What a lovely couple of days we had away. Ahhh....
It didn't start out so well, as always. I always get crabby as I wash the dishes, put all the stuff away that should be away, discover that I forgot to wash the vital stuff that I need to take with me, pack the food, pack my stuff and the bathroom stuff and the towels and sheets, leave DH to pack his stuff, get the cat food and litter tray ready, discover DH hasn't packed yet and can't find his socks....
So eventually we got underway. We decided to use a slightly different route to normal - DH said they looked about the same length on the map. Of course what the map didn't show is that the new and exciting way to go involves lots of slow wiggling around the Dandenongs (range of small mountains east of Melbourne). The normal route goes through suburbia (mostly through 70 and 80 kmh ones) along fairly much straight lines. I crabbed about it too, but got over it. It was after all very scenic if slow:
Eventually we got back on the main track and started making real progress. We were working against the clock - we had to be in Bright before 6pm in order to get gelati (we have to get our priorities straight!). So with few stops along the way, we flogged up through Yea (lunchbreak for the boy before he exploded with hunger), Yarck, Maindample, Mansfield, Tolmie (new toilets! Must write a letter of thanks, especially since some thoughtful person had supplied nice loo roll in addition to the horrid skid sheets), Whitfield, Milawa and Myrtleford, reaching Bright at 5:40. Time for a gelati - mango and pineapple for me. Yum! We stocked up on fresh foods and drove on, over the Tawonga Gap, through Mt Beauty and on up the mountain. The sun had just set as we reached Falls Creek. Hooray for Falls Creek, our destination at last!
Along the way, I had noticed that my nose was starting to run but it seemed like hay fever. Famous last words....
Nathan cooked a yummy dinner which I scarfed and we watched some Comm Games action. I am going to ring channel nein and complain about their coverage - talk about parochial! You would think that the only things worth watching are those that the Australians are competing in. If I am watching say the gymnastics, I want to see as many different competitiors as possible. I don't just want to see the Aussie girls do their stuff. I want to see others do their stuff too so that I can get a real idea of what the competition is about and what the competition to our gymnasts is.
Friday was a little bit of a disaster. Nathan was regularly hacking up a lung, as he had been for a couple of days. My drippy nose went straight to my sinuses and the ensuing headache was quite difficult to deal with, especially when I found the paracetamol I had brought was actually empty. Argh! I even crawled down to the lodge's kitchen in the middle of the night to scab through the first aid kit, discovering that they only had a painkiller of a type that I am not game to take as it sent my father silly, and sends at least one of my sisters tripping. I was a desperate woman with a throbbing head and didn't get a lot of sleep from about 3am onwards.
Despite the throbbing head and general feeling of being about to die, I drove Nathan to a beauty spot. He went for a walk, I staggered along a little way and admired the beauty, then sat down for a while. I was a little tired... I drove to another spot (no, Nathan is not confident with my car and I am not confident with him driving it especially on dirt tracks).
There Nathan went for a walk for about an hour and I had a lovely snooze. It was a little uncomfortable I admit cos my car is not exactly a luxury vehicle but I woke up much refreshed. Plus the shop was open when we returned so Nathan got lunch and I got some paracetamol. Oh blessed paracetamol!
A couple of hours later, we ventured out again. I was much more alert and my face and muscles and joints did not hurt anywhere near so much. I sat in the car and knitted whilst Nathan went a wandering up a steep mountainside around a pretty little waterfall (Nathan takes pictures of moss and stuff, not waterfalls proper):
Looking down at my car and across to the view:
Late wildflowers - we had the first frost for the year on our first night at Falls Creek:
A view to the east:
I was starting to feel better so after we drove to a flatter spot, I went for a wander to find the boggy patches we liked so much last we visited Falls Creek. The bogs are such pretty places - thick lush mosses and (sometimes) secret minute waterfalls, and serene reflective water:
We returned to the lodge for the evening. I managed to finish the second pink stripy sock, minus the afterthought heel whilst watching more Comm Games action. I had knitted the toe before the trip and in about 6 hours of kitting managed to get the rest done. That gives me some idea of how little time it really takes to knit a simple sock.
Something you might've noticed is that there seem to be a lot of burnt trees around in the pictures. In 2003 there were massive bushfires that burnt a huge slice of the Victorian and NSW alpine areas. They also took a swipe at Canberra, destroying about 400 homes there is a firestorm. Most of the Australian bush is well suited to fires - it helps regenerate bushland and gives both plants and animals a chance to flourish. The alpine areas are a little different cos they have a growing season of four or five months, and most of the perennial plants grow achingly slowly. The ephemeral plants are regenerating well, but it is taking the more long lived plants and the burnt bogs a longer time to recover. I was surprised by how little growth the shrubs have put on - they don't seem to be doing well at all after early amazing recovery. There's been a lot of protests by the mountain cattlemen cos they are no longer allowed to graze their cattle in the alpine areas. They see feed up there, they say they have an ancestral right to graze their animals there, but they don't see the environment as fragile and precious. I guess my views differ from those of the cattlemen.
Here's a shot from lower down the mountains that shows the aftermath of the fires, three years on:
You can see in the big pic some of the trees have resprouted green along their branches and trunks. Most of the trees that have not regenerated are alpine ash. They don't resprout after fire. Instead, the fire opens their seed capsules and millions of seedlings spring up. The understorey plants also get their go. So whilst some plants are killed, others get a chance.
Here's another side effect of the fires - you can now see into the valleys far below and see the rivers running through them:
I wish I could find my sequence of pics that show the regrowth of a favourite mountain lush, ferny gully - it is fascinating to see how it has changed after being almost burnt to the ground.
I noticed that I was rather deaf on the way down and I could hear all the little noises in my head - my pulse, my breathing, certain sloshy disgusting noises and OMG what did I do to my ears? The pressure changes caused some exquisite pain....
So we went down (ouch!) into the valley and up (ouch!) over the Tawonga Gap:
(Mt Bogong, some 1984 metres high, the highest mountain in Victoria)
(My car with under a very tall gum tree)
And down (ouch!) into the next valley and another gelati at Bright, plus a box of tissues - we went through 150 aloe vera tissues in a day and a half.... Impressive, huh? Then up again over the Tolmie way (more ouch!) and down again. We were getting pretty skint by the time we reached Yea, but scratched together $7.50 for a hamburger with the lot for Nathan.
Finally home, to the pussy cats, one of whom greeted us enthusiastically, the other of which just wanted to get out of the door. She later barfed her dinner all over the kitchen floor, as a nice sort of greeting....
Despite the woes with the cold, it was a lovely trip - I love the high country. It is beautiful and one of my very favourite places to be. I just wish I could've walked more and seen more of it.
Next time I blog - pictures! Of socks or something vaguely knitting related! I hope ;-)