Old Favourites

Isn’t it a nice feeling to revisit old favourites?  Places, people, food, gardens, views, movies, books.  I wonder what your “old favourites” are?

Recently I had occasion to do just that.  Visit a favourite place with my favourite view, do a favourite activity and catch up with a great old friend .  Notice I didn’t say “favourite” friend.  I don’t have favourites amongst my friends – they are all special people.

Three weeks before, I’d had an SOS from Sarah – “Father/son weekend at boarding school, put your saddle in the car and come for the weekend”.  In other words “Tom’s away, the mice can play!”  So, on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning, the car packed with saddle, boots, plenty of warm clothes, cake and knitting, off I went!  Once out into the country, and singing along to John Denver (good driving music – really!), I was anticipating coming over the hill heading west from Ararat and that first glimpse of my favourite mountains – the Grampians.

Years ago – before husbands & children – I lived another life.  Five years was spent cooking for the jackaroos, and doing stock work on a 10,500 hectare cattle and sheep station on the eastern edge of the Grampians National Park.  The view from my kitchen window at Yarram Park was second to none – the light and it’s mood changing daily.  I cooked and washed-up looking across paddocks dotted with Red Gums and Hereford cattle, to the blue – sometimes grey – mountains that form a chain of rugged beauty, and the southernmost end of the Great Dividing Range.  Revisiting this area is always special – for many reasons – but seeing those mountains for the first time in a while is like coming home.

Major Mitchell Plateau

Major Mitchell Plateau

So it was on that sunny day in May I glimpsed that view again – and was nearly “home”.  Sarah lives at Thermopylae – along a (rough) red gravel road and the property borders the national park, nestling under the Major Mitchell Plateau, and Mount William.  Only a 15 minute drive from Yarram Park, the farm straddles the road and has beautiful views of the mountains, with Red Gums, sheep, emus, and far too many kangaroos competing for valuable pasture.

The welcoming committee was out in full, Spike the Jack Russell and the sheep dogs – named after Geelong footballers, Scarlet and Selwood.  Sarah emerged from “under” a pile of firewood to greet me and offer a warming cup of tea – and cake!  Then we caught the horses, saddled up and headed for the hills, accompanied by Selwood.  I hadn’t been on a horse for three years so I was a little apprehensive – glad she hadn’t told me before we went out that my trusty steed hadn’t been ridden for months!!

View from my horse

View from my horse

I can’t tell you how nice it was to be back in the saddle again – with Sarah and in that familiar country.  Like old times – over the years we have ridden a LOT of miles together, hunting, cattle work, Melbourne Show and others – and even dressed as”Bo” and “Peep” respectively in a sheep and wool parade in Hamilton!  (There are photos – somewhere, well hidden.)

Thermopylae reflections

Thermopylae reflections

Surprisingly, and thankfully, I could still walk the next day.  We had a lovely evening – dinner and a nice glass of wine from their own vines (Grampians Estate), then a cuppa in front of the fire.  This is where the knitting comes in!  We had a lovely long walk next morning – with all three dogs of course.  Need I tell you we chatted the whole weekend?  Well there was so much to catch up on, world problems to solve, plans to make, dreams to hatch, stories to tell!

That beautiful glimpse of blue

That beautiful glimpse of blue

Farm view

Farm view

Stunning old Red Gums

Stunning old Red Gums

Selwood overseeing his patch!

Selwood overseeing his patch!

Unfortunately the end was nigh – I had to leave.  Weekend over.  The working week loomed like a dark cloud.  But I will go back again sooner rather than later.  More chatting to do, horses to ride, photos to take, wine to drink and the view of the mountains to drink in – in long large gulps.

Grampians from Lake Bolac Ararat road

Grampians from Lake Bolac Ararat road