Last weekend we stepped back in time.
We don’t often return to the same camp spot but the historic timber town of Noojee drew us back in.
We last visited in January 2014, when we camped here with our kids, dogs and close friends. Last weekend, at my suggestion to said same friends, we went back, braving the cold and wintery conditions for two nights.
Noojee is less than two hours from Melbourne, about 129kms, making it an easy destination for day trippers and overnight campers.
It’s an adventurous playground for off roaders with some seriously good dirty fun to be had, especially after rain.
We had originally planned to camp at Toorongo Falls, however the huge muddy reserve was barricaded and closed to campers, so we ended up back at The Poplars, the same campsite we stayed at four years ago
One of the highlights of a weekend in Noojee is a visit to the old timber Trestle Bridge. This bridge, spanning 102 metres and 21 metres high, is one of the tallest surviving wooden trestle bridges in Victoria, a legacy from the old railway that ran from Noojee to Warragul.
Perhaps the most popular walk in the area is to Toorongo Falls, an easy circuit of 1.5km, which leads deep into mountain ash forest and towering tree ferns alongside the Toorongo River.
Amid the lush greenery and giant trees there’s heaps to see along the path … funghi, snails, moss on rocks, frothy streams that look like rice mounds.
Little reminders to just slow down, look around and take it all in.
The track follows the cascading Little Toorongo River up a winding gully track, leading eventually to a viewing platform. There, standing near the impressive falls the drifting spray settles on your face and reminds you that you’re alive.
Onward we continued, to the stunning Amphitheatre Falls.
It was a leisurely walk, although after the rain the night before, the path was, at times, slippery.
Fortunately we all had sturdy walking shoes on, always necessary when you’re stepping into an adventure.
Looking down at the cascading waterfall is a rush in itself.
There’s something about being around water that soothes the soul (and stirs the vertigo). Much like staring at a fire, it’s hypnotic, both the flow of water and the rush of fire.
“Where there is desire there’s gonna be a flame … But first you gotta get the wood.”
Collecting firewood might not sound exciting but with us it’s always an adventure. We turned off Loch Valley Road and found ruts, and steep tracks.
This time no one got bogged, and no trees blocked our path, though Norm, our fellow traveller, had the bash plate ripped from underneath his Jeep.
Back at camp it’s chilly and time to light the fire. The biggest decision is not what to throw over the coals for dinner but what drinks to have beforehand.
There’s a track next to the flowing creek, which is nice for an amble. Despite the fact that our kids aren’t with us there’s a sense of deja vu from years ago.
There were, however, some big differences. Last time it was summer, this time it’s winter. We’ve all upgraded our campers and cars. We now have an Outback Dove and our friends, who had an Eagle, now have a ‘five star Hilton Hotel’ on Wheels.
With a kookaburra on top!
Some things, however, remain the same: the flowing creek, the starry nights, the same mesmorising effect the fire has on me as I sit and gaze into the flickering of its flames.
Even though I wasn’t feeling well on Saturday night and I had a bad case of vertigo and feeling off balance, the warm campfire was soothing.
And no, I hadn’t drunk too much wine!
With the temperature dropping below zero that night, away from the fire and inside our camper, with no power, it was arctic.
As I so passionately declared to my other half at midnight …
“This van is colder than a fucking igloo.”
Yes, it was mighty cold, but it was great to visit Noojee again, to check out the new Heritage Centre at the restored Noojee station and drive new tracks. Exploring the unexplored.
Memories are nice but it’s important to keep making new ones to keep the flame alive.
That’s why I love travelling. Even if we go back to the same place, our experiences are different and our perspective a little changed, as we see places through new eyes.
My real love is to go deep into nature and find a campsite by a creek. Here I can read a bit, write a little, settle down as the kookaburras eventually quieten their laughter and lose myself in the glow of the campfire.
Here I can smell and listen to the bush, as it goes to sleep, and wake up just a little bit more connected to the planet.
That’s if I haven’t frozen to death during the night!
Maybe next time I’ll suggest going to Hawaii.
May you all find your place of peace and tranquility.
Have a beautiful week. Keep making those awesome memories and enjoy the journey.
In light and love.
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Outanabout YOLO “You only live once”