Page 103: In and around albury-Wodonga
     
  A most bizarre pub!  
     
   
  Ladies and Gentlemen, the Ettamogah Pub. Check out the truck on the roof.  
     
  This place is as bizarre inside as it is out, but let's start with the outside. The crashed aeroplane to the left of the pub had a sign on it . . .  
     
   
  No comment needed.  
     
   
  There doesn't seem to be one vertical line on this building. The sign outside the front door is permanent.  
     
  On entering the pub, the public bar is absolutely covered in all sorts of notices. What caught my attention first was . . .  
     
   
  . . . the sign inviting patrons to go upstairs to view the carpark . . . and the legs hanging from the ceiling.  
     
   
  This licensee doesn't want anyone in any doubt as to what is behind each door. I wonder if he knows the word "toilet"?  
     
 

There was so much more, but I'm sure you get the idea from these pictures.

A note on the 'crashed' plane. The registration "-EXM" was visible on the wing. Presumably VH-EXM. I can't find anything on the net. That registration was last issued to a Cessna Citation. Can anyone help with the previous history of this aircraft?

 
     
  Wangaratta  
  Leaving the sister cities we moved deeper into Victoria. This time Alice behaved like a lady but, while entering the co-ordinates of our destination caravan park, I put in a six where there should have been a two. Fortunately alarm bells rang soon after we'd set off. We hadn't yet gone out of our way so I was able to make the correction without inconvenience.

Wangaratta, meaning "meeting of waters", is a country city situated on the confluence of the King River and Ovens River. For those living in the U.K. I should emphasise that the Australian definition of a "city" is very different to yours. There is no requirement for a cathedral and even a large suburb can be a city. It depends on population amongst other factors. The population of Wangaratta is 17,000.

The Ovens River rises near Mount Hotham and travels two hundred kilometres north west until it meets the Murray River. On the way it absorbs the waters of the King River, right here in Wangaratta.

The Painters Island Caravan Park we liked from the outset. As the name suggests, it is located on an island where the Ovens divides for a while. We are only a few minutes walk from the town centre but separated from it by one branch of the river spanned by a road bridge and a convenient foot bridge.
 
     
  Disaster! Disaster! Disaster!  
 

One evening a full glass of red wine tipped into the keyboard of our much-loved Compaq Presario V4000 (Windows XP) laptop computer. An act of God, naturally. We then made the common mistake of dashing around like headless chooks grabbing tissues, towels and a sponge to mop up the spill. Wrong!

If it ever happens to you, whatever the liquid, the first thing to do is immediately turn the keyboard upside down and leave the liquid to drain out safely while you mop up the spill. The reason? All the while you're panicking, the liquid is trickling down further into the workings of the keyboard. Laptop computers have 'capacitive' keys. Two layers of membrane lie below the keyboard. Each has a printed circuit on its surface. When a key is tapped, it presses the two layers together at that single point and capacitive coupling causes a signal to pass between the two layers, informing the microprocessor that the key in question has been activated.

Imagine how red wine, trapped between the two membranes, will affect the operation of such a design. The two layers are bonded together around the outside and around each key. In theory this should make it impossible for a liquid to enter. In practice it makes it impossible to get liquid out without destroying the keyboard.

Well, it was deep depression the next day until we realised that our caravan insurance covered us for such an event. Pam was very good, she didn't once sound off as I would have had the glass been in the other hand. We spoke to the insurers and they said to take the 'pooter to a repairer for a quote. In Wangaratta that meant one of two businesses. The first was very helpful but directed us to the second. The second looked at it and assessed that the wine had ruined the keyboard and probably much more, making our faithful Compaq a write-off.

Having (later) removed the keyboard I believe the wine was contained in the keyboard, so now I'm looking for an old Compaq Presario V4000 in any condition as long as the keyboard works. Anybody help?

Our lives revolve around our computer; we pay all our household bills over the internet, do all our banking, keep in touch with family and friends and even order our medication that way. Then, of course, there's this web site which has become such a large part of our lives. Not just for keeping you in touch with where we are and what we're doing, but for reminding us of where we've been and what we've seen and done. Just reading through random pages brings memories flooding back.

But let's pause for a chuckle in this tale of gloom . We photographed the sign below in the entrance to a Wangaratta pub.

 
     
   
  I swear I haven't 'modified' it. This is exactly as we saw it.  
     
  The insurance company was very good and approved the purchase of a new computer as soon as they received the repairer's faxed report. We didn't even have to fill in a claim form. So, having been comfortable with Windows XP, we're now struggling to come to terms with Windows 7 which isn't compatible with some of our software. But we're getting there.  
     
   
  I wonder why church attendances are so low?  
     
  Glenrowan  
  Not far from Wang is the small village of Glenrowan. It was there that the famous outlaw, Ned Kelly, was finally captured in June 1880 prior to being hanged in Melbourne just five months later. This fact gives Glenrowan all the excuse it needs to beat the Ned Kelly story to death, squeezing every last cent from it. Well, why not? We went along with it, they have to earn a living somehow. They certainly wouldn't have tourists returning for another cup of their coffee, that's for certain!  
     
