Albert and Annie Say:

"Seven Days Without Laughter Makes One Weak"
                                    ~  Mort Walker


      Pam's Journal For June 2010

  Tuesday 1st June 2010  
            We had a marvellous day in Buffalo National Park. The weather was perfect, clear blue skies and just warm enough. We walked up the track to the Eurobin Falls. In places the track was rough and so many steps my poor little legs had to work overtime.  
  The smoother stretches of the path were like this, but the deep steps . . .  
  A long wall of solid rock covered in moss.  
  The first waterfall of three; the Ladies Bath Falls.  
             It was worth the walk and we enjoyed our lunch all the more for it. We went to the picnic area near The Chalet. We had a quick look at the "Old Lady" (locals call the Chalet, the Old Lady) and it is still there!
           We then set up a picnic in nice cool 7ºC. It was the first time we had taken our portable gas ring out with us. We cooked up sausages and boy did they taste good. Pete Mate took some more photos from the lookout and then before we knew it, it was time to go home.
  Wednesday 2nd June 2010  
            Another busy day for the Ranson’s, shopping, washing and going to the library. Billy had a wash at the car wash after yesterday’s outing.  
  Thursday 3rd June 2010  
            Lay day.  
  Friday 4th June 2010  
            We have been trying to source a tour of the Buckland Valley, one that would give us the history of the gold rush. We asked at the Information Centre and a very nice lady there named Helen arranged for us to have a private tour with Diann Talbot, the author of the book Pete Mate had been reading. Much excitement was noted in the Ranson caravan tonight.  
  Saturday 5th June 2010  
            The day dawned and we were surrounded by mist. Diann met us at the office at 9.30am. I know!!! Pete Mate was up showered and dressed, amazing.
          The tour was really exceptional, Diann made it very interesting even though I hadn’t read her book. The whole atmosphere of the place came alive and we could just imagine the Chinese and Europeans living in horrendous conditions.
          Once back at the caravan, Pete Mate downloaded his many photos and worked on the website. I continued to knit.
  Sunday 6th June 2010  
            A lazy start to the day, then we went to our usual Sunday haunt at the Bright Brewery. Today’s entertainers were Lockwood and Katterl, both extremely good guitarists and great fun. We had a lovely time listening to them, eating and drinking; only problem is, it is becoming a little too chilly for sitting around in courtyards.  
  Monday 7th June 2010  
            Having been fired up with enthusiasm by Diann, we ventured forth to Beechworth and Eldorado. We had visited Beechworth previously but found out today there was much more to see. The town has an historic precinct with a lot of the original old buildings. We toured the courthouse and jumped out of skins when we entered the cell where Ned Kelly had been held. Ned started talking to us; we already thought it a little eerie. The whole thing was extremely well done and we would have liked to explore the other buildings but time was getting on and we wanted to get to Eldorado.
          We had lunch at the famous Beechworth bakery, then I had spied in the tourist book that they had a specialised baby accessory shop in town. I found it but it was closed for lunch. I waited way past the reopening time and eventually the lady arrived. I knew Pete Mate wanted to get on to El D, so it would have been a quick look; well, it would have been if she had found her keys. She didn’t, so it is on the list of things to do when we return to Beechworth.

           We travelled down a dirt track to El D., not really knowing if we were on the right road. We did find Woolshed Falls which were quite impressive. Eventually we arrived at El D., and found the all important dredge, and did I mention this is a blue day? Did I want to look at it? No, I did not. I waited in the car doing a crossword. Goodness knows how long Pete Mate looked at the thing because I fell asleep.
           Once he had had his fill and taken a million photos we returned to Beechworth via the bitumen. We found a really nice pub with friendly bar staff but more importantly a roaring log fire. We met a lovely couple from Albury who were showing their visitors around, they were very interested in our travels as they are thinking of doing the same.
  Tuesday 8th June 2010  
            Lay day after yesterday.  
  Wednesday 9th June 2010  
            It was pouring with rain for most of the day, so not a lot happened here. We had a few things to do in Bright and due to our marvellous timing we escaped getting drenched.
         Tonight it was my turn to spill the red wine, not only did it go everywhere but I smashed the glass as well. A case of, if you are going to do something you might as well do a good job. We cleaned up best we could then went to bed remembering to wear our slippers until all the fragments of glass have been removed.
  Thursday 10th June 2010  

          Chores to do today, major washing job after last night’s spill. Pete Mate went to Buffalo in search of snow and found it. Thank goodness for that.

