Travelling around Australia in a motorhome. A story of our travels starting from NSW then through Queensland, across to Northern Territory and Western Australia, then to South Australia, Victoria and finally across the seas to Tasmania. We have enjoyed everywhere we have visited and look forward to setting off again in our motorhome.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Beechworth 7 – 9 November 2013

Went through some magnificent farming country and into Beechworth, an old gold mining town, set in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains. Beechworth is famous for one of its infamous sons – Ned Kelly, but it is much more than that. It has managed to hold onto the past, while appealing to modern travellers – a hard act to balance. A few years ago it was typical of many old towns – abandoned shops and industries closing. The town agreed to restore the old shops in the main street and it hasn’t looked back since. We went on 2 walking tours of the town and got a real sense of the history from the knowledgeable guide – mainly because the buildings and streetscapes still exist. Afterwards we had coffee in a delightful café that Heather loved and which gave her lots of ideas for the charity morning teas she wants to run when we get home.
We sat in the dock where the Kelly’s stood (Ned, his friends, brothers, cousins, uncles and mother) we visited the newspaper store where he read the news, the pub where he drank (and fought) and visited the solicitor’s office he used. In the afternoon we attended a book launch by Peter Fitzsimons on Ned Kelly in the old courthouse. He is a great speaker and brought the Kelly dilemma alive – a villainous hero or an heroic villain?
We had a drive around the district up to the Lunatic Asylum, which was built to house all the people driven mad by the chemicals used in gold refining. An amazing place set on vast acres of sculptured gardens with massive decaying buildings – just right for a music festival! Driving out of the asylum Heather spotted a mother koala with her own Blinky Bill on her back. She walked across to a small tree and climbed up about a metre. What a moment – she stayed there about 10 minutes and we were able to have a clear look at her, the first time we had seen a koala up close and in the wild. There are beautiful creatures and the baby was so cute we had big smiles the rest of the day.
Then onto Stanley, stopping at a wayside farm to buy apples (via an honesty box with a change tin). Stanley is a lovely little hamlet, with all the original buildings surviving, set in beautiful gardens. It is the sort of place you could imagine retiring to, (Peter even looked at an old hall for sale) until you see they still have log fires going in November! Then onto the Celtic Festival – it had all the elements of a great festival, but somehow just doesn’t make it for us. There seems to be a disconnect between the organisers and the public and a confusion about what sort of festival it is and what sort of audience are they trying to attract – lots of traditional Scottish pipe bands, with Irish dancers and pub rock/Celtic bands, but little interaction between them. While we enjoyed it (especially the street parade), we aren’t sure if we will go back again for the festival. However we had a great time in Beechworth and there is a lot more to see around the district for another time.


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