The Big Lap - Wodonga & Beechworth




It's nice to break up the journey half way.  The quaint town of Holbrook is half way between Gundagai and Wodonga.  My research using Google Maps and Images of places along the way always comes up with something interesting.

Holbrook is the home of a big Submarine called the HMAS OTWAY.  It was built in Scotland in the mid 1960's for the Royal Australian Navy.  But what is a huge 90m long Sub doing in the middle of  small outback NSW town?

Holbrook was originally called Germanton but the name was officially changed to Holbrook in 1915, just after the first World War due to strong anti-German sentiments.  The HMAS Otway is a dedication to Norman Douglas Holbrook, the first submariner to be awarded the highest award of British Honours.

Therefore it is fitting that the Sub be housed here, just the upper casiing, fin, and stern.  

By the way, we had a wonderful breakfast here at the Submarine Cafe.  I would recommend it if you are passing by.




Wodonga is a nice clean and tidy town with lots of parks and walking tracks along the river.

I didn't have a chance to take any photos as we spent most of our time arranging paperwork and meeting the requirements to apply for a permit to take Tookie with us to Tasmania.  Yes even though he was born and bread in Australia and has been our pet for 5 1/2 years, we still need to apply for a permit for Tasmania.  We didn't strike this with any other State in Australia.  What makes Tasmania think that it is so special, we wonder?

Anyway after providing a ton of information including a clean bill of health from the Vet and having Tookie micro-chipped, we finally got all the paperwork together and sent it off.  They'd better approve, or all hell will break loose!

The Caravan Park was nice though.  Staff friendly.  Pool refreshing.  The showers even had fresh bath mats which was a nice touch.  Only 1 con, and that was the tight caravan spaces.  However it wasn't long before hubby got the van in.  We are both becoming experts at set up and pack up.

The thing that impressed us the most about Wodonga Caravan & Cabin G'day Park was that we could have our gas bottle filled for just $25, and when we came back, they had put it back on the van for us.  Now that is a 5 star tip in itself!



We finished our business and had a couple of days to enjoy the surrounds.  Hubby was looking forward to visiting Beechworth as that is where he felt that his heritage is, having been the first place that his family migrated to in the 1800's.  

We both found Beechworth to be a lovely little Heritage town full of wonderfully kept old stone buildings and Victorian buildings.  Beechworth became a thriving town in the mid 1850's due to the Gold Rush.  The preserved old buildings in the main street all have placards explaining what each one was and the story behind it.

The Shire Hall and Information Centre is housed in a beautiful ornate Victorian Building.  The ladies in the Information Centre are very knowledgeable and welcoming.  We heard them explaining to another visitor that you can take a heritage walk and to book and pay a small sum at the Burke Museum located directly behind.  Unfortunately we didn't have time to do that.

See the Telegraph News sign below with interesting history.  The last entry says that the cost of a meat pie in 1973 was 23c.  I remember that.  I used to get a meat pie and sauce and a can of fanta for 30c.  That was my Friday school lunch special.  Well not at school.  We used to walk down the road and around the corner to the shop.  Those were the days.  



Behind the main street and Information Centre is the Burke Museum in honour of the first explorers Burke and Wills who navigated Australia from bottom to the top.  Burke was the Police Superintendent in Beechworth from 1854 to 1858.  In 1860 he was chosen to lead the expedition and Wills became second in command.  

Unfortunately both Burke and Wills met a sad death.  On their way back from the top end the conditions were too harsh for them and they did not make it.  Only one from the expedition survived, a fella called John King who was assisted by the local Aboriginals until a search party found him.

There are various memorials in addition to this Museum in Beechworth to commemorate Burke and Wills.  Some throughout Victoria, one at their death sites near Innamincka, South Australia, and Burketown at the Gulf of Carpentaria is named after Robert O'Hara Burke.  We visited Burketown on our Savannah Way trip from Cairns to Darwin in 2009.

Beechworth is also where Ned Kelly had his first hearing after being captured.  I will go into more Ned Kelly history in my next page as we still have to visit the Big Ned Kelly statue and place of his death.  Stay tuned.

Anyway, the Burke Museum is well worth a visit.  Besides heaps of memoribilia, they have a whole section built to display what Beechworth looked like in the mid 1800's.  What a trip down memory lane.  This was so fantastic!  One of the best Museums that we have been to.  

I am not a history buff and rarely read all of the placards, unlike hubby who spends a considerable amout of time reading pretty much everything.  However something took my fancy, the most tiniest boots I have ever seen.  Turns out that these boots are from none other than Tom Thumb.  Yes Tom Thumb, the global sensation visited Beechworth in September 1870 and performed many shows.  His real name was Charles Stratton.  He was known as the Celebrated American Dwarf.  Just 90cm tall.  His boots are 13.4cm tall and 6.5cm long.  One show found over 600 people crammed into the tiny hall.

Talking about boots, hubby's family has a history of boot making.  Yes!  Hubby found his ancestory here in Beechworth.  More about that exciting finding after the photos of the Museum below.



It all started in Prussia.  So hubby's mother's family immigrated from Hanover, Prussia which back then was it's own kingdom.  Later, in 1871 Hanover became part of Germany.

Great Great Great Grandfather Andraes Henry came out on the Saldanha which left Liverpool on 2 May 1860 and arrived in August 1860.  He was a bootmaker.  The story passed down to hubby was that he made Ned Kelly's boots which is highly possible as the dates coincide with Kelly.  

It seems that the bootmaking trade was passed down with Grandfather George Henry, also a bootmaker.

Hubby is still in the process of learning about his history.  

No wonder he took a good long look at the bootmaking and saddlry shop in the Burke Museum, Beechworth.  It reminded him of the tools and equipment that he saw his Grandfather George use in his little bootmaking shed.



Hubby had spent a great deal of time at the Museum discovering his family history.  By the time he was finished I was super hungry.  Meanwhile, I had plenty of time to check out a great place for lunch.  Not wanting pizza, I had chosen Billson's Brewery.   I was looking forward to tasting their Duck Rillette Cigars with baba ghanoush, red capsicum, rocket and salsa verde.  Unfortunately they were affected by COVID and the kitchen was closed.  😔

So we had to be content with the Bridge Road Brewery in the main street in town.  Stay tuned for Billson's Brewery.  We are coming back!

Bridge Road Brewery wasn't my first choice as I didn't want pizza which was the only thing they had on the menu.  Anyway, we resorted to pizza.  They had a duck a la orange one which was semi good.  It would have been better with a light BBQ sauce as the base as the tomato sauce was too sweet.  We did share the beer tasting paddle with the most beers in a tasting paddle that we have ever had.  Mmmm, beers were just ok.  We have had a lot better.




We took a trip out to Rutherglen which is the home of the Big Wine Bottle.  It was a Monday so not many wineries open.  The Big Wine Bottle used to be a water tower.  You cannot miss it as it holds prime place on top of the hill overlooking Rutherglen.  Nice view over the valley from the hill.

The Information Centre is in a lovely brick building and the ladies that run the place were friendly and welcoming.

COVID is affecting more and more businesses and were not sure that we could find somewhere for lunch.  

We ended up parking in the main street across the road from the Rutherglen Hotel or Poachers Paradise as it is commonly known.  Hubby had a pizza that he said was flavoursome.  I had fish and chips but instead of ordering salad as I usually do, I had veg with it.  The vegies were a lovely change from a few salad leaves drenched or non-drenched in dressing.  I am over the salads served at most Pubs.  Unless there is a salad bar with interesting salads, I think that now I will go with vegies in future.  

Anyway, my meal was lovely.  The fish was tasty and the chips were done just right.







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