Travelling in Gumboots : an essay.

There’s not much else I can set the title of this post as. I have no photos to show and rather than put up random photos that mean nothing, I am going to break my own (silent) rule and have a blog post with no pictures. Please try not to fall asleep on me.

I mainly wanted to touch base with everybody on how it has been for me on my crazy adventure to move into the country. It’s been awhile since the last Travelling in Gumboots post and some of you might have noticed the lack of regularity in my blog posts. If there’s one thing I regret from my move, is that my blog has fallen into the sidelines somewhat. And I thought I’d have that much more time to work on it, how wrong was I.

I’ve lost count on what week this is since the move. It could be week 5, or week 6 or week 10 for all I care. It’s not really that important. What is more important, is how I’ve been settling in.

Moving anywhere new is scary. Let alone going from a big city to a small country town that houses 200+ within its town boundaries and another 100 or so in the surrounding farmlands. Recently a friend asked me how many there were in the town over a yumcha session.

“350″, I replied.

“350 thousand, you mean?” came the query to clarify.

“No, 350. Period.”

“That’s…. about how many there is in this room!”

Yup. My town houses as many people as there were having yumcha at that one restaurant that Sunday morning. It may be small, but let me tell you it sure has its perks. Going down our (one and only!) street and being able to greet and know almost everybody you meet on the street gives you a sense of belonging like no other. I have lived so many years in Melbourne and never have I felt like such a part of the community like I do in Murrayville. It is amazing.

One of my major concerns with moving to the country was whether or not I’d be lonely. I am a social creature, I cannot live without company of my friends but at the same time, I am horrendously shy and awkward with strangers. Not a great combination, if you ask me! In such a small town, this issue was really a non-issue. Even if you weren’t acquainted today, you will be tomorrow. You are welcomed with open arms and not made to feel like an outsider. I hosted my first dinner party just a week ago, and looking at the beaming faces, I had to pinch myself to see if I was dreaming. Ask me a year ago if this was going to be possible, I’d have said no. Lonely? No time to be lonely in this town!

I’ve always loved the country. I escaped to the country whenever I could in the last few years. But there’s a difference between holidaying in the country and living there. My other major concern was whether or not my urge to live in the country was a built-up fairy tale in my head or that I really wanted to be out here. So in quick dot points, I’m going to state a few things I’ve learnt over the past month or so:

  • Bugs, they are everywhere.
  • If you are surrounded by grain farming, you gotta learn to be cozy with the mice.
  • If you have bugs phobia (like me), you eventually learn to get over it. As long as you have that tin of mortein.
  • Farmer markets in the city has better fresh produce than what the country folks get
  • Country living does not necessarily mean beautiful green rolling hills and blooming flowers.
  • Desert doesn’t necessarily mean all sand and occasional cactus.
  • You learn to live with a lot less than you would in the city.
  • The beauty of picking fresh fruit off a tree!!!
  • The weather is of even more fascination to us up here in the Mallee than Melbourne city dwellers.
  • Mice, they eat plastic too.
  • Crickets, they bloody get into your house then die.
  • Sand flies: their bites hurt.
  • BBQ rules.
  • Import beers? What import beers?
  • Tea means dinner, Dinner means lunch, Vicky means Victoria.

I made my first jam the other day. Fig jam, with figs off my colleague’s tree and a pot borrowed from a neighbour. It’s not perfect by any means (I think I let it boil for too long), but you know what made it that tiny bit sweeter? The fact that I was living the life that I’ve always wanted, (ever since reading books and books on country living), and making jam with freshly picked fruits and that the whole process was made possible with the generosity of my neighbours.

It may not be the rolling green hills that Daylesford have to offer, or the beautiful scenaries that Bright has, but this is my own little slice of (bug filled) heaven. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. At least not right now. Right now, I’m contented.

Travelling in Gumboots : The country and being part of it.

Travelling in Gumboots : The country and being part of it.

Once again we meet on a Friday, and it’s the 2nd segment of Travelling in Gumboots! If you are wondering what this is: You can read this post to gain a bit of background.

