I HAVE a confession to make ...
Over forty years ago, I left the small Gippsland town of Trafalgar, where I grew up, for university and the bright lights of Melbourne. In the intervening years, I’ve lived in Melbourne, Sydney, Boston and Washington DC, with regular international holidays and several years of interstate commuting within Australia. I saw myself as a city girl and, perhaps, even a global citizen.
Over the past few years, I’ve made several trips of rediscovery through the green rolling hills and pretty townships of the Bass Coast and South Gippsland. Let me share with you some of my adventures and the delights that await if you, too, are tempted to enjoy slow, local travel.
Each February, the Italian festa in Mirboo North contributes to the broadening of my hips – spinach and ricotta cannelloni, caponata, arancini and cannoli. Fortunately, tarantella dancing, flag throwing, singing and other activities serve as breaks between culinary indulgence.
Less than 15 minutes east of Fish Creek, the town of Foster featured in a Gardening Australia episode for its welcoming approach to “street eats”. Over the past decade, the council gardeners have planted vegetables as part of their landscaping of nature strips and roundabouts. Local residents enjoy the reaction of visitors who are surprised at the bountiful harvest of vegetables and herbs that are free to pick and enjoy. Depending on the season, the main street can be lined with huge stalks of corn, eggplants, tomatoes, rhubarb, chillis and a wide variety of herbs.
Finally, even though I am neither a surfer nor even a swimmer, I love the rugged coasts and secluded beaches of the Bass Coast. Each time I drive from Melbourne, my heart sings when I reach Kilcunda and spot the wild waters of Bass Strait. From there, I sometimes take a detour through Cape Paterson so I can enjoy the spectacular Bunurong Coast. There’s an abundance of nature to observe – birdlife, whale watching, marine life in rock pools and significant dinosaur fossil sites. Heading east from Inverloch (the site of an annual jazz festival), Venus Bay offers 24km of unspoilt white sand beaches, with its strong currents being suitable only for experienced swimmers and surfers.
I have a confession to make ...
I’ve been enjoying my slow travel in Gippsland so much that, after forty years of city life, I embarked on a sea and tree change and moved to Inverloch in August 2020. While I had expected that it would be difficult to make friends during the lockdown, I quickly met many of my neighbours who warmly welcomed me to my new home.
As more activities opened up, I’ve been enjoying the adventures of “home and away” weekly walks with the Inverloch Walkie Talkies and learning about volunteering opportunities with the South Gippsland Conservation Society.
Other unexpected delights have included the ability to buy boxes of fresh vegetables at local farm gate stalls, the amazing night skies free of light pollution (I’m now looking for astronomy classes), and the diversity of wildlife. A mob of about 40 kangaroos graze about 500m from my house; I’m learning to make loud noises to warn snakes of my approach on bush walks; I discovered “bats in the belfry” (or my roof) and large huntsman spiders are all too frequent visitors inside my home.
The city girl has returned to her country girl origins.
This article is an updated version of one that was originally written by Sharon Willcox and published by Flight Free Australia, an organisation that promotes awareness of the carbon emissions generated by aviation.