Dinner Plain, Shepparton, Bendigo, Hanging Rock
World Trip Two
Tuesday, April 28, 2009: Pearcedale-Dinner Plain, Australia
We drove west from Pearcedale through the grassy plains and eucalypt forests of
South Eastern Gippsland. The broken sky was scattered with ominous dark clouds
but they never rained on us. We stopped in Bairnsdale for lunch and were
pleasantly surprised with the quality and flavor of our food. The food at the
Main Hotel is worth stopping for. I
asked our server about the chef and he said: "Its two blokes, one is from
England and the other is a local boy. But really one is the brains and the other
the brawn." I asked him which one is the brains and he replied: "I hate to say
it mate, but It's the pommie."
For my American friends pommie stands for Prisoner of Mother England. It is a
derogatory term Australians use to describe English people. I know, you would
think, it should be the other way around given Australia's history; but I think
it is a spot of reverse psychology. The term can then be use as such: "Where
does a pommie hide his money? Under the soap." Or skipping your morning shower
and just using deodorant is having a pommie shower. And so it goes on. It
seems that while America forcibly ejected England long ago they still have a
soft spot for the people; at least as bad guys in Hollywood movies. Yet Australia
remained a colony and continues to harbor a grudge.
A happy traveler.
We soon joined the Great Alpine Road which meanders through the Snowy Mountains
and high plains. I am told that Australia is going through an awful period of
drought, but you would never know it from the green fields we drove past. After Omeo, which is a lovely small country town on our way, we came
across a mob of 10 Kangaroos at the side of the road. This
encounter was followed quickly by spotting two Emus. Julia has now seen
both animals used on the Australian coat of arms. Australia is the only country
that eats both of the animals on its coat of arms. Julia sampled Kangaroo at
We arrived at Dinner Plain around 5:00pm and it was covered in two foot of
new snow. I did not expect to encounter snow, so Julia and I were
ill prepared for the cold. But the draw of this beautiful countryside is very
hard to resist; we did the best we could to stay warm.
Wednesday, April 29 2009: Dinner Plain, Australia
We drove up to the Hotham Ski Resort to have a look at the snow conditions at
the top of the mountain. It was magnificent and surprising to see.
The view stretched all the way over to Mt. Feathertop and the Bogon high plains
(pronounced bow-gone) and they were both covered in fresh snow. The
locals were just as surprised about this early snow fall as we were. The shops
and the resort were not open, so we could not find anyone who would rent us
The Star Burger.
The only option was to drive back to Omeo and rent them from the petrol (gas)
station. So off we went back down the mountain to Omeo where we were able to rent skis and to eat the now world famous Star Burger, at
Twinkles Cafe. The
burger's claim to fame is its unadulterated beef patty, pickled beets, bacon,
and star shaped fried egg.
A reluctant looking, but always willing Julia.
This recipe was very common when I grew up in Australia, minus the star shaped
egg, but has been lost
to the formulaic hamburgers produced by the multinational oligopolies. It is hard to
come by these days and so I was very happy to find it again at Twinkles when I
came skiing here in 2007. I described it constantly to Julia since then and so she
awaited its consumption with great anticipation. Julia
was not disappointed; she really enjoyed it, as did Lawrie and I.
When we returned to Dinner Plain we hit the trails with our cross-country skis.
Lawrie gave us lessons on the thin, unstable, and toe-connected boards. It did
not take too long before we were feeling reasonably comfortable on them. It sure
was a great way to get around in the snow covered bush. Finally we
went down a small hill where all three of us ended up head over heels in the
snow. But we really had fun.
On the Road Video
Thursday, April 30 2009: Dinner Plain, Australia
The two head skiing hydra.
After a short walk we donned our cross country skis and slid our way into the
inspiring wilderness. The bright blue cloudless sky contrasted against the
multicolored, winding, and tortured eucalypt trees. Our
world was one of white snowy fields, trees, sliding, and shuffling for three
hours. We came upon a cattle-man's hut and stopped to take a look and have a
Multi colored eucalypt trees.
Before us lay a vast snow covered plain which we took to with our skis and much
gusto. Lawrence led the way cutting tracks through the virgin snow making it
that much easier for Julia and me to follow. Both Julia and I were now really
suffering from our rented boots. As Julia later said: "Let's not do anything
ever again that requires wearing rented boots", and I could not agree
more. Both of us had blisters from the ill fitting footwear. But we pushed on
until my rented ski pole broke in two. At this point I struggled along with the
others for little while longer with the use of only one pole. We stopped for
lunch in a lovely dale. Eating our sandwiches we contemplated the next move. It
was too hard for me to continue or even return with only one pole at my meager
level of cross-country skill. So
Julia and I decided to head for the road and walk back to the village while
Lawrence returned via the snowy tracks.
It was quite difficult even walking on the road in our horrid boots but
eventually we returned, a little sore, but appreciative of our excursion into
the snowy wilderness.
Julia and I decided to return our rented equipment to its home in Omeo. While
returning we saw four wallabies and unfortunately, a dead wombat at the side of
the road. While we did this Lawrence began another of his magnificent dinners.
