People often think of Australia as hot, dry and dusty. They’re not altogether wrong, but it’s not always like that.
A line from one of my favourite Australian poems talks of Australia as a land “of droughts and flooding rains”.
We’ve certainly had those flooding rains lately.
Mt Emu Creek usually meanders quite sedately through farmland in western Victoria where I live, and joins up with the Hopkins River north of Warrnambool.
Recently though, it turned the farmland into a floodplain and created some new, beautiful imagery of its own.
Red Rock is a dormant volcano near Alvie in western Victoria which offers spectacular views of lakes, craters and dramatic landforms that are the result of volcanic action over thousands of years. It is believed to be a younger volcano than others nearby such as Tower Hill near Warrnambool, Lake Purrumbete near Camperdown, and Mt Elephant at Derrinallum. The views from the lookout are breathtaking: craters, lakes, hills and folds that rise dramatically out of the earth, and a patchwork of farms that thrive on the rich volcanic soil.It’s no wonder they call this “Lakes and Craters Country”.
On Coragulac Hill near the peak of Red Rock, is the War Memorial for Alvie and Dreeite servicemen who fought “for God, King and Country” as stated on the stone memorial. As I stood and read the names, I was very aware of the fact that it was exactly 100 years ago that some of these men were fighting and dying for our freedom. I spent two minutes in silence and finished with “Lest We Forget”. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
The Stony Rises are found between Camperdown, Pirron Yallock and Cobden in Victoria’s Western District.
The fields are full of volcanic rock, a testament to the fact that the dormant volcanoes in the area were once far more active than they are now. Ever since settlement, local farmers have used these rocks to create stone walls that divide their farms into paddocks. While some have fallen into disrepair, others are still maintained and used today.
This is genuinely some of the prettiest countryside I have ever seen. It’s a patchwork of farms with deep green grass, yellow straw fields from the last crops of corn, white or red barns, and pretty houses.
The roads have a separate late each side for horses and buggies, or the alternative Amish transports of bicycles or push scooters. There are some scooters that are converted bicycles, with a platform to stand on between the wheels. We saw several of these, with an adult or teenager transporting a child who was standing in front of them.
We don’t see many mules in Australia, but they are commonplace here because they are the work animal of choice on the farms. Horses are reserved for transport.
We have seen families, individuals and courting couples all out for a ride on this beautiful, sunny Spring Saturday. A courting couple is distinctive because they must ride in an open and uncovered buggy.
Everything is clean and well presented. The whole scene is absolutely charming. I don’t say that to be condescending. It’s genuinely pretty, and it seems they take pride in making it so. It also seems to me that they have maintained a sweetness or pride in the fundamental things of life that our society often overlooks – family, friendship, hard work and moral values. There is no abuse of the environment here, nor any waste or litter.
There are things we could definitely learn from their way of life, even though I am not willing to give up using electricity, electronics, or my car.