14 April 2007

Reflections on Easter camping in the mountains

lake catani

The Victorian alpine region, or the bit of it at which we camped, is truly spectacular.

Walks in surroundings such as these were just what I needed to rejuvenate and reconnect with nature. I spent quite a bit of time just looking around and breathing deeply, especially after a particularly vigorous hike uphill. Ahem. Note to self: Must go back to yoga.


We went with friends who have three boys also, and the six children spent a lot of time mucking about in the canoe, when they weren’t climbing the cliff behind the campsite, investigating various caves and lairs or building ‘bases’ in the bush.

We met bats, wombats (our tent was pitched on a wombat highway, apparently), birds, ducks, more possums than you could poke a stick at watch from a safe distance, two very lovely rangers and other campers and hikers but thankfully no snakes.

Son #1 lost a shoe while canoeing on the lake and the next day Son #3 and his friend found it.

We learnt about how the indigenous people wove baskets and eel traps from the flax lily leaves growing in the region.

We remembered that life does go on quite happily without phones and email and the internet and television, as long as you can work out how to preset the video recorder to tape the election episode of The West Wing while you are gone.

I forgot to take my guide to eucalypts, but managed to learn (and remember!) the difference between a snow gum and a mountain gum.


(These are snow gums).

snowgums regrowing

The fire damage from both 2003 and the summer just gone was terrible horrible awful ghastly. Great swathes of burnt bushland radiated across the hillsides, some walking tracks were closed, and a signpost up near the Chalet looked untouched from the front but as I leaned on it while waiting for the others to return from a side trip up a large rock, I noticed that the back part, facing away from the walking track, was charred completely black.

fire damage and regrowth

The lush green of the regrowth was startling, and from a distance the mountain looked like an exquisite black, orange and green tapestry.

It was humbling to see the extent of the damage and the rapidity with which the bush is beginning its enormous repair job. Heartbreaking and awe inspiring at the same time.

view left

On Easter Sunday we trekked up to the (now sadly closed) Mt Buffalo Chalet where a sign invites you to write to your local MP and get this heritage-listed treasure open again. While the children were off watching hang-gliders leap off the cliff into the abyss, my friend and I nestled a few dozen teeny tiny Easter eggs into the nooks and crannies of the formal gardens in front of the Chalet for an Easter egg hunt. (Son #3 had remarked that the Easter Bunny had never before left it so late in the day to visit, but was placated when we reminded him that it was a four hour drive from home to the top of the mountain).

man meets nature

I spent several happy evenings knitting by the campfire and managed to complete a blue pair of these for a client.

The children grew filthier by the day, and no one talked about work or school or "real" life even once.

And I learnt that if you go camping in the mountains in autumn, at night when you crawl into your sleeping bag (which should be covered with three blankets), you will need to wear two pairs of woollen handknitted socks, two pairs of tracksuit pants, a singlet, thermal spencer, long sleeved tee shirt, cashmere cardigan (don’t worry, it was this one), two wool jumpers, a polar fleece jacket, a woolly hat and woollen wrist warmers.

Trust me on that.


Violet & Rose said...

Looks and sounds fantastic!

Lazy cow said...

That sounded a LOT nicer than my Easter camping trip. I'm terribly envious. You'll have to go head-to-toe thermals next year though. Had to break it to my daughter that there is no Easter bunny, as her egg got crushed on the way to the campsite (of course, there was nowhere within miles to buy a replacement. She took it well :-)

Janet said...

That looks so beautiful. And so much fun. Except for the bit about being cold at night. But it sounds like you were well prepared.

Joke said...

I admire that you went hiking. I don't admire hiking qua hiking, but you know what I mean.

-Mr. Rugged Indoorsman

Mama Lamb said...

Sounds like your guys and my guys would get along famously. And even in the summer, in the mountains in NC and Va, I have to dress in layers at night to sleep well - while all of may family laughs. I suspect your layers indicated true cold/winter coming weather - but I find anything below 70 requires jackets and wool.

Thanks for sharing the pictures!

sueeeus said...

What breathtaking photos of nature in all its splendour. Ahhhhhhh.

BabelBabe said...

what joy leapt in my heart when i saw you'd returned, AND that you had had a lovely trip.

Breathtakingly gorgeous photos.
Thank you!

Missed you and glad you are refreshed (even though I know that at this very moment probably you are frantically writing that essay : )).

Katya said...

Oh! I want to go there -- it's so beautiful.

meggie said...

What a great time you had.
Glad you were able to rejuvenate- like the wonderful bush.

Shula said...

You make camping sound fun and satisfying.

Which is testament to your extraordinary writing skills.

I started back at yoga about 6 weeks ago. Nearly killed me, but I can't tell you what a difference it's made.

SadieandLance said...

What an Easter Holiday. I've camped on a Wombat highway before too - they're noisey buggers at night aren't they.

Thanks for the congrats too. Your recommended uses of pregnancy slang was spot on - although I only wear my trackies in the house!

Hey ummmm I don't spose I could do you a deal on borrowing your copy of the West Wing? We had friends over last night and they've never seen it so we felt rude asking them to sit through the last episode. And now I'm regretting not being rude! I could bake you something?

Elizabeth said...

Beautiful photos! It sounds like a wonderful Easter holiday.
I'm not so keen for sleeping on the ground myself but hiking, canoeing ( even yoga in the wild) knitting and chocloate, all good fun.

MsCellania said...

Oh, my days of sleeping on the ground are over; DONE DONE I tell you!
The best thing to do to make sleeping bag nice and toasty is heat potatoes in the fire, take them out after they are fully baked, put three of them in your sleeping bag to heat it up. Them chop them up the next morning and mix them with eggs in a frying pan that previously cooked bacon! You have to put the hot spuds in natural fiber mittens or cloth if your sleeping bag is synthetic...
The eggs were lovely! Ours were nice too. I forgot to take photos and the boys are a bit angry with me. We still have alot of candy. I bought the kinds I don't like or there would be NO candy left day after Easter. Oink Oink.
Glad you are back safe and sound! The trip did sound fantastic for an unwind and getting spirits back in place.

Stomper Girl said...

That looks so beautiful. I think I would have liked being on a wombat highway. Wombats are so cool. But I would not have like the cold nights. Electric blankets and doona girl, I am.

erica said...

these are lovely photos..lovely

Laura said...

We went camping (further north) in Australia about this time of year once. I distinctly remember spending an awful lot of time at the nearby resort pub drinking very slowly in order to stay warm. I don't remember the three blankets and two pairs of wool socks, but I do remember sleeping with my head inside the sleeping bag.

Thanks for the photos and the reminders.

Sarah Louise said...

So is an Easter camping trip an Aussie thing? (Since both you and LC indulge?) (I'm sure indulge is the wrong word for many folks, but I lurve camping!!)

Looks beyoot.