Gum trees, all lined up for Becky’s squares, in Victoria Valley, the Grampians.
For Becky’s squares I’m submitting the geometric and curvy lines to be found in the Botanic Gardens of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.
This week, Cee’s B&W photo challenge is field.
I tried to position this destination at mid-morning, to optimise any sampling opportunities that might arise. Only a few minutes out of Healesville, on the Old Healesville Road, lies the Yarra Glen Chocolaterie. What is that? A place where chocolate is made and sold and you will get more than good chocolate.
- Great views.
Gorgeous ranges roll around the establishment and splashes of art and gardens delight the eye.
Most of it is edible or leads to such.
3. Chocolate exhibits
and samples. People took handfuls and came back for more.
4. Hot Chocolate with extra chocolate
5. Ambiance and other trappings for the chocolate-lover
Loads of gifts and produce are available and I defy you not to leave with any. Extraordinary varieties and diversions – we even bought chocolate lip gloss for a dieter. Plenty of staff on hand and we went on a Sunday when there was a constant flow of people of all ages.
Many people walked through the vineyards and orchards that the cafe looks out on to. Families played or set out picnic blankets in the sun, creating a festive mood.
Safe, chocolaty travels. Take a hat, but the shopping bag will be supplied.
With an unexpected warm breeze blowing through the van and the Yarra Valley touring map spread before us, we chose which walks we could fit into an afternoon, from Healesville. Echoes of Westerns past prepared me for adventure as we headed out on Black Spur Drive, looking for Steavenson Falls.
We stopped at Selovers lookout for a quick gaze over the Maroondah Reservoir and surrounding ranges.
Then on to Marysville, and the turnoff to one of Victoria’s tallest falls. There is a well-appointed carpark (you have to pay) and then information boards to direct you.
It is an easy track, which could be completed in a wheelchair, or if you have more time and are up for a more difficult walk, you can branch off to the Keppel Lookout which is reported to have stunning views of the ridgeline and forests.
There is access to the stream at the base of the falls, but you have to take the main path to the first bridge,
from which you can take great shots.
It is where I experimented with trying to capture running water.
I thought the last one came close. Onward to the top of the falls, past yellow wattle and fallen tree trunks, hollowed with age.
From the top you can try to capture the length of it, but in this I failed.
The downhill trek was much faster and before long we were heading for Lake Mountain. In the last rays of the day we made our way back to Healesville, along beautiful, fern tree lined roads, stopping at lookouts when we saw them early enough.
An excellent resource that I printed before we left home was https://visityarravalley.com.au/
Safe travels. Carry water and a hat.
When you live in Adelaide, Australia, and you only have a short time for a holiday, you head to Victoria. It is a comfortable 8 hour drive from city to city (Adelaide to Melbourne) along well-maintained roads. We chose the Yarra Valley as our destination and it took a total of 11 hours, not including the overnight stop and lunch at Niko’s Cafe.
There are several paths to the East but we left late on a Friday evening, took the National Highway to Murray Bridge, staying in Tintinara at a truckies’ overnight stop.
A glowing sunrise had us off to Bordertown, then along the Western Highway, past Green Lake to Ballarat, admiring the fields of canola with the Grampians as a backdrop.
Just out of Stawell, we stopped at Niko’s Cafe for the biggest and best mixed kebab and French hamburger ever. Pictured, here, above the menu items, Niko was happy to have me spread the word, although he assured me that his fame was solid after only three months in the area. He was only disappointed that the chooks were not spinning on the spit and the lamb not sizzling for the yiros.
We skirted around Melbourne to the Yarra Valley, taking a rather winding, narrow road, but ok with the caravan. I’d advise avoiding the afternoon rush, although it was a Saturday, but the last weekend for school holidays in Victoria.
The BIG4 Yarra Valley Park Lane Holiday Park was beautiful. Scenic, with large sites and excellent facilities, it really caters for families. There is a jumping pillow, a huge koala with a cut-out tummy into which children poke their heads and have their photo taken, the creek running through the park and Picaninny Lake. Onsite tents are also available and gave many of us an afternoon of inquiry.
The park has a walk that goes around the lake and then through some bush to a hilltop. It is an easy incline and the scenery and views are worth it – even the old wreck. At the office, you can get a bag of seed for $1 and feed it to the birds. Well worth it, as we were surrounded by birds for the remainder of our days there, even when the seed ran out. I’m not sure where the saying, ‘bird brain’ comes from, as I had a parrot land on my shoulder as I returned from the shop, scuttle down my arm to the bag of seed and try to peck it open. An abundance of wildlife roams the caravan park.
Situated in Healesville, this is a great location from which to explore the Valley. We went to the Yarra Valley Dairy, where the wine tasting was for Alkimi’s owner, pictured. We bought a white and a red. Then on to Four Pillars Gin for a private tasting and information about gin – be warned, it’s hot on the tonsils – and the Chocolatiery. The last deserves a separate blog, but the others were not regretted.
As we were near the Dandenong Ranges and surrounded by hills, the scenery was lush and green, begging to be explored. It is a cool rainforest area, hilly and it snows in Winter. There are excellent walking trails and historic towns. We went to Stevenson Falls, Black Spur Scenic Drive, Lake Mountain, Seville (for the Tesselaar tulip festival), Mt Donna Buang, Marysville and Warburton. An afternoon was spent exploring the township of Healesville.
