South Grampians and south of there

We went for a couple of days driving out west as far as the southern edge of the Grampian mountain range but not actually into them. Stayed in Dunkeld for the night.

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For years I’ve been using Flickr to store all my fotos and then embedding them on here. It was necessary on the old hosting provider because I wanted to keep my storage to a minimum. But the new host has ‘unlimited’ storage and more to the point, flickr has been steadily going down hill. The javascript rubbish they put over the top of embedded images has spurred me on to give the wordpress media function another shot.

 

But back to the travels. A two thumbs up to Southern Grampians Cottages in Dunkeld. We stayed there one night and it was really nice.

I’d forgotten how small small towns could be. I mean, the name is on the map and we drive there and indeed there is a sign saying you are there. There’s speed limits, a couple of houses, maybe a pub, no one around and that’s it. I found myself trying to get a feel for these places but it’s hard to do if you’re still going a 60kph and not stopping. But I started to wonder what constitutes a town and why does one small country town live on through changing economic circumstances while another seems to die.

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We passed through Derrinallum on Sunday and they happened to be having a market under the trees on the main strip. We stopped to have a look and ended up buying a bunch of stuff like honey, bikkies and a hand-knitted beany. (Prices in real country towns like this, as opposed to touristified towns, are very reasonable.) There was kids for the local P-12 holding a raffle to raise money for something and generally acting goofy. There was a woman singing old-timey songs and playing an amped up ukulele.

 

IMG_4177  Then on Monday mid-morning we passed through Lake Bolac and it looked dead as a doornail. Maybe it was the difference in day but the main thing seemed to be that there was no centre to the town. It’s split by the highway. The populations are about the same and Bolac has a P-12 school too, not to mention a tourist info centre and a lake. But it looked a whole lot less appealing.

 

And then on a whole other level is Timboon, where I lived as a small boy. They don’t even need you to come and visit as a tourist. Just buy their accordingly-priced boutique cheese, icecream, honey, alcohol and even bread. In Dunkeld the little grocery store was selling bread for the Timboon bakery. I used to walk past that bakery on my way home from school and all I can remember it making was very _run of the mill_ white bread so something’s changed there.

IMG_4179Cheeseworld in Allensford gets a lot more visibility in the tourist literature than it deserves. It’s not a terrible place — it’s an okay place. It’s a local-level okay kind of place to eat but the best thing is the giftshop because of how it brings together all kinds of local/Victorian produce for the coachloads of Chinese tourists to buy.

 

I hadn’t realised how how active the sprintcar scene in country Vic was either. They really should just be called dirt buggies. We passed by at least 4 speedways (i.e. dirt tracks) in very rural areas. It’s a shame this kind of stuff isn’t on TV. It’d be much more amusing and genuine than a series like V8 supercar.

 

cats, witches and wolves

Finally got around to revisiting Fairy Park in Anakie. As a kid my family went there many times  although I can only remember two  — one when it was sunny and the other cloudy. Yesterday was sunny but I think I prefer it better when it’s cloudy there. More Germanic feeling.

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We got there a few minutes after 10am, when it opens, and there was _still_ people ahead of us. It turned out to be quite busy a couple of hours after that. People from all over: international tourists, other parts of the state and locals.

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The playground had been totally remodelled but apart from that it hadn’t changed much since the early ’80s. All the displays were the same and in one case had lost function (Jack no longer climbs the beanstalk). I guess the hazard insurance for having little kids crawling all over the joint must be high but apart from that the owners must be raking the cash in for the part of the year that it’s open and hibernating nicely during the part that it’s not.

What was really nice to see was all these northern hemisphere conifers that have grown over the years.

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dirty weekend in chungju

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It was J-e’s birthday last week, and so, seemed like a good enough reason to go away for the weekend. The main idea was to catch the ferry across the Chungju lake, see the autumn foliage and stay in Danyang, a small town on the other side. We took the bus to Chungju. There’s not too much to say about Chungju. If there is something to be said, someone else can say it.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6272251648/” title=”Chungju bus terminal tourist information office by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6237/6272251648_2e775a6687_m.jpg” width=”240″ height=”240″ alt=”Chungju bus terminal tourist information office”></a>

The tourist information office was unfortunately closed when we needed it the most, around the middle of the day. We had a quick lunch while waiting, returned to find it open this time and got the information we needed, which was: which bus to get to get to the Chungju ferry terminal. While there, J-e helped a German couple who were after similar information, since she could speak both korean and english, and it seemed that the tourist info person could not.

The local bus wound its way through the Chungju industrial estate and as it turned out, this was the part of the town we spent quite a bit of time in due to taking that bus ride 3 times. We got off at the wrong place (a little too soon). The ferry terminal is at the end of the line, and we got off at the Chungju dam wall. We probably could’ve walked the rest of the way but we’d already been pushing to make the last ferry.

There were a couple of nice areas around the dam. We sat and decided what to do. Staying in Chungju and leaving early the next morning seemed like the best idea.

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I would say that over the last 7 years my tolerance (as in attitude) of cigarette smoke has dropped almost zero. I must confess that I was planning on murdering my upstairs neighbour in the near future for this reason, connected to the fact that the apartments are very much connected via the kitchen exhaust fans. I found a very neat way to completely cap off the fan pipe and uncork it when I need to use it for cooking, thus avoiding messy homicide inquiries.

If there was one message I could send to the Korean accommodation sector, it would be to start offering non-smoking rooms. It’s difficult to find a hotel room in Chungju (or most cities) that doesn’t reek of smoke or (at the low end of the scale) have a subtle inbuilt presence of nicotine. Even the newest places have it. We found a place that wasn’t too bad but when walking out the next morning I still felt like I’d smoked a pack.

The ferry trip and surrounding environs are a big hit with the middle-aged hiking and hiking-clothing wearing crowds, especially at this time of year. Around the far side of the lake we bumped into the German couple again. They were having trouble figuring the bus timetable. They’d caught the train from Chungju to Danyang and stayed there the night. In hindsight that seemed like a better plan because once we got to Danyang it was easily a nicer looking place than Chungju, being situated along a large river. We were there only a few hours for lunch and then a 3.5hr bus trip around the lake and back to cheongju.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6275040125/” title=”IMG_0717 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6112/6275040125_2fcb92aeaa.jpg” width=”500″ height=”374″ alt=”IMG_0717″></a><em>best view out of a bus terminal I’ve seen anywhere in korea.</em>