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MCG – SCG Walk, Day 13

(Beechworth – Yackandandah)

At the Lakeside Caravan Park at Beechworth, our allotted site to park the van was higher up and the toilet/shower block was at the lower level. There were no steps, so you could either go around for a gradual decline or just use the steep ramp to go down to the toilet block. Michael and I survived the night. After having shower and breakfast, we set forth for the next destination. We drove to the Beechworth town centre to start the walk from the roundabout in the centre. Michael had already put in the google maps Yackandandah our destination. When it started directing us back towards Wangaratta, I questioned it and walked into the Shell Service Station asked a “real person” for directions. He sent us back to the town centre and told us to continue in the opposite direction the same road straight through. After 15 Kms, at the roundabout take a right turn towards Yackandandah. So, in addition to using google maps, you also need to use your sense of direction to get to your destination. Otherwise, you might end up going in circles and get nowhere, which would be similar to riding the exercise bike and going nowhere.

Leaving Beechworth, the road ahead becomes Sydney Road and then Beechworth-Wodonga Rd. I was walking ahead and Michael in the van was behind me. Just as we reached the outskirts of Beechworth where the road takes a 90-degree right turn, right on that corner I spotted a signpost “Chinese Burning Towers” and called up Michael to drive forward. We both walked to the cemetery where these burning towers were located. Here I learned something new. These burning towers were not meant to cremate the Chinese who had come to Beechworth for the gold rush and had died. Michael told me that these towers were the place where the Chinese would burn (put into fire) food and money for their ancestors, a tradition which continues even today in some parts of China. This ritual is in a way, similar to the Hindu tradition of PittarPaksha or Shraadh where in the name of feeding the ancestors, we feed the Brahmins and the crows who represent the forefathers of the family.

After a couple of breaks, we finally reached Yackandandah. In the town centre, there were a few shops where you could eat and of course, there was also the famous pie shop that had been selling all sorts of pies for decades. Among the dozen or so shops in the town centre, an antique shop with a range of collection stood out. We also visited the gold museum, the vault, and the Bank of Victoria. A few years ago, this building had caught fire and was badly damaged. The salvaged items were placed at the back of the building, and we were told that a group of students from the University of Melbourne were working on a project to restore them to their original glory. I was requested to sign the visitor book at the gold museum, to which I happily obliged.

There was only one caravan park at Yackandandah. When we were checking in, the owner asked what we were doing in town. We showed her the Channel 7 video from the flagging off ceremony on Sunday 13 November outside MCG. She said, “OMG! You are doing such a wonderful work, it would be wrong to charge you anything. You can stay here for free, it is an honour to welcome you to our caravan park.” She literally refused to take any money. Thank you so much for your support. A big Thank you!

This walk has taught me so many things, the first and foremost lesson being the high level of trust people place in you when you are engaged in a selfless activity that benefits the community at large. People appreciate your efforts in trying to make a difference and improve things for others. Some offer you a free lunch or dinner, others would offer a place to stay, some would like to contribute to fundraising efforts and donate cash or online. When so many people pull in the same direction, we certainly are bound to get somewhere, and we see the positive outcome.

For dinner, we heated up a couple of containers of daal and vegies that my brother Vinod had supplied, from the freezer along with a few rotis. Michael and I both enjoyed hot green chillies with lunch or dinner and tonight was no different. This was followed by strawberries and banana along with a cuppa before going to bed. I was so tired from the walk that as soon as I hit the bed, I was snoring in no time.

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