Tonight's fair was roasted beef, potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, and brussel
sprouts; another lovely meal and day.
Friday, May 1 2009: Dinner Plain, Australia
Brothers in snow.
It was a very lazy day for us; Lawrence on the other hand went out skiing again. While
he slid about the mountain side Julia and I spent the afternoon at the local spa
resort having a massage and soaking in the heated tubs.
The wind had picked up a little, and even though the sun was out it was a
little cooler. We have planned our trip for tomorrow which will include visiting
wineries, Ned Kelly's old stomping grounds, and the old gold town of Bendigo.
Saturday, May 2 2009: Dinner Plain-Shepparton, Australia
Mt. Buffalo from the winery.
The countryside changed from dense eucalypt forests to level fields and
pastures, as we descended from the Snowy Mountains into the Ovens Valley. The
valley is very fertile and has a Mediterranean climate; great for growing
grapes. Our first stop then was at the town of Porepunkah to visit the
Feathertop wines are really good. It was one of those tastings where all of the
wines presented were delicious. Luckily for Lawrence and me Julia seems to have
developed an allergy to wine so she made the perfect designated driver allowing
us to partake of the fruit of the vine. The next stop was the very little town
of Milawa to have lunch at the
Winery. This is a very big and very commercial winery, the very opposite to Boyntons. But the bistro serves stupendous food and
dishes were paired with lovely wines. All three of us feasted on the cuisine and Lawrence and
I sampled many more wines. We were both quite well lubricated after lunch. This
did not stop us from visiting the cheese and chocolate factory just down the
road; a perfect end to a perfect lunch.
Julia and Ned.
Julia and I recently saw a film with Heath Ledger in it about Ned Kelly the
notorious Australian Bush Ranger. A
Bush Ranger is the Australian term for an Outlaw. Because the town of Glenrowan
was on our way and because of our renewed interest in Ned Kelly we had to stop
and take a look at the place where Ned was captured.
A very home made reenactment.
There was a big gun fight at Glenrowan where Ned and his gang, wearing steel
armor, held off the police for many hours. They were eventually all killed
except for Ned who was wounded and taken to Melbourne for trail. He was found
guilty, hung, and then beheaded; it was tough being a criminal in those days.
There really is not much in Glenrowan today, a few tourist shops and fast food
restaurants. But there is the Ned Kelly museum run and owned by a very eccentric
chap called Bob. Bob claims to be related to the chap that made Ned's armor way
back when. But as with everything else about Bob you must take it with a grain
of salt. His museum is like a poor man's Disney version of an unrelated story of
Ned Kelly. But
the show is so bad that it almost makes you want to see it again to make sure
you really had seen it. Not since Julia and I visited Tombstone in Arizona had
we seen such a performance.
You have to see it to believe it; and meeting Bob
worth the price of admittance.
We left Glenrowan for Bendigo where we want to see an example of an Australian
gold town. But because everything is so far away in Australia we only made it to
Shepparton before the golden sun slipped beneath the vast horizon. We found a
place to stay, had a lovely dinner, went to bed and dreamt of headless Bush
Rangers and Bob.
Sunday, May 3 2009: Shepparton-Bendigo-Hanging Rock, Australia
The drive from Shepparton to Bendigo took us through countryside that is
obviously ravaged by drought. The
red soil seemed to permeate every plant and every tree. Australia is in need of
a lot of rain. Bendigo is an odd town full of grand buildings from a time when
it was rich with gold.
It turns out that one third of the total world's gold came from Australia and
this gold region; amazing when you think about it. It is a lovely town to walk
in as it is full of tress and parks. We took the tour 200 feet down into one of
the many thousands of mines near the town. Our guide explained to us the
hardships and daily life of gold miners. The cold, dust, gas, toxic chemicals,
dark, and hard labor made it a very difficult job. I learnt a lot about gold
mining and enough to know it is not for me.
A pesky kangaroo trying to get into a BBQ.
We drove on from Bendigo to Hanging Rock at the base of Mount Macedon. We passed
through more parched countryside but as we drew closer to Hanging Rock the grass
got greener and the tress looked healthy. Mount
Macedon seems to be tall enough to create a micro climate that keeps the area
around it less dry.
Hanging Rock had a moment of fame from a novel by Joan
Lindsay (and then a movie) called: Picnic at Hanging Rock.
But even without this notoriety it is a wonderful place to visit. Like so many
places in Australia time has worked its power via erosion to reveal wonders. The
hard granite left standing today is the remains of a larger, less hard rock,
mountain worn away by slow forces. The granite has been cast into towers and all
manner of shapes. Further erosion has created passages and tunnels that make the
area a labyrinth.
But if you spend the energy to climb it you will be rewarded with fantastic
views of the surrounding area and be exposed to the maze-like passages of
From here we continued our drive to the top of Mount Macedon to see more
splendid views of the countryside and Melbourne City. Then we returned to
Pearcedale and dinner with John and Di; a pleasant end to a wonderful trip
Miles Flown: 8,919
Miles Hiked: 85
Miles Skied: 2
Miles Driven: 2,958
Miles Sailed: 89