So it’s almost 2 weeks since I’ve moved up here. Work has started and I couldn’t be happier. It does mean that my blog posts have hit a bit of a wall. I’m trying to keep them going, but I fear until I’ve found my feet with work, the blog posts will continue to be somewhat sporadic.

Perhaps one would say that one of the bad points about being in the country is the small and sparsely populated towns. I feared the same. In fact, so many people told me that I would be bored to tears. That I would have so much time to myself that I wouldn’t know what I was doing. Now I dont know if this actually applies to any other small country town, but let me assure you that in my town of 300-350, this is not true in the slightest. In fact it is quite the opposite: I have never been busier. And that’s just the social bit.

Maybe I got lucky. I definitely cannot say that every single country town out there is the same, but the Murrayville community certainly blew me out of the water with its welcoming and friendly nature. And here I was worried that I was going to have no friends! But people have been most friendly, I’ve been invited to dinner, been invited to events, been invited to random chilling out sessions and BBQ sessions. People here are genuinely interested and wanting to be your friend, and coming from a 100% suburban / city life, this completely blew me away and touched and moved me beyond words. Because while Melbourne folks have always been friendly enough, I can tell you that in my 8 years of being in Melbourne I didn’t know who my neighbours were. I did make an effort once upon a time, but people just didn’t care. It was a Hi, Bye and oh-hey-I’m-going-to-snitch-on-you-to-the-landlord. I gave up after that and kept to myself. So this neighbourly spirit and amazing community strength that I’ve seen going on in Murrayville have been an eye-opener and I am incredibly humbled by it.

Do you know the best way to appreciate all this? It’s really by being a part of the community. To play tennis, to play netball, to attend rotating dinners (more on this soon!), to attend events and to show that you are interested in the community and want to be part of it. If you give, you will always receive something back. And that’s what is so rewarding about being in such a community.

It may be early days yet to say that moving here was the best decision I’ve made in the long while, but right now I genuinely believe so. I may be far away from my friends and my familiar grounds. But Melbourne will always be there, technology keeps old friends close and I am making new friends everyday. But to have the chance to experience a rich community togetherness? That’s priceless.

p/s: photos accompanying this post are of the amazingly beautiful sunsets that shine over the Big Desert almost every evening. I feel truly blessed.

Travelling in Gumboots: Making the move.

Travelling in Gumboots: Making the move.

So I’ve made the move.

For many years, I’m often heard saying : “One day, I’ll move to the country. I really want to.”
And so I did it.

Did we forget that this was a travel blog too? Well, we probably did, given the amount of eating we do around here in Melbourne. But this is indeed a travel blog too, so you will be hearing a lot about my country adventures. So much so that I decided to start a weekly column called Travelling in Gumboots. Booyah! (And if I’m any good with my schedules, it will be up every friday!)

Not many people will make the move. You hear of country folks going to the city, but it’s not often you hear of it being the other way around. Of course, the government’s been encouraging folks to go rural for ages, but ask yourself this: would you do it?

It’s a hard drive up to Murrayville. That is, hard if you do what I’ve been doing for the past few times – a continuous 7 hours drive from where I (used to) stay in Melbourne, with only 3 stops in between. Each stop less than 5 minutes which is really just so I can stretch my legs and find the nearest toilet. Hard if you are doing it alone, and hard because it’s a pretty darn straight roads, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out what happens when fast moving cars, boring roads and pencil straight roads come together. You get a sleepy driver, and a recipe to disaster. Just a couple months ago, a family in a caravan went off the road near Murrayville – dad fell asleep at the wheel. Unfortunately for them, it was fatal. But I took all the precautions: I slept as early as I could, I drank lots of water and I had music blasting the whole way through. And when I felt sleepy, I called a mate. And I’m here safely!

I couldn’t take photos of the drive up obviously, so I thought I’d show a few quick shots of my new town.

