Hardened Criminals

Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
Trip End Oct 06, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Saturday, October 20, 2012

We took a train from Sydney to Albury in order to intercept Carol C who was stopping in nearby Wodonga as part of her Olympic Medal Golden Tour (hereafter known as the OMG Tour). It was certainly some distance away from our recent Japan Rail experience but the train almost left on time and the conductors didn't bark at the passengers too much, so it was almost a really pleasant journey.

Carol C was able to shake her new fan base long enough to pick us up and taxi us over to Margo H's home where we were walked through Carol's recent Paralympic Gold Medal win in cycling- hopefully oohing and aahing in all the right places (while winning her medal Carol broke her personal best time by 17 seconds so I'm waiting for the final drug tests to come back before getting too carried away). DH, Carol, and Margo were also able to relive a few memories from long ago Police Athletic Game parties. And perhaps most importantly for us (apologies to the OMG Tour), we were treated to a homecooked steak dinner- extended travel can be a tremendous amount of fun but home cooking (especially when you're not the one doing the cooking) is always a welcome experience.

Suitably refreshed and refueled, we made the short journey to Beechworth, home of one of the most famous outlaw clans in Australian history- Ned Kelly and his family. Ned Kelly was either a cold-blooded killer or folk hero depending on which side of the fence you chose to be on. Perhaps his greatest claim to written history was the suit of armour he and his gang fashioned for a final shoot-out with police- the helmet looked like a upside-down metal bucket with an eye slot, and metal plates covered the front and rear but left the legs exposed (which was Ned's undoing). Everything from fridge magnets to mail boxes replicate this iconic image.

Still in training, for breakfast Carol took us to a vintage candy shop and a famous bakery for what I can only assume was Carols secret 'high sugar-no nutritional value' diet of gold medal champions. After coming down off our sugar high an hour later we wandered the town that has retained it's turn of the century look and feel, and eventually ended up at the Beechworth Prison. Australia can be a bit of a nanny state at times but apparently that doesn't extend to the criminal class if Beechworth is any indication. This prison was operating as recently as 2004 and although the floggings had stopped and TV's were added, the prison conditions remained somewhat barbaric. Eight people were hanged on gallows built within the prison just outside the cells (a fellow prisoner would be paid to be the hangman), but the most famous inmate of all, Ned Kelly, was actually moved to Melbourne Prison for his hanging (uttering his memorable final words "such is life" just before the trap doors opened).

You might think that the criminal exploits of Ned Kelly's family were halted at the end of the noose, but Val P, the woman Carol had us staying with (who denied any interest in Ned Kelly- me thinks thou doth protest too much), was obviously a small package of criminal dynamite who we suspect may have been a great great granddaughter of the infamous Ned. Knowing far more than most about horse racing and gambling was just a start- she had given her dog a name that could only be intended to provoke street fights (a name which cannot be repeated in family oriented blog), and 'accidentally' vacuumed up an unwanted budgie, presumably in one of those bad-guy moves intended to send a message to anyone else who might be tempted to sing like a bird (or maybe she was just tired of owning a budgie?). In reality Val was a wonderful, if somewhat dangerous hostess who welcomed us into her home and took us all out for dinner in order to show off Carol and her medal to any of the interested locals- a nice addition to the OMG Tour.

Next day, after a quick stop at the Milawa Cheese Factory for another round of championship dining, we were ready for our roadtrip to Melbourne.
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Carol C on

The OMG tour continues! But I still haven't been up to trying to get free stuff Vic. I need you here as my OMG tour manager.
Hope you enjoyed meeting the people in my life...they are colourful characters!

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