Friday, April 15, 2011

Travel ambitions

To quote myself, 'I always have travel ambitions'*. But my ambitions have been rather thwarted lately by the rest of my life - work, moving house, finances. It's now more than a year since my latest trip outside Australia, and I have nothing definite planned for the near future, though a friend and I are exploring possibilities...

So, in the meantime, I've planned some weekends away from Sydney to at least have the illusion of being elsewhere. Over an extended last weekend some friends and I spent time in Mount Victoria - the western-most town in the Blue Mountains - and in Orange for its F.O.O.D. Week.

We had a day in Mount Victoria at both the beginning and end of our time in Orange, which was probably wise to prepare for and then walk off the effects of some of the wonderful food we ate. At this time of the year, when the seasons are changing, autumn is always so much more advanced in the Blue Mountains than it is on the coast in Sydney. We stayed at a friend's house and had log fires, snuggly doonas, and an opportunity to wear not only knitted scarves and shawls but also knitted hats! (Gloves were still a step too far).

Even for someone as reluctant to exercise as I am, the walks around Mount Victoria are so beautiful they're restorative, with vast views from rocky outcrops across valleys

Valley view

ancient, worn rockfaces and cliffs

Cliff faceRed rockfaceContrast rocksCliffs

and the ragged, spikey beauty of the trees and bushes.

Spiney grassGrasses; bushesEucalyptsOld banksiasFernsBanksias

Orange is an inland city of about 30,000 people. It was one of the many inland towns where what was and is Aboriginal land was initially settled by pastoralists, and later expanded rapidly with the discovery of gold in the 1850s and 60s. Throughout my lifetime it's been known mainly for its orchards, particularly its cherries and apples, but over the last twenty years or so the town's been cultivating its reputation more generally as a region for fine food and local produce. Vineyards have been planted and cold weather wines from the area have become known and valued. Such variety is now produced that a shop in town is able to stock only local produce - organic fruit and vegetables, lamb, olive oil, vinegars, jams, chutneys, spreads, tapenades, nuts, biscuits, cheeses.

Last Saturday was a perfect, sunny, autumnal day and we did all the things that tourists to Orange should do. We began it with a visit to the growers' market where I bought olive oil, fig and olive tapenade, some hazelnut muesli and a whole kilo of fresh figs. From there we drove to a local vineyard - Patina - with a traditional cool-weather 'English' garden where we had a just-right picnic lunch of local food packed in a wicker basket and a glass of the resident winemaker's rose.


Late in the afternoon we strolled in the Botanic Gardens - populated with birds of all kinds and full of their calls back and forth,

Botanic Gardens lakeBotanic gardens

and made an end-of-the-daylight trip up a rather scary road to watch the sun set over the vast western landscape from Mount Canobolas.

Sunset, Mt Canobolas

And finally, one of the main reasons for the trip, we ate a perfectly judged dinner at the stylish 'hatted' local restaurant, Lolli Redini.

Sunday was wet, wet, wet. We were pleased we'd managed to fit so much into our Saturday, and after a leisurely brunch and potter around A Slice of Orange buying yet more local produce (blackberry jam, roasted pumpkin and rosemary dip, quince paste) we drove to nearby Milthorpe, a village of charming streetscapes, yet more hatted restaurants, small shops and galleries and, much to our delight, an old, unused, but well-maintained railway station. (In case you'd not noticed from my previous travel posts, my travelling friend Jan and I love railway stations).

Milthorpe streetscapeMilthorpe vinesMilthorpe Railway StationMilthorpe Railway Platform

I wonder at the changes in these inland towns and villages across my lifetime. Many of them began with the discovery of gold. Some survived to serve the needs of the surrounding farms, and others prospered as regional centres for health or educational centres or even developed small industries. But these towns now simultaneously revel in what they do best - their emphasis on 'localism' - while marketing their local identity to the world outside.

It was a great extended weekend away but, in the bittersweet way of such things, it has further increased my travel ambitions, rather than satisfying them.

* One Saturday morning towards the end of 2010 I was waiting with friends for the Library where we hold our local Knitters' Guild meetings to open. A young women approached our group and asked if we would be interested in being interviewed about our life preferences, interests, passions etc. Two of us agreed and discovered that the interviews were to be filmed and edited to become an advertisement for a well-known brand of health and vitamin supplements. I can't act. I become overwhelmed with self-consciousness. But ask me a question, or solicit my opinion on almost anything and I'll talk for ever. The interview finished and I was late for my meeting. I forgot all about it until a couple of months later when I was informed I was in the final cut of the advertisement and offered payment.

I appear in the ad for about 8 seconds and my contribution is 'I always have travel ambitions - always'. I guess if I and my passions are going to be represented by any six words, these are a very apt choice.


Lynne said...

A lovely summary of your weekend away accompanied by gorgeous photos.

Now, I'll have to pay attention to the ads (I often record and watch later, fast forwarding through them)just to hear/see you.


Sally said...

C'mon Lyn. Find it and link to it!!!! Your fans want to see!

Rose Red said...

Your trip sounds great - I hadn't realised Orange was quite the foody place that it now is. Think I might have to organise a weekend away there for myself!

It's also so nice to get away and have to pull out the winter woolies, not to mention have an open fire. We might have to get our fireplace going, even though it isn't really cold enough yet...

DrK said...

great photos lyn, and being travel ambitious is a bit contagious i think. the more i do the more i want to do! i love how orange has been able to remarket itself, its one of my favourite places. it was totally booked out on the weekend too!

1funkyknitwit said...

Orange is as pretty as I remembered it, such beautiful photos Lyn !

I haven't been in many, many years and a road trip looking at these photos may be in the cards once again because it's such a lovely part of NSW.

Glad you had a wonderful time :D

Brenda said...

I feel as if I've just met a kindred spirit. Someone as reluctant to exercise as I am. Yea, there are two of us.

Caffeine Girl said...

What a lovely trip. Thanks for sharing it! I so hope that someday I can visit Australia!

Donna said...

I am going to Orange this weekend for a week to conincide it with the farmers market before I return to Sydney on the Sunday.

My daughter moved there two weeks ago but we will be staying in a vineyard.

I am hoping to be able to get around and check out the area - I didnt want to drive so we are flying up.

I have crocheted a scarf and have lots of other woolies packed.

Really looking forward to shopping at a Slice of Orange.

Cath said...

I run the Orange Region Farmers Market so it was lovely to hear your comments. For others who want to discover this beautiful place and taste the region;s flavours - the market is held on the 2nd saturday of each month -