Bushwhacker Dan

Dan‘s been up in Beechworth for several weeks now, doing regional work to extend his visa. He’s working with Jezza’s dad Ross, putting up fencing and all sorts. I knew Dan was the outdoor type, but I didn’t expect he’d love it as much as he does. I’m starting to wonder if he’ll even come back to civilization.

Anyways, a bunch of us ventured up to visit him for a weekend. I hopped in Nat’s car and we took turns driving. She opted to take the (windy) scenic route. Windy’s fine, we weren’t in a rush. We stopped for a wee break in a place called Kinglake, not that far north of Melbourne. As she puffed on her cigarette she casually told me that the town was pretty much flattened by bushfires in 2009. Now, it’s getting into bushfire season at this point, so when a siren starts wailing (not like an emergency vehicle siren mind you, something more akin to an air raid siren) we’re like “yup, time to leave.” So we hit the road.

Eventually we hit Beechworth and found Dan’s shack. Nat had been before, but I was expecting something a little more… substantial? Turns out he’s shacked up in this tiny hut with no running water, no electricity, nothin’. A water tank outside gathers rainwater from the roof, which he can use for cleaning and drinking (filtered, of course). Other than that, he has a makeshift barbecue, a bed, plenty of bushes, and hopefully plenty of bog roll as well. Just, y’know, watch out for snakes and that.

We watched the sun go down and the fire go up. Our own fire that is, for barbecue and that, not some bushfire. Non. That is a thing that did not happen. Anyway, darned perdy sunsets in the bush.

Dan kindly provided me with a small one-man tent to kip in, so I got to work setting that up. Nat had her car to sleep in, so minimal preparation required on her part. We got the beers out and waited for others to arrive.

Cheezy punx

Cheezy punx

My housemate Raeng and her girlfriend Kim were the first to join us. Much later and we were joined by Jezza, Fayez and Rose (they had all the fun of pitching up their tents in the dark). Oh yeah, and Fayez’s dog Cossie. More drinks were drank, food was cooked and promptly eaten, and good times were had.

The plan for the next day was to hit up Beechworth to check out the Celtic festival they had going on, and then go to a lake that had formed in an old quarry (I think? Is that a correct thing?) for a wee swim. I didn’t bring my phone because it was running low on juice (and no means to charge it), and also my swimming shorts have limited pockets. The festival was pretty good, we saw a parade which included something like 7 or 8 (!!) pipe bands from all over Victoria. They were rate good, and I tells ya, there’s not much stranger than hearing traditional Scottish pipe band music in the middle of the ‘Strayan bush in 30+° heat. Oh, the dog parade was good an’ all, all such as scottie dogs and west highland terriers.
Then there was the lake swimming. Well that was a barrel of laughs alright! A rope swing attached high up a tree was the main event, we got a lot of good splashin’ jumping off that thing. It went right out an’ all, you could get some good air if you timed the jump properly. Yep, great fun. Even Cossie and Jezza’s dog Rosie got involved. Poor things were knackered by the end of the day. Actually, we were all pretty knackered. I should get swimming more, it’s a great workout.

So we headed back to Dan’s Shack for more beer, more food (including some DELICIOUS lamb smothered in some manner of chilli jam, holy moly, nice one Jezza) and more good times.

Sunday, last day, we were gonna hit up the creek that passes through Beechworth. Now I was expecting just an unassuming wee stream. We followed a road along the stream from Beechworth, along the ravine it had carved out of the rocks. Well, it only got more spectacular.

So that was pretty amazing, chilling in a pool precariously overhanging a massive drop. Amazing to look down from but probably even more amazing to look up at. I wish I got a photo of that, but the journey down was hella treacherous. That stone is mega slippy with wet feet. But it was good, we spent a good lot of time in the water and mostly managed to avoid getting too burnt. We headed back to Beechie to get some more drinks (I know, I know, but I knew I was going to be driving so that’s a no from me), and some lunch. It’s a cool wee place, feels like somethin’ out on a Westrin.

After that, Nat and I pitched off home, we’s gots works in the mornin’s. It was a slightly less interesting ride home along the Hume Highway. Then we got home and the adventure ended! It’s good to get away, but I do love getting back to civilization and a proper bed without (or at least, with less) fear of huntsmans crawling into my space. But it was a good time for sure, Beechie and the surrounding area is lovely, and of course it’s always a pleasure to cop a feel o’ Dan’s beard*.

*Not a euphemism.

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