— CNP

Stuart’s Farm

Stuart

We set off early saturday morning and Anne-Louise woke me with her arrival to pick me up. As i frantically got ready, she and Benedict zipped off to the Queen Vic markets for some spicy lamb boreks, which certainly suited my unkempt state. Picked up Stu and away we went to Wilson’s Promontory. It started raining on the way there, even though Melbourne’s forecast was “fine and 30”, but then i really should’ve checked the rural forecast. Anyway, the Prom’s national park looked amazing in the low clouds and drizzle … all heathy and scrubby and rugged and cretaceous like bits of Tasmania. Headed to Squeaky Beach, to meet Emily and Claire who had gone down to Yarram (Claire’s hometown nearby) the night before. The wind was lashing cold rain about the place when we got to the carpark but Claire’s aunt and uncle, sitting in parked car listening to radio, said the girls and Claire’s brothers were down at the beach swimming. Well i’ll be fucked if i was going to let a chance to swim slip by, so we all agreed to don togs and run down to the beach quick-smart before we froze (no point wearing clothes, it was bucketing down). Sooo teen-movie-dramatic with thick grey skies, epic boulders and hills, massive waves and a white-sand beach deserted bar us (we just needed a pumping Michael Nyman score and maybe a twist involving a dangerous rip). The water was almost warmer than the air but it was largely adrenaline and giggles that kept us alive. Much much fun. Salty hot chips afterwards too.

Then on to Yarram and Won Wron, where Stu’s parents have a dairy farm set amongst hills and bushland. Had a quick tour, then a feast of a meal, barbecued snags, lamb chops, venison and rabbit, with apricot relish, tabouli and pasta salad. Finished off with great stories from Stu’s folks and a bowl of plum and apple crumble. It was still raining … we had brought it with us … but it was time for spotlighting.

So, on went the rain jackets and gumboots and out came the quad-bike and trailer. Three on the quad-bike, three standing on the trailer and we were off. Soon we’d spotted two magnificent wild deer, a bunch of wombats, some kangaroos, a koala, a flock of very funny ducks, a rabbit, a fox, a possum, a wallaby and a little frog. All seen while zooming about at unsafe speeds across paddocks, over hills and down motorbike tracks through dense bush. The laughter and balance required left my abdominals aching. Standing on the trailer was brilliant with the rain cutting our eyes and the mud from the quad-bike’s back wheels splattering our faces, eyes and mouths wirthout us even realising it.

Back at the ranch, so to speak, we warmed and desiccated ourselves in front of a log fire in the humble “music room” and eventually managed to squeeze in enough mattresses to sleep all of us in there. The whole weekend was like a joyously regressive leap back into childhood … having adults wait in the carpark while we swam, being fed a sumptuous meal, quad-bike mayhem, and now a slumber party. It even reminded me of bucolic childhood scenes in Sweden.

I was the only one to wake with Stu the next morning for the milking and boy am i glad i did. Though manual milking is clearly much more pastoral-romantic, i was perfectly happy to just glide on the suction cups and let the wonders of a vacuum do the work for me. 143 cows later (i did about 3, i didn’t want to get in the way too much) and it was time for brekky … more kid food, porridge and raisin toast, yeah!!! Cups of tea, more rain outside, more stories inside and then it was time to leave for a drive up into a temperate rainforest wonderland and a hill-top guest house for scones and pumpkin soup. Then down the other side, past a massive coal power station for a very different kind of grandeur and back to Melbsville, straight to my tutoring job.

See the photos.