Christmas has been many things to us over the years and at one time I’m quite sure that Christmas was spelt QANTAS. I do know that we did a lot to improve the airline’s bottom line at the most expensive time of the year. Come to think of it, Christmas to us has never been one of constant and cherished traditions. Well not since about 1957 when Mum told her relatives they were a bunch of urgers. She must have been right as no one offered to ‘do Christmas’* the next year.
*That’s a full-on roast dinner (after killing and plucking the fowls) for twenty with all the trimmings cooked in a farmhouse woodstove oven in near-century heat, home made plum puddings boiling away on the stove, no air conditioning and no new-fangled electric mixer to beat the cream for the wine trifle either. The Xmas song Aussie Jingle Bells sums it up well with the words:
“Pack the car and all shoot through,
before the washing up.”
Anyway, this year we had the chance to get away for a quiet Christmas and the boxes we wanted to tick were:
A small interesting town and a good caravan park walking distance from town. Chiltern did tick those boxes and there was a bonus, I was able to catch up with a couple of cousins (not urgers) who live nearby.
Day 1 Thursday 16/12/21, Home to Chiltern, sunny warm 28
It’s a sunny morning, Woody has a specialist appointment first, so we get away a little later. As we head up the freeway, I’m Googling on the phone trying to locate a clinic in the Albury Wodonga area for us to get our Covid booster shots. Eventually, we discover that we’ll have to wait as we still have traces of the cold that we caught at the Tocumwal muster. We’ll have to make a booking for when we get home.
There’s heavy traffic on the Monash and Western Ring Road. Trucks, trucks, trucks. Once we’re away from the city it’s a pleasant drive just rolling north but still, there are a lot of trucks. One truck passes us and swerves across his lane. At first, we think he must be on the phone or tired but when the swaying across the lane continues and crosses into a second lane we get concerned. He speeds up and slows down, we manage to slip past as he heads for the shoulder, then he speeds up and passes us again. This is the worst driving either of us has ever seen. Just as we say, “Don’t you just wish the cops were here”, we see a patrol car and pull over. By the time the officers are able to speak to us the truck is long gone. We feel like a pair of idiots not having photographed the truck. We don’t have the registration, not even the state, and can only say that the truck was white!
With relief, we pull off the highway at Chiltern at about 3:00pm. The Lake Anderson Caravan Park is on a small man-made lake. Cheery Esther greets us and directs us to a site paying strict attention to where we can get the best afternoon shade from the elm trees. We’ve got a good slab too, so we won’t have to drag the rather tired-looking rubber matting out.
Once set up we walk the few metres into town, which is pretty much in the street behind us. Having long ago been forgotten when the highway bypassed Chiltern, the streetscape has changed little in a century and many buildings are classified by the National Trust. The town came into being when gold was found in the area around 1858.
Being Christmas, the yarn bombers have been furiously at work and one could say “Jaysus, Mary and Joseph, Christmas has come to Chiltern!”. There are angels and Santas, kangaroos and cockatoos even a knitted lizard and aliens in Xmas hats. The craft community has gone crazy.
We buy a BBQ chook and salad at the IGA and Woody discovers that it’s also the newsagent and they don’t open until 8:30am. When he complains that he likes to buy a newspaper at 6:00am the lady suggests that he should walk around the block, many times! Crossing the street, we have a cold beer at the Ironbark Tavern before heading back. The chook is a little dry and tired and so are we.
There is a photoshoot going on in the caravan park to promote their new pod cabins and the managers ask us to pop over to the fire pit at 9:00pm to provide an audience for the promotional video. We sober ourselves up and join the other campers for 5 minutes of smiles and applause for manager Ty who is pretending to play the guitar. Bloody hell, I wish I’d brought the uke at least they’d have had something to laugh at.
Once more our Christmas lights leave us wanting.
Towing Kms: 338Kms