After days of driving and training long distances today was a more local affair. It wasn’t planned to be that way, as I was hoping to spend at least half of it on the steam driven Goldfields railway between Maldon and Castlemaine. But B wanted to go horse riding and a suitable place was located.
When we arrived it was closed, but the owner returned my call and we organised for a trail ride in the afternoon. So we drove back into town for breakfast at the Beechworth Bakery outlet.
Across the road is the Central Deborah mine, so we completed the other half of our ticket with a tour of the outdoor section of the mine, climbing up the poppet head tower and learning about the people and processes associated with the mine. The astounding thing is how small a quantity, less than a metric tonne, of gold was actually produced by the mine compared with how much material was extracted.
The mine is also the terminus of the “Talking Tram” service, which runs old wooden trams along the main street to the Tram Museum and the Joss House along with commentary. We trundled along slowly in an open side section of Number 19 tram and just enjoyed listening to the history of the city and its residents.
Interesting how many pranks were played on the service by schoolkids. I’d hate to think of the outcry now.
We ran all the way to the Joss House terminus and back, then it was time to go riding at the Ironbark Riding Centre.
B and I once took a trail ride in the Blue Mountains, but this was Alex’s first experience. He was helped up to Danny the pony, while B and I were on full horses. Then it was a gentle ride through the iron bark scrub, past old alluvial gold diggings, chunks of white quartz and reddish brown gravel on the surface. Very slow, very relaxing, but also very hot.
Opposite the riding centre was Bendigo Waterworld, which was now obviously open, with kids screaming down the twisting waterslide. Alex, naturally, insisted on going, but his togs were back in the hotel room. So back we drove, then B stayed in the room while Alex and I returned to Bendigo Waterworld.
And now there was no time left to go to Maldon, so no steam train rides.
And there I sat while Alex climbed the stairs, slid down, climbed the stairs, slid down, climbed… …Over and over again.
We had skipped lunch after the large late breakfast and we now hungry, so we returned to the hotel, and all of us drove in search of food. The recommended eateries were all too expensive so we ended up at Grill’d, which we quite enjoyed until Alex shook the lemonade bottle…
And though we hadn’t gone far it felt like we’d gone long and so we returned exhausted back to our room. Alex tells us that he doesn’t want to leave, he wants to live here.