Thursday, 8 January 2015

The Grampians and other bits of Victorian pieces.

Woops, we’re back in Newrybar at my parents’, Christmas has been and gone and all of a sudden it’s been weeks since my last post… Where were we??? Who knows? Who cares? 
Grampians Group Shot.
Oh. That’s right, the Uyshuis was just leaving FlicknAl’s heading to the Grampians. Tearful farewells are becoming my forte, but I’d dried my eyes enough to see the rolling hills of the Victorian lowlands give way to the sudden jumpup of the Grampian mountain range. We’d planned to stay at a national park campsite close to Hall’s Gap, the main town, but decided against paying $38.50 for a drop toilet and a bit of cleared bush. What-the-overpriced-campground-Batman?! Freecamping in Victoria just become fairly unfree. Luckily for us, there was a glitch in the Napthine program and just 10km up the road was a national park campground for free, but with all the same stinky facilities. Yay for the Uyshuis!
The Pine Forest and its free camp sites.

So we walked up and down the main track in the Grampians. The weather was still cool and at times wet so this tempered the enormous effort it took to haul our fattened backsides up there after the Hamilton stopover. We made a fire that night and looked at the night stars for the first time since… a long time. And for a moment we forgot we were over putting the camper up and down… missing our family and friends… tired of the cold and rain.

We left the Grampians and scooted through some beautiful countryside until Daylesford,  a 'spa' town with lots of boutique shops, bakeries which only made sour dough using spelt flour and day spas promising eternal youth. We settled for a meal at the decidedly chic Daylesford Hotel "Oh darling, don't worry, I would NEVER sell an abomination like sweet rosè: it's definitely dry! " and stayed at a pretty spectacular free camp 10 kilometres out of town at Mt Franklin.

Mt Franklin is a beautiful spot situated in the middle of an extinct volcano; pine trees cover the walls and we set up at the bottom, looking out over the grassy lawn and contemplated the last five years spouting every parents' catch cry "Where has the time gone and why do I feel so bloody tired?"
Our five year old.

The next day our little girl turned five. I’d had some guilt issues over the meagreness of her birthday presents, but she was happy with a new dress, birthday cards and a few new toys. And pizza and olives and dessert of  portugese custard tart later for dinner and a night at a Big4 campground in the Yarra Valley- two playgrounds, jumping pillow, pool. Birthday celebrations complete!

A moment of complete bewilderment. Where are my children and who are these loving imposters???? 

Fortunately for our credit card, we managed to negotiate this wine region without actually buying anything. Yep, we’ve turned a corner!

We drove east across Victoria into the Gippsland, visiting Churchill, one of those strange purpose built mining towns of little character except for those whomj we were visiting: Jana and Marlene,  South African stalwarts of our pre-child Gold Coast days. Jana's husband Clayton works in the wood mill nearby (though coal mining and a huge electrical plant are also some major industries) and the two of them gave some insight into some scary bushfires they'd experienced in the last few years, and even more frightening, the average weather pattern of the Gippsland which goes something like this:

3am: cold
6am: wet,  windy, cold
9am: wet,  windy
12pm: hot
3pm: very hot, windy
6pm: wet,  hail, 
9pm: cold.

What the? Apart from driving out to Yarragen, a little town with a lot of little shops and cafes, we did little else but eat and catch up on what had been years of missed news. We had shaken our heads in disbelief at their descriptions of the weather but then experienced everything Gippsland meteorology possibly had to offer except sleet over the next two days.   Whilst it was sad to say goodbye to these guys, I'll admit to being very pleased to get out of this Bermudian weather vortex.
Cuties. Just before Caesar karate chopped the flower.
More cuties.

So on we drove. And drove. Yet still, it felt like we were treading water. Seeing old friends had given us all a fresh bout of homesickness and I for one was officially over being in a camper trailer as the wind and rain raged around us. Thankfully the weather turned and while we still had showers, wind and temperatures which refused to go above 21 degrees, it wasn't that pervasive rain which drops on your head into your brainL we weren't wearing jeans and jumpers every day. Still, I was ready for home and summer, neither of which were forthcoming.

Kings of the Grampian World.

Halls Gap from the top.

Oh it's all Grampians. Rocks and water, alright?

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