The first week and a bit of my holidays has come and gone. The sun has shone. The cats have slept for most of the day. And I have worn pyjama pants way more than I normally would, so thank goodness I made some new pairs to go with my whole ‘getting up early’ routine from last year.
For the most part, I’ve stayed at home with the Chef, reading books, watching online photography courses and editing (still!) the million photos I took on the Failboats’ trip along the East coast last year. I’ve also been out to drive my mum to and from hospital, which is a bit of a roadtrip in itself, although one I’d prefer to do in more pleasant circumstances. She’s recovering well and I’m even more convinced that the Hume Freeway is the most boring road I know, after travelling it so often of late.
The Autumn colours, on the other hand, are not boring in the slightest. It is seriously one of the best years for Autumn colour. I’m sorry to report it to you if you’re not able to get out and see it, but it is glorious. The trees are covered in every shade from deepest red, to glowing orange, right through to golden yellow. I cannot remember a more beautiful Autumn.
And here we all are, stuck inside and imagining it.
I can see some from my window: touches of yellow and beautiful red in neighbouring properties. The trees in my own garden remain stubbornly green at the moment, but I’m going to head out later and tell them I have great expectations of them this year.
So we’re going to miss Autumn roadtrips. And most likely Winter ones, too. Might be advisable to give Spring a miss – who knows? In the meantime, I’m keeping my roadtripping heart happy by daydreaming about the ones yet to come.
In many ways, my favourite part of roadtripping is planning. At least, that’s what I think until I’m actually on the road and doing all of those things. But I do love that process of choosing a place to go and seeing what’s on offer and working out when we should go and how much fun we’re going to have.
I usually plan one roadtrip at a time, but right now I’m working on four and I’m going to share them all with you.
I was pretty sure I’d been to Walhalla as a child but I had to send my dad a message to check. “Yes, you were about four at the time,” came my dad’s reply. “Don’t you remember?”
All I remember is panicking every time a car came towards us because the road was very narrow and I was convinced we were going to go over the edge. As for the town, I remember absolutely nothing.
The Chef told me to plan something for a weekend late in March, so I planned to go to Walhalla overnight. We’d do the steam train on the first day (steam trains are about to become a theme on these roadtrips) and we’d do the gold mine tour on the second day. For the rest of the time, we’d wander around the town and I’d take a million photos because Walhalla looks absolutely amazing in Autumn.
Just look at it. I’ve started following a whole bunch of Walhalla-based Instagram accounts so I can see what I’m missing out on.
There’s even a fabulous Walhalla facebook page where two of the residents are taking people on virtual walks of the town every other day. They’re doing one at 3:30pm today and you’d better believe I’ll be sitting down and watching it.
I am so desperate to go here now. The gold mine tour will give me a chance to test my camera battery theory (every time I go underground, the battery in my camera dies – will this make it four times in a row?) and the steam train ride will just make me super happy.
Then there are all the gorgeous old buildings in town, the band rotunda, and the hillside cemetery. It is going to be amazing. It’s super hilly, though, so it’s lucky our semi-daily walks in the neighbourhood always involve walking up the hill to our house. By the time we get to Walhalla, we’ll be prepared.
The only thing I need to prepare is whether to go in another season, or wait for Autumn next year. I mean, look at those photos above: the town is designed for Autumn!
If you’ve read my blog post about a recent daytrip to Woodend, you’ll know a bit about this roadtrip already. We spent a day in Woodend and Carlsuhe and realised we didn’t have enough time to see everything and we certainly didn’t have enough time to do a gin tour. There was only one thing for it: we’d have to come back.
We planned our return for late April, at which point we would go on said gin tour and visit all the other good things. We now need to work in a steam train to make up for one of my friends missing out on the Easter steam train event in Canberra due to The Situation.
But what am I planning specifically? Firstly, we’ll find somewhere fabulous to stay with our minimum requirements: enough beds for everyone, sufficient chairs, and a table where we can play games. Then we’ll go on the gin tour and take the beer people to the Holgate Brewhouse. We’ll go and see a waterfall and ride a steam train because, quite frankly, it’s been too long since I last went on a steam train.
I just checked: the last time I went on a steam train was in 2013.
So that will be happening.
The rest of the plan involves eating lots of good food and catching up on the months we’ve been apart (we’re used to long gaps between our trips together, given we live in four different states and territories, but the last time we were all together was September, so we’ll have a lot to catch up on). Oh, and games. We’re mostly playing 500 at the moment, but we will need to crack open Aimee’s box of Forbidden Sky and get some collaborative goodness going on.
Then we have Bendigo. Or more specifically: the Bendigo Woollen Mills. I keep telling my mum about the amazing bargain room – I swear it gets bigger every time I visit – and now she’s decided she wants to see it for herself, so I’m going to take her.
You can see some of the Bendigo Woollen Mills’ wool in action below in these fabulous yarn-bombed trams. (These photos are from a trip to Bendigo in 2018 that I haven’t shared here. Yet.)
This one will be a daytrip from my parents’ place and I’m looking into some places to stop along the way. We already found one the other day: there’s an historic school in a teeny little town not far from my parents’ place, so that’ll be our first leg of the journey.
Basically, I’ll find all the interesting looking op shops along the way and we’ll visit them. I might have to save some for the return leg or we could run out of money before we even reach the amazing back room of bargains at the woollen mills.
Back to Queenscliff
Remember how I haven’t been on a steam train since 2013? That just so happened to be the Bellarine Railway steam train that runs from Queenscliff to Drysdale. (Yet another adventure that hasn’t appeared on any blog.)
We’ll be going on that, hopefully.
And probably returning to this pier because we enjoy all manner of marine-based wooden structures.
But let’s go back a bit. When the Melbourne Failboats went to Queenscliff a little while back, we visited the Whiskery and enjoyed their fine gin, known as ‘Teddy and the Fox’. Our fabulous tasting guide (that’s a fabulous guide who took us through the tasting, not a guide who tasted fabulous) told us all about their plans for a whole range… and now the whole range is available (although they’re mainly producing hand sanitiser at the moment – is there any problem gin can’t solve?). So I proposed a return trip to experience the entire range (although hopefully not the sanitiser).
I am hoping this might be a “Huzzah! We can leave the house and go places again!” celebration, too. It’s difficult to even imagine moment that right now, but it will happen.
The plan is to walk outside, blinking in the sunlight… and then pack up the car and head down to Queenscliff via the Bellarine Peninsula. We’ll make a point of visiting the Whiskery and anything else we might have missed on our first trip. I think it might be fun to stay in one of those fancy Queenscliff hotels, too, rather than booking ourselves a little house.
Instead of going back the same way, we’ll get some breakfast in town and investigate a little trip on the steam train. Then we’ll head for the other side of the bay via the sea ferry and head home via the Mornington Peninsula. This means we’ll probably end up at the Sunny Ridge strawberry farm because we always do.
I mean, how can you resist a Devonshire tea with jam made from Sunny Ridge strawberries?
It is impossible.
I probably won’t be able to resist a chocolate milkshake to take in the car afterwards, either, although I’ll try as hard as I can.
And that’s how I’m keeping my spirits up when I look at those perfect blue skies and beautiful trees and wish I could be out enjoying it all. Even the colder weather, which is all bursts of rain and the mountains lost in fog, makes me want to wrap myself up in a coat and scarf so I can get out and brave the gloomy skies.
What are you planning for that distant time when we’re allowed out again? Which of my future roadtrips is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below.