Accordingly, both the 'Gadabout' and the 'Book Tragic' have been much in evidence over the previous few days whilst you will, no doubt, have been fretting over my unexplained absence from the pages of your Blog Reader. My destination, along with my long suffering husband and daughter, was the City of Wodonga, which together with its twin city, Albury, straddles the Mighty Murray River in North-East Victoria. Now Albury-Wodonga may consider many attractions to be their major drawcard, but for me there is but one; it has been the home of my dearest girlfriend, Kerrie, since she moved there at the end of 2008 to pursue...no...not her dream man, but her dream business opportunity (not so romantic but significantly more pragmatic).
Although obviously far less important than its position as Kerrie's place of abode, Wodonga is also strategically located between a number of especially desirable towns. We gadded to many of them:
- Albury, proud possessor of its own Pumpkin Patch store where we managed to purchase the underwear forgotten by a certain young person who fits their demographic, and well as a lovely restaurant, Sourcedining with their signature dessert: Lamington ice cream, vanilla marshmallow and chocolate sable;
- The historic town of Beechworth, home not only to Beechworth Honey and its excellent free educational Beechworth Honey Experience tour as well as to a fascinating cemetery filled with graves of Chinese from the days of the gold rush, but also to Provenance, Michael Ryan's new restaurant, which was recently announced by The Age Good Food Guide 2010 as Best New Country Restaurant of the Year;
- The tourist town of Glenrowan where Ned Kelly famously made his 'Last Stand', as well as hosting Baileys of Glenrowan with its heritage museum, and landscaped grounds and excellent Tokays and Muscats to discover at its Cellar Door;
- The Milawa gourmet region of Milawa and Oxley with Milawa Mustards, The Olive Shop, Milawa Cheese Factory (and Chocolate Factory), and finally Brown Brothers Epicurean Centre where delicious meals are created to particularly highlight the flavours and complexities of Brown Brothers Wines;
- Wangaratta, which happened to be hosting the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz, Australia's premier jazz event, this very weekend with free music in the streets and in surrounding wineries;
- The scenic Lake Mulwala, created in 1939 by building a dam across the Murray River between Yarrawonga in Victoria and Mulwala in New South Wales to provide irrigation water for the surrounding district and a renowned fishery for the native Murray Cod. The Lake is one of the few places where this Australian native freshwater fish is still reasonably common;
- Rutherglen, famous for its fortified wines, Muscats, and the full bodied red Durif wines and its star highlight, the wonderful Tapsell's Books. Oh what a dream!! It was here in Rutherglen that the 'Gadabout' collided with the 'Book Tragic'. what a way to go!!!!
I will however tell you a little bit more about Rutherglen, since a good second-hand bookshop is always worth sharing and Tapsell's Books more so than most, particularly since it also has an Internet presence as Hieronymous Books which you can search online by clicking its name.
So. If you head to Rutherglen it helps if you like wines. That's what the town is famous for. You don't need to drink a lot, but having an interest in how they're made wouldn't go astray. You can discover all you need to know about the wines and wineries from the official town website. When you get into town your first port of call (that's a gag, by the way - the town is as well known for its Port as Sydney is its Harbour, or so the billboard in town informs me) should be The Rutherglen Wine Experience Visitor Information Centre, established by the winemakers and businesses of Rutherglen to teach you all you could possibly ever need to know about Rutherglen's star attraction.
After that you'll need sustenance of a non-liquid type. There are two good cafes in the eponymously named Main Street: Forks and Corks at number 82, and Beaumonts Cafe next door at number 84. Both are meant to be pretty good, but we didn't eat at either of them. We chose instead to have a cheese tasting followed by a platter of our favourites outside by the pond with the ducks at the Indigo Cheese Company located in the grounds of All Saints Winery at Wahgunyah about 8 minutes from Rutherglen.
A tasting of All Saints' Grand and Rare Tokays and Muscats is next on the itinerary. All Saints Rare Rutherglen Muscat is just sublime. You might also want to purchase a bottle or six of their All Saints Museum Muscat provided your mortgage can withstand the $1000.00 asking price. It does come in a pretty bottle...
Image from the website
All this eating and drinking is really just to gird your loins before you wind your way back to Main Street for Rutherglen's pièce de résistance, its bookshop. Tapsell's website will inform you that its specialties are: Cycling, Books on Books, Gold and Mining History, Biography, and Local Histories. Okay, that might be the case, but for us, Tapsell's Books is an absolute treasure trove of Australian children's books. Here you'll find a first edition of Nuri Mass' Magic Australia - with its dust cover on, mind you. There are several copies of The Way of the Whirlwind by Mary Durack, including a very fine copy at a cool $375.00 but also good serviceable editions for as little as $20.00. Already you have AO1 organised, see! There are also editions of her other children's books, and a staggering 216 Mary Durack titles in total. You'll find a whole book case dedicated to Mary Grant Bruce. shelves of May Gibbs, 618 Colin Thieles, and 726 by Ivan Southall.
Now I may regret giving you access to this incredible resource, but I really like my bloggy pals, and I will be really excited if any of you find just the precious tome you've been searching for for years from a bookshop I've told you about. Be sure to let me know!
So that, in a nutshell is the 'Gadabout's' experience over the Melbourne Cup Long Weekend. We had a good one. A really good one. When we arrived home in the evening of Melbourne Cup Day itself there was just time for a quick read aloud of Jackie Kerin's Phar Lap the wonder horse before tucking ourselves into bed tired but happy. I had some new booky treasures to peruse for myself after all.
'Book Tragic' indeed.