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  • Writer's pictureLila Greyling

A town with a story

I've had the chance to stop through Beechworth once briefly and fell in love with the character of the town. As soon as you drive into the tree lined streets it's almost as if you are driving into a different era.

It was time again to catch up with my dad for his birthday and this year easter was really early so I thought why not go and enjoy Beechworth for a few days.

Similar to Albury/Wodonga, Beechworth is almost exactly half way between Canberra and where my dad lives and honestly who wouldn't choose Beechworth over Albury/Wodonga?

For the three hour and fifty minute trip, I decided to add some must see stops along the way and take a bit of a detour through Jugiong and Holbrook for treats and some sightseeing.

Jugiong, New South Wales, Australia

The charming community of Jugiong, located off the Hume Highway on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, is a great place to start exploring the Hilltops Region and is only 90 minutes from Canberra.

Nestled within the exquisitely refurbished Jugiong General Store, The Long Track Pantry is a flourishing produce market and café that is adored by both residents and visitors. This cozy restaurant, which serves home-style breakfast and lunch, embodies Hilltops eating. Savor a delectable assortment of salads and sandwiches, velvety coffee, and a mouthwatering showcase of regionally made preserves, oils, and sauces.

Holbrook, New South Wales, Australia

After the stop in Jugiong I made my way to my second stop further down the Hume Highway. Holbrook, also referred to as "the Submarine Town" nationally, is the location of the decommissioned Australian submarine HMAS OTWAY.

Apart from the impressive sight of the submarine, the Holbrook Bakery's reputation precedes it. With all the products made fresh daily and on site it was difficult not to buy one of everything on the menu. I bought enough for lunch and dinner and took a minute to walk through the town, admiring the old buildings before hitting the road again towards Beechworth.

Beechworth, Victoria, Australia

Beechworth is set in the foothills of Victoria's High Country which showcases a spectacular variety of heritage buildings, earning it the distinction of being one of Victoria's most untainted gold towns.

On the outskirts of the town I discovered two scenic spots well worth a visit. There is a beautiful waterfall with a picnic spot and viewing deck looking out over the gorge and on hot summer days the pools forming at the bottom of the waterfall is enjoyed by locals filling the valley with laughter, which was great to see while I was there but probably my favourite stop on the way to my destination was the Beechworth Strawberry Farm.

Travelling on Good Friday I accepted the possibility of not many places being open so when I saw the strawberry farm sign I thought I'd take a chance to see if it is open. To my surprise, when I pulled in another car drove out and I was left in peace and quiet to experience picking my own strawberries, by myself with no other people running around, taking photos or getting in the way of my photos and it was pure bliss!

With a population of just over 3,000, Beechworth is very quaint. The town centre stretches over a few streets with cobblestone roads and roundabouts with antique street lights welcoming all to stay a while.

Perfect for a weekend get away, all the shops are very inviting and stocked with products that proved difficult not to purchase - from artisan creamed ginger honey, Billson's cordial (or something stronger) and mouthwatering treats from the Beechworth bakery including Beesting , which I haven't had since moving to Australia over 10 years ago.

Another highlight is the Telegraph Station, which is one of the exquisitely preserved Gold Era Structures part of The Beechworth Historic & Cultural Precinct, and was constructed in 1858.

It formerly used Morse Code to communicate between the town and the outside world.

Fast message delivery was made possible by this ground-breaking new communications equipment, which at the time was the equivalent of the internet and news of the renowned Kelly Gang siege at Glenrowan was sent from this facility.

Supported by the global Morse Code Fraternity, the building is still one of the busiest telegraph offices in the world today. Visitors to the building can still use this antiquated electrical communication method to send telegraphic messages anywhere in Australia or beyond with the assistance of their Morse Code specialists.

Even though Beechworth is a relatively small town, there are multiple bars and restaurants for good food, snacks and drinks. With only two nights to explore it all, we took the opportunity to try a few - the Bridge Road Brewers is housed in a coach house that dates to the Victorian Gold Rush of the 1850's.

To please all beer enthusiasts, their taproom features a rolling 20-tap house-brewed lineup that includes favorites from their core range as well as special releases in a variety of types, and don't worry if you don't like beer there are other options to choose from as well.

The Tanswell Hotel is a classic Australian pub with good food and accomodation in the heart of the town.

The pub was named after Thomas Tanswell who was the son of a convict who also became a successful businessman and Beechworth Justice of the Peace.

In April 1870, Tanswell bought the Commercial Hotel and changed its name to Tanswell's Commercial Hotel. He renovated the modest timber bar in 1873 and turned it into the opulent, two-story brick hotel it is today. After nearly a century of ownership, the Tanswell family sold the hotel in 1967, but the name stuck. Being a classic pub I tried their chicken schnitzel with chips and gravy and it did not disappoint.

Every weekend, The Tanswell Hotel also has live music performances by top local performers, nationally touring artists, and even internationally renowned performers.

If you're a bit more of a thrill seeker - the Beechworth Asylum sits proud overlooking the town and offers history, ghost and paranormal tours which are very informative and not filled with silly scare tactics; a perfect way to end our weekend to beautiful Beechworth!

Junee, New South Wales, Australia

On the way back home, I decided to stop in at Junee as it was easter afterall and it can be argued that there is no better place to stop for a chocolate fix!

Junee, New South Wales, is a thriving centre surrounded by gently undulating hills and set against a sophisticated architectural setting, much like it was in the past.

It successfully blends old world elegance with its contemporary lifestyle and culture, and was founded during the heyday of the New South Wales Government Railways.

Situated in the rural community, the restored Junee Flour Mill is a historically significant monument and home to the Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory.

The historically significant Junee Flour Mill stretches more than twenty meters into the skyline. Constructed between 1934 and 1935, the Mill played a significant role in Junee's economic advancement after the Great Depression in addition to becoming a municipal monument.

Today, under the brand Green Grove Organics, The Factory creates an ever-expanding array of creative, certified organic candies that are sold in stores all across Australia and abroad.

Although I explored all these sites in a few days, my mind and soul felt rested and ready to attack the next part of my life and I would highly recommend any and all to experience the same!


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