Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Day Out In The Country

I haven't written for a while for a number of reasons which I won't bore you with, but I'm back to blogging. I've a lot to write about, both concerning chess and non chess so there'll be bits of both. For now I want to talk about my day today. It's days like today that I realised why I moved to Australia.

Kookaburra looking at St Andrew's Market
I took a drive out to the countryside with my lovely wife, Caroline. I have always been amazed at just how lush this part of Australia is. I can remember back to my preconceptions of Australia. Those basically consisted of it's hot, there's loads of beaches, deserts and dangerous animals, and it's bloody hot! However, after living here for nearly 10 years, I've found the reality different. Winters in Victoria can be quite cool and the countryside is diverse and really beautiful. Today we travelled to one such area, the Yarra Ranges. We started with a trip to St Andrew's Market. Besides having some great stuff, the market is set in the beautiful eucalypt forest of St Andrew's. Unfortunately, there had been a power outage today, but it didn't stop the market. It shut down some cafe's and slowed things down a bit at the food and drink stalls, but that didn't dampen spirits of the market goers. In fact, even the weather didn't keep people away. It never really rose above 10 C and there were showers, but everyone seemed to still be having a great time.
The Honey Stall at St Andrew's Market set among the Eucalypt's
We then took a short drive through the Yarra hills to Healesville where we went for a walk at Badger Creek. I'd been to the nearby Healesville Sanctuary before which is great to walk around, but Badger Creek was really magical. After a lot of recent rain the creek was flowing well, and the ferns and flora were splendid.
Full flowing Badger Creek 
Badger Creek is an excellent place to spot the elusive Lyrebird. I had never seen a lyrebird before today, which included a walk through a lyrebird enclosure at a wildlife sanctuary! Today that changed and I saw a young male lyrebird. We were able to get quite close to him, though I couldn't get a good photo. Caroline thought he was young as his plumage didn't seem full yet he still seemed magnificent to me. In fact the whole area was magical, with great light catching the moisture on the ferns while sunshine lit up the gullies.

Sunlight on the ferns at Badger Creek
Today was a reminder to me to not take my new country for granted. Just a stone's throw from my city home is some absolutely amazing countryside which is so different to that which I was used to in England. As I get more settled into Melbourne life, it is all too easy to forget just how alien this part of the world seemed to me in the not too distant past. They say that familiarity breeds contempt, but that hasn't applied to my view of Victoria.

To keep things fresh, it is good to check out the views of other people who are new to Australia, or thinking about emigrating or visiting here. It makes me smile when I compare people's thoughts about Australia to my own. So I'll be following this blog about an Australian roadtrip that is being undertaken by the brother of a friend from my school days, John Fowler. John and I were junior chess rivals who both ended up emigrating and while I didn't know his brother David that well, I'll still be interested to see how he feels about his trip. Hopefully David will see some amazing things and not too many scary Australian animals. I still haven't seen a snake in the wild but we did see a scorpion in Badger Creek today.

A wood scorpion (I think).

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