I’m A Little Bit Country…

Do you consider yourself a country or a town mouse?

I ‘d like to think of myself as more of an urban rat, but let’s face it, I’m a mother in suburbia.

Country living isn’t for me. Yes, I look at friends making tree changes with wonder, jealously gasping at the houses and the land.

But I know myself well enough to understand it would kill me to move to the sticks.

And yet, in spite of my need to be a little bit rock and roll (in my dreams), it turns out, I am a little bit country too.

After the Murray Man last week we decided to extend the road trip and explore the Grampians

I could feel the tension of the previous few weeks leaving me as we left the scorching plains of South Australia and moved into the cooler, greener, lusher landscape.

And the mountains.

Oh, my thing. I love beaches, but nothing tops (ha!) a beautiful mountain set against an unending sky.

We stayed in a caravan park at the foot of the hills, near  Halls Gap.

My twitter buddy Andrew had recommended some walks he enjoyed as a child, so first up was the Wonderland Walk – a canyon walk from wonderland car park to The Pinnacle.

It was an energetic walk and the kids did well to manage it. They loved spotting skinks (102 counted), lizards and wild flowers.

No idea, but very pretty

CM enjoying the rest

BW bringing up the rear through a very narrow part of the walk

The Pinnacle

All in the walk took about 3 hours and I would definitely recommend it. You’ll need good shoes and plenty of water. It’s definitely not suitable for strollers.

Although I wasn’t overly impressed with the place we were staying. The kids thought it was heaven. And as we all know, happy kids = happy parents.

CM and V busy recording their day

The boys first wild kangaroo

BW getting excited over the fire

Toasting marshmallows

CM eating a delicious s’more

Sparklers for the last night of the holiday

We had to leave our accommodation by 10 which meant we still had time to explore Halls Gap before our return to Melbourne.

We knew we wanted to return to Mackenzie Falls, where we had stopped briefly the day before, but J had also been given another spot to check out in Halls Gap. The Venus Baths.

A short walk from the centre of Halls Gap, through the car park and behind the tennis court is a track leading to a Botanical Garden. It was beautiful, and made even more special by the fact that it was tended solely by volunteers from the town.

Halls Gap Botanical Gardens

After about 10 minutes, we found the pools. There is usually more water, but nothing could stop the kids stripped to their undies and experimenting with bin bags to see who could slip fastest down the rocks.

Slipping and a sliding

Quite what the family next to us made of these loud, urchin children clad in bin bags, I’ll never know.

After a quick picnic lunch at MacKenzie Falls where we were dive bombed by kookaburra (too fast for my camera), we embarked on the descent to the bottom of the falls.

Mackenzie Falls

Crossing the river

The kids loved crossing the white water to get a closer look at the falls while their chicken licken mothers recorded their bravery on camera.

And then we had to the walk BACK UP! Oh my thighs…

The Grampians were majestic. I think we picked a great time to go as there was lots of spring flowers and it wasn’t too hot for the kids to enjoy the walks.

Being only 3 hours from Melbourne I’m definitely going back!

Have you visited the Grampians? Any suggestions for things to do on our return visit? Or  for country Victoria?

What I Know About Writing

Sarah from That Space In Between runs a fortnightly What I know series. This week was writing.

I didn’t contribute because I feel I know bugger all.

But once I had space to think, I remembered that a long time ago, writing was my first love.

At primary school my second grade teacher, Mr Holmes, a rotund man with hair growing from ALL the places it was possible to, used to hand out empty A5 booklets and ask us to write stories.

The class would sigh. Most of my classmates struggled to finish half the book. I filled one and sometimes two. Merrily churning out 8-year-old interpretations of love stories (The Silver Ring was a highlight) or Enid Blyton style adventures, I fancied myself as the new Noel Streatfield (Ballet Shoes was a fave at this time).

During holidays I would create a ‘Holiday Diary’. A record of our activities, my thoughts, glued in postcards and train tickets, would be proudly presented to my new teacher on the first day of school.

Yes, I was THAT child. The class obviously thought I was weird, and the teacher probably took one look at my tale of a rainy caravan holiday in Wales and binned it.

As I got older I’d write letters to friends, even boyfriends, or more honestly, boys who were friends but who I secretly adored. Pages and pages of teenage angst and ramblings. Fuelled by The Cure and The Smiths…Heaven Knows I was Miserable then!

Once I started my Saturday job I could finance my stationery addition. Fountain pens were a particular fetish. Tears were often shed when I dropped one, nib down, on the floor, at once becoming impossible to use.

I experimented with different coloured inks. Green was a favourite for a while, until someone told me that using green ink was a sign of madness (HA!), so I settled on blue-black.

I loved writing in ink, again, classmates thought I was odd, but I didn’t care. I think I was heavily influenced by my step-dad, who had a passion for calligraphy. I would watch in wonder as his handwriting scratched across the paper in a beautiful Elizabethan way.

Fast forward to uni and my love of writing (and reading) fell away. Reading books I HAD to read and writing essay after essay by hand saw my enthusiasm dwindle. (No macbook airs to make life easier).

The last few years writing has been limited to cards, homework, and to do lists.

Since I started blogging the lost love has returned. What started as an exercise in improving my mental health has become much more.

I feel like I’ve found something I didn’t know I had lost, but missed.

If a day goes by without me writing my thoughts down (and yes, often my posts are handwritten in the sparkly notebook BW bought me for my birthday), I feel strange. At my grumpiest, writing has become a release.

It’s tentative, it’s nerve-wracking.

But I wonder if the story-telling 8-year-old is still there?

I’d love to hear what you know about writing.

Memories of Summer

After a tantalisingly warm start to Spring, Melbourne is now thrilling us with 100+kph winds and grey skies. I am so ready for summer!

This morning while I gained consciousness I thought about our summers in the UK. Ha! The odd few days of warmth interspersed with freezing showers does not a summer make. I can’t say I miss it.

What I do miss, is our close proximity to Europe, in particular France. I am a self-confessed Francophile. I first visited when I was 12 and have lost count of the number of times I’ve been since.

These photographs were from a trip we took in Summer 2009. Beautiful memories of a beautiful holiday.

Do you have a favourite summer?