Bright (Victoria)

28/12/2014  Moving on from Brooks Cutting Reserve, we spent two days in nearby Alexandra at the Showground Caravan Park. Despite the name, the setup was more in keeping with standard showground camping than a caravan park, with large shady trees and lots of space to position your van whichever way you wanted. The local caretakers were a lovely couple who lived on site in a bus after losing everything they owned in the Kinglake fire in 2009.

Leaving Alexandra, we headed north along the Maroondah Highway and the Euroa Mansfield Road, through some very lovely farming country. The road became steeper and winding as we dropped down the Strathbogie Ranges and passed Galls Gap off to the right. The blackened aftermath of bushfires that destroyed a few homes in recent days could be seen on the nearby hills as we drove north towards Euroa.

After a quick leg-stretch and refuel in Euroa, we motored north-east on the very comfortable but somewhat dull Hume Highway. I thought it would be very easy to nod off on that road as it’s so flat and straight, with not much scenic variety to keep your attention going. But I had my chewing gum to prevent that from happening!

At Glenrowan, we exited the Hume Highway to check out the Kelly connection, and found the town to be somewhat disappointing – overdone with rather tacky souvenir shops and giant Ned Kelly statues and EVERYTHING labelled with his name, including the streets. I wondered what Ned himself would have thought about how his memory was being used to make a buck. “Such is life”, probably. It was disappointing that with so much history associated with the town, there was so little evidence remaining in terms of buildings from that era. Most other towns seem to have retained many of their historic buildings, but in Glenrowan, we could only view vacant lots or souvenir shops.

Just north of Glenrowan, we exited the Hume Highway and took the Glenrowan Myrtleford Road towards Bright, our next stopover destination. A quick stop on the way at the small village of Milawa saw us picking up some local cheeses, olives and bread to have with drinks that night with Ian and Lesley and Sue in Bright. By mid-afternoon, we were in Bright and setting up camp on a block of land across the road from Ian and Lesley’s house. The land, about an acre or so in size, had an old disused cottage and a few mature chestnut trees on it, and backed on to the Ovens River. Ian had arranged with the owner for us to use the block for as long as we wanted, for the block to be mowed, for a water tap to be installed and for power to be accessed from the neighbouring business. What a guy! And what a camp spot! We set up camp next to a magnificent 100 year old chestnut tree which shades the Kruiser in the afternoon, and provides a wonderful shady bower under its branches during the heat of the day.

Over dinner on Christmas Eve, we met Ian and Lesley’s lovely friends, Eddy and Sabina, and we all had a very enjoyable evening. It’s great to meet people that you immediately feel at ease with and get along with so well. A few days later, we visited them for coffee at The Buckland Luxury Retreat, their accommodation business nestled in the picturesque foothills of Mount Buffalo.

The delicious Christmas dinner of duck and ham with Ian, Lesley and Sue was wonderful and, for me, was topped off by the traditional Christmas pudding containing threepences and sixpences bought from the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra when we visited. Just like Mum used to make. Hope I won’t have to wait another 39 years for coins in the ‘Pudd’.

Bright is a lovely town, in a very picturesque alpine setting. At this time of year, the daytime temperatures are around 30°C while the nights are down to around 13ºC. On both sides of the Ovens River is a very scenic walk called Canyon Walk which we did late one afternoon. We’ll be staying at Bright until mid-January, as a base for day trips to the many nearby towns and tourist attractions around this north-east corner of Victoria, including to Mt Kosciuszko so I can tick the Highest Point off my PEPOMA List.

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