Today began with the most gentle breeze whispering through the saltbush at the Wetlands Boardwalk. Felt the spirit of the water, the birds and my Wiradjuri friends around the stillness of the dawn.
Then it was time to bid West Wyalong farewell and head to the silence of the streets of Barmedman a little way down the highway. This area holds many memories for the descendants of Jessie Muriel McAuley Moore….my children’s paternal grandmother. This is the area where she grew up, discovered she was deaf after a seemingly innocuous cold, but who then made a life of marriage and raising 5 children in Wau, PNG. Beautiful sheep country reflecting a beautiful woman.
We side-tracked to Junee and what a find! The Licorice and Chocolate factory was a real treat. The quirky garden set up and the chance to see the old favourite chocolate freckles being made was a great morning tea stop. We came out with rocky road and spelt licorice….not sure how gluten free this is, but time will tell!
The mighty Murrumbidgee River looked as if there was fresh water, and the Olympic highway drive through The Rock after bypassing Wagga Wagga was very crisp. This section of highway was named after the route of the Olympic Torch relay for the Melbourne Olympics of 1956. There were trains laden with steel heading somewhere construction based, and the long heavy load required 4 engines. Quite a sight to see.
Sadly we missed the fun of the Henty local show, but we crossed the Murray River and then the lovely experience of Chiltern. What a delightful lunch near the old Evening Standard Printing building. This is well-preserved, and the town pride spills onto the narrow main street and historic facades.
The highlight for me was the National Trust house dedicated to the life and writing of Henry Handel Richardson…the nom de plume of Ethel Richardson whose father was briefly the doctor at Chiltern. Her most famous work, which I thoroughly enjoyed many years ago during Australian Literature at Uni, was The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney. The very helpful volunteer cheerfully delayed her trip to the bakery to share her passion for the house time-warped in the mists of time with HHR’s writing desk and a few rare pieces donated from her family in England.
The highlight for Murray was the discovery of headstones of his Simcocks’ relatives at both the Chiltern and Wangaratta cemeteries. AND the sun obligingly came out so he could take the necessary photos to add to the family narrative. Side-tracking was really worth it today!
Then we drove on to our Day 3 destination of Shepparton. Another helpful soul at the Information Centre provided us with the maps of the places we had heard about, and we strolled our way around Monash Park where the MOOving Art installations are permanently displayed. There are over 90 themed fibreglass life-sized cows around the town and surrounding small villages…and some are very humorous, some intriguing and some left us wondering.
So, we are relaxing with a wine or two, some home-made tucker and getting ready for side-tracks tomorrow.