary Hotel, 2 Milroy Street, Bendigo — 123km, 1hr 28m

This is one of my favourite cruises because of the literal pot of gold at the end of the rainbow — beautiful food.  I have been visiting the Old Boundary Hotel for a number of years and the food has always been consistently excellent.

The Boundary's steaks are something.  Prices start around the $30 range.  The seafood and pork dishes are also hard to pass up.  And for those who aren't so hungry, there's a range of entree dishes and salads to suit.

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Longleat Winery Cruise

Longleat Winery Cruise

Longleat Winery, 105 Old Weir Rd, Murchison — 31 minutes drive from Shepparton

Longleat is a picturesque Victorian vineyard on the west bank of the Goulburn River at Murchison. The 16 hectare property grows Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes for premium red wines and Semillon and Riesling grapes for delicate white wines. There are 9 hectares under vine with room to extend plantings to around 12 hectares.

The oldest vines are 27 year old Shiraz from which we produce our premium red. The Cabernet, Semillon and Reisling vines date from the early 80's.

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The Sandman was a Love Child

The Sandman was a Love Child

Legend tells us that an entire automotive culture came from a mistake.  The run of Holden's uprated utilities and panelvans — Sandman — from the 70s is said to have started with an error on the floor of the Holden factory.

Many a terrified father can testify to that sinking feeling when the latest suitor turned up in a panelvan to take the daughter out to the drive-in.  Upgraded sound systems, mirror balls and shag pile carpet were part of the common treatment.

The yarn goes that in 1974 a GMH production guy wrote down the wrong codes for the next day's utility builds.  Instead of it being a regular build he wrote down the Monaro GTS code, R268, for the ute.  Half a day later a gleaming metallic green ute, complete with sports pack was sitting in the lay off area with people admiring it but scratching their heads.

The Sandman had been born by accident completely out of wedlock of the normal production rules.  It was an oddball that won the hearts of those on the shop floor and would soon prove to be a profitable line for Holden.  And soon others would follow ... creating their own version of Aussie iconology.

The Sandman captured the sex, surf and sand zeitgeist of the era perfectly, fanning a panel van customisation fad that lasted for a little while, and prompted Ford and Chrysler to release their own competitors – the now-forgotten Sundowner and Drifter. 

Powerful dealer Kevin Dennis had heard about the ute and immediately ordered half a dozen — the glory days of sports utes and vans were launching an entire culture.  The early marketing of these products was aimed at the youth male.  And the marketing gurus had decided to package it in surf and outdoor culture.  Despite the obvious reasons for owning a mobile bedroom, the Sandman had appeal as a recreational vehicle.

Holden got to work on completing the package with striping, bucket seats and sports rims.  The inspiration for the HQ Sandman stripes came from a US model the Pontiac Judge (which looks a bit like a Monaro).

The cool guys who owned Sandman's had shelled out nearly 150 per cent over and above the stock panelvan price.  Holden was making huge margins on these "rare" builds.  Next to the party was Chrysler, first with its Town and Country ute.  Again it was an uprated product, derived from a stock ute with bits of Charger and a vinyl roof and striping.

The Chrysler really dipped its toe in the water with the creation of the Drifter.  This was a head-to-head battle for Sandman's market that only lasted from 1977-78.  The Drifter van and ute were put into production and for a short while there was a Charger Drifter.  All of the Drifters had striping.  The van's was seriously over-the-top — making Starsky's Torino stripe pale into insignificance.

Ford's effort, last to the party and by all means a product copy of the Sandman.  it included options from the Falcon GS Hardtop, such as comprehensive instrumentation, bonnet scoops, slotted sports road wheels and driving lights, with side protection moulding´s and rear side glass deleted. Side and rear decals were included in the package.

Holden and Chrysler ceased production but Ford perservered with the last Sundowner appearing during the XD series.  For a short run, Ford also released an Escort panelvan dressed up in Sundowner striping.

One significant marketing effort was made by Chrysler, jointly with Coca-Cola and with Melbourne rock radio station, 3XY, creating the Denim Machine.  It was a Drifter on steroids (see photo) that created a lot of interest over the Summer with one lucky person winning the extreme machine.

And, just when you figured the Sandman was dead-and-buried, it popped up as a concept vehicle.  Holden toyed with the idea back when the VT Commodore-based VU ute range was released at the 2000 Australian International Motor Show in Sydney. Designed by Australian designers Mambo, just one van and wagon concept were shown, before the company elected not to take it into production.

