The other day, Luke and I decided to go and explore the Yarra Valley to try and get a broader perspective on our surrounds, past the tourist guides. With all the rain, we have been sitting inside and watching Big Bang reruns for what feels like weeks now, and thought it was best to try and see more of what’s out there, and less of the main street. Our house is in a pretty special location, with both the Yarra Ranges National Park and the Maroondah Reserve being both just a five minute drive away. We decided to start at the Maroondah Reserve.
The Maroondah Reserve is absolutely stunning. It has kilometres of bushwalks, more picinic areas than I have ever seen in my life, a waterfall, a fern walk, and dozens of spots where you can overlook the reservoir. And best of all, you can bring dogs there (on leash). Looking out over the water, at the banks and penninsulas, it looks as though this could be a scene from Lord of the Rings as the early morning fog weaved it’s way in and out of the trees (poetic… but that’s how it was). We went on a four km walk, by the water, through the forest, had a cup of tea from our thermos, and then we were off again. We decided to just drive straight along the Maroondah Highway and out of town to see what was that way. One way was Melbourne, we knew that, but we had no idea what would happen if we turned right instead of left, and I was strictly forbidden from looking at Google maps. Slightly further along the road, there is a lookout that gives you a birdseye view of the lake we had just walked by. Again, stunning. We stood there for about 15 minutes, just taking in the scenery, while big family cars and Mercedes pulled up beside us, jumped out to take a photo, and then sped away. I hate the idea of living through a camera lense, but each to their own I suppose.
Further along the highway, and we finally discovered why Healesville roads are choc-a-block with motorbikes on the weekends. The Black Spur. If you are a rider, and you haven’t been here, get here, or stop calling yourself a rider. The Black Spur is a long, ridiculously windy drive, piercing through the heart of dense, national forest. Giant, completely vertical ghost gums line the roads, with ferns filling in any space in between. So much green. It is so lush, and it is hard to believe that just a few years ago, fire had tore through the very same place. Some of the corners are very sharp, some are long, smooth bends. You just know that the bikes would see it like a race track. A beautiful, amazing, breath-takingly beautiful race track.
When the trees start to pass and the corners start to straighten up, you are on your way to Alexandra. We didn’t end up going there though, and instead took a random turn that said led to Warburton. It was almost 30kms along a narrow, dirt road through the state forest, climbing mountains and overlooking cliffs. The whole drive, we passed one other car (who was speeding as he wasn’t expecting another car on the road. Almost ended badly), and a cyclist. More beautiful gums, more lush ferns that seem to climb cliff faces creating a kind of ‘fern wall.’ We were up really high at some stages, and the reservoir where we had started in the morning was a tiny spec on the horizon. The drive did seem to go forever though, but I was still banned from pulling out google maps (I hate feeling lost…). At the end of the drive there was a canopy walk, where you can walk along through the top of the trees and look down to the forest floor. The dogs were terrified of the height, and we were starving, so we didn’t do the whole thing though.
We did end up in Warburton. We are told that it is the ‘hippier’ version of Healesville, and about $70k cheaper to buy in (at least). Every cafe seemed to have some sort of garden out the back. When we went, it kind of felt like a ghost town; all the businesses on the main street were service businesses, but the street and roads were almost dead. Supposedly there used to be a huge paper mill there, and when it shut down, it left most of the town unemployed. To me, it kind of felt like that: that everything had been at a stand still for a while, and they were just waiting for the Sunday tourist for things to start again. Visually, Warburton is stunning. The main street backs onto a river (like Healesville), and huge mountains shelter you in in every direction. And, one thing they do have which I am ridiculously jealous of- they have a cinema!
On the way home, we passed through many of the towns that make up that part of the Yarra Valley. Yarra Junction, Launching Place, Wesburn, Millgrove, Woori Yallock, and a few more little towns, all in close proximity to each other. We were on the road back to Melbourne and couldn’t see any turn offs for Healesville, and I was finally allowed to bring out Google.
Something else we discovered, about 20 minutes from our house, is an archery field. For years, I have been telling everyone who would listen that I am a natural at archery. I did it on a school camp, and I remember getting all bulls eyes, and even getting the bonus moons and stars on the outside of the target. I remember being asked if I did it at home, and smugly stating that it was first time. I’ve done it a few times since, and was good at then as well. But I have’t done it since…. 2003? Year 8 camp? Can’t wait to go and see if I have a new calling, although I’m nervous that I’ve been talking myself up for so long. Oh well! Have to just wait and see.