What a very different day’s adventure. Driving to Halls Gap in the Grampians…..the most southerly section of the Great Dividing Range and the heart of sheep country.
Driving out of Ballarat we were astounded to see the respect and ongoing care of those who fell in war along the kilometers of trees each individually allocated and memorialised along the Avenue of Remembrance.
The fire warnings stretching along the highhway were a grim reminder of the war against the dry, the searing heat of a sunburnt country and the devastation that follows bush fires.
Stawell was a revelation. Although I had known of the iconic Stawell Gift foot race as an historical fact, it has only been in recent years that there has been a personal connection. Our nephew, Jeremy Hill, this Saturday marries a dedicated athlete, a Stawell Gift competitor, a life champion and all round delightful woman, Cara Boustead. Not only does Cara train her heart out and compete with a terrior-like determination for her personal best, but she is sharing her love of health, athletics and life goals with young Australians – she has the best job in the world. She is a teacher! How blessed we are to be able to share their wedding day.
What a proud part of Stawell.
Then we noticed a change of tree vegetation as we got nearer the rugged sedimentary slabs and outcrops of the Grampians. We also lost count of the numbers and types of accommodation beckoning the would-be walkers, climbers and nature lovers to the area for weekend bush retreats. Such a peaceful and inviting change from the dry plains and dusty towns below.
Brambuk National Park with its great information centre and the Aboriginal Cultural Centre and walks was a must-do. We spent ages learning about the 6 seasons which continue as the thread of cultural survival and preservation and care of mother earth for the Gariwerd.
The Cultural Centre is built in the shape of the cockatoo or chinnup with its outspread wings which is the totem of the Djab Wirrung and Jardwadjali peoples. Inside, the building has many displays and information intricately preserved within the building materials and shapes of significance to the cultural life….. like the whale bones structuring the yarning room.
This area holds the largest rock art sites in southern Australia. We did not get to the sites on this visit, but examples of them are shared here.
International visitors were everywhere, soaking up the wonders of the world’s longest living culture. How blessed are we as Australians to be able to share this with our First Nations peoples. As more awareness and understanding grows, hopefully non-indigenous Australians will appreciate and respect this more as well.
Thrilled to see a bush tucker platter on the menu at the National Parks and Cultural Centre cafe we gave it a hearty thumbs up! The emu, crocodile, and kangaroo tasters were accompanied by a range of bush tomatoes, berries, finger limes, pepper dusted macadamias, relishes and others which all tasted tangy and so refreshing…and the wattleseed damper was so light and fluffy it was well worth the inevitable coeliac reaction to follow. Sometimes I just choose to enjoy the moment! And it was accompanied by a monstrous scone with wattleseed cream and native rosella jam. LSM said it was delish. This time I chose to pass! 😉
Then to Silverband Falls…….a 1.6 km round loop to a dryish trickle. The trees, birds and dry river bed were worth the short, if disappointing, walk.
However a bit further down the road was the winding ascent to the Mt William car park. Quite spectacular views, but the severe ascent warnings saw us take the photos not the climb. But what views there must be for those more fit and energetic to make it to the summit.
Sheep country, hay bales, quiet hamlets and the Grampians backdrop behind us, we found another route back to Ballarat and to our digs. Somehow though we missed the sign to the sheep cheese outlet near Glenthompson……….never mind!
And we are edging closer to the big smoke……..