Promises, promises

So, I know that I promised it wouldn’t take me 9 months to get around to telling you about our holiday in Vietnam and Thailand, and it won’t, but first I want to show you a little more of this fabulous State that I live in.

Whatever your opinion, political or sporting, about having a public holiday set for the day before the AFL Grand Final there’s no denying that a long weekend is a good thing. As soon as The Sparky and I realised that a Friday off meant I had a 5-day weekend we got to planning, blocked the days out of his calendar so that he would remember not to book jobs and pulled out the map …

Without boring you with our decision making process, we ended up booking two nights at The Blue Duck Inn in Anglers Rest. To be honest, the accommodation itself needs a bit of work before I would recommend it to anyone but the location was fantastic and I am told (by others with more experience than me) that it is a great place for lunch once the grape vines are doing their thing.

But first, we set off early on Thursday morning, dropped all three pets off at a new-found pet-sitter (who I will happily recommend if you’re looking for someone in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne) and headed up to The General Food Store in Emerald. Not necessarily the most direct way to get to where we were going but we were in no hurry, plus there was the bonus of having a scenic drive down to Pakenham – which, as anyone who knows the area will agree, is much nicer than trundling down the Princes Freeway for too long.

A short break at Sherwood Park Orchard in Bunyip, where we proved to be bad family for not knowing that The Sparky’s brother was still on holiday, was followed by a long, long drive to Bruthern where we stopped for lunch at the Bullant Brewery. As a non-drinker I always feel a little odd stopping at breweries and wineries, but they do so often prove to have the best food! Bullant Brewery was no exception and, despite my normal aversion to ordering Asian-inspired food at a non-specific restaurant, my San Choy Bow was delicious and The Sparky’s roast beef bun and chips was quite nice too (but both far too large!!).

After a smoky evening, thanks to a fireplace that didn’t work brilliantly, and a slowish start to our public-holiday-Friday morning, we jumped into The Beast with The Sparky’s brother, SIL and their young daughter (hereafter to be known as Hurricane Ruby – not her real name) and headed off, cross-country, to the Buchan Caves.

One of the things I love about 4-wheel driving through this country is you never quite know what you’ll find. On this particular day, The Washington Winch which, according to the information board nearby, is “the only steam-powered engine of its kind in Australia with engine, spars and cables still rigged for work”.

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I suspect that the rust might get in the way of it operating properly these days but it was pretty cool to see it all sitting there, a lot of what we normally see is only a small part of the overall operating system.

Given that it was only described on the map as “The Washington” there is a good chance we wouldn’t have stopped if we hadn’t first spotted this wonderful winch system running across our path …

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… apparently it was all a part of the old logging rig, used to drag logs down the mountain-side.

There is a small chance that we spent just a little too long here, The Sparky’s brother is one of the many Engineers in the family and both boys were fascinated.

Admittedly, it was pretty cool.

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As always, the rough path took us longer than anticipated and we were pretty hungry by the time we arrived in Buchan for our late lunch. Oh, and somehow we’d made it ’til 2:30 in the afternoon with no caffeine. Thankfully, the cafe (which I believe was the Buchan Main Street Cafe, but don’t quote me on that) was wonderful, armed with a proper coffee machine, people who knew how to use it and delicious food.

After hearing one of our fellow diners comment on the need to make it to the caves in time for their tour, we realised that our day was slipping away and we may actually have trouble getting into a tour. So, off we popped down the road, bought our tickets and then idled away roughly half an hour in these beautiful surrounds.

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(Yep, that’s a wallaby bouncing away in the middle there. There were quite a few wallabies and ‘roos in the area, particularly mothers with joeys on board.)

If you haven’t been to the Buchan Caves before, and you’re okay with dark, tight spaces, then I would highly recommend making your way here one day. In fact, I’m not so good with dark, tight spaces and I still enjoyed it.

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At first The Sparky and I were a little taken aback by the cost of the tour, thinking it would be a short walk and talk around one small cave, in the end though we spent roughly an hour following our Park Ranger through tunnels and caves and admiring all sorts of natural beauty.

When we finally emerged, dusk was falling and it was time for The Beast to take us ‘home’, this time on a slightly more direct but still scenic and dusty route.

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Given that this post is already much longer than anticipated, I think I will tell you about the next instalment another day.

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