Saturday, December 29, 2012


We're in a touristic region here, they call it the Highlands. There are rolling hills, fortunately not as steep as the undulating roads in New South Wales. In the short history as a modern country of this continent many things have been built up and also abandoned again. I find it amazing that in remote areas as these once there were railways being built. Used for the transportation of agricultural produce and timber. Now these railway tracks are not being used any more and some of them have been or are in the proces of being transformed to cycle routes, so-called railtrails. From Tallangatta there is one to Wodonga. We rode on that one for some time until we took a left for Yackandandah, where we camped in a lovely little caravanpark on the edge of the town along the creek. The name of the town is an English version of the original Aboriginal name of the place. We see many of those, as you may have concluded yourself.
The town is one 300 meter long shopping street and some side streets, some shops, 2 pubs (many!), a park and a museum. We would call it a small village, it was cosy and there were tourists around.
The next stop was Beechworth. A touristic place, several times bigger than the latter. A beautiful old post office building, a museum, a nationally known bakery and a small roundabout in the middle.
There's also prison here, big, old and still in use, and also famous in the whole of Australia. It was here that Ned Kelly was hanged. He has become a legend. He was an Irish immigrant son in the nineteenth century who became a bushranger. Other words for that would be highwayman or bandit. He was from a poor family, and he and his brothers had been involved in petty crimes before. The police was harrassing the family more than would be proper. The police being mainly English, the poor families mostly Irish, this was not unusual in those days they say. When a policeman would have raped a sister of his Ned truned into a bushranger. Living in the bush with a gang of four, holding up stage coaches, robbing banks, killing a policeman and that kind of thing. He would wear a iron mask and iron cladding over his body. When the police set out a complete force to arrest him there was a shoot out not far from here and all of them except Ned were killed. He was severely wounded and taken to hospital, first in Melbourne, later in Beechworth. Then he was tried and sentenced to death for several murders and hanged in this prison at the age of 25. You can buy plastic copies of his armour and other gadgets here now.
This little history is being romanticised by many people here. But besides that, generally speaking there is a great interest in the history of the country. Every little town has its historic museum, showing artefacts, documents and photographs of the past, their first settlers and development. Older buildings are being preserved and marked as historic, though not many have the age of one hundred years. There are war monuments everywhere. It might be that the Australians, all of them being immigrants or descendants of immigrants, need a more than average historic awareness in order to be able to feel one nation.

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