Bugger. I Think I Broke My Hip

The small problem of a broken hip. With a thousand kilometres and six interesting days of travelling Australia house sitting and free camping behind us, the short morning drive from Gunning our last camp, to this, our fourth house-sitting assignment was full of promise and just a little excitement. The hills presented the usual challenge for our valiant little Nissan Urvan, working through the gears, struggling up one side and being chased down the other by the trailer, a cross between a cattle dog and a rhino.

We were coming into Crookwell from the south west, the same track taken on departure from our brief introductory visit to the farm back in July. Just before the town, about 5 ks out, we reached the highest altitude of our travels so far, 1017 metres or 3,370 feet, before barrelling down the side of the valley into town.

Gunning to Crookwell 60 percent

We stopped briefly to pick up a few supplies and shortly afterwards we took up the side road north to places no one has ever heard of. It was just like the first time, up the hills ever climbing the last 1,000 feet, over the top then a little run into the valley beyond where the bitumen runs out and that country feeling begins. Just seven kilometres from where the gravel begins, we pulled into the driveway of our home for the next two months.

Ian and Jo were, as always the gracious hosts and although we were a day early, this extra time gave us confidence that whatever challenges lay ahead, we would manage. Ian produced a map of the farm with all the paddocks named and the approximate boundaries inked in. Acting on my request had also compiled a procession of items taken from his comprehensive “to do” list.

I understood some had been on the list for several years and few had been on the list for a long time but he stressed that I should feel no obligation to perform any of the outstanding jobs.

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The Bridge That Doesn’t Meet in the Middle

The bridge that doesn’t meet in the middle. One of the big benefits of our plan to Travel Australia house sitting is being able to spend time exploring areas that we might otherwise just pass through. Beechworth was one little town we wanted to see to experience the ‘time capsule’ effect that seems to be associated with the town. From our base in the village of Ned Kelly’s ‘end of the road son’ nightmare, Glenrowan, Beechworth is only a half day excursion so we only set out at lunch time and it seemed no time we were there. Beechworth panorama

Beechworth panorama” by Taken byfir0002

It’s only 40 ks or so from the ‘capital’ of the area, Wangaratta and the first surprise was the presence of a lake in the middle of town.

For some reason this apparently insignificant detail was absent from the information I gathered before we set out. Lake Sambell came as a bit of surprise and although it is clearly a distinguishing feature and a little hard to miss. From what we read, it was a pit where gold was mined and later filled or allowed to fill in the 1920’s. It’s not like it’s something new that has just been overlooked and there’s a nice little caravan park too as one would expect. Beechworth S1The town was interesting enough and there’s a fair bit to see around the area but we were really only there to give it the ‘once-over’.

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Operation Destroy the Dam

Operation destroy the dam. In this, our second Travel Australia house sitting assignment, we had seen a lot of bumper stickers around Glenrowan about saving the lake, ‘SAVE MOKOAN’.
It was only to be a few days before we knew what they were on about.

The focus of much of our attention initially had to be in Wangaratta as this was ‘town’. Here we could find the supermarkets and other services one needs. I spent some time with the mechanic and a few trips to Bunnings for knickknacks to be used in upgrading the van and trailer.

It’s actually not a bad place with a population of 17,000 substantially larger than the nearby Benalla to the west.

If you can’t find what you need in Wangaratta another seventy kilometres to the north Albury Wodonga with a combined population of 100,000+ it has most offerings of larger cities.

We made the trip into town maybe twice a week and the mechanic loaned us his car while we worked on the van. Overall the van was much improved during our stay as we gradually found and eliminated small problems and rattles. We fitted extra sound proofing and re-cut carpet, filled door panels with insulation and lots of other little titivations.

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Glenrowan and Snow On The Mountain

Our previous and first Australian house sitting experience in Armidale did us a favour in our acclimatization to cold weather which was a jolly good thing because if we expected it to be cold in Victoria in winter, we were not to be surprised. It takes at least a couple of hours after dawn for the sun to warm the house through the big East-facing windows and when the snow on the distant mountains reveal their true white brilliance, you know it is safe to venture out into the garden.

Glenrowan sunrise SNot that we had to wait for the sun to warm the house as the reverse cycle air conditioner did the job very well.

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