Craig’s Hut

Over the Easter break we visited the iconic Craig’s Hut. The hut is situated on Mt Stirling in Victoria’s High Country. Mt Stirling is part of the Alpine National Park. The hut is approximately 32kms from Mansfield. 2WD cars can drive most of the way and have the option of parking and walking the remaining 1.2km. Alternatively, 4WD vehicles can drive all the way to the parking area next to the hut.

The hut was built as a replica of a cattleman’s hut for the 1981 movie The Man From Snowy River. The movie was based on the well-known poem with the same name by Banjo Paterson.

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stockhorse snuffs the battle with delight.

Extract taken from http://www.middlemiss.org/lit/authors/patersonab/poetry/snowy.html

The history of the cattleman and the manner in it which it was depicted in both the poem and movie are an important part of Australian history. These are the people that worked and lived in the mountains of this region. They built huts to shelter in as they drove their cattle through the land.

As well as it’s significance in the history of the region and Australian film and literature history, Craig’s Hut also symbolises another important aspect of life in the region. In 2006 it was burned down during a bushfire. It was rebuilt the following year, however the new hut is slightly different to the original one.

Here are some of the pictures I took on my phone when we there (stupidly I forgot my camera). They don’t quite capture just how stunning the views are, but you might get some idea. If you are ever in the region I highly recommend a visit.

 

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Happy Thursday!

My partner came home last night with a bunch of flowers. He presented them to me and said “Happy Wednesday!”

My birthday was on Monday and he didn’t bring me flowers then (although I was very spoilt all day long in many other ways). When he gave me the flowers I thought it was such a lovely gesture. It meant that I got to be appreciated for no other reason then it was today.

Earlier yesterday I was reading Rarasaur’s post about 11/12/13. You can read it here. When I read this post I was thinking just how special every day is. The flowers and my partners reason for giving them confirmed this even more.

So I wanted to share the feeling and remind you only live every day once and they are all as special as each other in some way. So,

Happy Thursday Everyone!

 

Steavenson Falls

On Saturday my family and I visited Steavenson Falls. These magnificent falls are about 4km from the township of Marysville in regional Victoria (a little over 1 hours drive from Melbourne). They are easy to locate. You just follow the signs and take the Falls Rd turn from the main road.

Last time we visited Marysville the Falls were still closed to the public. Sadly Marysville and surrounding towns were devastated by fire on Black Saturday, 7 February 2009. Following the fires, there was very little left of Marysville. The bakery was one of the only buildings left standing on the Main St. Numerous businesses, community buildings, homes and lives were lost. The damage extended to the forest areas and the beautiful bushland around the falls was severely damaged. This damage meant that the area around the Falls was unsafe for public access.

Over 4 years later the town is still rebuilding. There are now a range of cafes and shops and many lost homes have been rebuilt. The devastation is still apparent but the town has certainly risen from the ash. The sense of community and strength that it has taken to rebuild after such tragedy is more admirable than words can describe.

Steavenson Falls is well worth the visit. With 5 cascades descending over 122 metres, the site is breathtaking. Surrounding the falls is spectacular bushland. The combination of the water tumbling down the rock face and the green trees rising up towards the sky brings a sense of peace and calm.

 

Christmas is Coming: Ready or Not!

I was rudely pulled from my sleep this morning by my 2-year-old. He jumped on my bed wearing a flashing Rudolph nose and bright red antlers. His brother was not far behind, donning a Santa hat.

They are bursting with Christmas cheer. I’m not sure that they will be able to wait a whole month until the big day. They have been jabbering on about what Santa will bring for weeks.

I, however, am not feeling the festive cheer.  I have always loved Christmas and eagerly decorated and ready for the day. I have always chastised my partner for being a Scrooge, but this year; Bah Humbug! It’s not even December yet!

Is it just me, or does Christmas seem to start earlier every year? I swear the decorations and carols at my local shopping centre were up far earlier than last year. Soon, they will start in August. The minute my kids see the Christmas decorations, a switch is flicked on in their brains. Suddenly they are catapulted into Christmas mode and can focus on nothing else.

I must admit, they are not only concerned with presents that they might receive (although it is of high importance), they also want to know what food we will have, when we can put up the Christmas tree, when they can start using their advent calendars, what presents we will buy for everyone else and what dress-ups they can wear. It is exhausting.

I usually delight in their joy, but this year there is just so much to do. The work is piling up. In Australia, Christmas is the start of the summer holiday period. Offices close for 2 or 3 weeks and schools are closed for the summer. For me, this means plenty of work but no invoices so I need to get as much paperwork in earlier as possible.

Then there is Christmas shopping to do. Most of my kids’ presents go on lay by during the June toy sales but I never know what to get adults or even which ones I have to buy for. As much as I try to avoid shopping in the weeks leading up to Christmas, inevitably I end up caught in the waves of people, scrounging for last-minute gifts. It is a battle to just find a car park, let alone find stock on the shelves or actually get through a check out.

