The siren’s call of Victoria’s North East continues, this time the excuse is bonding with two friends from high school, which in itself is a feat as we have known each other for 47 years, and still want to spend time together – the ties of shared history bind strongly.
We three meet in Wangaratta, two traveling by train from Melbourne, the third meeting us in ‘Wang’. The train is exciting in itself; there is something about arriving at a train station, full of anticipation, finding your seat, settling in, then watching the landscape stream by in comfort, book in hand:
We arrive in Wangaratta ready for a coffee, so cross over the road from the train station to the cosy De Railleur cafe (http://www.cafederailleur.com.au) for coffee and cake:
Then it is on to Beechworth to get our bearings and plan our next two days. After a visit to the Information centre we are armed with a plan, which of course begins with lunch! So, it is off to Gapstead Winery (http://gapstedwines.com.au) where we enjoy a delightful lunch on the deck, soaking up the early Spring sun:
And then it’s lunchtime again! We decide on The Plough Inn at Tarrawingee, and what a little gem this turns out to be – friendly country hospitality in a rustic setting, and terrific food (http://theploughinn.com.au). We sat in the rambling beer garden (which in later Spring will be glorious sitting under the 120 year old wisteria) and enjoyed duck terrine and a crab & leek tartlet, with an El Dorado Estate rose:
It is hard to drag ourselves away from the sunny garden but a walk to the Yeddonba Aboriginal Art Site called, an aboriginal sacred site within the Mt Pilot National Park. We are met at the start of the walk by a Tawny Frogmouth, guarding the entrance with its haughty stare. There is definitely a special feeling in this area, and we walk with respect through this beautiful site:
Then it is back into town and a drive around the amazing site that was once the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum, buildings from the late 19th century and beautiful gardens crying out for sympathetic development:
Onward to a well earned G & T back at the cottage before heading out to The Ox and Hounds Bistro (http://www.oxandhound.com.au) for a pleasant meal, with impressive service. The owner appeared at my side shortly after my glass of red had been poured – she had tasted the wine and wasn’t happy with it (the bottle had been opened the evening before) so she produced an unopened bottle and gave me a new glass. Two of us enjoyed a crab spaghettini, the third settled for the Harrietville trout gravlax as she was saving herself for dessert. We accompanied the meal with green beans with toasted local hazelnuts, and finished with a shared dessert: their signature dessert of honey pannacotta, homemade honeycomb and lemon curd ice cream – YUMMY!
A short walk home under the starry sky, with a chorus of frogs to serenade us, was the perfect end to the day.
Bright sunny skies greeted us again this morning, showing off the township of Beechworth in all its glory. A morning spent in retail therapy in the eclectic Beechworth shops was required before packing our bags and hitting the Hume and the drive back to Melbourne.