Easter this year had fallen close to my Dad’s 60th birthday and the birth of my new niece, so we wanted to get together to celebrate with the family. Keeping the location closest to my brother and his newborn, we locked in a trip to Horsham staying at the Horsham Riverside Caravan Park. There we met with my parents and siblings and the afternoon was spent relaxing together around the camper an later enjoyed fish and chips for dinner, along with a few too many red wines.
The morning’s walk sunrise and the corella’s Party Tree.
The Saturday morning Fletch and I woke early and decided to go for a walk along the river to see if we could find any possums. It was still dark at this point, so I held out hope we would chance a sighting, which luckily came through with two jumping from tree to tree and climbing into one of the old riverside huts. As the sun began to rise (an amazing sight over the river by the way), the corellas started to get more vocal to which Fletch commented “the parrots are being very loud, they must be having a party!” With the sun up Fletch decided it was passed time to go around and wake up everyone, firstly my sister and brother in their tents and then my dad in his cabin (my mum never one to sleep in we found on the river trail going for a run).
The hike through the valley to Fish Falls
By 9am we’d hit the road heading to The Grampians to check out some walks and lookouts before heading to Halls Gap for lunch to meet with my Aunty, Uncle and Cousin. First stop was Zumsteins, a small area (carpark) with multiple walks from it. We wandered around the creek running by the carpark before hiking the 2.3kms to Fish Falls. Now for some reason us blokes decided thongs would suffice for the day ahead, which at 1.5kms into the hike I had utterly regretted. I think we all at some point muttered that these falls better be worth it as we shared carrying the kids on our shoulders or backs.
Fish Falls and my brother and I taking in the view
The hike itself was actually pretty easy and the views amazing, whether it was through the bush following the creek or along the mountain’s edge looking down into the valley. Eventually we rounded one last bend and the falls presented themselves and thank the gods they were spectacular. It was a relief to know the hike was definitely worth it upon seeing the water cascading down three levels in the rock face with crystal clear pools all around. My brother, sister, Fletch and I were first to arrive, with the others lagging behind thanks to our little hiker Immy and her little legs. By this stage, we had climbed all over the massive boulders and rock faces up and around the water falls. It was an great spot to explore with the kids and would be even better in summer cooling off in the pools and creek below the falls.
On the walk back we were again in two groups. The first lead by Fletch, who now had a stick in hand helping him walk faster like Nonna, and Immy leading us in the rear guard, not concerned with pace instead checking every rock and stick along the way. Eventually we made it out and went on up to Halls Gap to have lunch in the park. Wowee, Halls Gap is busy at Easter! People everywhere! Not a spot I would like to stay on a long weekend if I can help it, but definitely would stay a random weekend to see more of the town and the Grampians.
The view from near the car park at The Balconies lookout (Amanda and kids to the far left)
After lunch and ice creams, Amanda and I decided to take the exhausted kids back for a sleep, whilst the others stayed to check out the Venus Baths (which were dry and underwhelming by all accounts). The kids were still awake by the time we reached the Balconies Lookout, so spontaneously we decided to check it out. Just a quick note first, if you can try and get a park up top as it looked like a far slog to walk up the hill from the main road, luckily we managed to get a park in the top car park. One of the visitors told us the actual Balconies Lookout was a similar view to that from the car park, so we stayed close rather than walk the indicated 1 km. We bypassed the viewing platforms, climbed through the boulders to the cliff’s edge and found ourselves seated at one of the highest points around with an unimpeded view. We would have loved to spend longer there with the kids exploring in and around the boulders and taking in the amazing views, but tired two year olds’ need to sleep.
That night we all ate at the Victoria Hotel in Horsham for Dad’s 60th. It was there I met my niece for the first time and ran to get the first cuddle for the night. It wasn’t to last though as Fletch and Immy stole her from me every time I got my chance. It was really nice to see them take an interest and fall in love with their new cousin.
The Easter Egg Hunt
On the Sunday, after the Easter egg hunt (always fun!), we all drove out to Natimuk, about 20 minutes out of Horsham, to visit a farmers market on that morning. I love markets, even if I don’t buy anything, it’s just nice to wander around and talk with the stall owners about their produce or crafts. Immy became obsessed with a specific stall that had various hair paraphernalia, wanting the yellow bows so she can be “like Emma Wiggle” and the clips, specifically the “Elsa and Anna one!” With grandparents, aunts and uncle doting on her she left with five clips and ties in her hair, a walking advertisement for that stall. On the way out of town we stopped at a couple of garage sales, picking up some bargains and chatting with one of the home owners who lived in a renovated church and was selling unique antique kitchen ware.
That afternoon we were all spent from the previous day in the Grampians and relaxed by our camper enjoying each other’s company and some drinks. Amanda and I managed to get away for a walk without the kids, a moment of peace that was an absolute gift. It was also a chance to catch up with some of the other campers, who praised our kids at how well behaved they are “a credit to us as parents” I think were their exact words. We were completely surprised by the compliment as we felt they had been rather difficult, especially the two year old Immy who has now been promoted to the big leagues as a professional two year old, full of attitude, tantrums and stubbornness!
An alleyway in historic Beaufort
On the way home we stopped off at Beaufort, a cute little town with many historic buildings and plenty of cafes and nick-nak stores to chose from. Immy and Fletch are really showing that they have very different personalities developing with Fletch a mirror of Amanda and Immy more like myself. When overtaking a truck Fletch worriedly exclaimed “too fast Daddy!” Immy a second later yells “again Daddy faster!” Seems great now, but as a father I’m worried about what that girl is going to put us through.
This was our second official holiday in the camper at caravan parks and it is becoming clear about how much our lives have lost that personal interaction and communication. Many times you will walk passed a stranger at their site and stop for a chat. You learn about them, their camping setup, the places we should go, the tips and tricks with travelling they have learnt. Yes for the most part you can Google all this, but nothing beats having a chat with someone face to face. What was so normal 10-20 years ago feels so foreign now and makes you realise more and more that you should just put your phone/tablet/laptop down and chat with the people around you. You never know who you might meet or what you might learn.
The best place to follow Josh’s adventures with his family is on his Instagram site @josh.duthie. You can see this post and more Adventures of Duth by clicking the link below.