Through my eyes: Beechworth Cemetery, Victoria

We had a quick backyard adventure last weekend, spending a night in Beechworth – with the old streets lined with big, leafy trees, it’s the most stunning place in autumn as they all turn golden, orange and crimson…

Last Sunday morning, husband asked what I wanted to do with the morning. I wanted to take a nice stroll; through the cemetery. I know, I’m weird.

The Beechworth Cemetery sprang up in the 1850s, along with the gold rush, huge influx of people to the town, and outbreaks of disease as a result of the less than civil living conditions. Their website states that “Between 1853 and 1860, an average of one child per week died of disease including measles, scarlet fever, dysentery, diphtheria and typhoid.” Pretty grim numbers…

Despite the nasty start, the cemetery is an important place to the community. Again, from their website (because I couldn’t possibly word this any more eloquently),

Lives are commemorated – deaths are recorded – families are reunited – memories are made tangible – and love is undisguised – This is our Cemetery.

Communities accord respect – families bestow reverence, historians seek information and our heritage is thereby enriched.

Testimonies of devotion, pride and remembrance are recorded and preserved to pay warm tribute of accomplishment and to the life – not the death – of a loved one. Our Cemetery is homeland for memories that are a sustained source of comfort to the living.

The Cemetery is a history of people – a perpetual record of yesterday and a sanctuary of peace and quiet today.

Our Cemetery exists because every life is worth living and remembering – always.

The cemetery is laid out in sections – Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Methodist United, and so on. Two of the more fascinating areas for me were the Chinese Section and the Strangers Section.

The Chinese Section was introduced to accommodate the Chinese who passed away after coming to Beechworth to get in on the gold rush, so that they’d have a place to cater for their cultural needs. This includes not only grave sites with simple markers, but also the two Chinese Burning Towers, used to burn offerings and gifts for the afterlife.

As for the Strangers area, as per the Cemetery website: “An area has been set aside for the purpose of the burial of bodily remains of deceased poor persons.” This was an area for those who came to Australia to look for gold, and were killed before they could return to their homes. This was also an area for those whose religions were unknown. And, given there was an asylum located there, well…

 

Next time you’re in Beechworth, take a drive down Balaclava Road and take a stroll through some local history. It may not be the most obvious romantic weekend walk, but it’s more peaceful and beautiful than you’d think 🙂

Photo essay: We learn to bend so that we won’t break

 

We learn to bend so that we won’t break.  Those are our options.

A part of me wants to tell the world I have been hurt too many times to move ahead.
A part of me wants to justify how my pain has left me frozen, petrfied, and unable to let go.
A part of me is so afraid to look at what is hurting me that it would rather escape than face it.
A part of me us afraid to see because it knows that in seeing, I will be asked to let go. And that in letting go, I will be asked to be reborn. And that in being reborn, I will have to uncover who I truly am.

But another part of me knows in every ounce and inch of its being that I am serving no one,  not one single life by staying asleep.
A part of me is beckoning me to move up and out from all of the places of ungrowth, the dark rooms of stagnant air.
A part of me is being propelled out into this great wilderness, and asking to discover the power hidden within the creases of my skin, resting on the tips of my eyelashes, travelling in the veins that surge through me.

You are longing to be more alive.
You are longing to be fully present to your one, precious life.
You are not afraid.
You are ready, dear one, to be accountable, to be wholly responsible for your life.

 

If you can relate to any of those words, I’d really recommend taking 10 minutes out of your day to listen to Sarah Blondin’s full meditation right here from the Live Awake Project. As for the photos, they were all taken in Warburton last week, while I was there taking a little time away from it all, learning to bend 🙂

Eat here: Healesville Hotel, Victoria (Modern Australian)

Healesville Hotel
256 Maroondah Hwy, Healesville
http://www.yarravalleyharvest.com.au/index.php

Know what’s fun to do on a long weekend? Take a quick road trip. For those of us Melbournians with Monday off (hooray for Labour Day!), might I suggest a quick trip out to the Yarra Valley? You can even make it a day trip if you don’t have the time to spend a night out there; the views are stunning and the food is great!

Last weekend involved a road trip out to the Yarra Valley for a friend’s wedding, and we decided to make the most of it but heading to Healesville early for some lunch before the late afternoon ceremony. We were in the mood for nibbles, and saw some great options on the menu of the Healesville Hotel, so out of the hot midday sun and into the air conditioned and wooden floored hotel we went.

Sitting conveniently close to Kitchen & Butcher and Sanctuary Harvest (it’s actually an amazing little group of food-and-drinkeries), the produce available is amazing. K&B in particular is a favourite of mine – in their own words, think country butcher meets deli meets bakery meets charcuterie. Those are a few of my favourite things.

