Road tripping

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Doesn’t this look like the most perfect country lunch??

My friend and Pilates teacher Leanne from Pilates Studio Berry hosted a 30th birthday celebration for her daughter in law, the very talented Ashley, at her beautiful property. Ashley runs Piccolo & Poppi , an events company popular in Sydney and on the South Coast and it turned out to be a perfect day for her birthday gathering and a perfect location and view too!!!

This week we too enjoyed some beautiful country locations on our road trip to northern Victoria. We drove down the coast to Eden for our first night and as it is most famous for it’s whaling history we drove out to the old Davison Whaling Station to get an inkling of how things used to be in the mid 1800’s. Located in a glorious bay and surrounded by huge stands of silver gums the station would have been pretty self sufficient back in the day, growing its own fruit and veg and enjoying the local fish and the odd kangaroo too I should imagine! It was a really magical spot with bell-birds calling so loudly you could hardly hear yourself think and there was a very real and physical sense of the past; the only other place I’ve felt that way was at Port Arthur in Tasmania. Although the work would have been hard I think whoever lived here would have had a good life in comparison to those in the cities in 1850. A more glorious and tranquil bay would be hard to find.

After a lovely nights sleep listening to the ocean crashing into the cliffs below us we hopped back into the ute and headed inland and up over the Snowy Mountains stopping at Mount Hotham for a lunch with a view. I haven’t been up in the mountains in the summer and it is amazing how different it looks without snow. The air was fresh and clean and the winding road took us through some lovely old country towns before we arrived in Beechworth for the night. A town famous for it’s connection to Ned Kelly and his gang and for it’s local honey and wines and the generously wide old main street with gorgeous old buildings. It was fascinating going around the old sandstone courthouse and jail and learning about life back in those days when you could be sentenced to death after a mere 20 minute hearing. A display of public drunkenness saw you jailed for a month and many a woman was left at home to run the farm and raise the 5-10 kids they invariably had, alone.

A couple of people suggested we go to Daylesford via The King Valley, a popular wine growing area and as one of Cammo’s favourite wineries Pizzini lay within this valley we took the detour. The only patches of green we saw were the vines and the odd garden in a village that was obviously being hand watered. There is a bad and widespread drought in this part of Victoria with everything either the colour of bleached straw or sunburnt orange. The poor cattle and sheep were literally nibbling the baked cracked soil and farmers are having to hand feed at considerable expense. Some can’t afford it and are having to sell their herds instead. It’s a sad state of affairs and you hear nothing of it on the news – the poor farmers really get no help at all and then we wonder why we’re getting an avalanche of meat from overseas or interstate in our supermarkets instead of local grass fed animals.After a long day on the road we finally arrived at The Dudley in Hepburn Springs.

I cannot recommend this place highly enough.

A beautifully appointed boutique hotel with a husband and wife team that leave no detail undone. The level of service and thoughtfulness was second to none. They even drive you to and from dinner so you can have a couple of drinks and the breakfast menu is something to behold. An exceptional pub dinner at The Farmers Arms was all the better for being unexpected and we started to feel like we were on holidays! The next day as we were staying 300 metres from the famous local mineral springs we enjoyed a couple of hours floating about in 34 degree water full of magnesium,calcium and other goodies and left feeling decidedly the better for “the taking of the waters”. That night we dined at the famous Lake House and enjoyed another lovely meal albeit a very different one from the previous night. Much more refined and labour intensive but as is often the way when you really look forward to something and it costs a lot you become more critical and I think my dinner partner preferred his big plate of pork belly from the night before to his kingfish carpaccio and duck breast at the highly acclaimed Lake House!! I loved both meals in different ways….

With our car laden with our various purchases we reluctantly left Daylesford to start the journey home. Cam wanted to visit Tumut – a town at the foot of The Snowy Mountains where his Dad had grown up. With very little information we set out to find the old house that Cam had last visited at the age of 8. We had a street name but no number and of course it was one of those super long streets that literally stretch from one end of town to the other. I had no faith that we would find it but incredulously the ute came to an abrupt halt outside number 149 which looked extremely familiar to him despite recent additions to the roof. It was opposite an old house which back in the day had sat in the middle of a big orchard that the kids frequently stole fruit from. It was now surrounded by battleaxe properties and had obviously been subdivided and it wasn’t until he knocked on the door and the people living there now affirmed the presence of an orchard out the back that we knew he had indeed found his house!

It just goes to prove that the power of special memories really can last a lifetime!

In the same vein we bought flowers and drove to the cemetery in the hope we could find his Grandma who we knew was buried there.With no office or map it was literally a case of walking up and down the rows until we found her. Another small miracle and an emotional afternoon for The Retired One. A couple of drinks at the local pub to wash down a pizza and we were happy little vegemites. We woke in the dark to get an early start and had just set out when the rain came down. As the whole area was crying out for it we were happy and proceeded to drive through it for the next 4 hours until we stopped in Braidwood to check out a French antique place called Longbarn and String which I had read about. They have some lovely things and they also do an annual trip to France for small groups.

After picking up a very happy but exhausted dog we drove home for one night before getting back in the truck to drive to Sydney and a lovely reunion with some of Cam’s oldest friends at a beautifully organised soiree in the Eastern Suburbs. We stayed next door to our old house with our lovely ex-neighbours who are always so hospitable it’s like being in a B&B and it was really lovely to see all our old mates from The Street. We had a delicious breakfast together the next day before one last drive back to The Meadow.

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The Red Lion Crew.

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This sure rings true and can equally apply to a certain chocolate dog……

 

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