In February this year, we embarked on an Explore trip a trip to Namibia. On arrival at Heathrow airport, I had discovered that I’d left our joint camera charger at home. 2-week photographic trip and no charger. Brilliant, Franco!
This time I did better – we have two camera chargers and the cameras are getting almost constant use. We have now been on the road in Australia via Hong Kong for almost two weeks and this morning our electric toothbrush started bleating about needing a charge; two weeks is about its limit. And yes, given the title of this post, you have correctly surmised that there is no sign of the requisite toothbrush charger in our luggage. Brilliant again, Franco!
Francine’s brother Michel likes a challenge; he was immediately onto the Internet looking for replacements. We do have manual backup but six weeks of less effective manual brushing may well leave our dentist grumping at us and, armed with a nasty high speed drill, one really doesn’t want to upset ones dentist. There’s a curiously named store in these parts called The Shaver Shop, a “Personal Grooming Retailer”, where we could get a cheapo Braun electric brush for A$24 [~£15]. That beats £900 for a new Canon camera just to get an suitable charger and besides, we would be able use it in Spain and would no longer have to cart our home electric brush back and forth. The nearest Shaver Shop being in Albury, It was also a darn good excuse to have a day out exploring somewhere new.
Albury is just across the Murray River from Wodonga. In fact, the two cities seem to be treated as one, despite the Murray being the state border between Victoria and New South Wales and the pair being in different states. The drive was almost a straight shot and took us through delightfully rural rolling hills, atypical of what most people’s image of Australia might be. It also left behind the less than settled weather forecast for Stanley; we were enjoying largely blue skies.
[Aside: At this point it is worth noting that satnavs are somewhat less than crucial in this area with its limited set of road choices – if you can’t navigate here by yourself, you can’t navigate your way out of a paper bag. The satnav WAS helpful getting away from Melbourne airport, however, and would doubtless prove useful around Melbourne, again, later.]
Entering Wodonga, we passed sizeable development activity. What surprised us, given the amount of land available in Australia, was the way the new houses were shoe-horned in together. The roofs were damn nearly overlapping. Older developments around here tend to have a couple of acres each. Curious.
We crossed the Murray into NSW to where Michel had directed us to a free parking area. We bailed out and wandered into town where we found the Shaver Shop in a mall. Sure enough, a cheapo Braun electric toothbrush on special set us back a princely A$24. Problem fixed; not my memory, unfortunately, but the lack of toothbrush charger. Assuming I eventually remember to pack it to take it home, of course, I’ll have to change the Australian plug. With teeth happy that we didn’t have to break the bank, we began a more relaxed wander.
Albury has an old Victorian train station – well, it looks Victorian to a self-confessed art numbskull – one of the platforms of which is a kilometre in length. This and the brickwork make for an impressive building.
We paused for lunch at a cafe behind the museum of modern art. Lunch was a modestly sized open sandwich of sprouted rye bread topped with smoked salmon, cream cheese, finely shaved cucumber and some very tasty young radish leaves. Very inventive. Being near a modern art museum the lawn before us was almost inevitably decorated with what I assume was a piece of said modern art in the form of a giant bath plug and chain. Tate Modern, eat your heart out!
The unsettled weather from Stanley could be seen approaching but we had time to investigate the banks of the Murray and some lagoons beside it. This was big water and, apart from birds, we initially saw nothing. Finally though and simultaneously, we both noticed damselflies flitting along the grassy edge of two separate lagoons. Conditions were not the best and access was not great, despite my skipping over the protecting fence to get – tut, tut – but I did get one good shot, and in-cop to boot, of just about the most colourful damselfly I’ve ever clapped eyes on: The descriptively named Red and Blue Damselfly (Xanthagrion erythroneurum). Get your tongue around that binomial.
The skies had been darkening constantly and at last the rain began. We retreated.