We went with the K&B Charcuterie Board with assorted meats and pickles, and the coal baked sweet potato, cashew & chili dip with grilled flatbread. And a beer for the husband and an Aperol Spritz for me. At $70.00, it was not a cheap feed, but it was a damn good one. It seems we’ve been saving non-stop for one trip after the other for the past several years, so we don’t often treat ourselves like this. But sitting there with this spread, it was really nice to indulge a little, appreciate the amazing quality of produce we have in Australia, and forget about budgets and saving for a little while 🙂

The Harvest next door is one of my favourite spots in Healesville, too – the most incredible pastries and cakes, and the best place to stop for a cup of coffee or pot of tea! And if you need a few other ideas on what to do with your time in Healesville, this might be helpful 🙂

Healesville Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tea time: The Village Larder, Woodend, VIC 

The Village Larder
81 High St, Woodend
http://www.thevillagelarder.com.au/

Going back in time today because it’s cold and I’d rather be sitting in front of a fireplace with tea and scones. Unfortunately, I’m fairly stationary today, but when you’re taking a road trip and it’s freezing cold and raining a little bit and you’re not quite there yet, you gotta stop for hot tea and coffee. On our way from Melbourne to Bunjil Farm, we passed through the sweet little town of Woodend, and The Village Larder looked like the perfect place to stop off and warm up.

If I lived here, this would be my regular tea house. It was perfect; warm and cosy, owing mostly to the fire place (heaven!), cute random fabric curtains, the most gorgeous old wooden counter and plenty of space to sit and read and relax.

Tea and coffee were both delicious, and so was the sultana scone, warmed up and served with delicious berry jam and cream. I also really loved the two drawings stuck to the coffee machine; one a beautiful pen sketch done by someone who was clearly a talented artist, and another done by a child, signed with their name. They both looked perfect there. It’s the simple stuff 🙂

The breakfast menu looked great, too – shakshuka, fig date & raisin toast, bacon + egg + avo + chipotle ciabatta and freshly squeezed juices… next time, I think I’ll want to leave a little earlier so I can have breaky instead of just morning tea!

 

The Village Larder Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A guest post from the husband – Drink here: Holgate Brewhouse, Woodend, VIC

Holgate Brewhouse
79 High St, Woodend, VIC
http://www.holgatebrewhouse.com/

On our way to Bunjil Farm the other weekend, we made a few stops on the way, including Woodend. It looked like a cute little town, and it’s also home to Holgate Brewhouse. You can eat, drink and even sleep there, and the food is apparently delicious, but we were there for one thing only: the beer. Husband is a fan of Holgate’s work, and wanted to stop in and have a look around.

It was a gorgeous building, with creaky old wooden floorboards, beautiful stained glass windows and plenty of seating. But this post isn’t about the building, it’s about the beer, and I don’t really know about beer, so I’m gonna hand this post over to a guest blogger, a beer baron, the most knowledgeable authority on beer that I know: the husband. He wasn’t really sure how to go about it, though, so he’s going to give his review on the 8 beers currently on the Holgate Brewhouse sample paddle roster.

TOP ROW from left to right:

1. Norton Lager
Holgate’s description: Our Kellerbier pours a pale straw colour and glows with a slight yeast cloud. The nose displays sweet, honeyed malt with some floral, citrus hop aroma. The palate has a fullness that comes with characteristic keller-style breadym honey malt flavour which is balanced refreshingly with lemon and grapefruit characteristics from the delicate use of Australian hops Ella and Vic Secret. The finish is clean and dry with every sip leaving a gentle, moreish bitterness on the back palate.
Husband’s verdict: “Pretty standard, run-of-the-mill lager. No real outstanding features and lacked flavour. Wouldn’t buy it again.”

2. Mt. Macedon Ale
Holgate’s description: Mt. Macedon dominates the landscape overlooking the Holgate brewery.  It’s massive, moody and magnificent – not to mention insanely popular with tourists and locals alike. No wonder they named it after our beer!The real Australian Pale Ale, using Australian grown Cascade, Ella and Topaz hops, balanced by a malt base of Australian Vienna giving this  brew a delicate caramel malt flavour. The result is a pale ale of broad appeal and, like the mountain, a local landmark.
Husband’s verdict: “I reckon it was basically a more flavourful and better version of the first one. It was like a good beer that would suit anyone – it’s not offensive, it’s a people-pleaser beer. This would be my choice if you were in for a long session.”

