Bare with me here folks because I am about to embark upon an epic gush. There is so much I want to share about our most fabulous camping trip and there are so many photos. Even Evie nicknamed me the 'shutterbug' and rolled her eyes when I ran out of space on my memory card. Yes I was forced to delete a couple - note to self, bring backup storage next time. Here I bring to you the super edited version.
This trip was good my friends. All of it, every weeny bit. Perfect timing, perfect camp site, perfect town and surrounds, perfect company, and PERFECT weather. Yep, that deserves it's capitals, those weather gods turned it on in star studded glory. Cold snuggly nights and warm sunshine filled days. Oh happiness abounds and we have returned feeling loved up, connected and restored.
It was 646.5 Kilometres between our home and our camp site for this trip. Translated, it took us about nine hours driving in the car with a few good rest stops along the National Highway (Section A8). Our first stop was at Bordertown, aptly named because it lies about 5 Kilometres from the official state border crossing between South Australia and Victoria. Daylesford was where we headed and is the natural mineral springs and spa capital of Australia. Daylesford is a small picturesque town located in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range approximately 115 Kilometres northwest of Melbourne. Small country towns dot the way along the A8 and farmland abounds. It's rough out there, the land is dry and rainfall is scarce and those farmers are doing it tough. I've experienced many roadtrips over the years and each time I am reminded just how much open space encompasses this amazing country. The cities of Adelaide and Melbourne are considered fairly closely located, but in reality, it takes a full, long days drive to get from one to the other. Any destination further from here means the distance and travel time by road multiplies making stopovers an essential part of the journey. In between our few cities (only eight capital cities in total), there is so much space. All of it different and unique from those routes going in other directions. For us on this trip, it was the harsh dry bush, there was livestock and agriculture with silo country, and closer towards our destination the Mount Mercer Wind Farm with sixty four generators and the ability to produce 131 Megawatts, enough to power the regional city of Ballarat (a population of over ninety thousand).
Our route took us past the wind farm and towards a turn off into the lower ranges before the highway continued on to Ballarat. A couple more towns later and we were welcomed into Daylesford and the Jubilee Lake Holiday Park. Daylight saving began here back in the first week of October and although I always feel uncertain about this manipulation of time, at the end of this long drive I was pretty darn grateful for the extra length of daylight. Upon arrival we picked our site and proceeded to unload and unpack our 'new to us' tent. This was the point when Tuck cautiously approached me looking rather pale. In a low, very hesitant whisper he asked me whether we had remembered the pegs. We were tired and it took a few beats before the realisation dawned on me that we had a box missing. In that box were the pegs, the guy ropes and the instructions for erecting our older non-pop up style family tent. Honestly, the possibility of tears and heated words of blame almost simmered below the surface for a few shocked moments but what came out was a fit of delirious and not necessarily stable giggles. We only had about an hour left of light and no clue as to how to put up the tent. The kids mind you were surprisingly happy and continued to play in the car (perhaps the previous nine hours in that vehicle were not enough?). For that, I am eternally grateful because subduing any squabbles could have just about done us in. Plan B was needed and the execution of such a plan was urgent. As I placed a call to my sister-in-law (who lives locally with her tent peg owning partner), Tuck went to enlist the aid of some fellow campers. Just like that, community pulled together to help those in need and by twilight we had the basic form of our tent up, some pegs at the major anchor points and a few borrowed occy straps (bungee cord) to support some of the poles. We also cut up our rope which we used to tie down the tent bundle on the roof racks for the drive over. Camp mattresses, blankets and sleeping bags were thrown inside and off we went to the home of my sister-in-law's for some delicious home cooked fare. The next morning a visit to the local hardware was made and the true joy of setting up camp was undertaken. Plus a bottle of South Australia wine was bought in gratitude for our fellow campers who were packing up and heading on their way. As it turned out, we ended up with the entire unpowered section all to ourselves for most of our stay.
There is such an array of activities to choose from in this area. There are bush walks, hikes, waterfalls, springs, swimming, paddle boating, canoeing, markets, arts and crafts, a bustling restaurant and cafe scene, so many local delicacies to sample and many a vintage and thrift shop. One of the leading attractions for tourists is the Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa. This historic Bathhouse was the very first of it's kind in the area and has been indulging visitors since 1895. With us choosing to spend plenty of time relaxing at camp and with both family and friends in the area, we will be making many return trips and each time are sure to discover something new.
Am I right in thinking that you wouldn't mind a little peek inside the tent? You know how I love my tours so there is no way I will deprive myself or you of such a treat. Our past experiences lean toward camping trips of longer than a night or two and this one was no exception. When we camp we like to dig in and make the most of it. We camp in style (our own personal style) and sleep in comfort. We eat well with a menu planned out and most things prepared in advance. For fresh produce we shop locally if we can which was the case with all those wonderful fresh green I cooked into a noodle stirfry. Added to the noodles and vegies was a selection of sauces already combined at home and bottled for the trip. The whole lot was tossed together in the wok over the camp stove.
Now for a little more camp side fun. On your marks, get set, GO!
Or we can choose from painting, fireside knitting (or finger knitting for Evie), or just crazy kid action.
Then there is lakeside at the holiday park.
In downtown Daylesford we were indeed spoilt for choice. Armed with some local knowledge, we were privy to the secret free source for pure, natural spring water.
Oh that shop pictured below, thank goodness I was not left alone in that store and was helping to aid two children because otherwise, who knows what goodies may have found their way home with me. It was Aladdin's Cave for the vintage lover in there and I am certain to return.
Someone was driving a sweet set of wheels and Tuck decided to introduce the kids to the fancy side of life. Just to be clear, no, the keys to that shiny, luxurious Italian sports car were not in our possession but gee they are fun to look at.
When setting dates for this trip it was quite accidental that the days fell around the full moon. I am so glad it coincided because the nights were clear and the Moon Goddess shone down brightly through the trees. Beautiful isn't she?
Finally it was time to pack up camp and head home. For much of the return journey I was able to continue stitching Noah's Christmas gift (more on that later) and was snuggled by Snowy the scruffy puppy. Loading up took a while so we set off later than planned which resulted in a late night arrival at home. Dusk is a precarious hour on Australian country roads and when driving in those parts, most Aussies call it "Roo Hour". For us this meant it was tools down for the wing person (or away with the stitching for Mumma) and both eyes stationed on the peripherals of the road. Truckies are use to it and their vehicles are built to withstand any impact with a kangaroo, but for those of us in domestic vehicles, we need to keep very aware. It's something we grow up with and it is a part of long distance travel in Australia. An adult male kangaroo has the weight and body mass to completely crush the better part of a small car. It is their territory however, their home and it is up to us drivers to practice caution, give them space and predict their unpredictable movements. Fortunately for us, all native animals stayed well clear of the road and, after many stops to revive, we survived and arrived home safe and sound. Those signs (and ones similar) feature quite regularly along our connecting highways and, although some of them are a little shocking in their wording, they are a good reminder to drive smartly and take it easy.
That, my friends, is a wrap on this epic blog post. Thank you so much for sticking with me while I relived our little getaway. There was SUCH a lot of goodness to be had and it may be a few months before we get to go again but gee I'm looking forward to it already! I wonder where we will adventure to next time?