Other things to do nearby are gardens, stately homes, Puffing Billy (which is a fabulous steam train ride through the rainforest) and wineries.
Travel here safely. Bring your taste buds.
While scrolling through my emails a few months ago, the BIG4 site had a beautiful photo that caught my eye. It was of a field of tulips, so I explored further and, before we knew it, we were on our way to Victoria, to see the Tesselaar Tulip Festival.
I’m not sure if thousands or millions is the correct power of ten to express the number of blooms and they are gasp-worthy in colour and formation. I’ll do a collage of pictures, but I really want to show each variety.
And there aren’t just tulips – add daffodils, renunculi, magnolia, camelias, azaleas, rhododendron… I’ve run out of my flower vocabulary. If you are ever in Australia in Spring and near Victoria, then be lured here. There is a fee to enter but it is a oncer.
The farm was started by a Dutch couple who came here in 1939, on their wedding day and on one of the last boats to leave Europe before WWII started. The beautiful blooms attracted a good deal of attention and people would stop and jump the fence, until finally the crowd was so large that the owners decided to charge a nominal admission. It is currently run by the grandson of the original owners. There are food stalls, souvenirs, coffee and a band was playing. Of course there are plants, but if you intend to travel interstate, we have strict laws in some Australian states about carrying plant matter – you can’t!
Found in Silvan, in the Yarra Ranges of Victoria, it is very near the Dandenong Ranges, whose fern-laden forests and renown gardens are certainly worth a visit. If you are into steam trains, then a ride on Puffing Billy is a must, sweeping you through rain forest, over farmland and past quaint towns.
We came from Healesville via Don Road, Launching Place, Woori Yallock and Seville and saw a variety of scenery, from towering trees to rich, volcanic farmland.
A very pleasant way to spend a morning, we visited a winery on the way back and were home for lunch.
Safe travels! Take your hat, water and a camera.
It’s mid-October which is Spring in Australia, and while in shorts we enjoyed 22C at the base, there were remnants of snow on Lake Mountain, Victoria, providing me with my very first view, although it had frozen over to ice.
The drive here showcased many landscapes and sweeping views of mountain ranges. Traveling from Healesville along the well-maintained and signed Black Spur Scenic Drive, we were awed by the forest trees, reminiscent of Denmark and the tall trees of Western Australia. The biggest difference was the multitude of towering tree ferns.
Mountains sweep away to either side of you and in Winter, the Alpine resort is very busy with snow-goers. Several lookouts are provided along the way to enjoy the view.
I don’t know if you have spotted it, but we saw an odd change in the landscape. While some hillsides are green and thick with vegetation, others had these strange pelts of white sticks. We walked to the summit (1433 m) but not the ridge lookout. From here, the sticks were obviously trees. If you enlarge the next picture you can see the ‘bristles’ on the top of other mountains in the distance.
You can see over the Victorian Alps and the small town of Marysville nestled in the centre of the rolling hills. There was often vegetation at the base of the trunks, or strips of green revegetation along hills, but the ghostly silhouettes led us to inquire.
Gum trees need very high temperature/heat to germinate. The fires, that are not uncommon in Australia in Summer, serve to spread the growth of gum trees. However, in 2009, ferocious fires of an historic magnitude swept the area and Black Saturday was born. Destruction, of humans, environment and buildings, was on a scale never seen before and not since. Marysville was almost completely destroyed. People lost their lives, their homes and their livelihoods.
New solar-operated signs now warn us of the danger of bushfire and we should heed them.
I am aware that similar devastation has recently occurred in California and it is shocking for a country. People do band together and they rebuild and never forget. Things don’t return to how they were and we have to move with the difference.
The heat was so extreme on Black Saturday that the gum trees will probably never regenerate. Once the centre of Australia was rainforest and 500 000 years later it is desert. Lake Mountain will evolve and we can still enjoy its breathtaking scenery and charming villages.
Safe travels. Take note of bushfire signs.
I had wanted to visit Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement since I was in primary school and my friend not only sent a letter (gone are those days) but brought back photographs. Constantly lost in my imagination (those days aren’t gone) it took me back in time and brought to life the television programs of the day – Whiplash, for example.
Forty years or so later, and with a few pioneer villages under our hats, my husband and I travelled to the river region of Victoria and New South Wales and stopped at the BIG4 Riverside caravan park. It is an excellent park, with good facilities and a great location. It is right next to the Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement, separated by a gate and a short walk.
The settlement is delightful, with a carefully planned township that is accessible and historical. Gardens, shops, homes, faith, education, industry and transport, you are carried back, to life in the mid- to late- 1800’s and early 1900’s in Australia. Being a young Nation (on the oldest continent) that is about as far back as European settlement goes in the area.
Transport options abound, as they once did, and you can be a passenger aboard a horse drawn carriage, steam train, riverboat or vintage automobile. Other forms are on display, but you cannot ride them, such as a penny farthing bicycle and horses.
Treat yourself to an afternoon of discovery as you walk the streets, taste the fare and make sure you visit the Kaiser Stereoscopic Theatre, where a person once may have imagined they were a passenger on far away journeys.
Due to flooding and a very high river level, the famous Laser Light Show was immersed, so we missed that, but there is plenty to do in the area.
Safe travels. Don’t forget the hat and water (and maybe an umbrella).