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
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.