Monday, January 07, 2008

What Have I Been Up To ?

Hello Everyone, and Happy New Year !!

So ... How are you All ?? I'm doing great, and hope you are too.

Before I tell you what I have been up to, I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who has sent me wonderful Christmas Cards, emails and messages, and New Year emails and messages. And a thank you, too, to everyone who has been commenting on my blog ... I am sorry I haven't replied to you all.

Well, we are home again, after being away since Christmas Day.

We had a lovely Christmas Eve with my family, exchanged gifts, ate ourselves fat, and had a great evening. Christmas Morning was for Chicky, who was very happy with her gifts, both on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. She got some great presents, as did her dad and I.

On Christmas Day we headed up to our Caravan at Bonnie Doon. The traffic was light ... I guess everyone was at someone's house from Christmas Lunch. We arrived at Bonnie Doon around lunch time, unpacked, set ourselves up for the holidays, and relaxed ... aaaahhhhh, the serenity. The park was quiet, as most people hadn't arrived yet. During the afternoon and evening, people started to arrive at their 'vans, and even more came on Boxing Day.

Christmas Day evening, we headed over to my cousin's place, who have bought a house in Bonnie Doon, and had a meal there, with various family members. It was a nice evening ... lots of food and drink, and interesting conversation. We headed back to the caravan park around 10ish that evening.

Boxing Day we were meant to head to Benalla to catch up with Hubby's sister and her family, however that didn't happen, as one of the kids had fallen off a horse, and needed medical attention (she is OK now, nothing life threatening, thank goodness). Poor thing, being laid up with a fractured rib and bruised kidney during the Summer holidays.

The day after Boxing Day, my parents came up for a visit ... more eating, drinking, chatting, and a bit of 4WDing (somewhat carefully, though, as my Dad had cracked a rib falling down some stairs a few weeks earlier). He, too, is doing ok now ... thank goodness. We had a great day, as we always do ... my parents are great people, a lot of fun ... we thoroughly enjoy their company.

From then on, it was relax time. Unfortunately, the weather was way too hot. I don't think we had a day under 35C (95F), with many being around 38C (100.4F) and more !! Bl**dy hot, I say !! Fortunately, we had air-conditioning in our caravan/annexe, so we were able to hibernate in there (which we did, frequently). We spent some time down by the water, although the heat was unbearable even there, most of the time (unless you were in the water). At least it cooled down in the evenings, most days ... which made it easy to sleep. There is nothing worse than a stinking hot day, with a hot night also ... no sleep on top of a draining day is not good !!

One day, as we were by the lake, it was getting late in the evening and the sun was beginning to set. Time for some photos, I thought ...

As you probably know by now, I have a thing for strange cloud formations, and trees ... here's another one ...

New Years Eve was a fun night. There was a band playing in the park, and parties going on everywhere. We visited the band, caught up with friends, and attended a party or two. Overall, a fun night ... think I went to bed around 2am ... not bad going, I thought !! I didn't drink too much, as I am not good with hangovers ... don't like that feeling, don't want to do it anymore, I'm getting too old !!

On the 2nd of January we decided to go for a drive into the High Country. We had 3 cars, 3 families. The weather was nice ... fortunately a somewhat cooler day (only around 30C / 86F) ... and a few degrees cooler up in the hills, too !!

As you may remember (or maybe not !!), we suffered terrible bushfires last Summer, in our High Country and many other regions of Victoria. Most of the tracks and roads have re-opened, so we were able to explore. It is really interesting to see how much the bush has regenerated ... although there are many areas where the fire must have been so intense, that the trees haven't come back at all ... they are just dead. The undergrowth has sprung up, though ... I guess it is hard to kill bracken and ferns !!

The track we took, took us through a few river crossings ... lots of fun. Fortunately, the rivers were low, so the crossings were no trouble at all ... very beautiful to look at, though. (And the underneath of the cars got a bit of a wash, too ... bonus !!)

During our drive, we came across a number of huts. A quote from the VHCHA website says ...

"Over the years many huts have been built through out Victoria, serving a variety of purposes. Each has stood as a monument of our history, from the humble dwellings of our pioneers, to the evening retreat after a mans hard days work. Others have been safe havens for those in need or a resting place after trekking some of Australia's most majestical terrain -each one has been a welcomed site, no matter how small, how primitive or for what reason."