   
  Giant Ned Kelly stands guard at the corner of Kate Street. (Kate was Ned's younger sister.)  
     
  Ned and his gang were cornered by the police in a pub near the railway station. Ned was wearing his heavy, cumbersome armour which prevented him riding his horse and severely restricted his vision. He could have escaped but he went back to help his brother and another gang member.

It was dark and misty when Ned walked out of the pub and taunted the freezing police who were hiding behind logs and trees. His body, head and thighs were protected from bullets by his armour. However, his arms and legs were vulnerable and he took a bullet in one arm and another in one leg. The police then pounced on him. The two remaining outlaws were driven from the pub when police set fire to the building, burning it to the ground.

Later the same day we visited some beauty spots including the highly recommended Paradise Falls. To get to the Falls we had to drive forever along a narrow, dirt road, and on arrival found 75,000 steps that we had to climb down. (Allow for exaggeration.)
 
     
   
  At the bottom of the steps was one totally dry waterfall. Not even a puddle.  
     
  Guess what we had to do then?  
     
  Bright  
  One fine day we ventured forth to a lovely little town called Bright further up the Ovens River. The name came from a Britsh orator and politician called John Bright (1811 - 1889). Mr. Bright never visited Australia so I'm not sure why this little town was named after him but if I find out I'll be sure to let you know. I do know that he was a staunch supporter of the working class.

Having seen Bright and assessed its value as a hub for visiting the Victorian Alps Region, we decided to move there when we leave Wangaratta. Thus there will be plenty more about Bright in the future. For now I'll leave you with a picture of the Ovens River as it flows over a small weir in the town.
 
     
   
  The Ovens River in Bright. John Ovens was the Private Secretary to Sir Thomas Brisbane,
Governor of New South Wales, in the 1820s.
 
     
  The Milawa Muster  
 

Quite close to Wangaratta is a little hamlet called Milawa. It claims to be a 'gourmet centre' where various produce is made and sold. It sounded inviting so off we went, first visiting the Milawa Cheese Factory where we tasted a few cheeses made from goats milk and others from cows milk. All very nice but could we see the cheese being made, please? Sorry, no. Okay, we'll have a coffee in the little café and move on. But to where? The total population of Milawa reaches 250 when they're all at home. There was little else but wineries and when you've visited a hundred wineries you've pretty well seen all there is to see. Besides, cellar door wines can be bought cheaper at the big bottle shops courtesy of Woolworths and Coles who buy so much they are able to dictate terms and prices.

Our day out at Milawa was less than exciting. A few days later we saw the Milawa Muster advertised for the coming weekend. The word 'muster' is generally a round-up of horses or cattle or any sort of large get-together. In the west we'd call an event like this a 'field day'; in England it would be a town's 'annual show'. After our previous visit I was surprised when Pam wanted to go, but go we did.

Alice, our GPS, has never heard of Milawa and neither have the signs along the roadside. Anyway, cutting to the chase, I missed the turn-off and took the scenic route. We expected to see banners directing all traffic in the area to the Muster, but the first banner we saw was at the entrance to the showground. Spying our Western Australian car registration plates we were greeted at the pay barrier by exclamations of, "You've come a long way!"
"Yes," we replied, "And just to see the Milawa Muster. You'll waive the $15 admission fee since we've come so far?"
"You're quite right", came the reply. "It's $30 for the two of youz."

 
     
   
  The Milawa Muster: About eight old cars, a bouncy castle, a semi trailer rigged up as a stage with sound
equipment, some lovely old small engines and a pretty two-year-old llama. The rest was stalls
selling home made jams, crafts, etc. But where were all the people?
 
     
   
  Left: The young llama. Right: Wooden models powered by air from a little compressor driven by a small engine.  
     
  This little village had made a commendable effort with their first muster but were sadly let down by the public. After all, if the Mayor of Wangaratta could make the effort and Pam and I could make the effort, where was everybody else? Even the local businesses - the Cheese Factory and the wineries, etc. were conspicuous by their absence.  
     
  Goodbye Wang(aratta).  
 

The locals frequently just refer to their town as Wang. We really liked both it and the Painters Island Caravan Park. We'd go there again without hesitation. Unfortunately our time there was overshadowed by our computer problems.

We checked caravan parks in Bright - on the internet, of course - and discovered that the delightful nature of the town had made it a popular tourist spot, pushing up prices. Just down the road from Bright is a small town called Porepunkah with a really nice caravan park which has very reasonable fees. Guess where we went? Yes, Porepunkah. As soon as I find out what the name means, I'll let you know.

Hold on a minute! The internet has provided the answer. Quote: The word Porepunkah is Hindi for "gentle breeze", and Porepunkah really does have all the necessary qualities to blow away the built up effects of the "Big Smoke".

Okay, having settled that let's start a new page.