Page 108: Bright Festival. still no snow.
     
  The Bright Festival Gala Day was great fun for everyone, and the weather was perfect for it. The morning started with breakfast in our favourite café and then a walk around the hundreds of market stalls which lined the closed streets of the town centre. There was a predominance of crafts and novelty items and many food stalls. Yawn. Mostly pink stuff. However, there were bands scattered throughout and one or two smaller, busker-type groups.  
     
   
  Entertainment everywhere.  
     
  Pam has put her two pennyworth in first in "Pam's Perspective" so there's no point in me duplicating what she's written. I'll just include some pictures.  
     
   
  What a disastrous location to take photos! The foreground in strong shade and the background in strong sunlight.
I had several goes at improving the image and gave up. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Band of the Royal Australian Air Force.
 
     
   
  Some of the costumes were extraordinary. The wings of these beautiful butterflies opened and closed as the breeze caught them.  
     
   
  Several schools picked the "Cats in Hats" theme.  
     
  Bright's climate rotates through extremes of temperature each year so the town is prepared for fire in summer . . .  
     
   
     
  . . . and snow in winter.  
     
   
  Heavy snow clearing equipment and even huskies were on display in the Gala Parade.  
     
  What exactly is 'Milk' these days?  
 

Do you ever yearn for the days when milk was something that dripped from underneath cows? (You just gave away your age.) Do you get confused when you shop for milk in the supermarket? Less fat, more calcium, Omega-3, lactose free, vitamin D, where does it end? And the more goodness they extract in the process of making 'lite', 'skim', 'slim', 'low fat' or whatever, the more expensive it seems to become. By that time it's little more than white water anyway - and tastes like it.

Recently we watched a programme on television which was all about something called A2 milk. Ever heard of it?

It seems that up until the 1970s all cows in Australian dairy herds were Jerseys and gave A2 milk, but then farmers started to change over to Holsteins, doubtless to make more profit. Holsteins produce predominantly A1 milk. Some dairy farmers’ families noticed effects on their health, so kept a Jersey cow for their own use. I don't remember them telling us about that, do you? Too busy counting the profits, perhaps.

The gist of this television programme was that there is now evidence that A1 milk can be harmful to the health of some people whereas A2 milk tastes better (more like the good old days) and is without these problems. I'm not going to bore you with all the scientific stuff but if you want to learn more, just Google A2 Milk and you'll find plenty to read about.

In Australia, A2 milk is now marketed under the brand name "a2" (lower case 'a'). It is supposed to be available in the large supermarkets and while we were unable to obtain it from IGA in Bright, the new Woolworth's store which recently opened does stock it.

What is it like? It comes in both the full cream form, a 'light' variety and we saw it in 'long life' cartons on Woolworth's shelves. There's also yoghurt available. I've started drinking the full cream a2 and Pam the a2 lite. While we can't claim any noticeable health benefit, the taste is 100% nicer. The price is a little higher than normal branded milk but we think it's worth it. (We did try red wine on our Weety Bangs but it isn't the same.)

 
     
  Snow? What snow?  
 

Friday'll be the day, they told us. Go up Mount Hotham on Friday if you want to see snow. So we did. Not one single flake did we spy, not one! Amateur weather forecasters!

Making the best of a bad job we carried on a few kilometres to Dinner Plain. Now that's a good name for you but nobody knows where it came from. The best explanation - and it's pretty weak - is that the stage coach over the mountains between Bright and Omeo used to stop at Dinner Plain where 'somebody' brought out packed lunches for the passengers. What 'somebody' and from where? Dinner Plain is miles from anywhere on top of the world. If packed lunches were required they would have been obtained at the town of departure.

Pam suggested a more credible explanation: The passengers had their lunches with them and the coach stopped for a toilet break and for people to stretch their legs and eat their lunch at that spot. It is just past the peak and before the steep descent so doubtless the horses would have needed a break too. Good one, Pam.

Dinner Plain today is a small village of yuppy-type houses which are empty most of the year. They are sometimes used in the summer but mostly during the skiing season. We found a coffee shop cum general store open and went in. There was a log fire burning in an enormous hearth. The place was as warm as toast and the coffee was good. Watching the customers come and go we noticed that all (except one couple like ourselves) were workers wearing boots and overalls with hi-visibility jackets over the top. Apart from them, Dinner Plain seemed almost deserted.

 
     
  Sixty Miles of Bad road to Dargo.  
  Not far from Dinner Plain is Dargo which had a population of 144 in the 2006 census. To reach there by road we had to backtrack about twenty kilometres and then turn off the Great Alpine Road onto an unsealed track which is rated a dry-weather only road for two wheel drives vehicles, all weather for four wheel drive vehicles. Dargo wasn't really down sixty miles of bad road, it was sixty kilometres. And that was quite far enough!

I do wish someone would replace that four syllable word, kilometre, with something nice and short like mile, don't you? You can ask what mileage a car has done, but kilometreage is just too much. Miles per gallon [M.P.G.] was so simple too, but now we have litres per 100 kilometres which just isn't as easy. You always wanted more M.P.G. but you now want less litres per 100 kilometres.

But back to Dargo. The little town isn't very large. Like so many of these places it began when gold was discovered in the mid 1800s and crowds of get-rich-quick hopefuls flooded in. Very few ever did get rich but there was always the dream - a bit like doing the lottery but a lot more laborious. Dargo grew in size until it boasted a population of around two thousand. It had three hotels in those days but no police. Today there is only one pub - and probably still no police - but it's a very attractive and secluded place straddling the clear, tumbling Dargo River.
 
     
   
  The Dargo Hotel, established 1898. The previous pub on this site was called the Bridge
as a bridge carries a side road over the Dargo River next to the pub.
 
     
  Apart from gold mining, a family by the name of Treasure ran cattle up on the Dargo High Plains way back when. They still do, I believe. The head of the family was a gold miner through and through. He and his sons mined the area for many years and for scant reward. His wife was far more sensible; she ran cattle and opened a business catering for the miners' needs, and she made far more money than her husband and sons.  
     
   
  Just across from the pub, Dargo Store. On the wall outside the door was a sign announcing that the store is a
Hound Recovery Depot. Do they rescue dogs from the pound? Do they make sick dogs better? I wish we'd asked.
 
     
  What amazed me was that we'd driven there from Hotham (6,000 feet altitude) and it felt like we were still in the mountains but our GPS indicated that Dargo was at 700 feet above sea level. The barman in the pub confirmed it.

Anyway, we has sixty kilometres of rough road to negotiate before we hit the bitumen of the Great Alpine Road and that was followed by a hundred steep, hairpin bends before we hit Harriotville and 'civilisation'.

Stopping off in Bright I washed off the car in one of those car washes where you use a high pressure water gun and do it yourself. It was dark by then and it wasn't until we reached home that I discovered that, though the car was gleaming, a good portion of the mud we'd picked up had splashed back all over me. But them's the breaks.