3. ESB (Extra Special Bitter)
Holgate’s description: Your new best friend. A long-standing favourite among beer enthusiasts and our most awarded beer. A classic earthy English bitter you meet in the pub and invite home for a round of snooker and darts. Paul Holgate’s northern English heritage finds a spirited expression in this deep amber bitter. Served on a traditional beer engine at the Hotel and tap room in Woodend, the ESB offers depth and complexity that makes it at once challenging and eminently drinkable. One of the two recipes that launched the Brewhouse in 1999, it includes English crystal and roast malts, an abundance of East Kent Goldings hops and is enhanced through dry hopping with a touch of Aussie Galaxy. Oh so moreish. Softly carbonated and served through traditional Beer Engine at 8-10 Deg C at Holgate Brewhouse, this beer is a great accompaniment with full flavoured dishes – beef, game, duck.
Husband’s verdict: “I think it’s one of their more well-known beers and rightfully so. I haven’t tried many other beers like it before so it was hard to compare, but I loved it, probably my favourite beer on the paddle.”

4. Road Trip American IPA
Holgate’s description: The Perfect Holgate family holiday? A US Pacific North-West beer tour, of course. Result? Our 2009 odyssey to hop heaven lives on in this tribute to the spiritual home of craft beer. A super-charged but dangerously sessionable All-American hop-bomb, this golden hued IPA is loaded up with multiple additions of Chinook, Centennial and Citra hops from the Pacific Northwest of the USA, resulting in an explosion of piney, citrus and grapefruit flavour and aroma. 
Husband’s verdict: “Me being a BIG fan of IPAs, I naturally found it bloody good, however not a lot different from a standard IPA, but it was very nice.”

 

TOP ROW from right to left:

5. Temptress Chocolate Porter
Holgate’s description: Some beers just won’t take no for an answer. A sultry seducer, this luscious winter warmer infused with Dutch cocoa and whole vanilla beans takes an old story somewhere new and bewitching. In 2008, we introduced a swing in the hips and gleam in the eye to our classic porter recipe, with the inspired addition of rich cocoa and vanilla to an already robust brew. Together with a belnd of seven malts, the result is a complex palate of alluring chocolate, coffee and caramel flavours, balanced by a hint of vanilla. Be tempted! Softly carbonated and served through traditional Beer Engine at 8-10 Deg C at Holgate Brewhouse, this beer is a A perfect accompaniment to meat pies and chocolate-based desserts. 
Husband’s verdict: “Super. One of the best dark beers I’ve ever had. Walked away with a 4 pack, would have been a slab, but it was a little pricey for what it is. The fact that Jess hates beer and actually enjoyed this one was a super effort!”

6. Hop Tart (sour pale ale)
Holgate’s description: Light and hazy gold, Hop Tart has a zesty aroma of citrus and bright tropical fruits. The flavour awakens the palate with a surprising hit of sourness that blends beautifully with the lemony hop character. The finish is sour, dry and refreshing. A true new world beer, not bound by any style but led by the brewers longing for a quenching summer ale.
Husband’s verdict: He really didn’t like this one. At all.

7. Kristallweizen
Holgate’s description: Literally “crystal wheat.” A Kristallweizen is a filtered pale Weissbier or Hefeweizen, the German wheat ale. It pours “crystal”-clear rather than yeast-turbid. In all other respects, it is not different from an unfiltered wheat beer. It is spritzy-effervescent and refreshing and appealing to the eye. Like its Heferweizen counterpart, Kristallweizen develops a richly-textured, firm, white head in the glass.
Husband’s verdict: “Generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of wheat beers, but as far as they go, this was a really good one. If you like Hoegaarden, you’ll love this.”

8. Millennium Falcon
Holgate’s description: Millennium Falcon pours a bright golden. The aroma is a blast – a super-fruity confectionary cocktail of juicy pineapple, tart citrus, stone fruit, boiled lollies and bubblegum. On the palate the fruity melange is underpinned by a bold, evergreen hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is full and luxurious yet the finish is dangerously dry.
Husband’s verdict: “Best part about this beer was the cool name and it all went down hill after that. Strangely had no smell to it at all, however it had plenty of flavour. It was a strange taste, though, that just didn’t work for me. Maybe it’s a beer that grows on you after a while, hard to tell with such a small amount. I would warn people when drinking this that the 10% alcohol percentage might punch them in the face.”

Husband’s closing thoughts:
“In my opinion, it was the best layout and building of any brewery I’ve ever been to. Disappointed I didn’t try the Pilsner or Hopinator, but will be heading back there very soon with some mates and will give them a go then. One of my mates said he had a brown ale there that was one of the best beers he’s ever had, so as soon as they put this back on the menu I’ll make the drive up.”

Through my eyes: Kyneton Botanical Gardens, Victoria

Kyneton Botanical Gardens

IMG_6258

Carpeted by miraculously still green grass and fallen autumn leaves, the Kyneton Botanical Gardens are beautiful on a winter’s day. Take a walk along the water, sit and read under the trees, relax…

IMG_6269

IMG_6263

IMG_6265

IMG_6267

Stay here: a backyard mini-break at Bunjil Farm, Victoria

Bunjil Farm
Kyneton-Springhill Road, Lauriston, VIC
http://bunjilfarm.com.au/

IMG_6277

It’s hard to narrow down the list of favourite bloggers, but Lisa Eats World is certainly up there. I love the way she writes, and as a fellow Melbourne girl, I love reading about her new discoveries in and around the city. It was one of those discoveries she wrote about a few months ago that gave me massive adventure-envy; her visit to Bunjil Farm out in Kyneton, Victoria. After reading her post twice and following the link through to the farm’s website, I emailed the lovely Lyn straight away to make a booking, too.

