Bill and I are on the road again, this time for a two week jaunt around Victoria.
For those followers who need a little orientation, Victoria is in the south-east corner of the Australian continent, and, although it is the smallest mainland state, it is our most densely populated state. At the outset of European colonisation, it was part of New South Wales, but hived off into an independent colony in 1851, just in time to create massive wealth through the gold rush phenomenon of a few years later. Like NSW, the bulk of its 6 million population live in the capital – Melbourne – with that city having around 4 million occupants at last count.
We set off from our home about 90 minutes south of Sydney, and a couple of hours later, for nostalgic reasons, we stopped in at Gunning for lunch. Population maybe 500, and famous for the place where, in 1824, the explorers Hume and Hovell set off to discover the overland route to Port Phillip Bay (now Melbourne). Today, that route, the Hume Highway, is the major roadway between Sydney and Melbourne, with thousands of freight trucks hitting the tarmac daily. Plus we two in our little Hyundai i30, which we christen “Red Dwarf“. That is to distinguish it from our previous larger vehicle, which we called “Blue Beast“.
Some hours after lunch we crossed the border at Albury, finally coming to a rest for the night at Wangaratta.
This leg was always intended to be a travel day, and the trip meter shows an on-road driving time of 6.5 hours for 600 kilometres (370 mi). We booked into a charming “family” style motel, which was a collection of cabins in bush land, complete with resident animals and birds. The accommodation was clean, brightly furnished, quiet and had a comfortable bed – everything we needed for a interim stop.
We wandered off to a nearby hotel for dinner. The Vine Hotel was established about 150 years ago, with the present building dating from the 1880s. It is located on “Detour Road” if that tells us anything! Inside, its pleasant dining room is eclectically furnished, with an atmosphere suggesting we had stepped back into a previous century. Some of its antique tables and sideboards would be Australian red cedar, others mahogany English imports, all clustered together with art deco lamps and 1950s glass etched mirrors. Out the back, they have a wonderful picnic and playground area for the children. The garden was in full bloom, and I particularly noticed the Acanthus Mollis (Oyster Plant), which we once grew in the days we had a garden. Across the road there was a paddock of cattle. As I approached for a photo, they at first looked curious, but when they erupted into a mini stampede I thought it best to snap a photo and leave them in peace.
Here are another few of the locals we met the next morning.