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.
I thought it was about time I stopped lurking about on Twitter and actually used my brain for a bit, so here it is. A blog post containing some pictures featuring impossibly blue skies that may or may not cheer you up if your Seasonal Pissed Off Disorder (SPOD) is in full swing, and some fantastic artworks that have brought a different aspect of life to rural Victoria. I had to do actual research about these works, so you better start appreciating. I don't do this for the good of my health you know!
Right...so....six grain silo sites in the Mallee/Wimmera region of Victoria now have massive portraits painted on them, and it’s a thing and the thing is called the Silo Art Trail and if you can, you should go look at them because they’re really super.
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...
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:
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.
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.
The other week I took myself out of the People’s Republic of Moreland and ventured to The Coast. Being the pale skinned, sun allergic tragic that I am, this isn’t something that happens often. Or at all. But I was bored of watching hipsters drink coffee and eat watermelon, and some members of my family had stupidly put themselves within driving distance, so I set off to annoy them for a couple of days.
Kennett River is about two and a half hours drive from my place. Unless someone decides they want to pull up a sizeable chunk of the Great Ocean Road in the guise of ‘roadworks’, in which case it takes about a week. Fortunately, I had brought pumpkin seeds and crisps, so I wouldn’t starve. It turned out that I wasn’t the only one who likes crisps.
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.
So, before we go any further and in the spirit of the season, have this (you'll need Flash because the mp4 won't work):
Remember last month when I went to Goulburn Weir and took half a day to get there? Well, this week I had another crack at it by researching the directions thoroughly, making a special note to turn onto the M39 instead of staying on the M31, and ensuring I didn’t go via Yea. Look, I know what you’re thinking: “but if you’d stayed on the M31, you would’ve headed towards Sydney and Yea is south of Seymour even, so how in god’s name did you end up in Yea if you were headed north?!?!”
Well, that's not strictly true:
I had another great day/evening assisting Nic Granleese at the yearly Australian Institute of Architects Victorian Architecture Awards night. This year it was held in the Melbourne Room at the Convention Centre and we had our set rigged up in the foyer. Our job is to photograph the award winners, and any other unsuspecting victims we can coerce into hamming it up for the camera.
To see more, go to Nic's website: http://www.nicgranleese.com/projects/19-victorian-architecture-awards-dinner-2017
Had the Boys Next Door (actual children, not the band) for the weekend while their parents absconded interstate to have a good time. We took them to Scienceworks and tried not to lose them. I promise, there was no intention to sell them for scientific experiment. I thought we might get a couple of hours entertainment out of it before they got bored, but we ended up being there for almost 5 hours and the boys loved it.
Did someone say "chocolate"?
Oh well...best get in the car and drive over an hour to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery then. This building is situated long and low on the top of a hill with a view of orchards and vines and other hills and it's all just rather marvy. Their devonshire teas are really good (fantastic scones) and the chocolate is amazing. I'd show you pictures, but I didn't take any because I was too busy feeding my face.
I had the opportunity to go to Lake Fyans near the Grampians for a long weekend and it wasn't very busy which was pretty awesome. Each dawn jaunt was calm and quiet, except for the squawking of birds, the quacking of ducks, the buzzing of mosquitoes...
Did you know Halls Gap has a zoo? Well it does, and it's definitely worth a visit. Go now. Well, at least go when it's open. And you have a spare couple of hours. It's got about 150 different species and lots of them are free range (not the ones that will kill you..obviously) and you can hand feed some of them.
I last visited Organ Pipes almost 20 years ago and was pretty keen to see if my knees could manage the trip back up what I recalled was a very steep road. Nah, just kidding. As if my knees dictate what walks I will go on. Pure laziness decides that. I just wanted to see if an escalator had been installed next to that steep road.
Yet again, the start of the year has yielded some disgustingly hot days forcing one to stay indoors as much as possible because that’s where air conditioning lives. Sometimes dawn is an okay time to be outside, before the big burny bastard in the sky has had time to fully crank up.
As is my wont, I decided right after dinner to drive out to Batesford near Geelong, to photograph the sunset from Dog Rocks. Theoretically, the journey should take just over an hour. But you know how it is: traffic…roadworks…me faffing about…
85kms and one wrong turn later, I found what I was looking for: an outcropping of rocks apparently named after a bunch of wild dogs, a tree, and the sun getting ready for its final drop. With 20 minutes to spare, I parked the car, braved the paddock which may or may not have been full of snakes, found a spot, set up my gear and waited. Half an hour later, I braved the (now darkening) paddock again and headed back to the car, all the while wondering what nasties were pricking at my feet.
And for the next week, I picked barley grass seed out of my runners.
This is the place where I very nearly died. See that handrail towards the bottom of this picture, winding its way downwards? Well, it's there to aid people walking down all those steps. Now....imagine that many steps times about a million more steps and you're starting to get close to how many freakin' steps there actually are to get to the bottom of MacKenzie Falls.
Lake Tyrrell in northern Victoria is one of those places that you have to make a plan to see. Whilst it’s off a main highway and easy enough to get to, the closest decent sized town is Swan Hill, a mere 75kms away.
The following morning I headed out to Point Danger for the sunrise. It was cloudy and chilly and a light mist was hanging about, so I wasn’t expecting there to be much to photograph. And there wasn’t, although it did clear up enough to get a couple of pictures once the sun had cleared the horizon. Shortly after, the clouds gathered again and it started to rain properly so I went off in search of breakfast.