To Great Western, Avoca

Day 6 Saturday 5/2/22, Maryborough to Avoca, sunny 28

Toothless and his Missus head home with a list of chores to be done. We’ll catch them up again soon. We check out the Paddy’s Ranges campground but forgo driving into the forest with the vans on as we don’t know if we can turn around easily. This is always a consideration, mind you there are some days when the sun is shining, the open highway stretches ahead and it’s awfully easy to forget that you have a couple of tonne of tiny house behind you.

Sorry I digress. And thus, we choose to continue on to the Riverside free camp at Avoca. One block behind the High Street and opposite the Chinese Gardens there are acres of well-mown riverside grass. With shady trees and the river high thanks to recent rains, it smells of summer here, that warm dry grass smell. Cicadas chirp incessantly. On the town side of us are interesting properties, homes with long rustically landscaped backyards. Across the river, there are well-tended old miner’s cottages.

Riverside Camp Ground, Avoca, Vic

After lunch we walk and walk. The town is at the crossroads of the Pyrenees and Sunraysia highways and the Sunraysia or High Street is divided with parks and car parking in the centre. This is a tidy town. The Avoca Hotel has long had a name for quality and it is busy with lunch trade out on the footpath. There are some well-preserved buildings here but the cutest award must go to the little white bank abutting the pub.

“Just popping down to the bank luv…”

There’s a population of 1193 but they must be all under 12 as the primary school (State School no.4) is very large. Another reminder I guess of the Golden Era. Down on High Street I find an old disused shop, the window now displays a model railroad built of wood. The engines have been carefully created from flattened jam tins. It truly is a work of fine craftsmanship. Further along, one could say that a sign of modern times is that the local milk bar has a board out front advertising Homemade Punjabi chicken and rice. The way to a new home’s heart is indeed through its many stomachs.

Victorian State School No. 4, Avoca

This is unmistakably a goldfields town. Dry quartz soil, gums and the blue Pyrenees in the distance. Gold was discovered here in 1853 and a year later the population had soared to 16,000. Woody’s Great grandfather was the policeman in charge of the Powder Magazine in 1865. In memory of the Chinese who lived here, the community has built a Chinese garden.

Woody and El Prado race to the butcher shop and come back raving about the award-winning Strasburg (sausage), Elle and I roll our eyes, doesn’t every butcher in this country have an award-winning sausage?

El Prado cooks ‘their catch’ on the Weber and the lamb chops are ‘melt in the mouth’. Yep I reckon, like that bloke in Chiltern said, you could eat ‘em with a spoon. And the Straz will be great on our sandwiches, it is very good.

Now it seems that the Prado’s have parked on an ant nest, so Elle puts the old talcum powder trick to the test. She dusts talc all-around their outdoor mat, to no avail. The little blighters just step through the stuff and waddle on. Then she adds flour to it. Their outdoor area is starting to look like a sports field with all the white lines. And the ants, we’ll they’re still happily stepping through it but they’ve got a dusting of strange white powder now.

At sundown, the kookaburras give us a lengthy chorus of laughter and, as if we’d asked…an encore.

Avoca back streets with the Pyrenees beyond
Chinese Garden, Avoca
There goes one now, with a floury sweet-smelling tail
The old Powder Magazine once under the watchful eye of Woody’s ancestor

Accom: $0 (No power, no water, two toilet blocks nearby)

Towing Kms: 26Kms

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