ACTing on impulse

8 Feb

One car, two people, three states and four different places to sleep. That’s what happened when a conversation on the beach one evening turned into a fully fledged plan to go and visit Will and Is at her sister’s in Wangaratta and make the most of James’ Monday business trip to Canberra.  An ambitious plan to head to Gippsland to explore more areas where one day we might want to buy somewhere and then see Will and Is at their home near Melbourne morphed into something a bit more manageable when they said they would be visiting Chloe and we should join them there.

We set off Friday afternoon, escaping a wet Sydney rush hour and headed to a farm stay, booked that day, just south of Gundagai. From there, we headed south-west to Wagaratta , visiting Beechworth on Saturday and Milawa on Sunday, from where we drove along the Alpine Way through the Snowy Mountains to stay at an Alpine ski lodge in Threadbo that evening. On Monday we drove to Canberra where we stayed that night, completing the journey back to Syndey on Tuesday morning – a grand distance of almost 1500 km.

Waking up in Gundagai on Saturday morning to clear blue skies and a view across farmland and hills did wonders for the soul after a week of rain storms in Sydney.

Heading over the border into Victoria we were greeted by Will, Is, Chloe and the two children as well as a day promising 32 degrees. First stop was Beechworth, an old gold rush town in the heart of Ned Kelly country. This was an important trip as Will needed to go to the Bridge Road Brewery – a place with an award-winning list of beers – which of course, had to be sampled. No prizes for guessing who drove back. After dinner at Chloe’s on Saturday evening, James and I headed back to our B&B round the corner: one of our more Australian experiences with hosts who were as close to a ‘Sheila and Bruce’ as we’ve found yet.

Bev and Don showed us to our very clean but very frilly room and what they don’t have in the way of nik-naks is clearly not worth having. Breakfast was eaten with a background accompaniment of country music and their life histories (they’ve both driven trucks and now have thirteen grandchildren). The B&B was called Linger-a-While. Sadly, it’s what we didn’t do as there was a winery to visit. We met Will, Is and the gang for coffee and then drove out to Milawa: a one-road town yet probably boasting more gastro-delights per square inch than Dijon and becoming known as the gourmet capital of the region. We only got to sample the cheeses at the cheese factory and the mustards and chutneys at the mustard shop before heading to Brown Brothers Winery, where Chloe is one of the wine-makers. Needless to say, lunch at the restaurant there was very good and there was no debate over what wine to order; it was clearly stated next to each meal, which wine would be served.

We sadly couldn’t indulge as the next part of the journey took us through the winding roads of the Snowy Mountains where we stopped over at a ski resort called Threadbo.

There was no snow on the ground but we watched storm clouds roll in as we drove and the temperature gauge drop steadily as we climbed; it was a fresh eight degrees when we got there and lashing down with rain! We had breakfast on the road on Monday as we drove across the border into ACT (Australian Capital Territory) as James needed to be in Canberra in time to visit the joint forces HQ and then attend a seminar on anti-submarine warfare that evening. He still had a couple of hours to see some of the sights and we went to see the War Memorial from where you can look out across to Parliament House. When James left to go and listen to Admirals talk war business I went to see Parliament House and walked down to lake Burley Griffin, which I discovered is the place to go for a post-work workout if you’re in Canberra.

The capital is just that: government buildings and lots of office blocks. Clean and clinical but lacking the stunning setting of Sydney and the cosmopolitan feel of Melbourne – and lacking a beach (needed that day when it topped 33 degrees). We also found if you’re looking for somewhere to go out and have a bite to eat or drink after 7 o’ clock, you’ll struggle.

For an impromptu road trip we got to see some stunning parts of Australia neither of us have yet visited, catch up with friends and taste some very good food and drink. It’s not exactly on our doorstep but it’s certainly good to know it’s in our new backyard.

All the photos from the trip are in the Photo Gallery.

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