We had almost finished packing up and hitching the caravan to the truck when light rain started to fall in Wagga Wagga so we moved quickly to finish and jumped into the relative warmth and dryness of the vehicle and headed toward the Olympic Highway on our journey south to Beechworth.
Once on the Olympic highway we travelled through Uranquinty, The Rock, Yerong Creek and Henty before arriving at Culcairn (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culcairn) where we had decided to stop for a coffee. We pulled into an indicated Rest Area only to realise too late how small the area was. In order to turn the combination of vehicle and caravan around, a lot of toing and froing was needed; when we finally extricated ourselves we parked along the street near a roadside garden and had our break.
Onward again through the drizzle we reached the junction of the Olympic and Hume highways and continued on toward Albury Wodonga on the Hume. We crossed the Murray River and passed from New South Wales into Victoria. The address of the Lake Sambell Caravan Park (http://www.caravanparkbeechworth.com.au/) had been keyed into the Navman and we were directed off the M1 on to road C315 to take us on to Beechworth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beechworth) where we arrived at 12:10pm in continuous drizzle to a very wet park.
There were four vans cued at the office in front of us so we had a short wait to book in; when we had completed the formalities we were shown to our site and assisted to park by a Drizabone-clad (http://www.drizabone.com.au/) gentleman on a four wheel drive motorbike. After we had parked we set the van up in the mud and rain for our three day stay in town. After having some lunch we went into the business centre in search of fruit and vegetables (carrying fruit and some vegetable across state borders is restricted and it is wise to consume all affected produce before crossing the border).
When we awoke Monday morning it was wet and the rain continued until mid-morning. We had decided to visit Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain so we rugged up and drove out of Beechworth toward Myrtleford and the Great Alpine Way. Once on the highway we drove east quickly reaching Myrtleford, Porepunkah and Bright as the weather cleared and the rain ceased. Traveling through Bright we soon reached Harrietville at the foot of the mountains.
Hoys Ski Hire (www.hoysskis.com.au/) also hires snow chains so we called in to check that the road over the mountain was clear (to ensure we didn’t need chains), our nephew had advised us that people who had driven up from Bright that morning reported a clear road but we checked to make sure.
Before tackling the mountain we had a break and had a look at the sights of Harrietville (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrietville,_Victoria).
As we drove on the road immediately began to climb and was very winding with advisory signs suggesting speeds around 30 to 35 kph in many places; we drove past Graveyard Gully (elevation 1050m), True Blue Gully (elevation 1165m) then up to Mt Hotham (http://www.mthotham.com.au/) with an elevation of1861m;
then down to Dinner Plain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinner_Plain,_Victoria) (our ultimate destination) with an elevation of 1590m. There was snow around Mt Hotham and more is predicted in the next few days but nothing at the lower levels on the day we visited (but again snow was predicted in the next few days).
We caught up with our nephew and his wife, who run an accommodation service in Dinner Plain (http://www.dinnerplain.com/) managing a large number of residential properties in the village. We enjoyed lunch at the local hotel and after a few hours catching up we headed back down the mountain. We stopped for a late coffee at a delightful little establishment Cherry Lane in Bright (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cherry-Walk/316475325178934) before heading back to the caravan in Beechworth.
Tuesday morning we decided to talk a walk through Beechworth to see the sights of this historic town. There are many historic buildings in town and the retail establishments in the CBD area have all tended to maintain historical features which makes the town very attractive.
We visited one of the two Beechworth Honey Experience (http://www.beechworthhoney.com.au/beechworth_honey_experience.html) shops in town. Explore bazaar shop selling cheaper items, looked at lovely clothing made from Alpaca wool and Merino wool, checked out the greengrocer in an unsuccessful search for Persimmons.
We enjoyed coffee and cake at the original Beechworth Bakery (http://www.beechworthbakery.com.au/)
and then explored the Beechworth Sweet shop (http://www.beechworthsweetco.com.au/) to be enthralled by the variety of sweet sensations available for purchase.
The Beechworth Visitor Information Centre (http://www.beechworthonline.com.au/pages/home/) is housed in the old town hall built in 1888 and provides a great variety of information to assist tourists to enjoy their stay in Beechworth or to gather further information for travel further afield.
HM Prison Beechworth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HM_Prison_Beechworth) still stands and tours of the old prison are conducted on a regular basis (http://www.beechworthgaol.com.au/) but the facility was closed when we were in town. The old prison has associations with Ned Kelly (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ned_Kelly) and the Kelly Gang and was where Ned was held pending his murder trial in 1880. Members of his family were also incarcerated here. A new facility has been built (http://www.corrections.vic.gov.au/home/prison/beechworth+correctional+centre.shtml) to house prisoners today.
There are a number of museums in the town for the interest of visitors including a carriage museum (http://www.beechworthcarriages.com/) which provides town tours via horse and carriage generally only on weekends and public holidays. The wet and dismal weather was not conducive to such activity today. Bridge Road Brewers (https://bridgeroadbrewers.com.au/) also operates a boutique brewery in town but we didn’t visit during our stay.
The weather is wet and dismal with cold winds predicted for later this evening with the possibility of snow. At some stage, during a break in the rain, we will raise our awning in preparation for our move on to Shepparton tomorrow.