Alan C. Foster, 64, is a former courier driver who spent 17 years working 70+ hours every week (“Utter madness,” he says). “Still single after one near-miss,” Alan has lived in Yarrawonga, Victoria, on and off for 25 years. Here, he share some great tips for any fellow Travel at 60 Travel Lovers who might be passing through…
Describe your town in a couple of sentences:
“Yarra (no one calls it Yarrawonga) is about three hours from Melbourne in the north of Victoria, right on the border with New South Wales. When I first moved here the town had a population of about 3,000 people and now it’s over 12,000. It attracts many tourists for its lake and great golf.”
An interesting thing people might not know about your town is….
“It’s home to the largest public-access golf course in Australia, the Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort, which has 45 holes.”
What are the best events that take place in your town throughout the year that you’d really recommend to visitors?
“The Yamaha Cod Classic is a fishing competition that’s open to everyone and has brilliant prizes. It’s held on the lake and the Murray River in December, just after the Murray cod season opens on December 1. On the weekend after the Melbourne Cup, in November, there’s the Lake Mulwala Rod Run, when around 600 vintage hot rods (and thousands of visitors, many dressed in 1950s gear) come to town. And in March there’s the Sun Country Food and Wine Festival, which takes place across the whole shire and is all about locally grown and produced food and drink. It basically follows the Farm Gate Trail -a self-guided tour that food and wine lovers will, um, love!
Why do you love your town so much?
“It’s relaxed, with everything one needs – and a beautiful lake. Lake Mulwala [pronounced “Mull-WAIL-a”] is 23 kilometres long and was created in the 1930s when they built a weir across the Murray River. It’s a great place for fishing, boating and swimming.”
Best thing for every first-time visitor to do in your town?
“Without doubt, a dinner boat cruise on the lake.”
Best place for a coffee?
“There are plenty of good spots, but I always like the Yarrawonga Bakery or Thyme For Coffee. Special mention goes to Yarra Hot Bread (in front of Woolies) for their legendary mini custard scrolls.”
Best place for a walk?
“Everyone calls the main bridge in town the ‘Traffic Bridge’. From here, walk along the Yarrawonga Foreshore by the river for about 5km to Chinaman’s Island Wetland – it’s a great car-free nature reserve where you can walk or cycle and enjoy the wetlands and birdlife.”
Best place to look out over an amazing view?
“From the Lake Cafe and Deck, right at the water’s edge near the Traffic Bridge.”
Best thing to do at night?
“Go to at least one of three clubs: the golf club, the RSL and/or the Mulwala Waterski Club. At least one will have live music on weekends, and all have good restaurants at reasonable prices.”
Best thing to do in town for free?
“Window shopping along the main street.”
Best thing to do for under $20?
“It’s gotta be a beer and crisps in one of the pubs at 5pm!”
Best thing to do if money is no object?
“Whatever you budget, you have to do a dinner cruise on the lake.”
Best souvenir to take home from your town?
“No idea, so I’ll stick with the old standby – a t-shirt or tea towel!”
Best thing to do on a hot day?
“Hang out at the Yarrawonga Foreshore with a swim between drinks.”
Best place to warm up on a winter’s day?
“Take a walk around the lake or have a beer in a pub – or both.”
Best restaurant with a view?
“The Golden Inn Restaurant – a Chinese restaurant beside the lake within the Mulwala Waterski Club.”
Best cheap-and-cheerful restaurant?
“The Border Bistro at the golf club.”
Best place for a top-notch evening meal?
“The Yarrawonga Hotel or Lakeside Indian Restaurant – they’re both on Belmore Street and they’re both consistently very good.”
Best place for visitors to pick up something special?
“The Rich Glen Olive Estate – it’s about 7km from town and part of the Farm Gate Trail experience. It’s a family-run olive grove and they sell everything you can think of that’s to do with olive oil. Things like gourmet dressings, body and skincare products, candles and, of course, the oil itself. There’s also the Farmgate Café where everything is produced, prepared and cooked by them. It’s all simple, fresh, tasty and beautiful.”
Best place to go if you want to learn more about your town?
“The local library or the Yarrawonga Mulwala Visitor Information Centre, beside the lake.”