When I read about the gorgeous 1850’s settler’s hut that Lisa stayed in, the idea of curling up by the fire on a cold winter’s night with a good book and mug of hot tea was utterly irresistible to me. I often venture out on little country Victoria trips solo, but the husband joined me this time – the promise of a fire place-warmed hut away from it all had him hooked, too.

IMG_6287

A drive up through Macedon, Woodend and Kyneton brought us to Bunjil Farm, run by the lovely Lyn Stephenson, and her two furry sidekicks, Eddie and Zoe. Lyn’s property is open, lush and absolutely stunning, performing double duty as both accommodation for escape artists like us, and a hemp farm. Hemp, for the record, is not the same as marijuana; Lyn’s crops are grown under license, subject to strict testing, and are used to produce, oil, textiles and building materials. You learn something new every day…

IMG_6289

But, back to the accommodation side. Paying homage to the original owners of this nation, the farm was named after Bunjil, the creator of the earth (you can read more about Bunjil’s story here), and you can see that there are so many details of the farm that have been carefully thought out with respect for the earth in mind. There are a few options for accommodation at Bunjil Farm, but I knew it had to be the settler’s hut for us. Unlike Lisa, who visited in summer, we were there on a particularly cold winter’s night, so the fireplace was a huge selling point for us.

IMG_6274

This beautiful little hut has been carefully restored and kept as close to the original 1850’s version as possible, without compromising too much on modern comforts. There’s no TV or stereo or central heating, but there are very comfy couches, the aforementioned magnificent fireplace, and space to read, write and draw. The stone floors, while beautiful, are also pretty cold if you visit in winter, so pack your wooly socks!

The kitchen is divided over the room, with a big wooden cabinet holding your breakfast provisions, tea, coffee, flatware and what not. The water in the hut is bore water, so a large glass vessel full of fresh drinking water is provided, too. A sink over in the opposite corner, however, holds modern luxuries like a toaster, mini fridge, electric kettle and dishwashing detergent.

IMG_6275

IMG_6280

The bathroom was stunning, with the original plumbing still on display in the shower, but with modern plumbing actually in use, which means there’s not long to wait for a nice, hot shower. Thank goodness. And nice, fluffy towels are provided for you, as are some good, old fashioned hot water bottles to keep you warm and toasty at night – I hadn’t used a hot water bottle in YEARS, but was incredibly grateful that Lyn had the foresight to mention them as the temperature dropped later in the evening!

IMG_6283

IMG_6284

The bedroom was simple and the bed was very comfortable – lots of big pillows to rest our heads on and a double doona situation kept us nice and warm overnight. There was also a very efficient plug in heater that warmed the bedroom up perfectly.

IMG_6281

Head out the back and say hi to your neighbours, too – we met some absolutely beautiful horses that Lyn keeps on her property for one of the city’s horse-and-cart owners. One was a bit feisty, but the others were incredibly placid and sweet-natured, and very photogenic – you’ll see their photos on a post I wrote on Monday. This gorgeous red-head followed us along the fence line, gently nudging our hands with his nose, to get a bit of a pat. We’re both huge animal lovers, so we were in heaven 🙂

IMG_6299

IMG_6301

You can also expect breakfast to be a pretty impressive affair, with Lyn providing everything you’ll need; yoghurt, fresh milk, eggs, a very fresh loaf of bread, jams, butter, muesli, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, even Vegemite! In my mind, eating that beautiful spread by the fireplace was picture perfect; in reality, it was more like two well-rested, pyjama-clad, large kids wolfing down toast like they hadn’t eaten in days. And this kid finished off the marshmallows that Lyn kindly left on the table, along with some nice, long metal swords, so that I could toast them over the fire. Oh. My. Goodness. I can’t even… The smell of a freshly lit fireplace is one of my favourite smells in the world, and if you could taste that smell, it’s be toasted marshmallows.

IMG_6278

Lyn was kind enough to come and see us off in the morning, along with Eddie and Zoe, her adorable little fur babies. We both desperately needed a break from life, and being able to literally switch off from life with no TV, put our phones away, not have to rush around to see or do anything, and just BE was amazing. Lyn’s created the most wonderful atmosphere at Bunjil Farm, making you simultaneously feel like you were totally at home and also a well looked after guest. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that I’ll be returning again; this is the ultimate stop and recharge mini break 🙂

IMG_8018