Passport to the World over 64 years. Pages from my Travel Diary
A Visit to the historic town of Beechworth in North Eastern Victoria. 2nd - 4th. July 2003
A telegraph pole burnt in half by the onrushing bush fire
On the spur of the moment we decided to make a two day visit to Beechworth,
about 300 kilometers north east of Melbourne. A quick visit to the internet
brought forth a likely place to stay there, the Country Charm Swiss Cottages. A
phone call confirmed a booking in their Special Occasions Cottage for Wednesday
and Thursday the 3rd. and 4th. of July.
On Wednesday morning we took off about 10 AM, making our way up the Hume
Highway, the route one takes to reach Sydney. A stop at Eurora for lunch, thence
north to Wangaratta, a turn to the right, to arrive at Beechworth about 2.30
These five charming cottages nestle on a hillside looking to the NE, with a
great view of the surrounding hills and countryside. Our cottage at the bottom
of the hill opened up to a living and kitchen area with a paved floor, and
featured a large open fireplace, see the accompanying photograph. A spacious
bedroom with a canopied queen sized brass bed beckoned, off it, a bathroom
fitted with a spacious luxurious corner spa that would obviously be used each
morning of our stay. The cottage nicely appointed, and we were very pleased with
Outside view of our cottage in
Breakfast supplies were either in the
fridge or in the basket. Fresh farm eggs, bacon, orange juice, milk, bread,
butter, jams, two cereals, rolled oats for porridge, museli, tea coffee etc, all
well thought out, and the necessary utensils all there. I said to Denise, " I
bet there isn't an orange/lemon squeezer in the cupboard" absolutely wrong,
there was, everything one needed had been thought about and provided.
In many years of travelling this world of
ours, and staying in all sorts of accommodation, we have found this one to be
quite lovely. We have no hesitation in commending this site to anyone wanting a
few days away in a romantic setting where your needs have been anticipated.
A view inside our cottage at
January 2003 Bush Fires.
This area was in the midst of
the devastating bush fires last January. Beechworth was threatened on two
fronts, to the west, a fire raged about 5 kilometers away, and out to the east a
second fire front roared along a few kilometers away. The wind fortunately swept
these fires along parallel to the town, but I understand the local populace were
all packed, they were under threat and ready to evacuate over a ten day period,
the closest the fires came only some 1.5 kilometers away.
Beechworth ringed by the Bush
Fires on the 21st. of January 2003
This whole area was threatened, the towns of Stanley, Yakandandah,
Myrtleford, whilst Bright was literally saved from destruction by some very
determined and courageous fire fighters on three separate occasions. Thousands
fought the fires, being drawn from New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania,
Queensland the Australian Armed Services, New Zealand, even 35 specialist fire
fighters were flown in from the United States to assist. 40 aircraft were used
for reconnaissance purposes, mapping, and water bombing.
Fireman fighting Bush Fires,
Thousands of sheep and cattle were lost, 41 homes
burnt down, 3,000 kilometers of fencing destroyed, and over a million hectares
of parklands, state forests and farmland burnt. The toll in monetary terms,
$Millions, for farmers, small business and tourism operators.
It was the discovery of gold at
Woolshed Creek in 1852 that sparked the mad invasion of gold seeking miners, as
thousands flocked here to seek their fortune. Over the next ten years, some
4,121,918 ounces of gold were prized from the surrounding area, and it was
continually mined until 1920. The town was at first named Mayday Hills, and then
it was later changed to its current name Beechworth.
A gaol was built which still operates as such, and a facility for the
Mentally ill named Mayday Hills catered for 1,000 patients, it closed in 1993,
and its 11 hectares of Heritage Gardens with its associated buildings was
purchased by La Trobe University in 1997, to be used as an External Learning and
Conference facility with 200 available beds.
The main street of Beechworth
with the post office and its clock tower, the old bank on the other corner now a
shop specialising in gold sales
The infamous Australian Bush Ranger Ned Kelly,
with his Mother Ellen went on trial at the Beechworth Courthouse many years
Situated in Camp Street, is the local
Bakery, it opens seven days a week from 6 AM to 7 PM, to draw an amazing throng
on a daily basis. We literally had to fight our way to the counter to place an
order for some of the tempting goodies available. Thursdays being particularly
busy, as out of town buses arrive, crammed with Senior Citizens anxious for
coffee and cake on their arrival here, the Bakery being on their must see route.
Up stairs can cater for some 200 visitors, and it was crammed to
We were fortunate to have really glorious
weather, the morning sun bursting through our our cottage windows, and the
view to the distant hills across the valley all very idyllic.
We came home along a different route,
visiting Milawa and its local cheese factory, to purchase some of the local
produce etc, through Oxley and the King Valley to Whitfield, over the mountain
range with its magnificent views down the valleys, on to Mansfield. Then via
Alexandra, where Denise happened to have been born, to Buxton where she went to
the small school, the only girl in a class of about 15, over the Black Spur
range with its glorious Mountain Ash trees and roadside ferns to Healsville, and
Melbourne to home.
All in all, an inspired choice, and a wonderful two days away in the
lovely Australian bush and at Beechworth.
The romantic Bedroom at
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