I have always found the huts truly interesting, and have developed a real fascinationg and love for them ... unfortunately, we lost a few during last summer's bushfires. Some of those have been rebuilt.

The hut in the following picture is at Pineapple Flat, where we stopped for morning tea.

After leaving Pineapple Flat, we headed up what is known as "The Staircase" ... a very steep, rocky part of the track, which takes after it's name. It is a very challenging track, for most 4WD's, particularly those with not a lot of ground clearance. Fortunately, our 4WD is set up for this sort of stuff, and seemingly walked up the hill ... not a crash or bang was heard. The same can't be said for the other 2 cars in our group ... luckily nothing was damaged ... the noise just sounded awful !!

We continued driving, until we arrived at Lake Cobbler ... a little oasis in the high country. This area was badly burnt last summer, too. Much of the forest is quite dead, as you can see from the following photo ...

Another hut ... Lake Cobbler Hut ... people must have fought hard to save this one, as much of the bush surrounding it was burnt.

We had our lunch whilst at Lake Cobbler ... we all took fresh bread rolls, and all the necessary fillings, along with chairs, and whatever else was needed. Some of the kids decided to go for a swim ... the lake looked so inviting !!

After packing up here, taking more photos, we climbed back into our cars and back-tracked up to Craigs Hut. Craigs Hut was originally built for The Man From Snowy River movies, and has been rebuilt twice now (I think). The last hut was burnt down last summer. They have now built a new one, as can be seen in my photo below, although it is not quite finished. It is still fenced off, and we cannot go near it yet. I think they need to add more finishing touches to make it look "old". Anyway, it already looks fabulous. I just love it up here ... it is the top of a mountain, and the views are just amazing. If you ever get a chance to visit here, please do ... I know you will love it.

The following photo is just of the bushland whilst driving from Craigs Hut, and over the top of Mount Stirling.

This is another hut, as we were heading down the mountain. I'm not sure of it's name, but it is well used.

Overall, we had a fantastic day ... good friends, good scenery, good times ... what more could we want.

Another day, Hubby and I decided to go for a drive and explore the countryside. Chicky decided to head into Benalla with another friend, so she ditched us for the day !!

We headed for Tolmie, another area badly hit by the bushfires last summer. I had never been there, and was eager to explore. It is a gorgeous little town, with a great little pub (which was fought for during the bushfires), but the bushland had been terribly destroyed. Fortunately, much of this has begun to regenerate. Time will be a good healer.

We left Tolmie, heading for Powers Lookout, where we got an amazing view of the countryside. I have a little video, which I will share with you another time, which shows the pretty view, as well as sharing with you the noise made by all the cicadas and other insects ... oh my goodness, it was SOOOOO loud !!!

Leaving the lookout, we arrived at Whitfield, where we stopped for lunch at a little Take-away/General Store, and had the yummiest hamburgers ... mouthwatering !! Bought some drinks, and headed for Lake William Hovell ... a small lake which is part of the Goulburn Murray Waters system. It was interesting to see that is was totally full ... in comparison to the 23% which is what Lake Eildon currently is. You cannot take power boats over 10HP on this lake, and the speed is no more than 5kph. No good for skiers, or wakeboarders and the like. Simply beautiful, though ... there are a few camping areas nearby ... might be a good place to come someday.

There was a track from the bottom end of this lake, which on the map, looked ok, and would take us to the Mt Buller Road eventually. The map didn't mention it was difficult 4WDing, so we thought we'd give it a go !! Little did we know what was in store. The following photo shows a relatively flat section of the track, where it was still fairly wide.

As we drove, the track got narrower, and steeper. We didn't know for how much longer we would be climbing, but it seemed to go on for ever. In hindsight, it was not the sort of hill we should have tackled alone ... it is generally safer to do this sort of stuff with at least one other 4WD, in case something goes wrong. But, we didn't have that, and we just kept going ... higher, and higher and higher !!! There was nowhere to stop and turn back, so we had to keep going. Eventually, we got to the top, and the rest of the track took us along the ridge. It was beautiful up there, a bit damp (looked like it had rained at some stage in the previous 24 hours), and easy driving ... finally.

At the end of this track, before joining another major track, we came across another hut ... Tomohawk Hut. It looked newly built, and was really, really cute.

