Having a gravel quarry of our own has been a boon, but to use it we need something to dig the gravel up and something else to transport it. Hiring that comes at a big cost – and includes travel time. Buying a truck means storage and servicing issues.
An ingenious local – and we’ve found lots of them – came up with an answer. A pranged farm ute has been idle for a couple of years, but still can do good 4-wheel drive work.
“I can turn it into tipper for you” offered Ron, who runs a truck repair business. Just three grand later, and we have a perfectly good vehicle for transporting and tipping gravel and topsoil. It has been put to good use in completing our pathway around the oval.
A good tip – talk to the locals when trying to solve an issue!
Now on the western side, past the Bradman roses and on towards Bay 13, we’ve built a gravel path, erected an arch, planted four more rose beds – each with 10 roses – and placed garden benches on a gravel base in between. Recently we’ve added topsoil to cover areas of bare clay, and the grass seed we’ve planted is beginning to sprout.
Back on the eastern side, our tree grove is becoming a gorgeous, tranquil spot, especially at dusk. Garden beds of agapanthus are thriving where previously nothing would grow under the trees, creating a shimmer of green interspersed with attractive gravel paths. Going down there early morning or late in the evening is a real pleasure.
Rain, lovely rain – 55mms of it since May 2. And from almost a dust-bowl, with help from a touch of fertiliser, the VG is rapidly getting back its green colour.
Apart from a quick sudden storm on the last day of January, it is the first proper rain since mid-December. The locals say it has been the driest they have seen it since last century.
Like all people on the land, the rain always seems to miss us, sliding past down towards Melbourne or coming past us from Melbourne to hit the high country.
But all that changed in May. And the kangaroos are out in force. Mostly they are hidden during the day, but with a green tinge in the field they are out in the daylight re-stocking their reserves.
At 8am this morning a huge old grey roo was grazing within 10 metres of our back door. As I write this I can see a dozen grazing on the hill. The wombats have been digging away under our cricket fence. And once I finish this I must go chase the ducks off our cricket oval. They do little harm to our grass, but what they leave behind is something of a pain.
Our Glampers have been full most weekends, far exceeding our expectations.
Last week a young engineer called Josh who works on mining camps all over Australia arrived with his French girlfriend not long before dark.
“We’ve got to climb Mt Buggery at dusk,” he declared. An hour later after sunset I notice lights up near the top of the hill. Josh had left it a bit late, and descending the hill in pitch black was not a good idea. Taking our dog Angus, I headed off to wait for them at the bottom in case of disaster, and eventually they emerged and were shocked to see us waiting. “Wonderful,’ was all Josh could say. “It was hairy, but we loved it.”
And off they headed for their glamper, knowing the fire-pit in its 44 gallon drum was ready to be lit and the panel heater meant inside was nice and warm. And not content with that, Josh was keen to get out in the dark and spy a wombat in the big burrow not far away!
It’s been flat out at the Village Green.
Cricket, conferences, camps and comps …
Over the last few weeks we’ve hosted a conference, school camps and plenty of cricket teams from far and wide as they get into their Spring training.
We love the different ways people enjoy our grounds. Josh’s recent bucks day (pictured at the top of the page) saw some relaxed social cricketing on a glorious day. Then last weekend, Jaci and her 16 friends stayed in the Bunkhouse and created a gala sports day. In groups of 4 they challenged each other in all sorts of bat and ball games (including cricket), as well as more stressful activities like orienteering and hill-climbing. Competition was very keen!
This week a bus tour from Sydney’s Asquith lunches with us, while Sunday has a cricket team from Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium (Test match venue) playing the Melbourne “Eccentrics”.
… and glamping
Our glamping project is gearing up too. Glamper 2 is just about ready to take bookings, and the roof and deck are built for Glampers 3 and 4. Our nearby sawmill owner has a couple of chippies with him, and watching them a work is great fun. A few people have tested out Glampers 1 and 2, and they loved them! The beauty of our countryside, and the comfort of luxury accommodation. What’s not to love?
The first week of footy finals was also first week of our cricket season – and the Antarctic weather brought some challenges.
The Thursday before, Spring was ‘busting out all over’, and our turf pitch was passing the bounce test very promisingly. But then the squally, wintry weather meant we had to have it covered for much of the time since to ensure a good pitch for our first cricket trainers for the season. It worked – Royal Park Cricket Club, St Bernard’s Old Boys and Deepdene Cricket Club all enjoyed good sessions.
And we’ve got high hopes for the grounds as the weather picks up. The outfield is the best it’s been since our arrival four years ago, and the surrounds as well, though the roses are some weeks away from coming into bloom.
Spring’s unconvincing entrance isn’t stopping weekend visitors from enjoying the surrounds. Our recent bunkhouse guests for Alex’s birthday spent some time taking on a ropes course and mountain-biking at Kinglake Forest Adventures – just half an hour away. They still had time to play cricket and footy on the oval, and enjoyed Saturday evening around our campfire.
As September moves on we’re looking forward to more mild days and fewer wintry remnants. Come back, Spring!
Lindy and Paul recently gave our first glampervan a test run. Lindy tells you about the weekend in this guest post.
Always had a roof above me, always paid the rent
But I’ve never set foot inside a tent
Can’t build a fire to save my life
I lied about being the outdoor type
I’m not quite as dire as the guy in that Lemonheads song, but certainly I’m no intrepid camper. I really love the IDEA of being away from it all, but at the slightest hint of wet tents and drop toilets, I’m heading for the nearest café. Hauling a caravan? No thanks.
But it only takes couple of hours into our stay in Ros and John’s glamping setup – warming our toes at the fire, watching the sun set across the valley – to realise that I may be onto my perfect version of camping.
