Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Off the grid.......for a while.

Life is great in Kyneton, but everyone needs a break. Lisa, Tom and I had not been away together for over 18 months. So Friday we packed the car and got out of town. Joining us were friends Sam and Michaela and their two kids Poppy and Gus.

    McMillans Lookout, overlooking the town of Benambra, with The Brothers mountains in the           

We headed down the Princes Hwy to Bruthen turned up the Omeo Hwy to Omeo then headed to my parents high country farm at Uplands, about 12k's North of Benambra. The farm is about 150 acres on the Morass Creek and was the original location of the Uplands Post Office, which stood on the property until the 2003 bushfires, which razed it to the ground. 

          Uplands Post Office site, just to the left of the Pines in the distance, post 2003 fires.

Before that, the farm which had once been one of the best kept parcels of land in the district had been let go for decades and was in a horrible state, covered in blackberries, thistles and all manner of other noxious weeds. There were parts of the creek bank where you couldn't get to within 10 metres of the water. Now thanks to years of Dad's hard work it has been returned to it's former glory and is in fine shape.

Just as pleasant as the views across the paddocks of lucern and along the creek line are, there is another special quality that the property holds. Lack of phone coverage! Yep, mobiles are pretty much reduced to paper weights and that's a great thing for a day or two. So with the phone off and internet out of action, we settled into more important tasks, like lighting the fire and cleaning the camp oven.

                                                   Kennedy's Hut on the Mitta Mitta

Saturday. After a relaxing light bush walk along the Mitta Mitta River to Kennedy's Hut we slow roasted a piece of pork belly with homegrown tomato and eggplant salad for dinner.

Camp oven on the coals.

                                                    A few well deserved ales later...........

                                                      The view from Hotham Heights 

On Sunday we took the kids to Mount Hotham for lunch and for a play in what was left of an early sprinkling of snow. 

With the requisite snowman constructed then 'decommissioned,' snowballs hurled in all directions and boots wet through, we headed back to the farm, collected firewood for the fire that night and settled in for more good food and company. The kids ate their body weight in roasted marshmallows. Later that night everyone piled into the ute for a quick whip around the fence line on the lookout for wildlife. A dozen good sized eastern grey kangaroos, four wild deer and a hare hopping through the lucern paddock made their collective eyes pop and drew the odd excited squeal.

Monday morning we headed further North along the Corryong Rd to a spot on the Gibbo River where we knew of half a dozen magnificent Chestnut trees. 

These trees would have been planted around gold rush times and just as in years past, they did not disappoint with literally thousands of Chestnuts covering the ground under their huge canopies.

Anyone who has ever tackled a Chestnut pod will know that it is one well protected little fortress. Those spikes are better than needle sharp and I'm still feeling the remnants of them in my fingers as I type. 

But the nuts inside are well worth the fight and after an hour or so we had collected our fill just before the rain sent us back to our cars. The amazing thing was we didn't even get close to collecting the nuts from even one tree!

A late drive home last night and back into the workshop today putting the finishing touches to one of a number of rocking chairs I have on order. It's great to be home and refreshed for another couple of weeks of chair making, courses and.......... roasted Chestnuts.

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