And most recently, the VF series resurrected the old brand to try and maintain some interest in declining Holden sales.  A dressed-up ute and station wagon wearing the Sandman stripes and optional ghastly bright orange shag seat covers and parcel shag.

For me, there is nothing like the original Sandman, with the Drifter and Sundowner coming second and third.  Of the ute builds, the Town and Country by Valiant was the pick of the bunch.  All of them are becoming harder and harder to find in original trim and can pull some serious prices.

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Fine Dining Cruise in Benalla

Fine Dining Cruise in Benalla

If you're looking for a top-quality experience at a gastro pub the North Eastern (known as the Northo) is very, very hard to beat. Often mentioned in good food guides, it has been producing amazing modern cuisine that is well above what you expect from a pub.

An easy drive from Shepparton is rewarded with a warm, cozy athmosphere. Leather lounges and open fire places build the ambience. Tables are set with white tablecloths and silver. It presents as restaurant quality rather than a pub setting. The menu boasts some really interesting meals. Spring lamb rump — albeit seasonal — is a favourite of mine. Other examples include Thai beef salad and pan seared barramundi.

Prices reflect the quality of the food but I would go as far as to say the quality is better than most anything you can find in Shepparton, including Shepp's "restaurants". Most of the produce used at the pub is sourced from local suppliers and the freshness and quality of North East produce sings on the plate.

There's a great range of beers on tap and the wine list also reflects Benalla's positioning as a gateway to the North East winery district. Put this gastro pub on your "don't miss" list. Bookings are a good idea but if you just turn up there's always a chance for a seat.

Contemporary & Modern Cuisine,1 Nunn St, Benalla VIC 3672
(03) 5762 7333
Lunch: Wed-Sat, Dinner: Tue-Sat.

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Barmah Hotel — 1hr 5 mins (63.3.4km) from Shepparton

Barmah Hotel — 1hr 5 mins (63.3.4km) from Shepparton

The Barmah Hotel is of modest appearance but don't let the exterior fool you. Inside is a warm, cozy venue that serves awesome pub food. This hotel is a popular place for car club cruises because of its location on the Murray River and, of course, the grub.

The place really hots up over the Anzac Day week coinciding with the famous Barmah Forest Muster. It's also the closest licensed premises acessing the huge Barmah National Forest and the associated tourism ventures which support the town.

One worthy of a mention is Kingfisher Cruises, which offers travelling “the narrows” where you will experience the timeless, natural beauty and peace of the World Heritage-listed Barmah Wetlands on board MV Kingfisher. Learn from a Eco-guide about the ecology of the area and the about the birds and their habitats including the Azure Kingfisher. Following your cruise enjoy lunch at the Barmah Hotel.

Barmah Forest too is a gem. It is the largest river redgum forest in the world. It presents a myriad of tracks to explore your way to the Murray River banks. Just be careful and respectful of the many aboriginal sacred sites within the forest.

An easy cruise from Shepparton.

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Warby Ranges Day Trip

Warby Ranges Day Trip

This drive is possibly the most enjoyable cruise from Shepparton to the Warby National Park (and Wangaratta if desired). Depart Shepparton out New Dookie Road and maybe have a stop in Dookie, progress via the Dookie Plains and head into Devenish.

This township is a bit like time has frozen with old verandahs gracing the main street. Right from Devenish into the Devenish-Wangaratta Road. As a bit of a diversion keep an eye our for the turn off to Thoona. A tiny town of less than 100 people that has a pub and a shop. The pub serves particularly nice food (call ahead to check for availability). The final leg of the journey is the most interesting.

You will see the road incline and the national park boasts beautiful wildflowers and quite a bit of wildlife. Be careful for roos, wallabies and wombats. The road is sealed and takes you to a nice lookout and picnic point at the top of the Warbys. If you feel up to it there are some nice walks and driving on down the other side of the park will take you to Wangaratta. This is a very picturesque alternative route from Shepparton to Wangaratta that provides loads of visual entertainment.

For golfers there's the fantastic, quirky Jubilee Golf Club and the Wangaratta Golf Club. I prefer Jubilee because it is so different. The greens borough like nothing I've ever played on before — allowing a two foot swing and seeing it take four is mind blowing.

They are very friendly at Jubilee, so if you're not a golfer don't be shy. You can drop in to get a cool drink at the pro-shop or the bar (if its open).

You then have the option to turn around and go back to Shepp over the Warbys again or take the main route from Wangaratta to Benalla and then home.

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