Thursday, November 26, 2009

Beechworth to Gundagai

November 21

Another grey sky, but not dustladen this time. Rain was falling and continued all morning.
It didn't take us long to reach Albury, just across the river in New South Wales. Albury is the hub for the area, with all the standard chain stores and banks represented. The only interesting thing about it is that it has the longest railway platform in Australia. Until the 1960's, trains from Melbourne and Sydney ran on rails of different gauges. Both terminated here at opposite ends of the platform, and passengers transferred to continue their journey in either direction. From a pedestrian overpass, you can see the grander NSW end fading away towards the modest Victoria end in the distance.

Otherwise, on a Saturday morning at least, Albury is an awful place, full of surly people elbowing their way through the parking lots and malls. Hunting for a parking space, we came across a couple arguing across the back seat of their car with both doors wide open. When we tried to get the guy to shut his door so that we could use the adjacent parking, he snarled at us. Inside the mall, overweight parents were hassling their children, then threatening them if they squawked. We grabbed our few groceries and beat a retreat.

We drove north on the Hume Highway, usually busy but quiet on this weekend, through rolling farmland dotted with Black Angus cattle, and came to the small town of Gundagai. Gundagai has some nice old houses and two abandoned trestle bridges, one for rail, one for cars. This is the rail bridge:

The town used to be on the flat land below the bridges, but after a couple of disastrous floods, one claiming 78 lives, it was moved up the hill on which it now stands.

The bridges were abandoned when the highway and a new rail line bypassed the town. A plaque describes their current status as "managed ruin". This is the car bridge:

We spent the night in Gundagai's quiet caravan park.

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