All the surrounding bush had been burnt ... so I guess this hut had burnt down and needed rebuilding ... they sure did a good job of it.

Nearby, there was a patch of ferns, looking like no fire had even been anywhere nearby. Funny how fire is selective, leaving patches of unburnt forest, whislt devastating others.

Here we joined a major track, then back onto the tarmac, and our trip back to Bonnie Doon. Another fabulous day, and a trip we intend doing again ... this time with others, to share the fun.

The remainder of the holiday was more heat. I veged a lot, watched DVDs, did some scrapbooking, read a couple of books ... all in all, I had a nice, relaxing time, as did Hubby. Chicky was busy with her friends, swimming and the like, although she even had to take time out and hide in the airconditioning sometimes !!

We arrived home yesterday (Sunday 6th), unpacked, did some laundry, and relaxed. Aaahhhh, it's good to be home.

Today I had intended taking down Christmas ... my tree is still happily standing in the living room, and all the decorations are still throughout my house (I did, however, collect and pack up all my Christmas cards). Instead, I picked up the cat from the boarding cattery, did some shopping, and some more laundry, and played on the computer. Tomorrow is another day ... plenty of time. Then I go back to work Wednesday and Friday, with the rest of January being Monday, Wednesday and Friday for work. Chicky goes back to school on the 31st and Hubby goes back to work tomorrow (Tuesday). Sigh ... back to reality !!

Well, there goes, a brief (well, not really) rundown on what I have been up to since Christmas. Hope your Christmas break was as relaxing as mine.

I hope to get by and visit your blogs over the next few days.

Enjoy your week.

Take care,


Peter said...

Hi Connie, that was a great run down on your Christmas holiday.
Its great to hear that the bush is regenerating and that the huts are being or have been rebuilt, I thought that might drag on for years, good on the NPWS.
We have visited many of those tracks you wrote of, once when it snowed while we were there, once after some heavy rain had turned things sloppy and made the creek crossings a little more of an adventure... ah the good times.

Heidi said...

Welcome Back Connie..I luv the photos...Have a wonderful week ahead~

Michelle said...

Love those first two photos, just stunning :o)

Cecil said...

Welcome back, Connie! Glad you all had a good holiday.. I enjoyed the pictures... Hugs... Cecil

Melinda said...

Hi Connie,
What a great post, I love the photos you have posted, they are awesome. I wish the weather was that bit cooler so we would of gone with you 4 x 4 driving. Unfortunately the boat takes first priority when it is hot. Have a great week, see you Australia Day Weekend if not before.
Take Care Melinda

Raggedy said...

Happy New Year!
Thank you for sharing your wonderful holiday with us.
I really enjoyed hearing about your vacation and the pictures are wonderful.It looks like such a wonderful place to be. The huts are so neat. The water looks so inviting.
I wish the temperatures would have been a little cooler for you.
The horse fall must have been scary for that little girl and I am glad that she will be alright.
I hope your dad is recovering from his injury as well.
I can't wait to see your video.
Your holiday sounded fabulous!
Huggles and Love,

Merle said...

Hi Connie ~~ Great post and so interesting with all the photos. It
sounds like you had a wonderful time
and there is so much to see in this country of ours. Nw it's back to work and reality. Please say hello to
your hisband and daughter for me.
I just stopped by here not expecting a post and I got a beauty ~ full of news. Take care, my friend, Love, Merle.

LoraLoo said...

What beautiful pictures!! Welcome back, sounds like a wonderful trip you had.

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

Hi... I had ALWAYS wanted to travel down to the High Country ever since watching 'Man From Snowy River' when I was younger... one day I will get there... I really, really enjoyed looking at the photos... made me feel a little homesick but not long to go until we head home... only a few days... I cannot wait. I have been hearing how hot it is back home... I kind of miss the Aussie summers... never thought I would say that... take care...

Kyahgirl said...

That's a great story Connie.
Happy, happy New Year to you!
I love your photos.

Miss Eagle said...

Happy New Year, Connie! Beautiful photographs and wonderful tripping. We'll have to catch up soon for coffee! Say when!

Blessings and bliss

Puss-in-Boots said...

What a fantastic time you've had, Connie and thank you for the lovely photos. It's amazing to see that some of the bush hasn't regenerated after the fires. After all, that's what the Australian bush is supposed to be used to. As you say, the heat must have been intense to damage it so completely like that.

