With the summer holidays dwindling, we’ve trekked back up the coast to Mum’s. Here we are – looking out at the ocean, the water twinkling in as many shades of blue as we can think up names for it. The sun is warm but the breeze stiff. As the afternoon deepens, small, flecky white horses appear across the blue of the bay, tossing their heads as the parasurfers race wildly from one side to the other. The water – well it’s freezing! Not like the warm waters of Queensland and northern NSW we lily-livered folk are used to :-) But we head to the beach nevertheless. It is a beautiful place to be – and so very lovely to have Mum so much closer.
And yet, something I look forward to just as much as being here, is the journey. I do so love a good journey. We’ve made this particular trek several times now – across the farmlands of Gippsland, through the deep forests of the southern Wilderness Coast and voila! We pop out at the Pacific Ocean – the remote wild melding back into the lush dairyland of the Bega Valley and the small fishing communities of Southern New South Wales.
It’s beginning to feel like “our journey”. The first hour and a half is a bit of a drag – it’s just the freeway – but then we arrive in Traralgon and know that now we have truly left the city behind. We know all the wee towns we will pass through and in the right order, we have our favourite farmhouses, the prettiest copse of trees and the happiest cows. We’ve found the yummiest bakeries and the worthwhile thrift shops. We always ooh and aah over the the beautiful architecture in Sale (the rich red brick of the Catholic church and school are my favourites). We always stop at the huge and lovely park in Orbost – but we don’t drive in, we park beside the road, spread out our picnic quilt and lay in the shade of the magnificent old trees that line the road. We always giggle (in that ewww way) at the roadstop where Fu vomitted up a 5 inch tapeworm on her first journey (you’re glad I shared that aren’t you!).
I love this feeling. I love gathering these places in my heart and mind and holding them there as part of our journey.
Our absolute favourite spot is the old railroad just outside of Bruthen. There’s almost nothing left of it but the name and an incredibly rickety wooden railbridge that stops in mid air. Now it’s a horse riding and walking trail. One day we might complete it. For now, we love the huge thicket of plum trees that gather a few hundred metres in from the road. Just above a field where the sweetest, inquisitive cows live ( I do so love cows).
The very first time we found this spot – on our journey from Brisbane to Melbourne 2 years ago – Julian and I hung out with the cows awhile, took lots of photos and ate a few plums. Last year, we missed it – we came home a stupid way – following the Snowy River along 90 kilometres of hairpin bendy dirt road – never, ever again – and plums were the last thing on my mind as we limped, carsick, through Bruthen.
This year, as we returned home after New Years, we collected 6 kilos of plums! Oh my – they were so delicious. Tart and wild and sweet all at once. They nestled in a bag at my feet for the rest of the journey home and I did eat a few. But three kilos were made into jam the next day, and the rest into spicy plum sauce soon after. Wild Bruthen Jam & Sauce for our pantry. Part of our journey spread on our toast and eaten with cheese.
Yesterday – it was hot and bright. Our ears were filled with the screeching of insects and the white dust of the path simply hung in the air where we kicked it up, it was so still. The plum trees were still laden with fruit but so high up (I told you we would need a ladder Julian!) and frankly, they were a little over ripe. Good for eating on the spot – which we did with the few we could reach – but no good for preserving. In amongst the plum trees are a couple of apple trees – unripe of course and a wee bit manky – we’ll have to try them at Easter. And this time – heading into late summer – we noticed the blackberry brambles. Abby half filled my hat but disappointingly, we needed our rock climbing equipment to reach the masses of ripe berries.
Yes, I do love the journey just as much as the holiday. Travelling along familiar roads, feasting our eyes on familiar sights, stopping to enjoy a small bit of what each town has to offer, remembering the different experiences we’ve had in familiar places.
Eeach time, making it that little bit more “our journey”.