We had a bit of an emergency today. We ran out of wine. The only
solution to this was for us to stop off at a couple of vinyards
on the way out of Melbourne. As Em was driving, I selflessly offered
to take upon myself the arduous task of tasting the wines (at 10:00
in the morning!).
Today was a day of trees. Everywhere you looked there were woods,
forests, copses, thickets and other tree related terms.
The journey up from Melbourne to Beechworth passes through Ned
Kelly country. Ned was born in 1855 and died 25 years later, hung
for murder after a shoot-out with the police. During the gun battle,
the Kelly gang were wearing their famous home-made bullet proof
Ned Kelly website
We also passed by Lake Eildon and drove over the Dam. The lake
is part of the Snowy Mountain Hydro-electric scheme (more of that
Beechworth, where we spent the night, claims to have a jail cell
where Ned was kept - but although he was tried and convicted in
the town, he apperently never stayed in the jail (or gaol if you're
an Aussie). It was also where the armour for their final stand-off
with the police was made. We didn't stay in the jail, but in a charming
little cottage on the edge of town. Even the car got a roof over
its head! Generally, the tourist information people are excedingly
friendly over here. In Beechworth, we rocked up (turned
up) to the tourist office only five minutes or so before
closing time, but we were still found a selection of places to stay
the evening, our choice was booked there and then and we were even
given a couple of ideas of things to do and places to see that evening
(okay, she did suggest the lunatic asylum, perhaps she was trying
to tell us something!).
inside of Linden cottage
Beechworth's old mental institution may at first sight be at the
top of most tourist's list of things to see, but it's an impressive
building with lots of history. Which I may write up at a later date...
For thirty years, from 1834, the date that Melbourne was established,
people with mental illness where kept in the jail system alongside
regular convicted criminals. Things started to change due to a public
outcry in 1841 when the press brought to light the plight of these
people. The Yarra Bend Asylum was built in 1848 in what is now Fairfield
in Melbourne to go some way to meet the needs of the mentally ill
in the area. Concerns were raised about those patients in outlying
areas away from Melbourne where easy access to treatment was not
available. It took for example seven days to do the journey that
we did today back in the 1800s. A police officer would escort patients
requiring treatment in Yarra Bend on an overcrowded escort wagon,
stopping off at police stations overnight. There was usually no
access to medication, or even a change of clothes for the patients.
Unsuprisingly, it was felt that patients subjected to this journey
were less likely to recover than those who were able to receive
treatment locally. With growing concerns being raised by local residents,
the council gave its support to the establishment of a separate
facility in the area to treat people with mental illness.
Beechworth lunatic asylum was opened in 1867 and was used as a
hospital up until 1995. It was bought in 1996 by La Trobe University
and is now one of their campuses. At its peak in the 1960s, the
asylum housed 1000 patients. It incorporated over thirty buildings,
in 11 hectares of gardens and another 106 hectares of farmland.
It was completely self-sufficient, with a working farm, piggery,
orchards and kitchen gardens, tennis courts and even its own theatre.
The picture below shows the front remaining section of the administration