28th Nov 2005
A koala encounter
Monday, 28th November, 2005
Awoke in Milawa to yet another beautiful day. We’ve a few aims for the day and most revolve around the shops here. We drove along to the cheese factory first thing, which is a couple of miles out of town and although they didn’t actually serve breakfast, there were enough crackers and cheese, jam and chutney samples on offer to satisfy the initial pangs.
We made a few purchases or local cheese and fresh ciabatta loaf and then headed back to the bakery for breakfast. A fresh, fruit-filled Danish pastry later and a cup of Latte (or Laaaarte as the Australians seem to call it) and the other shops were beginning to open their doors. The Olive Shop; packed with everything there to do with olives; bowls, jars, chopping boards, spoons, oil jars .. oil and of course olives – more samples!
Just next door is Milawa Mustards with about twenty different types of mustard ranging from the mild and pleasant honey flavoured variety which you could quite happily smear on your bread to the blow-your-head-off red-hot chilli flavoured stuff at the other end of the table. Somewhere about the middle was a lemon and dill mustard of which we bought a very small pot.
Attached to Milawa Mustards, and run by Anna Bienvenu - Mother Mustard, is a photographers gallery, which exhibits her own work. Anna has been into mustards for the last 24 years, but prior to that she studied photography and having reared children and developed a thriving little business, she’s getting back to photography once again. The stimulus was the fires back in January, 2003 and her initial exhibition “Mount Buffalo – After The Fires” which was full of images of the charred stems against a blanket of snow with delicate shadows. The current exhibition is “After the Fires II” and is a small re-photographic project with quite a few of the original locations being re-visited and lined up.
I had an interesting chat with Anna; her views and the drive behind the work are another point on the overall graph of re-photography and a quite incidental encounter. Our final visit of the morning was to Brown Brothers a vineyard just along the road from the Lindenwarrah and the main objective was to taste the wine.
Checked out the full range of whites and reds and finished off by checking out their port. As a consequence, we took a few back roads across from Milawa to Beechworth and had to have the aircon on full blast to make sure we stayed wide awake!
We stopped in Beechworth a very old town and the place where Ned Kelly was slammed up in the courthouse. I haven’t mentioned old Ned much in this journal, but he frequented these parts; particularly Glenrowan where he withstood a three day siege spending most of it wearing an iron helmet made out of welded plough blades, before finally succumbing along with his gang in a hail of bullets.
Beechworth has a garage called the Golden Age Garage and they run a couple of vintage breakdown cars which I photographed parked in the street. Interesting prospect being attended to by a vintage car when you've broken down ... and presumably bringing all the limitations of 1950's recovery. Ther's also a nice gallery, which is up for sale … in case anyone fancies emigrating to a very nice part of Victoria!
Just out of town and heading cross country towards Chiltern I was keeping my eyes well skinned for any wildlife at the roadside and just managed to catch a glimpse of a large furry lump wedged up the top of a small tree and slammed on the brakes. The tree was about ten or twelve feet high … was a conifer of some sort and sitting there pleased as punch was a koala. We stomped around the base of the tree and stood watching him for a while.
He (or she) sat with paws firmly clamped around the thin trunk of the tree and slowly moved to the far side as you walked around, keeping the trunk of the tree between his eyes and nose and us – the only way I could snatch a profile shot was to split up and Anne went round the other side and waved her pink hat. A great animal anyway; not the speediest or liveliest of beasts, but endearing and difficult to resist the temptation to pluck it from the trunk and cart it about for a while ... or in the precise case today, very difficult to resist the temptation to reach up and poke it with a sharp stick.
We drove on up the Hume Highway and arrived at Stuart and Di’s at about 6.30 after a straight forward run. There were several travellers who were equally intent on getting to their destinations and the speeds between speed cameras topped 150km/hour at times and the journey was quicker and much more enjoyable as a result.
As we passed Yass – outside Canberra, it started to rain and by the time we got into town it was chucking it down.
Awaiting return was a copy of Drysdale Photographer a book catalogue of Russell Drysdale’s photographs which formed an exhibition in Melbourne about twenty years ago and also an Akubra hat of the right size, which Di had managed to procure.
We had a starter of ciabatta, cheese, olives and dukkah and then Di had cooked up a barramundi for supper so we had a great feast awaiting us with lashings of wine.