Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pining for Victoria

Rural Victoria, Australia. 2008. Ajr
Every year about this time my head and my heart start yearning for Melbourne and rural Victoria. The first glimmer of spring here in Christchurch and I begin thinking about my annual pilgrimage across the ditch to catch up with family and friends. It’s a time to indulge myself in the pleasures of my favourite Australian city; a time to explore, to wander down lanes and backstreets; a time to leap on a tram or a train and rediscover the sprawling suburbs; a time to lounge about in cafes eating too many too-rich cakes and then walking them off with my camera slung over one shoulder. It’s a time to rev up the car and head out into the countryside to discover what lies down the dusty, gum-lined side roads; a time to consider the fabric of the little communities tucked into those potentially volatile gum forests. It’s a time to be dragged out into the perishing heat on long walks with dogs and rock climbers; and most of all it’s a time for me to once again live the divine pleasure that is ‘the discovery of travel.’ I usually set up my ‘base camp’ in the little town of Woodend, about an hour’s drive north of Melbourne (or a very pleasurable one hour commute on the very efficient train system) and I spread out in all directions from there. It’s not far from Hanging Rock - that eerie little spot made famous by the Joan Lindsay novel, “Picnic at Hanging Rock” – (click on Hanging Rock below and you can read all about it), which is where I discovered Hanging Rock Winery on my 2007 visit (that's it in the top left photo). The nice thing about this part of Australia is that it comes with enough similarities to New Zealand to make it feel very comfortable and easy - familiar almost; and enough differences (like all those poisonous things), to keep you on your toes. I love the big cloud-fileld skies and all those incredibly funny linguistic quirks the Aussies have too. Anyway… that’s all I had to say. Just a little Aussie reverie.

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