When I was a kid, my family went on daytrips all the time. We drove to Marysville to see the Autumn leaves and Steavenson Falls. We drove to Mangalore every Easter Sunday to park in a dirt road behind the airport and watch the air show from a distance. We drove up to Toolangi and along the back roads into Healesville of an afternoon, just because.
One of my earliest memories is of being in the back seat of the car with my favourite doll, watching raindrops hit the window as we drove along and feeling like that was exactly where I belonged.
When I got older, I started suggesting places to go: historic houses, interesting towns, distant beaches…
When I got married, I waited a little while until I was sure the Chef wasn’t getting away – then I took him on our first daytrip. It should have been a disaster: half the places were closed; the old gaol was now an auction house; the historic cottage I wanted to visit was closed for underpinning; and I may have had a small meltdown when there were no signs to a lookout tower. (Don’t worry – we found it eventually.)
But it was as far from a disaster as you could get and it only encouraged me. We went on more daytrips and a couple of long weekends away where I tended to drag the chef to interesting paddocks with ruins in them.
Then we moved to a place that’s practically in the country and the daytripping pretty much stopped. After all, when it takes you an hour to drive to work, you’re more or less going on a daytrip every workday, even if it is the same one. Our last proper daytrip was to Churchill Island at the start of 2015.
There was a daytrip-shaped gap in my life
I missed it without even realising I missed it. We filled the gap with visits to nearby markets and trips to towns with great op shops, but it wasn’t quite the same. We were going to the same places instead of seeking out something different, travelling along unknown roads and seeing what lay at the end of them.
Last week, a sign came to me in the form of a leaflet dropped in our letterbox. Yarra Valley Water was doing some repairs in our street and the water was going to be cut off for five hours. If that doesn’t sound like an excuse to get out of the house and explore somewhere (preferably with running water), then I don’t know what does.
It was definitely time for a daytrip. Finally! We might live a long way from the edge of the suburbs, but that just means we’re a lot closer to places that were further away before, right?
That question makes sense if you give it a moment.
The only remaining question was where to go? After a spot of searching, I discovered that we lived a mere hour away from a waterfall I’d never heard of. Even better – it was just fifteen minutes away from a cute little town I’d been wanting to re-visit for ages.
Make that: a fabulous op shop in a cute little town I’d been wanting to re-visit for ages.
Join us on our Trip to Toorongo Falls
I was expecting gravel as soon as we turned onto the road that would lead us to the falls, but it was a lovely sealed road for most of the way. The mountain scenery was beautiful and it was dotted with dozens of farms, even though it felt like we were miles from anywhere. (Although, having just looked it up – these people are closer to a much bigger town than we are, so maybe we should consider a move to a waterfall-adjacent farmstead…)
We hit gravel eventually, but it wasn’t long before we were parking in a mostly-empty carpark and fighting off the march flies as we applied the insect repellant. Even before we’d started the walk up to the waterfall, the place was looking stunning.
Initially, we planned to visit both waterfalls; once we’d made it to the first one, we decided to leave the Amphitheatre Falls for another day. It is… quite the hill.
The path was shady, but as it’s currently the height of Summer, I was on the lookout for my favourite form of deadly wildlife: snakes. And I found one.
Thankfully, it was basking in the sun well away from the path.
(Did I ever tell you about the time I almost stepped on a snake because I was too busy trying to frame a photograph? That was an interesting moment. I took of photo of that snake, too.)
The whole river is pretty much a waterfall, rocketing its way down the rocky slopes. Every time you stop to totally enjoy the scenery and not because you’re out of breath from walking briskly up the steps and various ascents, you can see the river being dramatic over rocks and fallen trees.
And sometimes, you can spot the waterfall high above you.
We actually didn’t spot this until we were on our way back and I’m kind of grateful. It looks so far away! If I’d seen it on our climb, I’d have given up all hope of reaching it before nightfall.
The main reason I a) didn’t seen that first glimpse of the falls, and b) spotted the snake is because I tend to look down a lot of the time. I am clumsy and prone to tripping over my own feet, so this is essential if I wish to maintain dignity and forward motion.
It also means I spot interesting little plaques hidden in the shadows.
But it’s also worth looking up when you can admire the trees towering above you.
The path is so well-made that it almost feels as though it’s a natural part of the landscape. I absolutely loved the rock stairs and the giant boulders that line sections of the path. But the best part of it all was this view of the final set of steps leading directly to the waterfall at last.
And the Toorongo Falls themselves? Well, they look a little like this.
That’s only part of the falls – the middle third, really. They are majestic and so high that I literally couldn’t fit them into my camera. It was worth powering our way up the mountain with this sort of sight as our reward.
I still can’t believe I didn’t even know this waterfall existed until the day before we visited it.
As for the Amphitheatre Falls, we’ll see them one day. At the moment, we’re going on regular walks to build up our fitness, so we will be back. I can’t wait!
The Compulsory Op Shop Stop
We never do just the one thing on our daytrips, which is why we ended up taking the road to Neerim South in search of the cute little op shop I remembered visiting a while ago. As we drove into town, we feared a return of the bad luck that plagued our first adventure: the little shop was shut with ominous ‘CLOSED’ signs pasted on the windows.
Fortunately, it had just been re-located to a bigger shop that the Chef spotted on the other side of town.
It was every bit as good as I remembered. I may have bought rather a lot of old sewing patterns, but I regret nothing. My money has gone to a good cause in a delightful little town.
That’s my excuse and I’m sticking by it.
Luckily, we still had enough money left to buy lunch in a local café while learning about a market in a nearby town. With any luck, that will be a story for another day(trip).
Our Favourite Days
As we drove home, the Chef said to me: “These are my favourite days.”
They’re mine, too. They’re the days when I feel most like I’m in the right places, with the right person, doing the right things. We really should do it more often.
Where do you like to escape to? Let me know in the comments below!