This year we have the added problem of changing when and where the family gets together. In earlier years, my family has always done our main celebration on Christmas eve. We started this when we were young women and started to have boyfriends. This meant that we could all spend Christmas day with our partners families and still have our own celebration. We would watch the carols on TV and drink champagne, usually resulting in some loud and terrible singing. This year we had to change our plans. With my stepfather being ill, he can’t do night celebrations as he gets too tired. Instead, we are going to do a traditional Christmas lunch. It sounds nice but it has upset my apple cart. What will I do Christmas eve?

At least we haven’t had too many arguments about where to spend Christmas this year. My step-father took priority as it is likely to be his last Christmas. Usually, we end up arguing and fighting about where and when we will celebrate Christmas. It is hard to find times that suit everyone. There are always tears.

I am sure I will find my Christmas spirit soon; at least I hope so. The boys are chomping at the bit and I am just hoping it all goes away. Maybe I will start to get more excited as it gets closer.

Growing up with the Melbourne Cup

melbourne cup day

melbourne cup day (Photo credit: doublebug)

On the first Tuesday in November, Australia stands still to watch 24 horses race at Flemington. It is a public holiday and if you happen to go anywhere around this time you will find that cafes and shops are deserted as normal life is halted to watch the prestigious race.

For Melbournians, Cup Day is a public holiday. As with all good holidays in Australia, it is celebrated with BBQs and beer. Wether the sun shines or the rain pours (and being Melbourne weather it can go either way), we charcoal sausages and induce hangovers.

Today’s Melbourne Cup got me thinking back to the Melbourne Cup day traditions of my childhood. As a kid, I loved Melbourne Cup day, and it had nothing to do with a horse race.

When I was a small child my parents had a Cup Day tradition. Every year we would go to a friend’s house and a group of my parents friends would get together to bottle wine. They would buy huge casks and spend the day bottling them. Of course, there was still a BBQ and a lot of the wine didn’t make the bottles.

When each cask was emptied, the silver belly would be blown up with air and tossed to us to play with. We would spend the day diving and jumping on the giant casks (in hindsight they weren’t that huge, but it was how I saw them at the time).

Early in the day we would cut out the names of the horses from the newspaper and put them in a hat t be drawn for the sweep. Just before the race we would each pull a horse out of the hat. There were the normal prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd. In addition, the last placed horse got their money back. I think we only be $2 each.

At 3pm we would trudge inside to cram around the TV. Back then, household televisions were small boxes in the corner of the room. They were not flat screens that took up a whole wall. We would all squeeze into the tiny family room and squint at the TV trying desperately to find our horse. As they whooshed by, it would be hard to find your horse on the tiny screen.

When I was 10 my parent separated. After that, we no longer spent Cup Day with the same group of friends. However, there was always a BBQ and sweep at my Mum’s house. I used to joke that the 2 biggest religious celebrations in our house were the Melbourne Cup and AFL grand final.

As I got older I started to travel. Whenever that first Tuesday in November came around, I would think about the cup and how it stopped Australia. It would feel strange when 3pm arrived and the world kept turning. In other nations, the Cup was not such a big deal. At most, it was a news story somewhere in the sports bulletin.

After returning to Australia, I met my partner. He took me to my first Melbourne Cup. Strangely enough, before I met my partner I didn’t really think that people went to the races. Sure, I saw them on TV. There were women dressed in beautiful dresses with amazing hats. There were always a few punters in fancy dress and of course, the party in the Flemington Racecourse car park! I don’t know why I didn’t think that real people went to the races. I seemed to have this idea that it was only for the rich and famous.

When I went to Flemington for my first race day I instantly fell in love. I loved the party! I relished the chance to dress up and feel like royalty for the day. The atmosphere was electric and all day I buzzed with excitement.

For the next few years, I was a regular at Flemington for Spring Carnival. My partner worked there so we had the added luxury of getting in and drinking for free. I felt like a princess.

Then children came along. Since then, I have still tried to go to some of the race meets but usually not Cup Day. As it was a public holiday most of my babysitters were away or attending BBQs so I had children to entertain.

Now my partner no longer works at Flemington for the Carnival. This year, we spent the four day weekend at our caravan. My sons rode bikes and laughed with their friends. My oldest son picked his horse out of a hat. We watched the race and he was very excited to see if his horse won. unfortunately it didn’t but seeing him enjoying his day, more for the time with his friends then the love of the horserace, made me start reminiscing.

I am looking forward to spending many more Cup Days with my children. I wonder what they will remember 30 years from now.

WOW its Better than Cake! Why I Love Volunteering

I volunteer with a program called Words on Wheels (WOW). It’s a program run through my local library service and is staffed by volunteers.

