Day 31 Wednesday 4345km
I drove into Wangaratta and parked jumpin’ joan at the skate park and then walked over to a little shop with ‘fresh donuts’ on the sign. Ordered a latte and four donuts at 60 cents a piece and they said it would be a minute or two as they were being made right then. After my indulgent breakfast, I hit the ramps at the skate park and then eventually hit the road. On the drive toward Beechworth I saw a sign proclaiming olives and olive products for sale and swerved up the steep dirt drive. A lovely older lady was taking her grandson out of the car and invited me in. I sampled her goods and bought some basil and garlic olive oil and then headed out to paint her olive trees. They were all quite small, but a picked the biggest one with some dynamic landscape behind it and got on top of jumpin’ joan and got to work. After finishing up and showing Anne, I jumped back on the road and headed into Beechworth. Beechworth makes its claim as the ‘most well-preserved mining town’ and it was pretty old-fashioned indeed. I stopped in and had a pot of beer and chatted up the locals a bit but didn’t really like the town so I pushed on a bit further to Stanley. Between Beechworth and Stanley there were a number of chestnut orchards with beautiful orange and ochre leaves. I stopped in at the pub, but they didn’t open for another hour or so and it was still daylight so I drove on into the State Park on the other side of town. I later found out that bushfires has ripped through this area a few months ago in March. It was pretty bleak and there was no ground cover, and even when I found a good campsite at the end of a logging road I pressed on as I couldn’t see myself camping here. Out the other side of the State Park and I came into the little town of Yackandandah and parked to have a look around. At the Star Hotel I talked to a very friendly proprietor who told me there was an Irish jam session happening tonight. Glad that I had pushed on and come to this bit of luck, I told him I’d see him later and went looking for a room. The pubs were full so I figured I’d just sleep in the van. I drove out to a rest area and cooked my dinner and then came back in and brought my guitar and violin into the pub. Pretty soon it filled up with several guitars, several fiddles, an accordion, a mandolin and a very keen small pipes player. They had some songbooks that we played from, and then we just went around the room offering suggestions. My contribution was to lead ‘minor swing’ by Django Reinhardt. We closed the bar out at 11pm with a couple of guys from Melbourne shouting pints of Guinness.