A couple of weeks back, I went on holidays to Gippsland. We stayed in a cosy cottage that had once been a Old Dairy on a farm near Yarram. We walked in the Tarra Bulga National Park among towering mountain ash trees and lacy tree ferns. We drove to Wilson's Prom to swim in the beach with a friend. We looked a Yarram street art. We relaxed in the cottage watching dvds and reading books. And we ate well. So here is a story of what I did on my holiday!
But before I start to tell you about Gippsland (a few hours drive East of Melbourne) I can tell you that my holiday is costing me a new car. It was bound to happen sooner or later with my old car but I didn't think it would end sitting on a bridge at the edge of a freeway in 37 C heat, eating crisp sandwiches, listening to Ariana Grande and watching cars speed up behind me before they saw my emergency lights on and swerving around me at the last moment! So to get to our holiday we had to be shunted off the bridge by a VicRoads van, have our car towed home while we went in a taxi and then waiting for my mum driving up from Geelong so we can start all over again in her car while she took the train home! Yes my mum was a hero, my car is kaput and we didn't get to our accommodation until 8pm!
The Old Dairy had a great cosy kitchen with cake, butter and jam on the bench, eggs by the stove and sourdough bread in the bread bin. I loved doing the dishes and looking out the window towards the cow pasture.
The owner was very friendly and helpful. She met us when we arrived (quite late) and showed us around The Old Dairy. It was nice to talk to her about the history of the building as an actual dairy. She also gave us interesting advice, such as shut the vent on the airconditioner when turned off so the microbats didn't come in and get caught in our hair, and to shut the front door properly because koalas had been known to push it open and come in.
The cottage was decorated with lots of little fun ornaments, mostly cows. It had wonderful views and cows that ran from me when I approached them (they were on the other side of an electric fence).
The large lounge room had large windows to sit and admire the view of the rolling paddocks. We watched some DVDs but there was no TV reception, no wifi and limited internet reception on my phone. A great place to catch up on some reading.
My favourite cow ornaments was this set of posh lady cows wearing flowers in their hats and pearls around their neck.
When we weren't admiring cows in the next paddock to the Old Dairy, there were plenty to see on the roadside.
Occasionally there were rustic rundown farm houses near the cows.
I did not have Yarram as my first choice. I had originally planned to go to my favourite Port Fairy holiday house but it is no longer taking guests. So I turned to AirBnB and when I saw the cottage just outside Yarram, it seemed perfect. I have a friend who lives nearby and I had read about the Heesco street art in the town.
One our first day, we had lunch in town and then walked around town with the map we found in the bakery. Here is a taster of some of the wonderful rural art on display!
This mural was commissioned by the owner of the Yarram Bakery who came to Australia by boat as a refugee and wanted this to be a tribute to refugees and those who gave him a chance.
More cows and country folk on the wall of the Federal Coffee Palace. I had expected to see lots of street art when walking down the main street (Commercial St) but the map was helpful because many are around the corner or at the back of buildings.
While I would not travel to Yarram for the food, it does have some good food on offer. On our first day we went to the Yarram Bakery because I love an old fashioned country bakery. I had a spinach and cheese pastry with some salad and a coffee scroll. Sylvia had a Turkish bread roll and a jelly slice. The cheery meringue was taken back to the cottage for later.
Sylvia was excited about the chance to taste a rolled ice cream. I had never heard of them but apparently they are a thing on tiktok and youtube. They were on offer at The Old Standard Lolly Shop. Sylvia chose the oreo flavour. Cream and oreos were mixed on a chilled metal square until it became a thin frozen slab and could be served by rolling up the thin ice cream. Then it was topped with squirty cream, topping and an oreo. Sylvia loved it but found it really filling. For the vegans, I was interested to see a few adverts in cafes for vegan ice creams.
Most of our meals were at the cottage. Toast and baked beans was my favourite breakfast. Sylvia would eat cereal and toast with vegemite or fried egg. We ate pasta with pasta sauce and cheese one night. After a few nights I needed more vegies and stopped at the supermarket for some salads and dip. This was my rather satisfying meal: coleslaw, quinoa tabouli, hummus, roast pumpkin cashew dip, cheese cubes and brown rice chips. I was glad of the apricots and cherries I had packed, which were great to snack on as well as pretzels, raspberry liquorice, chocolate covered freeze dried strawberries and the owner's lovely orange cake.
We went to the nearby Tarra Bulga National Park and walked to the suspension bridge from the visitors centre. The drive there was on a very narrow windy road. The sort that would have made me very car sick as a kid! It was a really lovely walk with lots of shade.
I was delighted that our path led us past many tree ferns and mountain ash trees. I am fond of tree ferns as they were often on the bush walks we did near Lorne as a kid. The mountain ash are such tall majestic trees and one of my lecturers at university wrote a book about the history of them.
We had some time to just lounge about the cottage. One afternoon was spent watching dvds. We had our first taste of the Ice Age movies and I watched Contagion which was fascinating after a year of Covid19. It did have many echoes of our experiences but I laughed at the supermarkets where cashiers had gone in the anarchy. It seems the film makers had underestimated the supermarket chains' profiting from the pandemic. I also read quite a bit, which was lovely after I didn't do much reading last year.
We spent a day driving down to Wilson's Prom - closer than Melbourne but still close to 2 hours drive - to visit my friend who usually lives near Yarram but was holidaying at the beach. It was a nice chance to go to the beach at the National Park and to catch up with Alison and family. I had a really good vegetarian burger at the local store in Tidal River.
I was happy to see some wildlife while we were in the country. As I have mentioned, there were lots of foxes. Each morning we would see cockatoos or galahs flying by out the window. We saw kookaburras and a cute little echidna on roadsides (as well as too much roadkill). The owner of the cottage kindly invited us to see her cats and chooks. We even saw a fox sleeping in a tree!
It poured rain for a lot of the day that we drove home. We stopped to look at Port Welshpool jetty but it was too wet to get out. Lunch was at Latte Dah cafe at Toora. I was so cold with all the rain that I really needed a warm meal. I had eggplant bake, creamy potato bake and a side salad. It was just what I needed. Sylvia had chips! I noticed that the menu board included macchiata and piccolo and the options of soy milk and oat milk so I guess that this was where the treechangers from the city go for coffees.
It was a lovely relaxing holiday with quite a bit of driving and some nice food and spectacular scenery. It was good to get our of our comfort zone and go to a part of Victoria that we don't know so well, and to support the local tourism industry that had a tough last year with bushfires and covid19 (and avoid all the state border restrictions that made interstate travel risky). As there is no plans to open our international borders any time soon, local holidays might be on the cards for a while yet!