WOW is all about bringing stories, entertainment and discussions to aged care facilities. We have numerous kits that are based around a particular theme. Each kit has a collection of short stories, poems, song lyrics, jokes, trivia and other activities.

The whole purpose of the program is to bring the outside world into aged care facilities. It was found that many of the residents were losing touch with the world as it exists around them. They were also losing touch with their own pasts as they became more focussed on the day to day living within the facility.

With WOW we use the kits to generate discussions and get the residents to connect. The whole purpose is to get people talking. It doesn’t matter if we stick to the topic or not; and we usually don’t.

I have been participating both in researching and editing the kits and also as a presenter. I visit an aged care facility once a month with my kit and whatever props I can find.

For my next session I am using a kit titled “Anyone for Cake?”. As a prop I have made these cupcakes for each of the people in my group. As many cannot eat sugar, these are each made of face washers. I will give them to the residents as a gift.

I didn’t realise how much I would love volunteering. Not only do you feel great knowing that a little bit of your time has brought joy to someone else’s life, I have also grown and learnt so much from the program.

WOW has brought out my creativity. I love finding stories and jokes to add to the kits. I have expanded my literary knowledge and found some fantastic websites as a result.

I also love designing fun activities and props to take to the sessions. It has really got me thinking about different crafts that I can get into.

I was very hesitant when I first signed up. I thought that the generation gap between me and the residents would make the sessions a challenge.

I couldn’t be more wrong. They don’t want me to be perfect. The just love to have a chat.

The residents have taught me so much. Through our conversations I have gained an insight into life when they were growing up. It has been wonderful to go back in time with them and relive games, activities and events of their era.

All in all I have found the experience to be very uplifting. I even enjoy it more than eating cake and it’s much healthier!

If anyone is interested in learning more about the program you can visit this website http://yprl.vic.gov.au/about/careers-and-volunteering/volunteering/wow.

8 Things You Inevitably Say when Shopping with Kids

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When I shop with my two children I feel like a broken record. For some reason my children turn into circus monkeys the second we enter a supermarket. It seems the aisles of groceries induce a hyperactive state and no amount of reasoning will bring them out of it.

I don’t believe I am alone. I often see other mothers struggling with their children. I see them trying desperately to break the speed record for filling the trolley with all required items while rounding up children.

The key is to get out the door as quickly as possible. You need to be organised. You need to know where items are and make sure you move through the supermarket systematically and swiftly. Going back to an aisle could prove deadly.

Throughout this process, a mother finds herself saying the same desperate pleas for good behaviour. It is par for the course and it goes something like this:

  1. Put that back! – It doesn’t matter how many times you say it, they still need to grab something they shouldn’t. All those shiny wrappers are simply too much temptation and unless you have managed to cage them in the trolley and place it further than arms reach from the shelf, something will be grabbed. The hope is to have the item returned to the shelf before it is dropped, squashed, torn or broken.
  2. No you can’t have that! – Usually said in relation to something with a high sugar content. Often this follows the whiny plea of “Muuuuum, can’t I have it”. I often have this plea followed with the reasoning of “my friends get these” or “dad said I could”.
  3. Get up! – If your child is like mine, the previous statement has the potential to lead to a full tantrum. This usually involves throwing themself on the floor. Alternatively, this statement gets used when the child ends up crawling on the floor to see under shelves or to try to find a dropped toy or grocery item.
  4. Come here! – the minute you let them loose they seem to have a beacon guiding them in the opposite direction. Inevitably they wonder off or the end up distracted by something sparkly and fail to follow as you move to the next item on the list.
  5. Leave your brother alone! – why they insist on annoying each other I have never understood. There is an innate need to snatch anything your sibling holds, poke your sibling, pull hair or find otherways to irritate your sibling.
  6. No you can’t get in the trolley! – the trolley is for the shopping. If I could carry the shopping, I wouldn’t need the trolley. There is no room in the trolley if it is filled with children. Not to mention the squashing of items that occurs when children are in the trolley with the groceries. That of course does not stop the temptation for children to get in the trolley. The lustre of shiny metal and wheels is simply too inviting.
  7. I’ll leave you at home next time! – I don’t know why we say this. Although usually said as a threat, both mother and child know it would be preferred. In reality, neither child or mother really wants to be at the supermarket and given the choice, any mother would prefer to shop without their children. Still, in desperation we say anything to try to get them to behave.
  8. Don’t touch that! – Don’t touch the fresh fruit and vegetables, don’t poke your finger in the meat packets, don’t smudge your finger prints on the deli banemarie, don’t press the button and don’t touch anything on the shelves!

All in all, there is just far too much temptation for a child at the supermarket. This leads to far too much frustration for any mother. But we will always go back for more. Not because we want to; because we have to.