“A short trip to “Pennyroyal”.

Early March 2017 was when we headed off for a few days break at “Pennyroyal“, which is in the vicinity of the very small township of “Deans Marsh” roughly located between Lorne and Birragurra, Victoria.

Why Deans Marsh? well my eldest sister and her family lived in this isolated region back in 1957 and it consisted of very little more than a sawmill, a store and houses occupied by the sawmill employees and it was a place where I would spend many an Easter, school holidays or Christmas with my young niece and nephew and enjoy the tranquility of the outback bush countryside.

Memories abound of swimming in the waterhole beneath a bridge, going rabbiting, chopping starting wood chips for the massive IXL cast iron stove that burned constantly as it also heated the hot water and the wonderful smells of fresh air and the wood fire.

Not having been in this region for such a long time and having many vivid and enjoyable times there in my youth, we booked a B&B cabin at Pennyroyal.

Pennyroyal in itself is an insignificant place of bush and farmlands and not a town and is a five-minute drive from Deans Marsh. The place we stayed at was a fully kitted out cabin having magnificent views of the country side from the back verandah where we shared breakfast with so many different birds and their chorus every morning and at night viewed the abundance of heavenly stars above.

 

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Honeysuckle Cottage.

This was not a sit back and relax get away for we wanted to explore and experience as much as time permitted of the surrounding countryside.

Our many journeys included visiting/driving through the” Otway Ranges” into Lorne for lunch and a nice stroll along the beach, and a trip out to “Forrest” another very small township in the hinterland of the Otways where we lunched at the “Forrest Brewing Company”,a small micro brewing enterprise brewing hand crafted beers.

“Birragurra”, (another historic town of the region)is about a 20-minute drive from “Deans Marsh”, consisted of a very wide main street, shop fronts all of which were more than 100 years old and has an ambiance of utter slowness, peace, and quiet.

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Main Road Birragurra.

Next day we continued our journey onto the vibrant city of “Colac” where we explored the magnificent Botanical Gardens and had lunch at the garden’s restaurant that over looked the impressive Lake Colac, a massive fresh water catchment area that supplied the township.

As early afternoon approached, we first visited “Lake Cundare” salt lake then onto our next destination of “Red Rock Lookout“. That supplied us with a sturdy climb to the top and a reward of 360* of an uninterrupted vista of the many and varied craters left by volcanic activity from as little as 4000 years ago, after that a return to the cabin for a lovely home cooked meal and glass of wine.DSCN1747

Lake Cundare.(Salt Lake).

 

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Looking down from Red Rock lookout.

Whilst all of the above consisted of a lot of driving, it was well worth it as the experience was one you needed to personally appreciate what it offered!All in all, an enjoyable time.

 

Return to Halls Gap.

Its almost 11 months since we last visited the Grampian’s and completed many of the bush walks including the “Pinnacles”,the “Balconies”, “Reed Lookout” and partly achieved MacKenzies falls(due to some fatigue,some heat and some requirement to be a tad fitter)!

With the desire to complete the “MacKenzie Falls” walk (which is extremely steep) we introduced three weeks of additional training that included visiting “Willinda Parklands” at Greensborough where there is a very steep stairway consisting of 174 steps  up and naturally 174 steps down,so after three weeks of this getting up to eight times up and down each visit we hoped we now had the edge that was needed.

The short stay we had planned couldn’t have been at a worse time weather wise as every day the  temperature during the day reached 35* plus.

The drive up along the Western Highway was uneventful and quite pleasant being a first class road all the way but the sad thing about it was the complete journey showed how very dry the country side is.

We reached Halls Gap about 1:30pm and went straight to our accommodation,unpacked the suitcases,turned on the a/c and had a nice snooze and later in the evening ventured into town to the “Quarry” restaurant and had a wonderful dinner and planned our day ahead.

It was predicted to be 36* the following day so we arose early and headed up the mountain to “MacKenzies Falls”.Early as it was it allowed us to enjoy the magnificence of the cool morning air,the smells of the eucalyptus and the soft morning light coming over the crest of the  mountain range.

Leaving  the car at the car park our walk to the falls began down the escarpment. Oh boy,how steep it was and the thought of coming back the same way was not one to reflect upon,but on reaching the base of the falls it filled us with nothing but awe and appreciation of this natural wonder.

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Unbeknown to us there was a walking track leading away from the base of the waterfall so having a backpack with food and drink with us a decision was made to venture along this bush track that most of the time ran adjacent to the river  until the track started heading uphill.

We tracked along through bracken and ferns for about 3/4 hour and stopped at the edge of a smaller waterfall and enjoyed morning tea,  took in the wonder of our surroundings and met a couple coming from the opposite direction that told us about another place of interest called “Zumstiens Place”that was worth seeing.

After refreshments we headed back along the river track taking in all the grandure of the canyon to the falls and just stood in the morning sunshine and enjoyed the refreshing over spray and took in the moment(s) whilst reflecting on our great fortune to have had this wonderful experience.  Eventually we headed back up the incredibly steep climb  to the car park,(But it was so worth it).

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With that ticked off the bucket list our next adventure was to go further up the mountain( now about 20Km from Halls Gap) to “Zumsteins”picnic area where there are very good  facilities and toilets and located on the banks of the Mackenzie River.

This natural setting area is where Walter and Jean Zumstien built three mud/earth buildings in 1910,one as a family home and the other two for family and friends to stay and enjoy the the isolated beauty of the bush.(The remains of these buildings are still standing but fenced off as a repair/rebuild  is planned for the future).

His love for this country was a life long affair and he additionally by hand felled trees and dug out and area for a swimming pool that was fed from the mountain creeks.

By now the afternoon heat had well and truly set in so back down to the township for a well earned and delicious ice cream to be devoured before heading back to our cabin for a  late lunch and recovery sleep before heading out later in the evening for dinner.

After dinner there was still about an 1 1/2 hours of sunlight left so we headed off to the “Halls Gap Botanical Garden”, where a walk to the natural lava formations called the “Venus Bathes” that could be found along another beautifully planned easy track.(Another must see place).

Now with only 1 day left to explore ,up at dawn again and up the mountain to “The Silver Band Falls” turn off,a very-very long drive downhill all the way along a single width roadway that started to give me the feeling of “What am I doing here“until the destination could be seen,so once again we tracked to the falls along a beautiful bush pathway and of course only a trickle was to be seen.

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All in all a very hot and fantastic trip that gave immense satisfaction and a reinforced striving to keep this senior body as fit as possible to continue exploring and having new experiences .

See you after the next adventure. 🙂