Yes, it's back to reality this week...sigh. I worked yesterday, but didn't have to today, but next week it'll be full on.

Take care.

Greeneyes said...

Fantastic post , fantastic time you all had , I love all the pics , you sure are great at it .
I hope the little one is feeling better and her kidney is healing , and your Dads ribs , bet he needs lots of tender lovin care still .

So great to have you back cant wait to catch up

HUGS and Love friend


The Lazy Iguana said...

That is one heck of a 4x4 adventure.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Hi, Connie. That was an excellent post, with some good pictures. Thanks for putting us up to date.

catsmum said...

What IS it with ribs in your family?
Anyway, welcome back
- great photos.
Did you take any during that hairy part of the ride between Lake William Hovel and Mt Buller??

Anonymous said...

that was a breif??
I love seeing your photos, and those huts are so interesting.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Thanks, Connie, for allowing Alex and me to tag along.

Jeanette said...

Hi Connie, Happy new year to you and yours.
I enjoyed reading about your Xmas holidays and looking at all your wonderful photo's of the country side regenerating after those dreadful fires.Ill leave the 4wdriving to you.Melbourne had a cool change, but not here were still having hot weather and plenty more on its way.Take care Jen.

CiscoKid said...

Thank you for the descriptions and pictuures. It makes me want to visit your country- SOmeday!

Granny said...

What a busy time you had.

I wish I could get to Australia sometime but the pictures you and my other buddies post are the next best thing.

My tree and decorations finally came down over this last weekend.

Margaret said...

Hi there Connie, very enjoyable read
and great photos as usual. Like Peter says it is great that the huts are
there as they have always been such a great part of the landscape.
Also good to hear about the regeneration. I spent my childhood in a very fire prone area, my male relatives were all voluntary firemen.
Cheers Margaret

Dick said...

You have been busy! I would gladly trade our 41 degrees (F) for your 61 but we will be heading to Arizona next month on a Snowbird trip so should find some temps that are regularly in the mid 70s to low 80s. I am so looking forward to that, getting out in the (new) motorhome and warm, dry weather.

Snow White said...

what an awesome time you guys had, I wish we had gotten away, our neighbour often head off camping but it is harder for us with the four kids and the dogs, I had hoped to
get a christmas card off to you but our family went upside down with two deaths, two hospital emergencies and lots more, my school hols have been shocking. Looking forward to a return to some normality again lol, loved the photos and all the info too, that lake looks so very inviting too.
love and best withes to you and yours for 2008

Greeneyes said...

Miss U !

Gina E. said...

Hi Connie,
I thoroughly enjoyed your description of driving around the high country - your photos are absolutely stunning. You should apply for a job as a travel writer with a magazine; you sure have a way with words, as well as photography.
How was the scrapbooking party? Hope to catch up soon...Val and I have been walking - wanna join us one day?

mrinz said...

My first visit to your blog - greetings from NZ.

Love your pics of the Aussie outback and bush. The huts are so full of character!

I had always thought that Bonnie Doon was just a made up place from the movie The Castle.

Your bush bears some similarity to ours (the tree ferns) but that is where it ends I think. Ours has more lush vegetation,the result of the higher rainfall no doubt.

Clare said...

Welcome back Connie and thanks for the lovely pictures and great description of your Christmas holiday.
Hope all is well with you and it's not long till my friend Beeg comes to your land now so I'll get her to contact you about meeting.
Isn't Neighbours great at the moment?

dragonflyfilly said...

hey there Meow,
what fabulous photos...they really make me want to visit...well, maybe one cousins would sure be surprised to see me!!!

cheers for now,

Debbie said...

As always when I read your postings and view your absolutely fabulous pictures I feel wanderlust hit me. I so want to go on a trip somewhere like yours.

So nice. I really enjoyed!

wazza said...

Gidday Connie,

It's long past time that I re-visited my blog role.
I've always wanted to visit the high country and not so long ago Peter went down that way, but unfortunately I wasn't able to join him.
Some really fabulous photos and a great story on your holiday.

Greeneyes said...

come out come out where ever you are?????? I miss you muchly!
I know you are swamped , me too most days , hope to catch you soon
love and hugs

Flip Flop Momma said...

i always love your photos.

Hope your new year is going well..

Jenn said...

Just came by to say hi!