The Great Victorian Rail Trail

The Great Victorian Rail Trail
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A WEEKEND PUBBING AND CYCLING

Last ANZAC long weekend offered an opportunity for Richard and I to explore a bit of the country. We decided to visit Victoria and explore the “Great Victorian rail trail”, we would take our bikes and go from Yea to Molesworth and explore the tunnel in the middle. On top of that, we decided to make this a “Pub weekend” in which we would only have counter food.

PUBLIC HOTELS AND CANTINAS

Pubs are the equivalent of Mexican cantinas to which I have already dedicated a few words previously. Just as Cantinas, some Pubs are in a current decline, where the entertainments they offer don’t seem to match the needs of glamorous cities such as Melbourne or Sydney. But Pubs in small towns seem to be different. They seem to adapt better to a quiet life and some of them can even be the social center in town, or even attract a big quantity of tourists. Some others have renovated and improved their facilities and food quality, in order to bring more customers.

FIRST COUNTER MEAL

We started our journey by having lunch at the “Criterion Hotel” in Gundagai. The building is a classic Art Deco style with a few bad renovations here and there. Food was great, the kind of meal you expect from a Pub, fresh and nice. We wanted traditional counter meals and that is exactly what we had, when we ordered a hamburger and a BLT. We ate at the beer garden which is a nice veranda looking towards a park. This was our first stop, and we still had a long way to go.

YEA (PRONOUNCED YAY!)

We had booked a room at the “Peppercorn hotel”. The place is more than 150 years old, and the current owners have done a great job preserving its charm, whilst bringing the comfort of the modern times. Our room was beautifully decorated and had great amenities, such as a coffee plunger, a kettle and ground coffee, the perfect tools to start a good morning. It also offers a complementary breakfast that you can have in their nice veranda overlooking at the old train station.

Yea seemed like a little charming town, and in order to explore it that evening we decided to start cycling. So off we went to find the liveliest place in town to have a drink and maybe dinner. As we were cycling through the town we enjoyed its charm and quietness at the same time. Although most places were already close, you could see through the windows all the nice things we could explore the next day, such as the Ice cream place, and a few coffee shops. We also found three different pubs and we made up our minds towards the “Royal Mail Hotel”, at the end of the street. Besides being the largest, it had the most quantity of customers and that always says something about a place.

ROYAL MAIL

This place has been fully renovated without losing its original charm. The beer garden was lovely set with some wood benches. I ordered a cider and found a regionally made one “Napoleone” from Yarra Valley. It was a delightful surprise, with a great taste. We decided to have our dinner there and realise it was a more evolved kitchen than the usual counter meal. I had chicken tenderloins with pancetta and Richard had a Thai Laksa. Two very different meals very well delivered.

FROM YEA TO MOLESWORTH

The old rail trail has been adapted into a cycling trail all the way from Tallarook to Mansfield, and we wandered about the Yea to Molesworth piece of the trail. With 16.5km of country scenery, it is a very nice way to spend the day, and the pearl of the crown is the Cheviot tunnel with 200m of darkness and a small halo of light at the end. We stopped at the fully renovated Molesworth Hotel for lunch, where I had a lovely honey pumpkin soup. It was reinvigorating!

THE LAST STOP

We decided to have our last counter meal at the “Country Club Hotel”. Another renovated lovely Pub in Yea, with a quieter ambience than the Royal Mail, but with food just as great. I ordered the scallops and Richard a pizza, which we enjoyed very much.

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