We departed Australia on Tuesday. Call it post-vacation blues, holiday hangover or a manifestation of jet lag where my mental brain is still trying to get use to the current space and time zone, a time lapse between dream and reality, my brain is playing the game of “what were you doing this time last week” ever since my return from the trip.
Sunday, August 20, 2017
09:30 After breakfast, we took a quick last stroll around the neighbourhood before we checked out and bid farewell to this place that has been our home for the past 5 days. After 4 days of intermittent rain, we finally have clear skies! Kyneton is a town located in the Macedon Ranges region of the state of Victoria. It is about an hour train ride from Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria. Kyneton boasts a number of high quality eateries and award-winning restaurants although that was not the reason we chose to stay here. I love food but that is seldom the reason for my travel. It is mainly practical reasons (close proximity to train station, amenities, availability of accommodation) that brought us here. Kyneton is also halfway between the wider Daylesford and Macedon Ranges region. For travellers like us who don’t drive, this makes it a convenient base to explore the areas. Practical reasons aside, I was also attracted to the charms of a small quaint town and the streets lined with historic buildings that are converted into exquisite shops, galleries and cafes. During spring time, Kyneton hosts the Daffodil and Arts Festival.
10:00 The Daylesford and Macedon Ranges region is renowned for its natural mineral springs and spa. The tourism website reads, “In the Macedon Ranges you can eat and drink your way around a landscape that attracts nationally and internationally acclaimed accolades for its local, gourmet food and wine culture.” However, it is neither the food nor mineral spa that brought me here. I’m simply looking for “a place where you can wander the streets of sleepy towns to look for bargains or just take a walk in the bush.” In other words, its the scenery and natural attractions. Since neither of us drives, we rely mostly on public transportation (and walking). However, there are places that are inaccessible without private transportation and since we are here, there is no way I am going to leave without a visit to the national park, so I’ve pre-booked a driver/guide to take us on a tour today to the Macedon Regional Park.
Our first stop is the Mt Macedon War Memorial Cross, which is located at the summit of Mt Macedon. The Memorial Cross commemorates those who gave their lives in WWI. Each year on ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) day, April 25, thousands attend the Mt Macedon dawn service to honour the fallen heroes.
A short walk from the Memorial Cross brings us to the site of the Kurana tragedy. An aircraft crashed near the site in 1948, as a result of misty conditions which led to reduced visibility on the mountains and killed both the pilot and the co-pilot.
Following the trail, we saw trees where the sun was shining on with smoke coming off it. I couldn’t explain why so I turned to Google “steam/smoke coming off from tree” for an explanation and came across this blog post which explains, “It had rained a lot the day before and the tree was thoroughly soaked. Over night it went down below freezing and everything was nice and frosty. When the sun rose up and finally hit this tree it was warm and started to quickly melt the frost and thus the steam began to rise.” I’m not sure if there is a name for this phenomenon, anyone reading who can offer more information are welcome to leave a comment.
11:15 Our next stop is Camels Hump, the highest point in the Macedon Ranges. This rocky outcrop is a mamelon, a volcanic feature formed six million years ago when thick lava squeezed through a narrow vent in the earth’s crust. The lookout offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
12:00 Next stop is the Sanatorium Lake. Having walked around the perimeter of the idyllic Lake Daylesford few days ago, I was expecting something similar but the Sanatorium Lake turns out to be much smaller in comparison. Nevertheless, the views offered, in particular, the reflections of the lake was stunning. This man-made lake was originally built in 1899 to provide a water source to a hospital specialising in the treatment of tuberculosis although the proposed hospital was never built due to opposition and lack of funding.
We spot several interesting natural features along the lake trail. And just to add, I wasn’t entirely correct to say that the Macedon Regional Park is inaccessible without private transportation, in fact, the Memorial Cross, Camels Hump and Sanatorium Lake are all within walking distance and are connected by 30km of walking tracks, starting from the Macedon railway station.
13:00 Lunch at the busy local hotel restaurant bar. It was rather crowded and without the help of our local guide, I would have looked lost without any idea on how to go about ordering our food.
13:50 The Macedon Ranges is also well-known for its private gardens. While some are closed during winter, a few remains open all year round. Forest Glade is one of the finest gardens and has existed for nearly one hundred years covering around 6 hectares (14.5 acres). Without a map, it was like walking in a maze. The garden features numerous interesting statutes and sculptures.
15:30 Our final stop on the itinerary is Trentham Falls. I don’t know what to expect beforehand, it was simply a convenient attraction spot along the drive but it turns out to be quite magnificent, not Niagara magnificent obviously but still magnificent. My photo really don’t do justice. Here is a better one. There was supposed to be a trail that leads to the top of the waterfall but was blocked off due to a landslide.
16:00 The tour was supposed to have ended after the falls, however, our friendly guide kindly and graciously offers us a tour of his house which lives a German Shepherd, 15 chickens (they are dorking if I remember correctly), fishes and…. you guess it, 2 CATS!!! ^-^ (cat photos to follow up in another post)
19:00 After the tour, we took the next train back to Melbourne Southern Cross station. I was a bit reluctant to be back in the populous city. Alighting from the regional train, we found our way to the metropolitan trains. Our hotel is one station away from Southern Cross station and the city-loop train was packed like sardines, there was a football match and the carriages were full of spectators returning from the stadium. Although we were still in Australia, I can’t help but feel a bit sad because our return to the city signifies that our trip is coming to an end.
After returning from Australia, I saw pictures of snow at Mt Macedon. Apparently, it snowed the next day after our visit. I was actually looking forward to see snow, the last time I saw snow, I was just a kid on a holiday with my family at Harbin. What a pity I missed the snow although I am not complaining about the clear blue skies.
My dear, we meet at least once a year, 12 times in 9 years
The love of many travellers, the centre of attraction
Stylish lanes and hidden alleys
Luscious food and roasted beans infuse the air
With a magic wand you stir and awake the weary souls
Transform an ordinary day into a delightful experience
Modern and exquisite, sensual and alluring
Many have fallen for your beauty, arts and culture
The most liveable they say
Well I’m not one of them
It’s not the glitz and glamour I crave
It’s not the hustle and bustle I yearn
Don’t get me wrong
I love your vigour and vibrant, city landscape and skyscraper
But my love for you doesn’t begin and stop here
It begins with quaint historic towns and charming villages
Vast green pastures and wide blue skies
Crisp mountain air and rolling hills
Diverse wildlife and rugged bush
Peaceful lakes and riverwalk
Quiet stroll and botanic gardens
Friendly locals and human kindness
A space to breathe, a space to walk, a space to live
A stranger from the city, a stranger in town, amazes at everything
Watch how the clouds move in the sky
Look at the trees and flowers
Hear the birds call
Listen and observe
What, how and why
So much to learn from nature
So much to learn from universe
So much to learn from life
My dear love, till we meet again