Autumn in Beechworth

The driveway

We spent the last 3 weeks looking after a property about 10km out of Beechworth. Fifty five acres incorporating a significant area of native bushland, an orchard of about 2000 hazelnut trees and a couple of paddocks with 24 alpacas. One of the owners is a professional artist and both are avid collectors of artworks from around the world, so the house is beautifully decorated inside and with some wonderful manicured rockeries outside.

Front door View

Our charges were two large murray river retrievers and an old Burmese cat. The dogs could be a challenge, given they are hunters and once on a scent would ignore everything else. They did like a swim in the dams so we tried to do this every day or so.

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The greater area of this region is at its best in autumn. Most of the regional towns and many of the farms are planted out with deciduous trees – poplars, ashes, elms, maples oaks etc which are resplendent in their reds, yellows and oranges. Couple this with the stunning rural landscapes of green rolling hills dotted with cattle and sheep, the many vineyards in the same autumn tones at the trees and the backdrop of the Australian alpine mountains.. well, it is simply one of the most beautiful sights in the world. We spent most of our spare time touring around through the valleys – Mitta Mitta, Kiewa and Ovens, finding little dirt tracks that lead you along the classic mountain streams, through dense forests and up into the mountain with their amazing vistas.

At nights, it was back home to an open fire and perhaps sampling a little of the abundant local delicacies.

If you have not visited this region before, I highly recommend it. All seasons here have their beauty, but for me, autumn is the pinnacle for all the above regions. I think you would be a very hard person to walk away from time here and not be dazzled by it’s beauty, but give yourself some time. There is so much to see, you could spend years there and not discover it all.

These and more images from the region can be found at http://www.garyberesfordimaging.com/portfolio/beechworth

North to Kempsey

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Our new farmsit is in Kempsey, in north east NSW. Kempsey nestles in between Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour, sitting on the might Macleay river. It is the perfect base to explore the region and the choices are many. A very easy drive to the east finds you some of the best beaches in Australia – South West Rocks and Crescent Head to name just a couple. In-between these two, you have the thick bushland of Hat Head national park, with its own peaceful little beachside hamlet. To the west, there is huge choice of national parks and state forests to explore, and I intend to do as many of them as possible.

We drove up here from Melbourne over a couple of long days, stopping in Goulburn, south of Sydney for a night. I had forgotten how beautiful this drive is, with widespread forest and farm land, brief glimpses of water and mighty cuttings through the hills. Starting with the golden farmlands of summer Victoria, everything gets progressively greener the further north you travel. Kempsey itself is verdant, with that definite sub-tropic feel about it.

Our house is set on 33 acres about 16Km from town. We were to have a small flock of sheep to mind, but they were sold the day we arrived. Problems with dog packs had driven Paul, the owner, to sell them off. After loosing 37 head of sheep in one night to a pack of domestic dogs that are not restrained was heartbreaking, so the rest were shipped off. This leaves us in charge of the house, which is wonderful. It is very spacious, with a huge swimming pool, lots of “toys” (motorbikes, quadbike, a variety of ride-on mowers and a couple of Jaguars at our disposal, should we wish to partake…and who wouldn’t! One of our boundaries is the upper reaches of the Macleay River, a large, beautiful and relatively slow flowing affair. I was down there in the early morning and the water was like a mirror, broken by the occasional fish that would leap up to catch some insect on the surface. There are a myriad of birds of many varieties along with lots of dragonflies hovering about. I think I will be spending a few mornings down there…

Our one singularly most important charge for our stay is to look after the child replacement dog, Coco. When I heard that our responsibility was to a miniature poodle, my heart sunk a bit. I’ve never really been one for little dogs. I do have to say that this one has won me over a bit. She plays ball with total enthusiasm, is affectionate without being “in your face”, travels perfectly in the car with not a sound, eats very little, deposits her tiny bits way off in the garden, rarely barks, (and never at me), and is generally an all round good egg. Of course, I still require that Glenda takes her on the lead in public while I walk on the other side of the road…. she is, after all, still a poodle…

I haven’t yet explored much of the region, but what I have has been wonderful. Early morning mists with the sun peaking through lighting up the orb webs, long reflective rivers, birds and insects aplenty and distant mountain ranges tempting me toward them, its going to be a fun few weeks. There is lots to photograph and explore. I even caught a fish! As Glenda might explain, it is the most expensive fish in history, given the money spent recently in resurrecting the tackle, but I’m sure the cost per meal will keep coming down, angling gods willing.

