Howlong to Bright

Left our lovely campsite on the banks of the Murray River at Howlong after a peaceful sleep the night before. As we were packing up a couple walked past walking their little dog. Richard (Mr Have-a-chat) stopped what he was doing to talk with them and quickly discovered they were from Coleambally and are related to people we know from Leeton. Isn’t it a small world?

We headed south and stopped in the historic town of Chiltern. We cannot remember ever going to Chiltern in spite of having been to most of the towns in the area including Rutherglen, Wangaratta and Beechworth. We stopped for a wander around the historic Main Street and found quirky stores selling home decor, local art works and one selling beautiful childrens clothing. This store was in an old pub and as I wandered through the old rooms I found myself in a lovely courtyard. Growing in the courtyard is a huge grapevine and I discovered it is the largest grape vine in Australia. It’s even in the Guinness Book of Records.

We had parked the RV’s next to a lovely park in front of the visitors centre. One of the shopkeepers had told us to take the short walk through the park to check out their lovely lake. Lake Anderson was built in 1876. The little caravan park has a prime spot right on the edge of the lake.

Chiltern was a delightful stop. Chiltern is located on the Hume Highway and also the Melbourne to Sydney rail line. It is a small historic village with a mining history. The town was surveyed in the early 1850’s. Many of the buildings are listed with the National Trust.

Continuing our meander we headed further south to Beechworth. We have been to Beechworth many times over the years and we love the historic buildings and wonderful boutiques. We’ve had many a fabulous meal at restaurants in Beechworth. Bright is a very popular tourist destination and there are many B&B’s all over town.

We found a park a couple of blocks back from the Main Street. Our first stop was to Beechworth Gold. This historic building on the corner of the Main Street was the original Bank of Victoria Gold Office where most of the gold mined in the area was traded. The building houses a Gold Vault where the gold was stored prior to being transferred to Melbourne. The building and vault were constructed in 1861.

Inside the vault there is a display of over 8,000 names of people who cam to the area during the gold rush. We found Fletcher, Plunkett, Farrell and there is even a Bud (with one D). There is an outline of a huge Shire horse on the wall and the amount of gold that was found in Beechworth was the equivalent weight to 200 of these huge horses. 154 tonnes of gold. That’s a lot of gold!

Of course we had to go to the famous Beechworth Bakery for lunch and enjoyed our pies, wraps and coffee sitting on the upstairs balcony enjoying the glorious weather. There was a slight cooling breeze and it was very pleasant sitting up there and people watching.

Continuing our journey south we passed through Myrtleford and Porepunkah before we came to Bright.

OMG Bright was packed with people. We struggled to find somewhere to park just to go to the visitors centre. We filled up with fuel then eventually found a park in a back street. Sally & I walked back to the visitors centre through the extremely busy park that runs alongside the creek. What a spot. It was packed with picnickers and families enjoying the waterslide, the splash park, the diving board into the creek and just mucking about in the water.

We picked up some brochures and info from the Tourist Centre and had a good chat to the lady there. We talked about places to camp and told her we don’t usually stay in caravan parks and she suggested Smoko Campgound not far out of town. I’d seen that on WikiCamps and had thought it might be a good spot. She also explained that there was a big event on in Bright hence the huge numbers of people everywhere. She said it wasn’t usually like this.

We also asked about the road closure of the Great Alpine Road at Cobungra as we plan to go that way and she explained that there’d been a bad collision there in the morning and emergency workers were still clearing the wreckage however she expected the road to be open the next day. We would have to check the VicRoads website the next morning to see if the road is open.

These lovely little historic towns have gorgeous huge old trees. Driving through Bright was like driving through a living green tunnel. The Crepe Myrtles everywhere were in full flower and were just so pretty.

We continued our journey southwards and pulled up at Smoko Campground. It is a very popular spot with lots of campers however we found a spot where we could both fit and set up camp. As we were right next to the gurgling Ovens River Kevin got his waders out and went for a fish. He did manage to catch a small trout but it was too small to eat so he threw it back.

We enjoyed our dinner sitting around a lovely little campfire. I’d cooked seafood chowder in my crockpot. I’d put it on in the morning and it cooked on low all day as we travelled along. The delicious smell wafted around the MH and our mouths were watering by the time we pulled up. We enjoyed our chowder served with a crusty bread stick. Yummo.

You might ask how I run the crockpot as we travel. Simple really. It is plugged in to the inverter. I sit the crockpot on the floor in my collapsible washing basket so it doesn’t move about with an elastic band from one handle to the other to keep the glass lid from bouncing off. It works a treat.


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