An unseasonably warm and sunny winter's day was perfect for a catch up lunch with friends and an afternoon meander around the fabulous gardens in Cranbourne. I quite possibly took my jacket off at some point, but some of the kids were wearing shorts and playing in the water features - and that's just Madness! Actually, you know what the first sign of Madness is? Suggs walking up your driveway!! Boom boom!
Oh yeah, actually we did go to a mine. But not down one. We just hung out on the surface, which is a pretty good museum piece on its own. There are original buildings and gear that was essential to the mine's operation, including various pieces of equipment and machinery from the other Deborah mines (aha! You didn't know there were others, did you!?!? Me neither. I should get out more).
Sure, it all looks like smiles and sunshine now, but one of us did not sleep well during the night when it was colder than a very cold thing!
Flashie and I have blow up single mattresses for camping for two reasons: 1) we like to be somewhat comfortable and 2) we're princesses. There seems to be two schools of thought for the blow up mattress: those in favour and those against, including the naysayers who claim their mattresses get "full of cold air from the ground, so I'm just sleeping on cold air" to which I say "You're not doing it right, you nufty".
Who decides to go camping when it’s predicted to be 1°C overnight? Three idiots, that’s who. Me, Balders and Flashie finally co-ordinated a long weekend to go camping together and it turned out to be the coldest Autumn weekend in living history (well, ours). The Anzac Day long weekend (it wasn’t one, but we made it one by taking the Friday off work) saw us pack a tonne of stuff into two cars and fang off to Mount Alexander Regional Park near Castlemaine.
We're pretty bad at going straight home. This time, we were no different. We made an unscheduled stop in Ovens to admire the sunflowers and take a break from the traffic jam that we found ourselves in.
The following day found us wandering along The Diggings Walk in the old gold mining town of Wandiligong. It was here I discovered that I might have a bit of a bridge fetish.
I’ve been pretty busy lately and I totally forgot to tell you about the time I decided to climb this:
Sure it doesn't look THAT tall, but the sun was out and it was quite warm so you know...it seemed much taller than it actually was. But never fear - your faithful scribe didn't pass out mid-climb so now I'm here to tell the tale. Let's go back a bit, shall we?
Forgive me dear reader for I have sinned. It’s been over a month since my last confession. I’ve been a bit busy this past month and after fulfilling the time quotas I have for being annoying to my better half, taking naps, inhaling popcorn and generally being lazy, there’s often no time for writing.
But here I am, back to tell you about the time I went to Metcalfe and discovered The Cascades. I say “discovered”, but I don’t mean in the sense that a great explorer might have discovered an uninhabited island. Oh no....it was very clear someone had been here before me. Picnic tables!
If you've been living under a rock, you might not know that Cranbourne East, a residential suburb about 50kms south east of Melbourne, is the fastest growing suburb in terms of people, in Australia. The flood of residents has given rise to an influx of bogans (normal in any housing estate), an upswing of crime (new houses are often full of shiny things) and endless cries for public transport infrastructure to cope with the area's growth (trains, anyone??).
But it also has something very different. A mere stone's throw across the South Gippy Highway is the very excellent 'Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria at Cranbourne' where one can easily spend the best part of a day exploring the different gardens, structures and waterways and generally forgetting the rest of the world exists.
Wanna learn something about history and be the envy of your friends at your next pool party? Get a cuppa then.
Lake Mungo is a lake bed that dried up about 15,000 years ago. Aboriginal people inhabited this area at least 50,000 years ago and it’s where Mungo Lady and Mungo Man were discovered (in 1968 and 1974 respectively). It's one of the oldest places outside of Africa to have been occupied by human beings, and Aboriginal people believe that before the Dreaming, there was a ‘land before time’ that was flat and lifeless. A bit like this:
It’s in New South Wales, about an hour and a bit’s drive north of Mildura if you don’t use Google Maps. Imagine my surprise when Google wanted to take me on a 4 hour drive to get there from Mildura. I mean, I know there’s dirt roads and you have to be somewhat careful, but suggesting I go 50km out of my way or that I drive at 20kph? WTF Google??
Let’s cast our collective minds back a few months when the weather was decidedly warmer and butterflies still flapped about like idiots. When the sun wasn’t just for show and actually had some warmth in it. You remember....back when it was a burny bastard and its purpose was to cook us the minute we nipped out for milk? Well, before the temperature plummeted to somewhere between Artic and Baltic, Flashie and I went off to Lake Tyrrell in Northern Victoria for a bit of a look, and we ended up at Lake Mungo.
Yes alright, I’ll tell you how that happened...
Right, well it's officially Winter. Ugh, I can feel my insides getting colder already.
Garden wandering again....this time in Mount Macedon. You'd think by the number of posts on this blog that contain trees, leaves, flowers and other bits of organic-based tat, that I actually enjoy gardening. I don't particularly, and I know stuff-all about it, but I hated the back dirt we used to have so I thought I'd have a crack at growing stuff. I do like the fruits of my labours when I can walk out the back and pick some basil and capsicum, et viola! I'm halfway to dinner! This guy was so perfectly formed, it was almost a crime to eat him so I photographed him for prosperity. Or to show off.
Hidden away on a gravel road a bit past Warburton in the Yarra Ranges is a plantation of California Redwoods that seems so isolated that it supports my theory that nature can either soothe your soul or give you the heebie jeebies. Of course, these things can depend on your state of mind and whether you’re alone or not.
And now for something completely different: some old looking photos that aren't really old at all but are the product of a misguided afternoon spent messing about with software in pursuit of creativity.
