Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sightseeing in Australia - 7

When gold was discovered towards Bendigo and ballarat in the 1850s, Woodend became the main throughfare through the Black Forest. It sits half way between Melbourne and Bendigo and today has a population of around 3,200. Like many Victorian towns, it has some lovely historic buildings - this is one of my favourites - the gigantic Catholic Church that overlooks the rest of the town from a small rise. Woodend is a popular commuting town and every morning the train from Bendigo to Melbourne is filled with hundreds of Woodend residents, who work in the city. I took a shine to Castlemaine the very first time I visited. I was on a drive to Bendigo - on a day that hit 40 degrees and left me and exhausted melting, wreck - but I hit Castlemaine early, just as the shops were opening at 9am, before the heat reached its peak. Established in 1851 around 40km south of Bendigo, it quickly became a gold boom town. Today it has a population of around 7,000 and is home to the oldest continuously operating theatre in mainland Australia - the Theatre Royal (1856). I found an amazing household secondhand store here - more of a barn really - with the biggest collection of tools and light fittings I've ever seen.
Whenever I'm in Australia, I grab a car and head for the countryside. As much as I adore Australia's big cities, I also love discovering little towns and settlements that spread out from the larger centres. I can spend whole days just driving and stopping at will to take photographs. This was one stop I made at a tiny settlement called Greendale - little more than a pub, a general store, a speckling of farm houses and these old grain houses (?), which were for sale. I quite like the idea of a snazzy conversion but at 81km north west of Melbourne (in the shire of Moorabool) and a population of just 400 or so, I thought it might be stretching romanticism a little too far.
And speaking of Melbourne, this is the bright green entry to Ezard design store. I've walked the streets of Melbourne photographing for hours on end, more times than I can count and I never tire of it. Everything from the architecture, the people, street scenes, cafes and restaurants, signage, shop fronts, street art - you name and I'll probably have a photo of it. I fantasise about spending several months in Melbourne doing nothing more than this - and finally, later in 2011, I'll be one step closer to just that.

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