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On Walkabout In: Bonnie Doon, Victoria

When I first got to Australia and began working there my co-workers invited me over to watch a movie that they said I just had to see if I was to properly understand Australia.  That movie was ‘The Castle‘:

I had never seen or even heard of this movie before, but after watching it I can understand why it is such a classic film to so many Australians.  The movie is about a family living near the Melbourne Airport who are being forced to move out of their home because of a runway expansion project.  The family is refusing to move and launches protests and legal actions to stop their eviction.  The movie is filled with laugh and the underlying theme that many Australians cherish of “a fair go”.  Incredibly this cult classic in Australia was filmed in 11 days and with a budget of only $500,000 AU.

Since I first watched that movie I have now seen it many times and actually own it and show it to other Americans that have never been to Australia before.  The longer you live in Australia the funnier this movie becomes because you better understand Australian humor.  Something I really found surprising about this movie was that I learned that Eric Bana started out in Australia as a comedian and is now a famous Hollywood action actor.

Anyway the vacation home of the family depicted in ‘The Castle’ is a place called Bonnie Doon.  For those that don’t live in Victoria, they may not realize that Bonnie Doon is in fact a real place.  It is a very small village about 115 kilometers northeast of Melbourne along the highway to Mansfield.  On one of my trips to Mt. Buller I stopped in Bonnie Doon to take a few pictures.  Here is the Wikipedia entry about the history of the town:

The township was established subsequent to gold discoveries in the area. It was originally named Doon after the town of that name in Ireland. The Post Office opened on October 1, 1866 and was renamed Bonnie Doon in 1891 coinciding with the arrival of the railway. [2]

Much of the original town of Bonnie Doon was flooded by the construction of Lake Eildon in the 1950s. The township was relocated; some buildings were picked up and moved, whilst others were able to remain in their original site, such as the churches.

The first thing people see in Bonnie Doon like in many small Australian towns is the ANZAC Memorial.  Even in a small village like this, they had town’s people who fought and died in World War I:

The memorial location was actually a pretty nice little park that many people stopped at to use the public restroom facilities there and take a break before continuing on down the road to Mansfield:

Bonnie Doon has a populatin of about 755 people and by looking at downtown you believe it because the place looked like a ghost town:

Just outside of Bonnie Doon are two large bridges that are supposed to cross part of Lake Eildon.  One of the bridges in the newer highway bridge for cars to cross and the other bridge is an old railway bridge that has now been converted into a walking path:

I walked out across the bridge and from there I had a great view of Lake Eildon:

As you can see the lake no longer reaches out this far any more due to the lack of rain fall and over use of water resources in Australia due to agriculture and a expanding population.  This now dry portion of the lake has now turned into a popular place for dirt or mort bike riders as there was a number of people on these bikes taking advantage of the open land:

Overall, there is not much to see in Bonnie Doon, but for fans of the ‘The Castle’ it is worth taking a pit stop here if on your way to Mansfield anyway and picture Darryl Kerrigan singing to his family “Were Going to Bonnie Doon”.

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