Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sat 10 Nov - Griffith NSW

Waking up in Barham to another beautiful, clear blue sky morning. The wind had died down and it is just gorgeous next to the Murray river. After a lazy breakfast of ham and eggs and corn fritters, we pack up and we are on our way by 10am.

The driving for the next 300km or so to Griffith is boring. The landscape is flat, flat and flat, and we drive through a couple of non-descript towns. We stop a few times for diesel, snacks and loo-breaks.

As we come closer to Griffith, the landscape starts to change. First rice paddies and irrigation channels, then vines and then orange groves. It is also considerably greener, although Griffith is essentially also in the middle of nowhere.

Finally, we arrive in Griffith. By now, it is around 2pm and we are due for a late lunch. After hitting the main drag called Banna Avenue, we almost immediately pass a pizzeria / cafe where all 5 tables outside are occupied. Sounds good. We park the campervan and go in, by what time one of the outside tables is vacant.

We order a large mexicana pizza, a mixed salad and a cup of "Italian" coffee each at the Il Corso Cafe (back at the Corso so to say...). Lots of food arrive and we are thoroughly full at the end of all that.

From Il Corso, we can see this hot dog "stand" on the street.

After lunch, we drive up Banna Avenue another block and check in at Hotel (or Pub) Victoria, where the accommodation is very nice indeed.
Here is the balcony overlooking the Banna Avenue and its adjacent common coffee and tea room.
After checking in and getting some of our stuff into the room, we decide to wander around town a bit.
There are some nice old Art Deco buildings around, and surprisingly, several Indian restaurants including a retail spice shop.
Further down the Banna Avenue, we find it. A memorial to Don MacKay, renown anti-drug campaigner in the 70s, portraited in Underbelly 2 as presumed murdered and minced, although this has never been proven.
Quite a memorial it is, with text in gold on all 4 sides. Here are 2 of the sides.
Amazingly, Mackays furniture store still exists today, just a stone throw away from his memorial. We peeked in through the windows and it looked pretty much like it did in Underbelly, a sort of a big barn inside.
We wander back to our pub accommodation and take a few street andback lane photos...
We have noticed quite a few young people with revved up cars and with attitude around town. Lots of P-plated cars which look much nicer than you are used to see elsewhere. Hmm... Griffith is clearly a prosperous town and there seems to be plenty of money around.
Banna Lane, parallel to Barra Avenue.
Time for a break. We have booked dinner at La Scala Italian Restaurant for 7.30pm tonight on 2 recommendations. Firstly, Lonely Planet has it as "our pick" for eating in Griffith and the lady in the Griffith Visitor Centre recommended it when we pushed her a bit (she said that she was going to pick up take away from there tonight).
Getting ready for going out proved... Interesting. The only power points int the bathroom were not next to the basin, but just above... the toilet paper holder...
The way to La Scala restaurant is off Banna Avenue down this grubby arcade...
And through these doors...
To this...
We were so glad we booked! We got an excellent table in an alcove with this outlook.
The menu is true Italian and the only way to sum it up is that La Scala was pretty damn good. There is a reason they have been there since 1977. Quality and value. We had 3 courses and a local bottle of Durif wine for $120. Hans focused on prawns and garlic - both for entree and in his pasta. Di went more traditional with Minestrone soup and then the best ever Veal Saltimbocca. Veal so tender even now she's drooling... Finished with homemade cassata each. Bon appetito!
Our main meals...
Grazie La Scala.
After dinner we needed a short stroll and enjoyed the "hoons" cruising in their flash cars. Of course all P plates. Fun and did not seem to be any trouble lurking. Lots of young pretty things in the tightest, shortest dresses. Hans was eyeballing and Di was dragging him along...
Back to our pub room where a musician downstairs kicked off around 10.30, which we could hear clearly in our room. He was doing ok with Mustang Sally, I can't get no satisfaction and Brown Eyed Girl but when he switched to Divinyls, Suzy Quatro and Melissa Etheridge things went downhill. We giggled and rolled or eyes.
The musician finished at 11.15pm so we slept well then.

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