  The "Old Lady" with snow on her bonnet.  
  Friday 11th June 2010  
       We were up and at ‘em this morning and on the road by 10.30am. We were off to see the snow at Mt Hotham. On the way we had an in-depth conversation about whether we needed chains or not. This dilemma was solved for us in Harrietville by a clear sign saying we must carry chains. Having lived in the UK throughout many snow filled winters we find the idea of putting chains on the tyres a novelty. Anyway, as incurring a huge fine and some demerit points are not on our bucket list, we complied. The nice people in the ski shop that hired out the chains were very friendly and helpful.
      We drove up the winding road to Hotham, not my favourite road at the best of times, but Billy and Pete Mate were superb and we didn’t encounter any problems. For some of the way visibility was greatly impaired by the very thick cloud. I was unsure what I preferred, the cloud cover so I could not see down the huge drop on my left or a clear road where I could see everything.
      Once we arrived at Hotham we were disheartened in that we could not really see much so we drove on to Dinner Plain where the air was clear but there wasn't as much snow. Plus we know where the toilets are at Dinner Plain, always a bonus. We had a bit of a play in the snow like the overgrown children we are.
  Would he dare?  
       We then headed to a café for lunch and to get warm. We were not disappointed on either count; the toasted sandwich was good and the roaring log fire was just what we needed. After lunch we travelled back to Mount Hotham which was still in cloud cover so photo opportunities were not really possible. We then made our way back down the winding road home calling in at Harrietville to return the chains. Not quite the day we expected but very enjoyable all the same.  
  Saturday 12th June 2010  

     Another early start for us. Two days in a row, it must be a record. We went into Bright which was bustling with all the weekend visitors and snow people stocking up before heading into the mountains. The library was first on our list and we managed to reserve a copy of a DVD about the Buckland Valley which was recommended by Diann. We then went to a Sale Extravaganza which was a sale of second hand goods to raise money for a child care centre. It was a good cause but we didn’t see anything we wanted so we left there and went to the café for coffees. We were then going to the supermarket but called in at a gallery on the way. They had some lovely photos of Bright in the autumn and some nice paintings. We chatted to the artists, really nice people.
      We left there to go and do some shopping. Once in the supermarket we were offered free samples of soup, cheese, paté but sadly no wine. Once the groceries were packed away we made our way home to our nice, cosy caravan.

