As with our boy’s trips during off long weekends and weekdays, which we call High Country Cruises, we like to do family camping trips in much the same way. We used to do Christmas camping trips over the Christmas holiday periods, but that’s become difficult as many of our favourite camping places have been closed and campers are now pushed into large open areas where there’s no peace or privacy for anyone. So over the last few years we’ve been doing a sort of pre-Christmas week of camping during a time when it’s more likely to be relatively quiet and with campsites free. So we did this again this year, this time travelling to the Dargo region which is slightly closer and easier to get to than our previous forays to the Nunniong Plains area and offers much better river options.
The Boolarra Community Hotel has been on our check-list to visit for some time, but we were told that it wasn’t open and certainly whenever we’ve gone past, there hasn’t been any noticeable activity within or without. So I was more than surprised when I heard that the hotel had been acquired by the Boolarra community, with residents chipping in to take shares in ownership. Sometimes this seems to be the only way to resurrect a hotel that has fallen by the wayside and with a community located where it is, not having a pub handy is always an issue. And so it was with some interest that we decided to visit this Sunday for lunch, especially as we’d heard that the meals were very good.
As the world becomes ever smaller, due to the ease of travel and the ever pervasive internet, I’ve sometimes wondered whether there are any ‘relatively’ accessible places that have yet to be done to death by photography. Other than some extremely remote and distant places, where it may be very expensive, difficult or risky to venture, there would hardly be a unique place on earth today that hasn’t been photographed to such an extent that the scenes have effectively become clichés. Antelope Canyon in the US, Iceland (one of the newly saturated photography destinations), African Safari Parks, Ayers Rock in Australia, Machu Picchu in Peru, Cambodia, the Antarctic and many other places all come to mind. While these locations are naturally wonderful places to visit, I’m not sure that they offer as much for a photographer looking for something new, as they did decades ago.
The Old Pub (The Old Boolarra Pub as it’s alternatively known) in Boolarra has had a chequered history since it was first established in 1884. Apparently it was called The Selectors Arms originally, thought to have become a boarding house in 1916 and then named the Old Boolarra Pub some time later. When we first came to Mirboo North, we visited Boolarra not that long after and went to visit the Old Pub, but unfortunately it was closed. It was (is) a private residence and was re-opened as a cafe and B&B and, I understand, in 2014 it re-acquired it’s liquor license and is now a licensed coffee house and eatery. The Old Pub is a fine example of an old bluestone and timber building of the era, which carries that bluestone character to the interior of the pub. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to discover very much more about the history of the pub itself.
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.
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.