It’s the last full day of this trip! How, when I have waited so long for this, could it end so quickly? I realize that no one back home will sympathize in the least that I had “only” a month away, but it certainly seemed like “only” as I arose this morning. That said, I am immensely grateful that I had the opportunity to return. Australia has become such a large part of my life, I have to believe this won’t be the last trip—but if it is, it has been a remarkable one.
After breakfast, Geoff and I headed down to the far paddock so I could photograph the pair of maned geese and their eight “littlies,” as Geoff calls their offspring. Then it was back up to the house to prepare for another day of delightful exploring. Judy packed the picnic hamper into the Land Rover, and Geoff readied the “hardware” for the al fresco meal we would have later.
We wound along the lovely, tree-shaded mountain roads that now seem so familiar, out through Yarra Glen, and to the wonderful historic Gulf Station. I love history and really enjoy historic venues where one can “visit” another time. This station was built in the early 1800s, and we learned that it is one of the only historic stations in Australia where all the original out-buildings are intact.
To recreate what it would have been like at the time, not only are the buildings kept as they were, but the plants (fruits, vegetables, flowers) and animals are all appropriate to the time period. Judy pointed out the lovely, pale pink, rose-like flowers growing at the front gate and told me they were heirloom quince. That explained the flowers, as quince is in the Rose family. Really beautiful, and you get fruit, too. Among the heritage animals there were bronze-winged turkeys, Berkshire pigs, Ayreshire cows, and Clydesdale horses.
I found this short video that looks at this delightful historic venue. It’s very short, but it gives you a feel for how beautiful this historic place is – so definitely my cup of tea.
It was not a long drive this time—we were still in the Dandenongs. Our destination was the splendid Tesselaar Tulip Festival. This event, I was told, was started in the 1950s by a family of immigrants from the Netherlands who grew, not too surprisingly, tulips. The show was, in fact, really stunning. There were fun add-ons for those who want more than just flowers, but Judy and Geoff were there for the flowers—more than 120 varieties of tulip, plus daffodils, and hyacinths (one of my favorite fragrances in the world) spread in dazzling swaths of color across a 55-acre farm. It was glorious.
Here’s a video I found about the festival. It focuses more on those “add-ons,” but still gives one a feeling for the show.
Leaving the show, after a good, long exploration, we drove up the Silvan Reservoir catchment area (more interesting than that description sounds—a splendid area of gum trees and acacias) to the R.J. Hamer Arboretum, a place known for excellent walking trails amid delightful scenery. Geoff drove us to an observation point that offered a view over the broad, green valley toward the gap in the mountains through which we passed yesterday on our way to Beechworth.
Then, as evening approached, it was time to head home, to get a rug on Rahmyl, dinner for Bullitt, and a glass of port for ourselves. The evening again held an excellent dinner (Judy is an excellent cook) and much delightful conversation.
It’s really quiet up here in the mountains, at least until the kookaburras wake up and start “laughing.” As a result, I slept soundly and awoke merrily. Hard not to chuckle along with the sound of the kookaburras. Enjoyed a rainwater shower (all the water here is collected rainwater), which was as soft on the skin as it is sweet to the taste.
It was a beautiful morning, with sunlight flooding in through the windows that face the back paddock. The chatty, bell-like song of the rosellas drew me to the window. Rahmyl (Judy’s horse) was tolling in the thick grass. A gentle breeze stirred the tops of the towering mountain ash. Sunlight and blue sky dominated the few white clouds overhead. I love this place.
More birds gathered outside, offering a great show: the brilliant red and blue crimson rosellas that I have always loved so much, the yellow and red Eastern rosellas, a little wattle bird, swallows, and a couple of maned geese with eight babies trailing along behind them. The resident black duck came up and settled into lunching on the seed that Judy and Geoff leave out for it.
After breakfast, Judy and I went shopping, leaving Geoff behind to putter in his work shed and the garden. (We figured he deserved a day off, away from both us and the car, after driving us all over Victoria for the last couple of days. Among the shops at the mall, there was an excellent book store that stocks all the Australian classics. Judy bought me a copy of Sara Henderson’s bestselling autobiography, From Strength to Strength—because during my tour up north, I had passed Henderson’s remote and rugged property (near Victoria River).
We were back home before 2:00, and spent a little time enjoying coffee and conversation on the deck, enjoying the cool but sunny day, watching the birds flit about and Rahmyl graze nearby. But then it was time to head off again, though now Geoff joined us for the afternoon’s glorious adventure.
Food, history, travel, farming and fun in the Heartland.
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National Library of Australia honors blog
In 2013, I was informed that “The National Library has selected [Waltzing Australia] for archiving because we have judged it to be an important component of the national documentary heritage. We want it to be available to researchers now and in the future.”