My first visit to Beechworth was in 1972. Yes, nearly forty years ago. So, it stands to reason, that things will have changed in the interim: the town will have changed; and, I will have changed.
And the way history is perceived and presented has changed.
In the year 2000, I gather, a sizeable amount of government funding was dedicated to Beechworth, to enable its story to be preserved for future generations. The tagline, 'Echoes of History', is the public face of this programme.
The result is a sterile, bureaucratisation of a provincial town. I guess it was either that or history as a 'reality show'. Needless to say, I was gobsmacked and disappointed. But I will be the first to say that I have changed equally as much as Beechworth has changed.
In my mind's eye, I had visions of a tumble of junk, of dirt, of old people with flowing beards working in blacksmith's shops, of slabs of decaying wood roughly joined together into huts. Was this what Beechworth had been in 1972? I am no longer sure.
But Beechworth today is fit for the busloads of senior's groups who are plonked down in the main street for an hour or so, and who spend their time in gift-shops and bakeries.