Here’s the side of the hotel/motel/pub of the town. It’s on the highway and you can see it from this front photo here:

source: Gdaypubs

Along the highway, there’s the garage / petrol station, a small cafe, the currently closed IGA (that will hopefully be opened up again very soon!), the hotel/motel and not very much else!
Take a left after the hotel/motel and you will head up this street:

A bank, an op shop, a newsagent, a gift shop, and even a craft supplies shop down at the end of the road. What more do you need?

Okay, maybe a post office. This post office is so cute. The inside is old school post office complete with big wooden desks and pigeon holes and manual mail sorting. I love it! Oh but there’s no mail delivery in this town, which is not a problem since the post office is very near to the school – a quick run over from school after work is all it takes!

In the middle of the town sits the park. This is where a lot of the town events take place – I was here for my first town event just this Wednesday for the Australia Day breakfast. Lovely time for the town folks to catch up, sit back and relax for a morning together. I love it!

I live on the fringe of the town, in what the locals call Teacherville as most of the teachers who live in town live on the same street. It’s a 2 bedroom unit which is bigger than my place down in the city but how much does it cost? A mere 80 dollars a week. Take that, hideous rental city rates!

And to wrap it all up, here’s a photo of one (or two!) of my new neighbours. Here’s Bandit (the grey horse) and Buddy (the pony)!

Till the next segment of Travelling In GumBoots!

p/s: the incredibly cute gumboot drawing is by the amazing Violet!

Travel: Mt Buffalo, Victoria


Mt Buffalo is an all-seasons national park that is located in the north east side of Victoria. We were taking a small holiday in Bright so it seemed only natural to go and visit the amazingly beautiful Mt Buffalo whilst we were in the area.

We dedicated a whole day to Mt Buffalo as I wanted to go and trek around on the walks. Because really, I’m not much of a city person despite having grown up in the city and lived in the city all my life. I love, adore, delight in the country. And national parks like these just calls out and beckons… and … and….

The drive through the National Park was breathtaking as well. Driving through the park you can see evidence of the bushfires that raged through in 2003 and 2006. As you get higher up, you start realising the changes in the vegetation around you as well. Lesser big trees, more smaller shrubs.

The fog rolled in on us, and it was rather surreal to be standing next to the waterfall, to hear it, and feel the water drops splatter gently upon our faces, but not to see it. Not being able to see just where the waterfall dropped down to was scary as well as I have a rather vivid imagination and an unfortunate fear of heights.

What is rather endearing about the walks in this park were the heritage stories found on signboards and little story boards along the side of the walks. I found the story of Alice (in Wonderland) to be most touching and sweet. Having such stories to accompany you through your walk around the park makes the trip that much more memorable.

Right at the highest peak of of Mt Buffalo, The Horn, the view is breathtaking. The walk was a short 25 minutes walk up to the top, and while the climb starts out gentle, it gets a little bit trickier at the end. Still, nothing overly complicated unless you are like me… who so desperately wants to get up there to see the beauty of nature and drink in the serenity but is also shaking quite visibly from the fear of heights. I still got up there in the end, and boy was it worth it.

At sunrise and sunset, this would be a fantastic photography spot. There’s not much room at the top, which is unsurprising so when we heard voices and noticed that other folks were nearing the top, the housemate and I started our descend in order to let others have a chance at sharing the beauty of Mt Buffalo’s sheer cliffs, imposing granite tors and the amazingly blue skies.

If you are a lover of nature, Mt Buffalo National Park is a must go. Absolutely divine beauty and absolutely breathtaking scenaries. All done by Mother Nature. There is no artwork, no photo, no sculpture etc that can beat the works of Mother Nature.

Just be careful – if you are going up in Winter, the road to The Horn is closed so you won’t be able to climb up to its peak then. So go in other seasons, it’s well worth the trip to the High Country.

Even better, call me along if you are off to Mt Buffalo. I’d love to go again.

How to Get There
Mount Buffalo National Park is about 320 km north-east of Melbourne via the Hume Freeway and Great Alpine Road. Allow about four hours drive time. Approach the park by the winding but sealed entrance road from Porepunkah, near Bright. Tyre chains must be carried in winter. Entrance fee payable.