Day 4, Saturday 9th Nov 2013 Mansfield – Whitfield
We head out of town towards Whitfield and realise that we’re being passed by race cars. Then we notice a sign announcing that the road is now closed for most of the day. Whoops, our little caravan is in the middle of a car race! Quickly we turn the thing around and get the hell out of there. Of course, that means that instead of heading north up through the King Valley we must go first to Benalla then across to Oxley, and south down through the King valley to Whitfield. It’s a bit of a deviation but not a problem.
We arrive in Benalla to find the main street closed for yet another festival and a street parade. What is it with this week? There are flatbed trucks lined up and being prepared to be floats. There are balloons, cadets, and shivering children in gym costumes as well as a lone Scottish piper marching up and down wailing.
We drive on to Milawa and have a delicious lunch at a new restaurant called Italy on a Plate. Both the Gnocchi with Chicken Ragu and the Calamari stuffed with Seafood on Gorgonzola Mash are sensational. What a find. Smells Italian, looks Italian, tastes Italian!
It is a delightful spring afternoon, blue sky, puffy clouds, miles of grapevines, and lush cow pastures. The drive down the narrow King Valley is idyllic and complemented by a little classical music. The towns of Moyhu and Whitfield are little more than hamlets. Edi is even smaller. There is a good camping reserve at Edi cutting, it is quite a large area beside the King River with toilets. It is free and looks to be popular with the big rigs.
We decide on the Gentle Annie campground at Whitfield which is also on the river. It is an independently run caravan park ($20 powered site), quirky but clean and you couldn’t complain about the view. Woody checks in. As I wait in the car I notice a sign “all dogs must be kept on leashes” suddenly a big black dog bounds in the open driver’s side door and slurps his tongue right down my cheek. Not being a dog owner, I bound out my door just as fast. Woody calls the park “Deliverance”, but I think it could grow on you. Especially the carpet runner in the ladies loo, which, certainly is different and nice underfoot.
The Mountain View Hotel in Whitfield is owned by the Pizzini winemaking family. It has been recently renovated with clean modern lines. There is a verdant almost tropical beer garden in the bend of a small rivulet just outside the bar. The dining room is formal with white starched tablecloths. With the beer tasted and approved we head off again to Pizzini’s winery just a short distance down the Cheshunt Road.
Like most vineyards the vista is superb, there are mountains in the distance and roses in the garden. Wine sampled and approved and a few cases in the back of the Ford we check out the free camp beside the river at Cheshunt. The sign says no camping but apparently one asks permission at the general store. The road to Mansfield has now been reopened as racing is over for the day. We drive up to Powers Lookout and on the way we pass an upturned race car. The lookout was once used by bushranger Ned Kelly and his mentor Powers (even bushrangers have mentors). This view down the valley and across the Victorian alps is well worth seeing. These hills above the King Valley have a lot of nut orchards so we buy fresh walnuts, blueberries, and jams.
There is still enough warm sun to enjoy a read by the river before we call it a day by the river at Gentle Annie.
Towing Kms: 141Kms
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