Benalla Ensign

A stroll around Wodonga

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A day trip can evolve from the simplest thing.

Three of us recently went to Wodonga on secret business.

Afterwards, instead of coming straight home we decided to have lunch and look around.

We headed for Junction Place, the new urban space that occupies the old railway station and rail yards.

Together with The Promenade and Richardson Park it is now the hub of Wodonga for eating, passive recreation and the occasional market.

The area looks and feels vibrant and popular.

Its landscapin­g compliment­s its previous use with interestin­g design elements, including water features and sculptures.

The trees and other plantings are now about five years old and beginning to show their ultimate leafy contributi­on.

We had planned to eat at Bean Station Cafe in the old station building, now renovated with an eclectic range of recycled railway materials, but it was closed because of COVID-19 restrictio­ns.

We didn’t investigat­e having a beer at the Goods Shed craft beer cafe and it was too early for fine dining at the chef-hatted Miss Amelie restaurant.

Other more casual choices included the Thistle and Fern, Andiamo or Topolino Gelataeria, but we decided instead to try Cafe Elmwood, about a kilometre from town on Beechworth Rd.

It was the perfect choice with its courtyard and simple but yummy lunch menu.

It won’t surprise anyone, but first I insisted we detour to see Wodonga’s new station with its single platform.

There are no signs, so the locals have to tell you it is off Melrose Dve.

It has a simple, modern design with more-than-ample shelter for passengers, it suits its location.

Elmwood Cafe is at the entrance to the award-winning Elmwood developmen­t of sustainabl­e integrated housing.

Urban design has been re-thought and about 200 houses based on a mixture of classic Australian architectu­re have all got seven-star ratings.

Only one building still to complete the project.

Of course we had a good look and noticed the trees, communal barbecue area and enclosed children’s play area.

Once inspired to notice houses we drove further and soon recognised that there are many large areas of public land with wide paths and large stands of native vegetation, especially old eucalyptus trees.

Where a deciduous tree has been planted among them the new leaves give fabulous colour interest.

We were told that all Wodonga children are encouraged to ride their bikes to school, or walk, so the paths are all safe, many going under roadways.

Some have water fountains for thirsty people and their dogs every 500 metres.

Wodonga has the luxury of hills, but even on the flatter land undulation­s have been created with soil from stormwater dams.

Covered with trees, groundcove­r or grass, paths wind around them.

We drove round and round, up and down admiring everything. Each of us commenting how happy and relaxed we felt.

At a hilltop park we noticed a billboard recognisin­g the work of a Albury-Wodonga landscape architect and the 1000 trees planted at her encouragem­ent.

We recognised the name, she now lives in Benalla.

Driving home we made another detour into El Dorado, considered to be Victoria’s most original rural township, with a rich rural and gold history.

Still today prospector­s can find an array of precious and semi-precious stones.

It was getting late, so we didn’t drive up to Beechworth, stopping and reading the 13 noticboard­s that tell the areas fascinatin­g story including that Aaron Sherritt lived there.

He was considered a Ned Kelly traitor and his death directly led to the final seige at Glenrowan.

Nearly home we passed the Vine Hotel in North Wangaratta where Ned was supposed to have escaped the police by climbing out of a cellar tunnel.

What more could a day trip have but a Ned Kelly connection too?

Our day trip was great fun and a tonic.

— Suzie Pearce

 ?? ?? Feast for the senses: There are plenty of places to stop for a bite to eat while day tripping in Victoria’s north east.
Feast for the senses: There are plenty of places to stop for a bite to eat while day tripping in Victoria’s north east.

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