by Kerry Tolson @kerrytolson.com
I have discovered a gem of a town, a village so beautiful ‘she’ shines with intricate treasures. And although it was never on the ‘one day’ list, it’s definitely going on the ‘when we come back’ list.
We had never heard of this town before and it was only when the night before Mal was reading about a vintage machinery museum in the gold boom town of Maldon that we decided to visit. I had other plans but Mal had indulged me with the boxy station and the pink mounds so I was happy to let him have an old tractor or two.
This 60-metre imperial dragon has held court in Bendigo since 1892 and portrays the proud heritage of the Chinese miners who flocked goldfields in the 1800’s. Although his beautiful silk and papier-mâché length has lost its glittering lustre, Loong is still an intricate sight to behold. He now sits in the Golden Dragon Museum along with various other stunningly beautiful ceremonial dragons. The museum is fabulous, filled with colourful pageantry banners, beautiful embroidered cloaks and gowns, ornately carved furniture and a full history of the contribution the Chinese community has given to the area and Australia.
Beside it sits the tranquil Yi Yuan Gardens (a welcome relief to the intense heat that was hitting Bendigo at that time of the afternoon) and the Kuan Yin Temple – a Chinese Buddhist temple dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy. I was delighted to further find another Buddhist temple in Bendigo (or just on the outskirts of the city) which Mal and I proceeded to ‘hunt out’ the next morning on the way to Maldon. Said to be the largest stupa outside of Asian, The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion has been design to be identical to the Great Stupa of Gyantse in Tibet. Having dragged Mal to every stupa and temple I could find during previous trips to Nepal, Thailand, Bali and Cambodia, there was no way I was going to miss seeing Australia’s great Stupa.
We drove up and down country roads and dirt tracks and came to the tranquil bush setting of the Atisha Centre. Passing the gates of the Thubten Shedrup Ling Monastery we drove up to the Exhibition Centre and viewed the Stupa. I felt a tiny pang of disappointment when I saw that the Stupa is still being built – “the scaffolding tour” as Mal would call it – but at the same time I was impressed and awed at the size it would be. When finished, this will be a stunning Stupa and in its surrounds, will be a very special peaceful place for contemplation.
We left the Great Stupa and followed the narrow country roads to Maldon and stoped at the first beautiful historical building we came to. The Maldon Railway Station. Well it wasn’t so much beautiful as pretty - a quaint building with ornate ironwork and arched windows. There didn’t appear to be much around it other than a couple of small miners cottages with the cutest picket fences and iron-laced verandas.
Turning the corner, we stumble upon the township of Maldon and I just about wet myself with absolute excitement. Maldon is every description of gorgeous! Wherever we look, we see living history right down to the vintage and veteran cars that drive through the streets.
Many hours later we drag ourselves reluctantly away from this picturesque town and head for Castlemaine.
This town is on our ‘one day’ list for one thing – petrol bowsers.
On the banks of Lake Daylesford, we grab a quick lunch in the company of a beautiful black swan who has a craving for fish&chips on the banks of Lake Daylesford then head into the setting sun, bypassing Ballarat (on the new list) and watch the countryside go from goldfields and ironbark to endless fields of golden wheat and rolled bales.
At Streatham we discover a town that has risen from the ashes of a 1977 fire that practically wiped it out and in Dunkeld we see the cutest little school with a teacher you wouldn’t have wanted to cross (if you’d been a student back yonder). According to the sign near the front gate, this teacher would hang a sign declaring your naughtiness around your neck and parade you around the town.
As the day draws to an end the days dawning in the goldfields ends with a spectacular sunset over the bay of Portland in Victorias golden south west.
Hello! I'm Kerry
. . . a plan-nothing, have no idea where I'm going travelholic.
A daughter of the gypsies and the wife of a workaholic, I'm forever wondering 'What's over there?' and devising ways to squeeze through the barbed-wire fence of small-business ownership responsibilities and every-day life tangles to discover it.
and this is my book