I met a very sweet and elderly lady recently who was raised in Iona. A very wee place … more of a gathering of dairy farms really … near the small village of Bunyip. It’s not far from us here in Melbourne and a part of the Gippsland we had not yet explored. So today – despite the lowering sky, chilly temps, and persistent rain, we layered our woolies, pulled our hats over our ears and set off.
Now Bunyip – despite it’s quaint name – didn’t really have that much charm. Almost everything old has been replaced with new and cheap. And the lovely long curve of old shops with the obligatory two storey village pubs, overlooking the railway station and line, are almost empty – superceded by a very recently added pre-fab shopping mall at the bottom of the hill.
My spiteful side hopes that its lowly position places it firmly on the floodplain so that the good merchants of Bunyip soon realise the big mistake they’ve made and move back up the hill to the so-sweet, old shops. And, after a few days of heavy rain, the drowned fields surrounding Bunyip – why they gave me hope!
All that we could find of Iona was St. Joseph’s – with it’s hall and tiny, abandoned primary school.
It just seems so inconceivable that we could be less than 2 hours from the huge city of Melbourne and yet there’s no more need for this wee school. Funny isn’t it. How quickly times change.
Strangely enough, the side door to the hall was slightly open – so we had a respectful explore inside. It’s available for hire – $75 a night. I’m thinking a winter party in this old wooden room full of memories and history, with it’s stage, and two fireplaces, would be marvellous. With dancing of course. And dresses that swirl. We could hire one of those little mini buses to transport our guests.
Back on the road, there were stops for my favourite – cows. And Julian’s favourite – dead trucks. Luckily, in this drenched field, there were both :-)
We headed south for the tail end of the Strezlecki ranges – at least I think that’s what these hills are – up out of the plentiful, rushing water. And oh, it was beautiful. Mmmmmm …… this here view is currently for sale. Imagine … with all that water down below … we could get flooded in. We would be safe and dry up here on our hilltop, looking east to the dairy fields and alps, and west to the ocean. We’d just want to make sure we had plenty of wood for the stove, and food for our bellies, and supplies for stitching and reading. And maybe a sturdy little boat if we truly needed to venture out.
Finally, we turned westward – homeward bound. Stopped for some butternuts, onions and orange blossom honey. Had a lovely long chat with the farmer selling them. Met her newly arrived Belgian hen and rooster and their juvenile offspring. Checked out the beehives – her favourite part of the farm. And the grapes – his favourite part of the farm. Told her about the farm up the road for sale. She said she’d pray for us and perhaps one day we’d be neighbours :-) She was such a sweetie. And thought it was so funny that I took a photo of her pumpkins.
Now we are home. Julian is making pumpkin pie. Abby is making piping hot tea to warm us all the way down to our toes. And for the first time in weeks, I don’t have anything to do except sit back and enjoy the evening. Bliss!