Chinese Memorial Bridge
Commemorating the significant Chinese population that settled and worked here during the Gold Rush.
Our first house sit in Wyndham had lasted a little under two weeks. It was a memorable first kick at the can, and I think it was useful to get the largest menagerie of animals out of the way in the beginning because from here on out the work load will be much less time consuming. Having to look after a dozen animals at once is pretty time consuming, and having to be back at set times in order to put the birds away and give everyone their night time meal put some constraints on our ability to explore Melbourne as thouroughly as we wanted too. Hopefully we will be able to swing through again on this trip. Now that this first sit is over I must admit it was a lot of fun hanging out with the sheep and ducks. Now we are on the way to a little AirBnB a few hours away in the Alpine National Park region, near Bright, to the little village of Wandillagong. This area is one of the only places that actually snows in the winter and has a few ski lifts.
We took a train, then a bus to the
town of Bright. It was about 4 hours total transit, and the ride took us out of Melbourne's Southern Cross station heading northeast. As we got closer to the Australian Alps, the rolling hills gave way to deep valleys of trees. Large pastures of sheep and cattle, as well as vineyards and charming small towns surrounded us on the bus ride in. After spending so much time in urban and suburban areas I really felt like I was getting back to nature being deep in a forest for a change. We arrived at Bright around 6 and had a quick bite to eat. Some pizza from a local bar. Very tasty after a long bus ride. Bright is an old community established during the Gold Rush era in Australia, but now serves as a tourist hub for travelers visiting the park. It reminds me of Jasper in it's rustic charm. In the busy season the towns small population goes from 3000 to 30,000 from tourism alone. Now was not the busy season, and it was pretty sparse, with some small groups of travelers there to enjoy the fall colours. After we finished our food we purchased some provisions from the
IGA and set out to find a ride to our AirBNB.
Finding this ride proved to be easier said than done. We were pretty out of the way already, so an UBER was not going to work. We found the number for the local Taxi service, but when we called it was sending us straight to voicemail. This didn't bode well. We were able to reach the dispatcher in another township, looking for alternatives, but they were too far away to serve us. It was approximately 6 pm by now, and the sun was starting to set. It was a 6km hike to our place. We looked at our options and decided that we should set off on foot and see if we could flag down some help going our way. So we started walking the road in full gear. The walk was a little longer than an hour, and for a long stretch of it we were in close to pitch black, relying on the lights of the passing cars as well as a battery powered headlamp I packed for just these kind of occasions. We followed the sidewalk in single file, trudging along, until we
eventually made it to our cabin. While the walk was pretty exhausting it was a good experience, and I was thankful that our heavy packs stayed comfortable throughout.
When we arrived we actually had a bit of trouble getting in touch with our host (Straight to voicemail) And our phones were running on low, so we spent a few frustrating minutes searching for our address. It wasn't until we came across another guest staying in the same place did we know we had finally found the place. A rustic cabin tucked behind the remains of the old general store. It was simple, but exceedingly comfortable, with decent wifi and an old wood stove. After our hike through the dark it felt downright luxurious. This would be our home for the next few days.
After a good nights sleep we ventured into the park, where we took a walk through the area that had been settled by miners during the Gold Rush days of Australia. The countryside was beautiful. Rolling hills with tall alpines on either side of the valley encased us. It's early fall and there were some trees that were changing their colours
already, while others were still vibrantly green. We walked the path, coming across the remains of old mine sights as well as memorials to the people who worked the hills. I've attached some pictures of the area were were in. Everywhere was very picturesque. When we arrived back at the cabin we chopped some wood and set to work on dinner. A BBQ under the stars. We didn't want to walk back to Bright at the end of our stay, so we tracked down the number of an alternate taxi service from town, one that actually worked this time, and he would pick us up and take us back to the bus stop.
The day after was spend exploring another local attraction. The area is home to Australia's largest living hedge maze, and when we heard that mini golf was also involved we knew we had to check it out. We knew the maze would be somewhat spooky, but we weren't prepared for the reality. Inside the maze the walls had grown some four to five metres off the ground, and the thin rows let in very little light. We were tasked to find two towers as well as two flower displays hidden in the twists and turns. We spent a few hours creeping through the dense shrubbery. I have a pretty well developed sense of direction, but more than once we had to double back to look for a better route. We were successful in our tasks eventually, and so we scrambled for an exit. Onwards to Mini Putt.
The course was similar to the maze, insofar that you could describe both as rather bush league, though for different reasons. The Mini putt had seen better seasons. The nine short holes of uneven greens and poorly engineered obstacles was over soon. Our game ended in a tie, though we both has equally embarrassing handicaps. After the match we headed to the tea room for some refreshments. A coffee and an orange juice. It was as quaint as a thing can get. That night we fried up some more BBQ and set in to watch a movie. Tonight it was John Wick 2. If you liked the first one you will probably enjoy this one, as it was basically more of the same. Good stuff though, Keanu is a machine. It rained hard all night, and it got a little spooky. At one point the winds blew our door clear open to the storm and for a moment we were ready to repel some invaders, but none came. We were the only people staying on the grounds, as far as we could tell, and it was nice to be able to get out of the urban environment for a change. Harmonie had found us another house sit near Melbourne, so the next morning we were to set off back to the city. This weekend we would be too king after two cats and a dog in a suburb north of Melbourne.
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