Having lived in Melbourne for a couple of years, even if over a decade ago, we didn’t feel the need to spend time exploring the city again. It was time to take a break from the travelling tourist type approach and do something a little different. Instead of exploring the sights, sounds, activities and tastes of Melbourne and North East Victoria, the next few days were to be primarily focused around reminiscing the past and catching up with friends whom we haven’t seen for many years. Of course we did end up doing some tourist type stuff too…
Our multi day trip down the Great Ocean Road finished up at Anglesea, from where we did an unbroken drive right across to the eastern side of Melbourne, to our previous home town area of Berwick. We showed the boys both houses that we (Mum and Dad and Jonathan) had lived in. Albrecht Ave looks quite different now – it was a new estate (and new house) when we moved there, but now feels like an established area with largish trees and the like! Berwick used to be on the outer edge of Melbourne, and though it still has a bit of a country feel to it in places, there are certainly more housing estates and shopping centres than there used to be.
Beaconsfield is a touch further out than Berwick, and still has that rural feel too it. There we caught up with friends Ray, Julianne, Nathan and Alyssa. It was lovely to spend the evening with them, and for the boys to get to know each other again. Jonathan and Nathan were born in the same hospital, just 3 days apart, though I suspect they don’t remember that original friendship!
Thursday we headed north to the Wangaratta area, but rather than take the freeways, we took the much slower but more scenic route up through Emerald, Monbulk, Lilydale, Yarra Glen, Yea and Benalla. We were reminded how beautiful it is through there, along the edge of the Dandenong Ranges.
At the tiny town of Silvan, we stopped at a couple of cherry picking places, but the costs were excessive – $10 per person for the privilege of picking your own (if you’d call it a privilege!), plus a fairly high cost per kg for the cherries picked. Much to Daniels disappointment, we skipped the picking process, and just bought some; which was the much cheaper option.
The above photo is looking to the mountains behind the town of Mansfield. Mt Buller is not far away also. Lovely area, and worth a few flashback photos pertaining to that locale.
We stopped by Benalla, to have a look at the house we lived in there (our last vic residence prior to moving back to QLD). Quite a nice street it is actually!
Then it was on to Wangaratta, where we caught up with Ian and Michelle, and their daughters Samantha and Janelle. Was great to catch up with you again guys. We spent a couple of years living at the nearby town of Milawa, but our friendship goes back prior to that, to the good old Berwick days!
Friday we visited Milawa, had a look at our old house and even chatted to our old neighbour! Seems not much has changed. The streets look pretty unchanged, as are the cheese factory, woodworking shop, mustard factory and other stores. Some of you may have heard of Milawa, as it is home to the fairly well known Brown Brothers winery.
Milawa, located on the Snow Road, still has that beautiful view up to Mt Buffalo in the Victorian Alps. Brings back all sorts of memories – skiing and 4wd’ing in the snow in winter, camping and 4wd’ing in the other months.
I’ve been reminded how beautiful this area is (though it does get brown in the summer), so I think it’s worth more flashback photos from the year and a half that we lived there…
Matt and Kate, and their three kids Sam, Amy and Josh, live in the border town of Moama. Yes, we actually travelled into NSW, briefly, for the first time this trip! Also friends originally from Berwick, it was great to also catch up with them again Friday arvo. That reminds me of the special ‘apple’ that we took to share for afternoon tea…
On the drive from Wangaratta to Euchuca/Moama, we stopped in at a chocolate factory just prior to Shepparton. We’ve given up stopping at every chocolate ‘factory’, otherwise we’d be the size of houses, but this one sounded interesting – the Chocolate Apple Factory. They have other stuff as well, but they get there name from using apples in a way that we’ve never seen before. They take a fresh crisp peeled apple, dip it in chocolate, then dip it in caramel, then dip/coat it in rocky road! Cut into pieces with a knife (fairly hard to do I found out!), that mixture of chocolate, caramel and fresh apple tastes awesome!!! Won’t be bringing any back to Brissy sorry – the fresh apple content means the shelf life is not long (few weeks). Will be having a go at making them myself though!
Saturday we headed into Echuca, to look around the main street and historic port located on the river. Euchua/Moama are of course on the Murray River (opposite each other), so paddle steamers are an important part of the areas history. Not sure if the lolly shop, and chocolate shop come under the same historic classification (tourist classification yes!), but with our two boys we didn’t have much choice!
Take great care before entering any art galleries in that port area though. We made the mistake of looking in an old guys gallery…. We were informed that not only were the paintings his, but the music was too. Then he happily pointed out the 8 piece painting around the top of the walls, each one about 800x800mm, that formed a painting set depicting the story of an asteroid hitting the earth. But don’t worry, as he says, it’s a happy ending and it all works out OK….. Phew…I was getting worried…. Then he dragged out these percussion instruments – claves, tambourines, and a bell, distributed them out to us and picked up his guitar and started singing for a sing-a-long!!! The most fun we’d have all day he reckoned! Oh dear……that is so not our family style…!
We headed back to Wangaratta by an alternative route – through the towns of Cobram and Yarrawonga. At one point as we were driving along there was this loudish bang/thud noise. I thought it was just Jonathan thumping something, but Nicole thought it was a burst tyre. We pulled over and I inspected the tyres – all OK, but a couple more loud bangs soon solved the mystery. Seems we were being shot at with a shotgun, or perhaps it was just birds they were after… or just an automated noise to keep birds away from crops!
We were heading towards really dark clouds, and the motorhome ended up getting a good soaking from heavy rain around Yarrawonga. On the final leg back into Wangaratta we passed through some flooding across the road, with a cop car there to keep an eye on the 10cm deep water… Lots of leaves and twigs all over the road, so obviously there’d been a good storm in Wangaratta that we missed out on the road (heard later they’d had hail too).
We spent Sat night at Ian and Michelles again, the finale to a lovely few days spent catching up with friends. It is something we should do more often. Thanks to all of you for fitting us into your busy schedules, we really enjoyed the time spent with each family. Next time any of you are in Brissy, please do come and visit.
Next up it is more reminiscing, as we travel over the beautiful Victorian Alps to get back down to the Victorian coastline.