Tuesday, 3 May 2011

I've decided to split my Easter trip into several different entries because right now I'm in a little bit of a rush.

Anyway, the first day we took a day trip to this town called Castlemaine that's about 2 hours away from Melbourne.

We rented a car from the city and self-drove all the way there.

Castlemaine I would say is a town that's very like the typical countryside town. It's unlike the city- there aren't many shops around, most people drive because public transport is non-existent, etc. You know what I mean, you just know when you're in the countryside. Just like back home you can tell when you're in Ipoh and when you're in KL.

Anyway, the first thing we did there was to go to the tourist information centre. Then, it was off in search of food! In the end there weren't many choices so we settled for fish & chips. I order just the fish and a dim sim (localised dim sum) which wasn't too bad, although some of the others who ordered things like spring rolls found it horrendous.

And as the fish & chips shop was a take-away one, we went to this park to have our lunch, just sitting on the ground. Here, you see seniors (one was even swearing at top speed), young families, couples, bikers all around enjoying the sunshine.

Then the touring started. First, we went to this historic home. Was pretty hard to find because I think all of us expected it to be a huge mansion located in the middle of nowhere (or at least something like that) but it turned out to be just a terraced-sized house (though it had its own piece of land) that's in a neighbourhood. And since we had to pay an entrance fee we decided to skip it and move on to the next one, a cemetery for children!

The cemetery itself wasn't too creepy actually; in fact, it looked extremely normal. As in, you wouldn't think it's a cemetery because it looks just like any other unattended grassland. Then you move closer and you see the rocks placed in different-sized ovals. Apparently, during the gold rush period many kids fell ill easily because of poor hygiene, and if and when they died they were buried there. I think I saw a tombstone with Chinese characters but it was so faded I couldn't be sure. But I didn't any pictures anyway.

Next up was a mining museum, sort of. It's like an open air museum as it was an actual mining site. There was a maze that was made of rocks, which we tried out.

There are two entrances and you have to try to get to the middle. Pretty interesting.

The rest... not so interesting. Except this.

(It means 'gold is here', by the way)

I guess the Chinese people went there in search of better opportunities (apparently there were a lot of Chinese people back then in Castlemaine). I'm guessing that the tombstone I saw earlier could after all have contained Chinese characters.

Next we went to this Water Wheel thing. I don't know what it is, or what it's used for, it was just a structure up in the hills (had to drive pretty deep inside). So we made a hasty exit and went to the alpaca farm.

Alpacas are something like llamas, I'm told. The owner showed us a baby alpaca (don't remember what they're called) that was just born a few hours ago, and it could walk!

We stayed there for awhile listening to her talk about the alpacas. Apparently they are very curious creatures and dislike dogs. Also they are very protective of their young. You can see from this picture that there's an adult alpaca. Well that's the mother, who follows her baby everywhere.

Overall I think Castlemaine just marketed itself well. They said sights to see include this children's cemetery and water wheel and being typical city folks we expected a lot, and it turned out to be... very normal. Luckily we only went for a day trip! But it is a good getaway for people who are tired of the city. On a side note: At least my network provider (a company with about less coverage than DiGi outside of cities) had reception there!

And then we were done for the day! We arrived back at Melbourne at around 730 I believe, and had dinner then headed home to rest and get ready for the next day.
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