  Sunday 13th June 2010  
       Another cool crisp morning. Actually at 8:00am it was minus 2.5ºC. which, thinking about it, forget the 'crisp', it was damn cold!
      Around lunchtime we drove into town, to the Bright Brewery, as we are apt to do most Sundays. It was the busiest we have ever seen it, people everywhere, not just because it was a holiday weekend but the brewery was holding a fund raiser for a local school. It was to assist a kids’ trip into the mountains to enjoy the snow sports. They held an auction of donated goods, which seemed to go well, and a raffle. We didn’t win the raffle which was a relief; we didn’t have to make a decision of what to do with snow goggles and such like.
      We enjoyed the music even though it wasn’t as good as last week; the food and wine were pretty damn good. I cannot speak about the beer as even the smell of it turns my stomach. I drank very little wine as I was the driver and there were plenty of police about in Bright this weekend.
      Pete Mate so wants to be pulled over by the police so he can show them we do not have a registration sticker. Western Australia no longer issues stickers. Surely the police in each state would have been notified of this change? Thinking about it though, maybe not.
      We left the brewery just a little after four as it was quite chilly by then. The only policeman I saw was in my rear view mirror chasing someone else.
  Monday 14th June 2010  
  Lay day.  
  Tuesday 15th June 2010  
       A little retail therapy in Wangaratta was our aim today. Pete Mate needed new shoes as his old ones finally gave up. We also had a frustrating experience in the Telstra shop, they aim not to please. Being in Wang reminded me how much I liked it there; it is a lovely little town. After enjoying a nice lunch then doing some more shopping we made our way home.
      The pink credits stay intact as Pete Mate enjoyed his retail therapy as well. I know he did because I told him he did!
  Wednesday 16th June 2010  
       Apart from going into town to do a couple of errands we did little else.  
  Thursday 17th June 2010  
       We endured the Great Storm of Porepunkah today. We had wind, thunder, lightning and lashings of rain, 20mm of it. At one point we had a moat around our caravan, how posh is that! We were warm and snug in our 'van so it didn’t really affect us too much . . . then the power went off and we were left with only lights and no heating. Pete Mate went back to bed and I wrapped myself up like a Christmas present. I ignored his requests to get into bed with him for obvious reasons even though he insisted I would be warmer.
      Eventually sanity returned, the dinner was cooked, the wine poured and the computers were once more fired up.
  Friday 18th June 2010  
       Shopping day today, what joy!  
  Saturday 19th June 2010  
       We have finally decided we need to see new pastures so we went into the Information Centre to check out our options. It was excellent timing as Les was on duty and he was able to give us one or two ideas.  
  Sunday 20th June 2010  
  The Bright Brewery was very happy once more to have our company; well, they were glad to take our money. It was an excellent afternoon with Terry Lockwood and his wife Susie performing. We have seen Terry before with Rudi Katterl. It was a really entertaining afternoon and Susie even sang Bobby McGee but wasn’t quite to the standard we have enjoyed in Tamworth. She did however sing it without musical accompaniment, which was impressive.  
  Monday 21st June 2010  
       We went into Bright as we have reserved a DVD at the library about the Buckland Valley. We were hoping it was there as time is running out we are due to leave Punka on the 30th June. We must have been good little people as it had just come in. We then went for a coffee and collected some milk before heading home.  
  Tuesday 22nd June 2010  
       We decided to have a day out as in a week’s time we will be packing up and heading somewhere new. We first went to the Chinese Cemetery in the Buckland Valley; it was somewhere we always intended to go back to after our tour with Diann. We discovered it wasn’t just the Chinese buried there but other pioneers/miners.  
  Memorials to the Chinese miners who died in this valley. Unfortunately all the headstones had
been illegally removed from the Chinese graves. Some people have no respect.

     Once we left there we headed to Beechworth, another place we said we wanted to return to. First port of call was the shop selling baby goods that was closed last time we were there. Guess what? It was closed again today. I can assure you there will not be a third trip to that shop!

      We called in at the information centre to get details of the Lavender Lady who sells lavender products and also has some gold mining memorabilia for Pete Mate to look at. The ladies in the information centre were very vague whether they would be open or not so we were a little put off the trip out there. Anyway we had other things to do first. We went to the museum which housed all sorts of relics from times gone by. Their replica village of how Beechworth used to be was very well done with the sounds of the time also added. There were, of course, the usual things we have seen so many times that our own mothers used in their kitchens, plus some awful looking stuffed birds that had seen better days.

      What delighted me was the following story: –

      On Anzac Day 1935 a bet was made between Tom Parkinson, Beechworth's local garage proprietor and Tony Evans, the licensee of the Post Office Hotel. The bet, for twenty pounds, was that Parkinson could not push Evans from the Beechworth Post Office to the Chalet at Mt. Buffalo in a wheelbarrow, given the time-limit of eight days. Although, by all accounts, the wager had originated in the local pub over a couple of beers, Tom Parkinson and Tony Evans took their bet very seriously. Both men put in approximately three weeks of training before the event. Parkinson pounded the streets, pushing a training load of fifteen stone in a makeshift barrow. For speed-work he top dressed the Beechworth bowling greens with barrow loads of super phosphate. Evans played lots of golf and practiced sitting for long periods in a barrow.

