Back south to Beechworth
We headed back south down the Hume Hwy to Wodonga where we took the road into the foothills of the Great Dividing Range to Beechworth. Along the Hume we stopped for morning tea at a rest stop with a small painted water tank, these things are catching on! Some indigenous scenes of a camp fire and the surrounding countryside. It is very green down in these parts, at least compared to the country further north in NSW and Queensland where it is so dry.
In Beechworth we have located ourselves in a great camping ground just out of the town centre beside Lake Sambell. Excellent grassy sites, plenty of room and we are able to have a fire, albeit in a drum which spoils the ambience a bit. The days are warm and sunny but in the early hours of the morning it is chilly, getting down to around 4 or 5 dgs and a blanket is needed to supplement the doona and rug.
Beechworth is an old gold mining centre, gold having been found nearby in 1852. Much of the town is in a sort of physical time warp, the old buildings and street scape is well preserved. Some nice old time shops living beside more modern enterprises such as cafes and restaurants. The local cemetery has an interesting collection of historic graves, including some locals who emigrated to Victoria after fighting in the US-Mexican War and the Civil War. There is also the common occurrence of children, days and months old, who died of diseases in the 1800s that are today easily curable. The cemetery is also the final resting place of over 2000 Chinese who came to work on the goldfields, there is a partially restored temple with 2 chimneys that was used for the burial ceremonies, the burning of messages and other sacrificial items and the letting off of firecrackers to ward away devils.
In our meanderings through the gravestones we stumbled over one John Watt. He was the publican at Wooragee, not far from Beechworth. He had emigrated from Morayshire in Scotland. His claim to fame it seems is that he was shot by bushrangers who tried to rob the hotel on 15 October 1982. He was 39 and died 9 days (sic) later on 25 October 1982. Two of the bushrangers were later hung for the murder in the Beechworth Gaol, which we are going to visit later in our stay here at Beechworth. This John Watt would not be an unfortunate past member of the Watt clan in Brisbane?
The town has an excellent bakery, full of goodies. Have stopped in for lunch at Bilsons an old brewery that diversified into soft drinks and cordials years ago and has now also come back to making craft beers and gin. They have a gin that is golden in colour, it contains some honey and turmeric that gives the colour. It is supposed to be reflective of Beechworth’s golden past. A rather tasty refreshing drop with a dose of tonic and ice to wash down a slow cooked beef ragu pie and salad.
There is also a local honey shop with numerous honeys sourced from all sorts of different tree flowers. We tasted away for some time before selecting some samples to take home, we are getting to the end of our supplies in the cupboard. The Kellys were familiar faces around Beechworth, particularly in the courthouse and gaol! But more of that next time!