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Jingle bells at Chiltern as GSA joins the Bates family in Kui Christmas hat-trick of firsts

December 10, 2015
Jingle bells at Chiltern as GSA joins the Bates family in Kui Christmas hat-trick of firsts

By Lisa Morrison

Chiltern is a bird watching capital a rail ride from Melbourne and Albury where visitors enjoy serene Lake Anderson camping while tracking feathered friends.

The pretty, country-style caravan park offers exceptionally well presented cabins, plus grassy, shady powered and unpowered sites for caravans and campers too.

Lake Anderson Caravan Park, is now a Kui Parks member and sits near the Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park, home to the Regent Honey Eater as well as a unique variety of birds. Just ask www.friendsofchiltern.org.au for a bird guide which displays up to 50 varieties.

Lake Anderson Caravan Park is convenient to the Hume Highway, about a kilometre to the east of the historic gold town, but far enough away to avoid the road rumble. The caravan park is in the Chiltern Recreational Precinct, with the Chiltern Bowls and the tennis courts, swimming pools (life guard on duty) all within one or two minutes walk.

Chiltern's historic railway station is also within walking distance from the caravan park and bird watching groups come out on the train from Melbourne and Albury and stay at Lake Anderson Caravan Park as they gather for excursions.

The lake changes as the light shifts throughout the day. It is magic and I lose myself in the gentle atmospherics and reminisce to the sounds of birds, cruising pelicans and fishermen casting for trout and yellow belly perch.

Lake Anderson Caravan Park is a first for the Bates family as owner operators. Initially from Beechworth Ty, Esther and daughter Charlee had been living in remote North Queensland's Cape York. This included running a tourist shop at Croc Tent in 2010 until they came back to Victoria and fell in love with Lake Anderson.

With daughter Charlee the family celebrates their first Christmas as Lake Anderson park owners. Esther is a nurse and has a diploma of paramedical science. She works part time for the Royal Flying Doctors at Wangaratta.

Esther, Ty and Charlee Bates have made Lake Anderson home. The couple waited 10 years for Charlee and now the young family is determined to make a success of their first caravan park.

They were celebrating a first when GoSeeAustralia booked in. This week they joined Kui Parks and I am the first Kui customer to use my Kui Parks loyalty card. It was a first for me too as I joined in the excitement as I used my Kui Parks Loyalty Card discount to pay for my particularly comfortable cabin.

My favorite Kui Lake Anderson spa cabin
My favorite Kui Lake Anderson spa cabin

I have been coming to this park for over 12 months. I discovered Chiltern as I headed back and forth from Melbourne to GSA's office in Canberra. Kui Parks is lucky to have Lake Anderson on board as a Lake Anderson Deluxe Cabin is perfection from my point of view.

Chiltern caught my eye with its famous history which includes the main street being used as a movie set.

Chiltern has been used as a setting for many films and televisions series including 'My Brother Tom', 'The True Story of Spit McPhee' and 'Ride a Wild Pony' to name a few due to its authenticity to the gold mining era.

Chiltern is an historic town and a living memorial to bygone days; its business centre buildings restored and maintained to preserve the architecture of its gold mining heritage.

The town has developed its theme around historic museums and bric-a-brac shops. There are quaint shops offering antiques and collectables, as well as cafes and accommodation. With most of Chilterns attractions within easy walking distance of the main streets, a picturesque park on Lake Anderson, bush walking tracks and bird watching spots in the surrounding Box-Ironbark National Park, Chiltern makes an ideal holiday and road touring base in North East Victoria.

GSA1 rest up at Kui Lake Anderson CP Chiltern
GSA1 rest up at Kui Lake Anderson CP Chiltern

I am also addicted to the Eldiablo Ranch Wear store and Reba music located in the main street. I built a website design for owner Tra Bullock and we are friends. Tra has been joined by Adel of Del-Bazaars, opened last week with a selection of decor fashion and jewellery from around the world.

Tra says Del-Bazaar complements the successful Eldiablo.

I have noticed so many changes over the past 12 months particularly with the dining out options. Ironbark Tavern is now open celebrating Thai food.

The Vine Bar hosts the best gourmet pizza and the Telegraph Hotel has a bistro with an interesting menu. Talking of Vines. Is the grapevine which is hidden in a pleasant courtyard accessed through theVine Bar the biggest in the world?

The Vine Bar owner Shayne Vogel thinks it might be.

It is certainly the biggest in Australia and has a place in the Guinness Book of Records for that reason. The huge plant's trunk is more like and oak tree than a grapevine. Walk in for a look-see from Chiltern's main street and it will gob-smack you.

Tra works on Eldiablo Christmas look Chiltern
Tra works on Eldiablo Christmas look Chiltern

In 1936 the Baxter Sherry variety produced a crop of 2.5 tonnes. One bunch of grapes weighed 6.5 kg. Planted in 1867 the remarkable vine has never been watered or fertilized. It still bears fruit in March each year.

Opposite the caravan park, across Lake Anderson, is the childhood home of the author of The Getting of Wisdom. Lake View House is a single storey red brick home owned by The National Trust. Furnished in period style and fully restored.

Henry Handel Richardson was the pseudonym of author Ethel Florence Richardson. She wrote many works including The Getting of Wisdom and a trilogy The Fortunes of Richard Mahony in which in Ultima Thule she describes her experiences in Chiltern.

Henry Handel Richard's birthday, 3 January, is celebrated each year at historic Lakeview House, Chiltern, where she lived for a short time as a child.

So with its golden historic links and attractions Lake Anderson Caravan Park is definitely a Chiltern destination although it is often used as a stopover by travellers bound north and south on the busy Hume Highway.

Shayne Vogel with giant grapevine Chiltern
Shayne Vogel with giant grapevine Chiltern

There are four Lakeside Cabins and two Budget cabins.

I love to be spoilt and the clever design of the spacious Lakeside Deluxe Spa Cabin makes it my favourite.

GSA's Agnes prefers the Family cabin.

My daughter likes the Lakeside Cabins relaxed setting.

So with pleasant campsites available too for caravans and tents there are accommodation options at the caravan park which cater to a variety of tastes.

www.kuiparks.com.au

Serene evening Kui Lake Anderson Chiltern
Serene evening Kui Lake Anderson Chiltern

Shayne Vogel and historic Vine Bar Chiltern
Shayne Vogel and historic Vine Bar Chiltern
Fishing Lake Anderson Chiltern
Fishing Lake Anderson Chiltern
Powered up to write this story on the cabin couch
Powered up to write this story on the cabin couch
The Vine  on Main St Chiltern
The Vine on Main St Chiltern
Useful kitchen Kui Lake Anderson CP cabin
Useful kitchen Kui Lake Anderson CP cabin
Charlee welcomes first Kui member to Lake Anderson Caravan Park Chiltern
Charlee welcomes first Kui member to Lake Anderson Caravan Park Chiltern