      Parkinson pushed the barrow through snow and ice and won the bet. Tony Evans paid his debt with a cheque which Tom Parkinson never cashed. It was such enormous achievement that the media were involved and not only did it go nationwide but worldwide. The actual wheel barrow was in the museum. It was extremely hard to imagine how one man could push such a load for seventy kilometres, much of it up hill.

     Once we left the museum we decided to have a look at the cemetery to see the Chinese Burning Towers. These towers were built after the Chinese fled from the Buckland to Beechworth. Some 5,000 of them settled here. The Chinese burnt offerings of paper tokens, and left wine and pork in the towers when their loved ones died. We have been told by a local that there were so many Chinese that in the end they were buried standing up. We have not read this fact anywhere so we are not sure how true it is.

  The Beechworth Chinese Burning Towers. The were not used to cremate the remains as we had wondered.  

     By the time we left the cemetery the weather had worsen and it was really damp and dull, the light fading fast so we decide not to visit the Lavender Lady, we instead went in search of the But But Tree.

Left: The But But Tree

We eventually found it with Alice’s help and it is an impressive mangled old tree, where the name But But comes from we do not know. I have Googled it to no avail. Anyone who knows why it is called this please email us.

      Now it was really getting dark and a storm looked like it was brewing so we headed home for the warmth of a caravan.

  Wednesday 23rd June 2010.  
       Pretty much a lay day, apart from popping into town for a couple of things. We are now thinking we may leave Punka for Lake Eyre. We have seen on the television that there is again water in the lake. We are of a mind that it is now or never so we have started making plans. Do we leave the caravan or take it? What are the roads like? Are there caravan sites? And so on. Today turned out to be a day of researching and deciding.  
  Thursday 24th June 2010  
       Lay day.  
  Friday 25th June 2010  
       Our departure date for leaving Punka for Lake Eyre was determined by our mail delivery, as it is for most grey nomads. Ours arrived today so we are off on Sunday, short notice but we can be flexible when we need to be. It was then all hands on deck, we raced around stocking up on wine, food and fuel. We went and said goodbye to our friends in our favourite café.  
  Saturday 26th June 2010  
       We washed clothes, the caravan & the car. The inside of the ‘van was cleaned and everything packed away. By nightfall we were exhausted and were very aware of how unfit we have become.  
  Sunday 27th June 2010  
        The day has finally arrived for us to say goodbye to Punka and Bright, for the time being anyway. We said our farewells to Theo and Lynette, a lovely couple who run a really good clean and well maintained park. We would recommend it to anyone travelling in this area. We had a good run through to Swan Hill arriving around 4:30pm; that park is clean and adequate for one night.  
  Monday 28th June 2010  
        Today’s travelling seemed more tiring than yesterday's. I am grateful to the talking books and my knitting, both pass the time quite nicely. We had another good run through with the added pleasure of knowing we would be meeting up with our good friends Gavin and Joanne. We enjoyed a really lovely evening catching up with them at one of their favourite restaurants. Good food, good wine but most of all, excellent company.  
  Tuesday 29th June 2010  
       Another long day travelling. We were going to have two short days but Pete Mate felt okay to carry on so we went straight through to the Flinders Range Caravan Park in Hawker. We arrived around 5:30pm as the light was fading so we connected the power and left everything else until morning.  
  Wednesday 30th June 2010  

     Lay day today as we are well and truly shattered. In daylight we could see more of the caravan park and were very impressed with the standard here. The laundry had wash baskets, pegs, irons and ironing board. The ladies showers and toilets were well maintained, with paper towels, soap, complimentary shampoo and conditioner, a heater for early mornings and at night, facial tissues and towelling foot mats to use and then dispose of in a linen basket. Everything scrupulously clean; in fact the whole park is well maintained.