I'm playing with a few things lately: my camera remote which had been acting up and which Him On The Couch fixed because he is really quite clever; some camera filters that I purchased a filter bag for, making them easy to access but not scratch); the Nik Collection software and its fancy pants Analog Efex Pro editing presets; and this website and its new ability to resize singular pictures like that one up there, and this one down here:
The Antipodean autumn is in full swing here in Brunswickwestfordshire. The nights are getting cooler, the days are darker, and actual rain has presented itself a couple of times to tease my plants into thinking they might not die of dehydration. I’m quite sure some of them will cark it over winter, but it’ll more likely be of neglect than lack of water. The grapevine that never has any grapes is shedding its leaves and the wind kindly deposits them in a heap at the front door for me to sweep up every few days. I can do with nature, but it really should learn to clean up after itself!
One great thing about winter’s approach is that the devil birds (aka moths) that proliferate the warmer months tend to bugger off, which pleases me greatly because they are evil, kamikaze creatures that serve no purpose but to scare the crapola out of me with their stupid dive bombing antics. They do have a tendency to hang around gardens though. Maybe I should embrace the metal approach:
But I digress….
What's next I hear you ask? Well....it's Victoria Fossil Cave at Naracoorte in SA! Yaaaayyyy!!! [And the crowd are going wild!] Yes, it appears that many moons ago, in the time before The Internet, people actually socialised with each other, and went outdoors and explored stuff. And some guys explored so much that they eventually found a cave with loads of fossils in it, and they got all excited and shouted “Victoria!” instead of “Eureka!” and that’s how the Victoria Fossil Cave was named. Possibly.
I know it’s a bit unfashionable to say it, but I love Radelaide. It’s easily navigable, there’s really good beaches and parks, year round festivals, great buildings, it’s close to wine country, the roads are wide enough to land a plane on, and Rundle Mall’s got balls. What's not to love about all that?
We enjoyed the gig (remember, there was a reason we were here), AND sleeping in an actual house AND not being woken pre-dawn by squawking birds. The morning after the gig suggested a little lie-in and a lazy breakfast, followed by a drive out to Victor Harbor and its environs for a day of sun, exercise and culture.
If you've ever been on the Princes Highway going through the Coorong in South Australia, you'll know that it's not the most exciting of places. Yeah sure, it's an internationally important wetland and it's chokka block full of cultural history and birds, but to just drive though it? That's as boring as bat shit, my friends. You have to be able to stop and have a wander around because staring at road and salt bush for 100kms is enough to kill off what's left of anybody's brain cells. And so it was that we found ourselves at a place called Salt Creek, faffing about on Pipe Clay Lake.
Finally! South Australia!
We’ve stopped at Mount Gambier (which should be pronounced ‘Mont Gom-bee-air’ ...from the French for ‘half an hour behind’**), for a squizz at the Blue Lake and the very impressive Umpherston Sinkhole.
**This is probably made up.
No girlie road trip is complete without being a Terry Tourist, so after a quick lunch at Warrnambool, where this groovy painting was on this otherwise non-descript building, we meandered on to the Princess Margaret Rose Cave in Mumbannar near the Victoria/South Australia border.
Oh my gawd, you are going to be so over pictures of the sea by the time this blog is finished! And guess what? There’ll probably be more!
Backtracking a little, yesterday we also visited Loch Ard Gorge, so named for the ship that beached itself on an island close by in the 1870s, tipping out two survivors who found themselves washed up on the beach in the gorge.
What would you do if there was a band you wanted to see, but the gig was interstate? You’d turn it into a week-long girlie road trip, wouldn’t you? Course you would, you’re only human. Unless you’re a bloke, in which case it would be a bloke-y road trip probably involving less loo stops (because, you know...trees). Anyway, so it was that me and Flashie decided we’d have a crack at camping our way to Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road.
There’s something very magical about the dawn before a scorching hot day. It’s the time of the day when you can move without dehydrating in 2.3 nano seconds, the colours in the sky are pretty special, and there’s no-one about. Well, apart from the axe wielding homicidal maniacs that usually just live in my mind but might actually be lurking on the dark streets, probably near bins. No wait...that’s polar bears.
I was a bit stir crazy from spending most of my time indoors and my general apathy towards anything other than sitting on the couch eating popcorn was threatening to take over. So I defied orders: ditched the moon boot, scarpered out at 4am and ran away to the sea!
Dear reader, I meant to post this pre the chrimbo holiday period, but things just got in the way and before I knew it, I had a dodgy foot, a dicky back and dead internet connection. Murder could’ve ensued but I’ve managed to not turn into an axe wielding homicidal maniac with the aid of sufficient drugs and some good books. Oh, and a husband who doth wait on me hand and foot because…well… you know…I’m worth it.
Point Nepean is a coastal park containing buildings remaining from Fort Nepean’s use as a defence fort during World Wars 1 and 2, before people realised that Australia was so far away from anywhere, jet lag would stop invaders from bothering to attack.
My companion on this walk was generally fit and healthy, but had the tail end of the dreaded lurgy that had swept like the plague through Melbourne. That she could breathe and talk at the same time was a welcomed return to form. I’m distance challenged (ie: I have no idea how far 2kms really is) and I was getting over a dodgy foot ligament, so we thought it best to tackle a couple of little walks before deciding if the long walk to Fort Nepean was on the cards or not.
Now when I say ‘long’, I mean “this will take longer than half an hour but probably less than 4 hours”. Anything under half an hour is a short walk. Anything over 4 is not worth naming because I’m never going to do one.