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Five nights in Bright

On Saturday March 24, 32 members and friends from the Probus Club of Berowra left by coach headed for Bright in the high country of north-eastern Victoria where they were to spend the next 5 nights. With breaks at Mittagong, Yass and Albury, the day passed pleasantly and after an early start, members were ready to settle into the Ovens Valley Motor Inn.


After thunderstorms overnight, Sunday dawned wet and windy but didn’t dampen their spirits. Members visited the Bright train museum where there was much of interest to see and going through the old carriages gave us a somewhat nostalgic trip down memory lane. They drove around Wondiligong, a heritage-listed town and saw many lovely old houses and buildings including the smallest still operating post office in Australia. This was followed by a visit to an apple orchard which markets their apples under the name “Alpine Apples”, available in supermarkets. After a picnic lunch out of the rain under the roof of a large shelter shed in a beautiful park adjacent to the Ovens river, members gave in to the weather and returned to the motel. Some went to the movies, some wandered around Bright and some just relaxed at the motel.


What a difference a day makes! The rain had gone and Monday saw everyone heading to Beechworth. There were plenty of fields of hops growing on trellises, some going to Carlton United Brewery. After an extensive guided town tour, during which they learned much about the history of Beechworth, members were free to roam at their leisure. Their stay culminated with a visit to "Beechworth Honey". On the way home members visited "Pumpkin Seeds Australia”, a unique enterprise involving the growing of a particular type of pumpkin with very little flesh but a large centre filled with much larger than usual dark green seeds. These highly nutritious seeds are harvested and sold in various forms - raw seeds, smoked, roasted, chocolate coated, converted to oil, skin products etc all of which are available in some health-food stores, Rawesome in Westfield Hornsby being one.


On Tuesday they set sail for Mt. Buffalo. The trip up the steep winding road was spectacular. There were sheer drops down to the valleys below which were shrouded in brilliant white clouds of mist while the sun shone brightly above. Up and up they went through magnificent trees and scenery until we reached the top. What a view! Surrounded by smaller peaks, Mt. Bogong, the highest mountain in Victoria was to the south; the rock formations on the sheer cliffs immediately below us were beautiful; behind us, still standing, was the majestic Mt. Buffalo Chalet of particular significance for Sylvia and John Read as they honeymooned there 53 years ago. Following this we lunched at a deer, emu, ostrich and goat farm, visited "Milawa Mustards" had a generous cheese tasting at “Milawa Cheeses” and capped the day off with a wine tasting at "Gapsted Wines”.


Brilliant sunshine enveloped us on Wednesday as members headed for Harrietville. Their first stop was a lavender farm and what a stop it was! They were greeted by the owner, Verona, who ushered everyone onto the large verandah surrounding her mud-brick home. They sat, surrounded by knick-knacks, sheaves of dried lavender and beautiful rambling gardens, as this hard-working , energetic and giving woman regaled them with the most hilarious account of her past and the history of this farm. They say laughter is the best medicine and everyone had a huge dose on this occasion! Verona then plied everyone with her lavender scones, hot from the oven, and real tea or brewed coffee. Delicious!

Following this and an informative visit to a berry farm, the “Mountain Fresh Trout Farm” beckoned. In ponds surrounded by fields and trees, trout and salmon in various stages of development, were maturing. Some of us had a go at fishing and many were successful, all fish being returned to their pond but fresh baked whole trout harvested earlier was on the menu that night.

Later that afternoon some of the members went on an adventure in a converted, decommissioned army truck. With full harness seat belts, sitting in two rows of four, back to back and facing the open sides we set off bound for one of the steep winding dirt trails that weave their way through the extensive pine forests that surround Bright. These trees are all clones (hybrids of European pines), planted by hand and harvested 25 years later to be turned into paper products and plywood. When they reached the top, the view was breathtakingly spectacular, a full 360 degrees of valleys, hills and mountain peaks.


All good things must come to an end and laden with purchases from the many places they had visited, on Thursday morning it was time to leave. It was a wonderful trip. Everyone was treated to interesting farms and enterprises, a feast of beautiful scenery and their lungs were all the better for the fresh mountain air.

Shannon at the motel was hospitable and looked after everyone well; Neil, the Port Stephens Coach Driver was accommodating, pleasant and seemed to enjoy the members company - most importantly, he was an excellent, safe driver.

Last but by no means least, all the members owe Veronica a huge thanks for organising this most successful trip.