After a recent trip to Melbourne, where I had to hang around the Berwick area all day, driving around and killing a bit of time shopping, I realised that there was no way that I could ever return to suburbia. The traffic, the crowds, the absence of any feeling of character made me realise how fantastic are the townships in Gippsland, especially those located amongst the rolling hills, farmlands and historic areas. Not only is the aspect outstanding, it’s accompanied by a far more relaxed and genial lifestyle. So I thought I’d use that spark of a realisation to do some stories on such townships, not the larger regional centres, but the townships that may only have a local store or pub, or modicum of commerce, and often may support a fairly wide rural community.
For many years, on a small rise next to the Strzelecki Highway just out of Morwell, at a locality called Driffield, there has resided what appeared to be an old hay shed. The shed has always caught my attention every time that we’ve driven past, but I’ve never stopped to take a photo for some reason, even though I’ve had a feeling that I should. Then late last year, things changed and the shed had been revitalised by a local community that I’ve written about previously, and it had become something completely new again. What was something that looked quite abandoned, had been transformed into a memorial to the Driffield farming community. By not stopping by earlier, I’d missed out on providing an example of the then and now.
The Dog House bar & bistro is one of those venues that you come across unexpectedly and which gives you a pleasant surprise both in how it presents itself and the first impressions provided by the likeable staff. Nestled within the Wild Dog Winery, a few kilometres south of Warragul, it resides right next door to the Wild Dog Winery restaurant and function centre, yet is a complimentary establishment rather than a competing one. Apparently the Dog House building was the residence for the winery some time back, but was sold a few years ago and converted into a bar & bistro.
No, not the Lakes District in the UK, but the occasional one that arises near Mirboo North after a few days of heavy rain. The valley that runs just west of Mirboo North to Leongatha in the south, is fed by the Tarwin River West Branch and when we have heavy rains for several days, as we’ve had this August, the tributary creeks from the hills add to the flow and the valley floods to form rather picturesque lakes. Though I’m not sure the farmers see it that way.
The Mirboo North Times is a small regional newspaper that’s been running for 122 years, ostensibly supported by a dedicated group of volunteers who publish one edition each week, covering local news and events affecting the region. While the Mirboo North Times might not be a large newspaper compared to some, it certainly supports an extensive and loyal reader base and, with a growing community, that’s only likely to increase.
The Meeniyan Hotel has been around in one guise or another since around 1892; the original being destroyed by fire in 1933 and subsequently rebuilt and added to over the years. The Meeniyan Hotel is located in a small township that sits on the South Gippsland Highway, on what is a gateway for tourists on their way to Wilsons Promontory and other tourist destinations such as Port Welshpool or Port Albert. The hotel’s latest owner Andrew, outstandingly friendly and informative, only acquired the hotel recently and has commenced major renovations and improvements to take advantage of its perfect location on this busy tourist route.
The Noojee Hotel at Noojee Victoria commenced operations in 1925 with the main intent of supporting the local timber industry. The Noojee Hotel has quite a history, along with the township itself, and has provided an important role to the community (other than serving beers) during a number of severe bushfires, an ever present danger for the area. Noojee itself is kind of typical of these old mountain townships that have discovered a sort of revival due to the tourist industry. Every weekend, at least in the summer months, thousands of people travel from north and south to visit Noojee and other similar towns as part of a weekend drive or ride.
The Commercial Hotel at Woods Point Victoria (better known as the Woods Point Hotel), is one of Victoria’s most iconic pubs (especially for those who venture to these parts), though by no means the oldest, and is located in a remote valley through which the Goulburn River runs and which became a mecca for gold prospectors in the mid-1800s. Woods Point reportedly had over 30 hotels in its heyday; but today, only one remains. Hopefully the current facilities can keep running, as it would be a shame if a part of history such as this were to fade away.
Of course summer also means fun for the people and it’s the time of year when the historic Mirboo North swimming pool opens, as long as the temperature is predicted to be over 26C (it’s a heated swimming pool) and whatever other criteria for the pool to be opened has been met. The pool has changed quite a lot from the time when it first opened, going from a natural spring to a distinctly man-made facility, and today’s costumes are also quite different from those of the turn of last century.
It appears that summer has also made Fatso (our neighbourhood Echidna) more active, visiting our yard and winding up our two hounds, who think it’s an alien attacking the house. The hounds don’t know what to do with this generally slow-moving, spiky, yet rapidly disappearing into the ground creature. I fear more for our hounds than Fatso, but sometimes removing him is a Labour of Hercules, so strongly does Fatso dig in and hold onto the ground. I don’t know how much force can be used before there’s injury (to Fatso), but I don’t dare use too much, as I’ve had the devil’s own time removing Fatso previously. So I left Fatso to his diggings this time and, in the morning, he was gone once again.