Set back on a rise behind the rest of The Village Green property, the little 2-person glampervan is secluded enough to leave you undisturbed, but you can wander down to the Pavilion or find your hosts if you need them. Inside, the van is cleverly fitted out – kitchenette, TV and comfortable seats, a queen bed – all with a bit of a tiny house vibe.
And the most important interior detail as far as I’m concerned? The ensuite. No shivering midnight sprints in the rain.
The van is sheltered by a stand-alone roof, with a roomy north-facing deck, giving sun on the coldest days. On the second night, when a wild wind sprang up on, we hunkered down inside with our favourite DVD, none the wiser. The heater and electric blanket kept us perfectly toasty in the depth of the Victorian winter. A night like that in a tent would have been a whole other experience.
I wouldn’t blame anyone for going no further than the deck all weekend, except maybe to take a hike up Mount Buggery (yes that’s really its name) at the back of the property. Don’t forget to chat to the horse and alpacas on the way. There are also touristy options – we did the pretty 30-minute drive over to Yea, or if you like a bit of cycling take your bikes for a ride along the rail trail.
If you’re there on a Friday night, do what we did and wander down the track to the Pavilion for the weekly wine bar and cafe. Great pizza, open fire, and plenty of friendly Strath Creek locals. We even scored the free entertainment of resident Village dog Angus playing chasey outside with another furry regular.
We took our food for the rest of the weekend. The nearest shop is a fair distance, but isn’t that really the point of getting away? And between the BBQ on the deck and the van kitchenette, there’s everything you need for comfortable self-catering. Including a pod coffee machine.
And that’s how it went. Starting the day with espresso by the fire, watching the kangaroos file across the ridge, and ending it nursing a wine at the fire with just the frogs for company.
If this is glamping, I’m a convert.
Christmas, jingle bells and kissing under the mistletoe might go together, but in the Aussie bush up our way Mistletoe is a killer.
Spy a dead or dying tree and invariably a quick search reveals the culprit as a mistletoe branch that somehow drains the tree of all its nutrients and so the tree itself dies.
The nearest of the four stately Yellow Box eucalypts overlooking our new house dam had a huge, prospering mistletoe branch that we’d not noticed until the dam went in. Not only did it worry us, it also spoiled the view.
But 10 metres of the ground above a steeply sloping bank, a ladder just wouldn’t reach.
Ros’s bridesmaid Sue Wilson from Tamworth called in yesterday and suggested throwing a rope over it and breaking off the branch. Why hadn’t we thought of that! And yes it worked.
So of course the joke goes…
Stand JR under the mistletoe and you might want to kiss the more attractive mistletoe instead.
Early Saturday morning visitors greeted me with “Do you work here? Do you manage it?”
Carting a small water tank on the back of my Toro buggy for plant watering, I guess I didn’t look too impressive.
When I responded: “In fact we own it…” surprised looks from our visitors gave way to a description of being at Adelaide Oval last week and while tuned in to the ABC, watching Chris Rogers and Gerard Whately doing the roof-climb of the stands to do their broadcast.
Soon I learned they were family of a wedding that afternoon at the nearby Flowerdale Estate – and I told them the bride Sara had sounded us out for a bit of cricket before the 4pm wedding, but in the end couldn’t quite pull it together.
Instead we’ve got a Buck’s day for a different group going on. The 3o-ish groom is getting married in Singapore soon to a long-term girlfriend, so 20 of his mates were sending him off at the VG in style.
“We’d thought of paint-ball, going to the races, and then a cycling tour up the Great Victoria Rail track from Tallarook to Mansfield, but wanted something simpler.
“When the thought of cricket came up, we discovered most guys had played just backyard cricket, but were keen to try it”, Ryan commented.
So they dressed for it, borrowing ‘whites’ from friends, and as the cricket started, so was the spit fired up, the music turned on (not too loud thankfully), and eskies positioned adroitly at square leg.
By the laughter, fielding spills, chat and sledging, they look to be enjoying themselves.
Pretty good pink-ball test, huh? Brought back a few memories for us too..
Just as Ros Rogers would shut her eyes to every ball as son Chris faced up in his test matches, she got the same amount of nervous – and did just the same – for the Queensland youngster Matt Renshaw.
Few debut batsman have ever faced a sterner test – having to bat with just 12 overs to go on Day 1 with the opposition throwing the kitchen sink at the openers; and batting under lights when the new pink ball is supposed to wobble and seam all over the place.
He’s a bit gawky is Renshaw with elbows and knees jutting all over the place, but what a great job he did in surviving to stumps. If Steve Smith had to go in and got out in the gloaming, then a ‘nil-3’ whitewash was a much more likely scenario than the eventual Aussie win.
Ros and I are both pretty uncomfortable with heights, so Chris being conned into commentating from the top of the stand didn’t exactly thrill us. Good pic though.
Back here at the Village Green, the oval and pavilion have never looked better after our best-ever winter and spring rains. We lost just one day’s cricket through wet weather, and the pitch had excellent bounce, pace and carry. We’ve been able to stripe the ground Adelaide Oval –style – and the roses are in full bloom, especially the ‘Greg Chappell’ orange ones and the ‘Sir Donald Bradman’ bank that are the colour of cricket balls. The pink ‘Jane McGrath’s’ are also doing well.
We’ve a “Buck’s Weekend” booking in our bunkhouse this weekend with 16 or so guys extra keen to get out on the Oval.
Our Friday night cafés are increasingly popular with the locals and quite a few people from towns 30-40kms away – Kilmore, Seymour, Broadford Flowerdale and Yea – are coming out to sample Ros’s home-cooking, and sit on the balcony with a cool ale or glass of wine as the sun sets.