Just before Christmas, and after the boy had missed his school graduation… (Thanks Covid version 2022!) we jumped on a plane and headed south to be with Family for Christmas!
Well it didn’t all go that smoothly! The flight was delayed by 9 hours, which was a blessing as it meant we could sleep through the night, but further delays had us arriving at 11:30pm Melbourne time. Not so bad… thought I.
Mum insisted on picking us up… I insisted on driving! The Victorian police insisted on lurking in the shadows by the side of the freeway where the speed limit suddenly drops from 100 to 80 kmh! I imagine them waiting patiently by the side of the broad empty road, watching and waiting for an unsuspecting commuter to miss the reduced speed limit sign… Naturally I had to be that idiot!
First hour in the state of Victoria and I get a $370 ticket! Welcome to Victoria.
After a lazy morning of listening to records we went down to the Indigenous Plant Nursery at Latrobe University to collect the Murnong (Microseris sp.) I’d been looking forward to seeing for the last couple of months. They had about 20 plants, I would have bought them all but no need to be greedy. I chose six beautiful young plants, a couple already had flowers and seed heads.
Murnong also known as Yam Daisy, was a staple food source pre colonisation. When Europeans invaded, Murnong was one of the early casualties. Native plant foods were decimated by land cultivation and the introduction of hooved animals. But the plant remains and is being propagated and replanted in gardens and regrowth of wild colonies is being encouraged. My heart was enthralled by the romance of a species recolonizing the land. A rejuvenation of the land, the persistence of species who have resisted the great nothing that we brought. I am excited to plant these small delicate daisies wherever they may grow! Imagine a field of Murnong!
The boy and I dragged our bikes out from under the house. I have grown fat and haven’t done any kind of physical activity for a long time. The boy was keen to ride. This was a dream come true for me. Oh the places we might go.
First ride we explored the wild spaces along the freeway… Followed the Plenty River to Partington Flat and searched for wild fruit. Usually there are all kinds of fruit to be found in December; Blackberry, Apples, Pears, Mulberry, Plum etc… But in December 2022, no such luck. It’s been a cold and wet year in Melbourne, a blessing really, water flowing down every river, ground water recharging, soil hydrated, life bursting out from every patch of earth… fruit ripening late is no big deal.
On our second ride we went to the Janefield wetlands especially to see the Swans and signets. It was a great little ride up the hill again! It is an artificial wetland created to filter waste water from University Hill. The result is quite an impressive habitat for all kinds of water birds, we also saw swallows and Red Rumped parrots.
Confession: My heart was straining to carry the extra 20kg I had managed to load into my body, eating all kinds of cheeses, muffins white coffee and pizza!
Ride 3 – Plenty Gorge / Blue Lake!
This is the first time my boy has accompanied me on the trail to Blue Lake. One of my favourite places on this earth. The lake itself is just an old quarry, but what it meant to me as a kid was a place of mystery and adventure. As a kid stories of the Blue Lake where there are floating rocks, caves, fishing, madmen, danger, risk, Adventure! River water was always muddy, but the spring fed lake would appear blue in dry months. Police shooting range, mounds of volcanic ash popping up around the quarry, solidified aerated rock that indeed could float on water! A hermit running the old junk yard at the bottom of a quarry pit, filled with old cars and machinery, old gold mining shafts, walls crumbling semi caved in and taunting us. Explore! I dare you! That’s what it was like when I was a boy. Only the adventurous could find it! Trespassers prosecuted! Now it’s a park and people drive to the Lake… mountain bikers have criss crossed the hillsides, fire has decimated most of the wet sclerophyll riparian vegetation and the river turned muddy. But still so much to show my boy!
Ride 4 Christmas Eve… Watsonia – Diamond Creek – Hurstbridge
The boy became unstoppable. Off we go again for Christmas dinner with my sisters family. Ride 15 km from my folks place to Diamond Creek, ate better than well, wore silly hats, told dumb jokes… as things were winding down the boy says, “lets go for another ride!” So off we go along a fantastic cycle path along Diamond Creek to Hurstbridge and a cruisy ride home on the train.
Ride 5 MCG (Cricket) – Melbourne City, St Kilda – Brighton Beach. Yep.. We rode along the plenty river, then along Yara to Heidelberg, train to Jolimont Melbourne Cricket Ground… an enormous sports stadium that I hadn’t been in since there was Grass at Bay 13 and Merv Hughes was there to lead the calisthenics! The boy was blown away by the size of the place. Boxing Day Test match. Australia vs South Africa.
When we’d had enough cricket… we rolled on down St Kilda road to see Luna Park and then on to Brighton beach along the cycle only path! What a day!
Ride 6 – Quarry Hill... It was already 7pm. The boy is restless… Off we go again. I’ve been there before but prior to a year or two ago hadn’t known the place. The boy want’s a view from a hill and turns on his terrain feature of maps to find high ground. There it appears. Quarry Hill – South Morang. Off we go. 11km ride up hill all the way! What a view! Most of the ride is through suburbia but lots of bike paths. We saw plenty or roos, parrots and at the very top of the hill, on the other side of the fence. A fox! Could see all the way beyond the city to the You Yangs. I promised the boy we’d go there next time.
Quarry Hill was our final bicycle tour on this trip to Melbourne. What a buzz to have my son so keen to lead the way and choose the destinations!
There were other experiences in Melbourne that I’d like to share, connections with friends and country. As always just musings and ramblings, touching base with why and what for my goings and returns. Maybe embedded in the code of these ramblings I’ll find the path I seek and come home.
One thought on “Visiting the fams”
Lovely post, David.