A Travellerspoint blog

Viaducts, misty mountains and a Tour de France winner

Yarra Valley, Alps foothills, Bonnie Doon and Geelong

Around Daylesford are several quaintly named villages with lovely old architecture, gardens, arboretums and generally spectacular views. You can imagine an Aussie version of Midsomer Murders being set in any one of them. Starting with Glenlyon with its restored 1890 Shire Hall - seemingly very small for its grand title.

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The General Store is still operational and alongside it is a fairy tree complete with staircase and tiny window.

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There's more to the oval shaped cut outs in the bark of many native trees than just fairy doors. These oval 'scars' were carved out by Aboriginal people and used to make bowls, or are totems indicating initiation or burial sites. The larger, longer such scars were carved out to make shields, traps or canoes. So the fairy stairs and window are a much more recent whimsy not linked to the original carving.

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Glenlyon also has a mineral water spring which went out of favour (& flavour perhaps) in the 1980s when there were fears of it being radioactive! The current signage indicates 'Recent testing of the spring water shows it to be perfectly safe to drink.' One family had driven 100 kms to fill up their car with several dozen bottles of it - bloke said his old Greek mother attributed her good health to drinking two glasses of it every day! We filled up two water bottles with it but didn’t drink all of it as it looked like ginger beer (bloke said it was usually clear) and was quite fizzy.

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Malmsbury was next with its famous bakery, botanic gardens, book exchange and viaduct - the latter completed in 1862. Here they are in no particular order of preference. Note Victoria's rivers and lakes are almost always a murky brown colour.

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Onto nearby Taradale which also has a viaduct that was completed in the same year - 1862! Clearly viaduct building was very much a thing with the spread of rail travel. This one is a very different style and the steel columns were added for additional support in 1933-34. John admiring the stonework here too.

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Just near the Taradale viaduct was this gorgeous old property that made me want to just move right in and go all Seven Little Australians (even though it's set nowhere near there)! Look it up if you’ve never read it.

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Onto Fryerstown with its beautiful old Burke and Wills Mechanics Institute building - again still in fine condition - the 1860s were certainly a time of much public building. Incidentally these old Mechanics Institute buildings were the original free public libraries in Australia.

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Vaughan was next with a slide going from the little campground down to the park and public amenities - and yes a certain Grave Nomad couldn’t resist trying the slide - twice actually as he didn’t go fast enough the first time! Two young kids waited their turn.

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The Chinese cemetery in Vaughan holds both graves with Chinese and English engravings - the Chinese being those who came to the area in the early gold mining days.

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A couple of days later we ventured out through the Yarra Valley through Healesville first - with its Grand Hotel that wouldn’t look out of place in a gothic horror film. Healesville is also home to the famous (and fabulous - so I've heard) Four Pillars Gin Distillery.

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The drive is stunning going through the towns of Fernshaw, Saint Fillans, Narbethong, Buxton, Taggerty, Acheron, Alexandra, Yarck, Kanumbra, Merton, Woodfield, Bonnie Doon and Maindample - the most famous of these being Bonnie Doon right? If it doesn’t ring any bells then you've probably never seen that classic Aussie film 'The Castle' - if not, check it out, if you have then it’s time to watch it again!

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Mansfield itself is at the base of the Australian Alps - with a very wide main road featuring shops selling equestrian equipment and ski gear alongside trendy shops, hotels (some nice Art Deco) and cafes. It is close to the Mount Buller ski resort. In the centre of the road is a memorial to the police officers who were killed by Ned Kelly and his gang at nearby Stringybark Creek.

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The Mansfield Visitors Centre holds artefacts from 'The Man from Snowy River' film featuring Sigrid Thornton (last mentioned in Echuca in 'All the Rivers Run') and Kirk Douglas.

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Heading out from Mansfield we took a winding mountain track called Maintongoon Road where I swear we saw a black kangaroo! It was a spectacular drive high on the ridge with views both sides despite the mist and intermittent rain.

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A couple of days later we walked along the Yarra River in gorgeous Warburton - where picnickers played games and others floated downstream - it’s a tranquil and pretty place in a section called Scotchman's Creek.

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Then it was time to head to the port city of Geelong to board the ferry to Tassie. We arrived in Geelong on the final day of the annual Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race - of which Cadel Evans - Australia's only Tour de France winner - is the main attraction and namesake. The Eritreans were out in force supporting their man Natnael Tesfazion but he was pipped by a Kiwi. Lucky for us not only did we get to see the final stage of the race - won by up and coming young New Zealander Laurence Pithie - we also managed to wander around the back of the podium after the presentations and meet Cadel Evans and what a humble and gracious man he is for someone with such a great achievement under his belt! It certainly made our day before heading across Bass Strait the next morning.

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Next post: Tassie - finally!

Posted by GraveNomads 12:16 Archived in Australia

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