Trains and springtime in the goldfields

We left the Murray River and Mallee scrubland and are once again bush camping, this time outside the historic gold town of Maldon. We were surprised on an afternoon walk down the old railway line by a diesel tourist train.

It is nearly spring, and the Early Nancy and Golden Wattle, Australia’s national flower are in bloom. Tomorrow is our last day on the road – we are homeward bound.

P1040458.JPG

P1040449.JPG

P1040465.JPG

P1040454.JPG

Two Bays Walking Track

On Sunday, we did our longest day walk to date – 22km. We are in training for doing part of the Pilgrims Way in Spain, and were delighted to practise by walking through Greens Bush – unspoiled bushland in the centre of the Mornington Peninsula. The sandy path traversed creeks through fern gullies, banksia woodland and skirted elevated ant nests. They say they build them up in anticipation of rain. We crossed a bitumen road and lunched at a convenient bench before a track took us to Bushrangers Bay, returning to the car by the same route. A pleasant way to spend a sunny autumn day.

20140401-171139.jpg

20140401-171232.jpg

20140401-171339.jpg

20140401-171410.jpg

20140401-171451.jpg

20140401-171532.jpg

Summer garden visitors

This afternoon, we had a visitor in our garden. As we were sipping a cuppa with friends, a blue-tongued lizard crept along outside the window and settled under a seat in the sunshine. It was just below a Grasstree (xanthorrea) which is flowering for the first time in our three years in this house.

We appreciate these two snippets of Australian natural environment in our domesticated setting. It’s almost like being back in the bush.

20131207-223325.jpg

20131207-223405.jpg

What are these tents doing in this paddock?

Answer:
they have been erected by participants in the Great Victorian Bike Ride.

20131129-070942.jpg
Yesterday David returned from delivering our grand daughter, Lucinda, to her mother and brother at Port Campbell, on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. The middle, rest day of the GVBR coincided with an orientation day at the secondary school that she is enrolled for, so valiant Granddad picked her up from Koroit, above the Tower Hill Reserve, drove her to Melbourne and the following day, picked her up from school, returned her to her family, overnighted in Warrnambool before driving home via the Queenscliff ferry.
The Great Victorian Bike Ride is an annual event involving a moving town of 5,000 riders, cycling on a nine-day journey across the state of Victoria. this year’s ride included the spectacular Great Ocean Road and went from Mount Gambier with its famous Blue Lake, to the port city of Geelong.

20131129-072520.jpg

20131129-072550.jpg
Yesterday the riders completed the gruelling climb up Lavers Hill in wet conditions – quite a feat. The photos are from Monday, when conditions were sunnier.

Open garden with a bay view gives delight to visitors

Yesterday we visited an open garden on the slopes of Mount Martha, overlooking Victoria’s Port Phillip Bay. The hillside was densely planted with (mostly) Australian native plants, flowering for spring, interspersed with sculptured wildlife and water features.

20131020-170819.jpg

20131020-170911.jpg
I particularly liked the spidery hakeas.

20131020-171104.jpg
And this blue lily which the nurseryman who was present identified for me.

20131020-171312.jpg

20131020-171409.jpg
One of the homeowners sculpts in wood and I bought a little bowl for olives.

Every reason to enjoy Veraison

A couple of evenings ago, we drove as the setting sun cast warm glows on the bushland and vines, to Bluestone Lane Winery, the home of Veraison Restaurant. We had been invited by our friends Jan and Len to an event held by the Mornington Peninsula Wine and Food Society, of which they are members.

The prearranged menu with accompanying wines had been carefully selected by these foodies to complement each other and delight the senses. The owner filled us in with background details about the wines and what we were eating – which very much added to the total experience.

Upon arrival, we were welcomed with the winery’s sparkling white made by the methode champagnoise accompanied by canap├ęs including a delicate salmon on miniature blini.

20131020-072738.jpg
Then we sat down to tables set with white cloths and lillies to nibble on rolls with the most divine olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

20131020-073000.jpg
The entree was a mystery and we were invited to identify the ingredients. It turned out to be Canadian giant scallops on Spanish black pudding – I kid you not! Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo.

20131020-073555.jpg
This was the main, which was also a mystery and turned out to be Flinders Island milk-fed wallaby with crunchy dried mushroom topping and a beetroot jus.
The sweet was their signature

20131020-073925.jpg dish – violet gelato with white chocolate ice cream and honeycomb – a sweet indulgence to finish with. By the time I drove home it was almost midnight and I was glad that I had resisted the lure of the carefully selected wines. Thanks, Jan and Len, for the invitation to an evening of good company and sensory treats.

Coolart has cool critters

Yesterday David led a Probus walk through Coolart Wetlands & Homestead,on the Mornington Peninsula, an hour and a half south of Melbourne.

This park has an imposing homestead built by pharmaceutical magnate Frederick Grimwade in 1895, surrounded by a formal English-style garden with a pretty fountain.

We did the 6kmWoodland walk and checked out bird hides with cormorants, a curious egret and nesting ibises. A short beaked echidna tried its hand at tree-climbing and a raven ogled our picnic lunch longingly.

20131009-225001.jpg

20131009-225053.jpg

20131009-225149.jpg

20131009-225251.jpg

20131009-225335.jpg

20131009-225403.jpg