MORE PHOTOS AT http://www.garyberesfordimaging.com

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Trawool Shed B&B

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Glenda and I spent the last week and a bit looking after a delightful B&B in Trawool, just south of Seymour, Victoria. This is an area that I’ve never really explored before, other than passing though on the way north. The Trawool Shed is situated a stone’s throw from the Goulburn river. This beautiful, fast flowing river is apparently full of a huge variety of fish, trout, murray cod, redfin etc, but our efforts to liberate them came to nought.

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The B&B itself is a lovely little green oasis, with spacious manicured gardens, quiet gazebo with comfy chairs, a couple of hammocks and fish ponds with running water to sooth the jangled nerves. The pet friendly accommodation is spacious and extremely comfortable. The property boasts some very productive chickens, which tends towards lovely breakfasts of eggs (and bacon and trimmings etc). They also are a store of amusing entertainment, watching their busy antics.

We had a brilliant time here. Put in charge of a full commercial kitchen, we never even considered eating out. I had forgotten what a pleasure it is to cook in these versus our tiny kitchen at home. We have mastered the poached egg, the omelette, all the trimmings etc. It’s very chuffing to see remarks from the people who have stayed like “The breakfast is incredible”… makes me puff my chest out just a tad.

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Our main reason for minding this establishment was to look after the pets, including two beautiful, but very different dog. On the one hand, we had Penny, a stately old black lab who loves a bit of quiet attention. On the other hand, we had Duncan, a short round ball of muscle of a Staffie. He is an absolute character. When he runs, his front legs get into a goose step while his back end gets into a rolling gait. They are both the friendliest of beasts and we miss having them around. There were also five Alpacas, who didn’t take a lot of looking after, but were fun to interact with.

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My original purpose with this trips is to photograph the rural countryside and there was plenty of great scenes around to keep my interest. At this time of year, all the hills in the region have taken on a warm, golden colour which compliments the blue skies very nicely. Some people may say I have a bit of an obsession with sheep and cattle, which may well be true. I love photographing them, both close up with their inquisitive faces or as part of a rural backdrop. There was some lovely farmland around, with rolling hills, enormous boulders, pretty little dams and billabongs, and quite a few kangaroos bounding amongst the stock, just to remind us where we were.

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The cockatoos and galahs were around in plenty, and again, one can spend time easily watching their interplay. They are beautiful birds visually (if not audibly)

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One treat we had was finding the Village Green Cricket Ground. If you start at Strath Creek and meander through the hilly cattle country for about 5 or 6 Km, you come across a green oasis in the middle of nowhere. The ground is surrounded by a white picket fence, the wooden pavilion is beautifully kept with rose gardens in bloom all around. The owners are John and Jan Rogers, the parents of current test cricket opener, Chris Rogers. We were the only visitors that day and John was happy to show us all is great memorabilia, both from day well past and of his Chris’s more recent exploits. We shared a beer or two and then Jan whipped up some scones, jam and cream. It was like stepping back a hundred years to less complicated time.

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We had a fantastic time, loved meeting new people who came to stay at the B&B and hope they went away happy and full of a great breakfast. Seriously, if you are after a relaxing getaway, only about an hour from Melbourne, look them up. You won’t be disappointed. You may even find us there again, as we hope to return to look after the place again when the owners, Lindy and Bruce, need another break.

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Farewell to Jindabyne

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Sundown on our first long term housesit, and Glenda & I were very sad to say goodbye. If all our future sits are as marvellous as this one, it will be difficult to come back to reality. Our wonderful house in Jindabyne, courtesy of Donna and Rob, was idyllic… a little touch of bucolic bliss we borrowed for all too short a time. The house itself left nothing to be desired, with all the modcons we could wish for and a level of comfort fit for royalty. We will really miss Oscar, our lovely little canine friend who kept us company every day with walks and rabbit chases. Our ladies, the cackling crew of five Isa Brown hens were hilarious with their busy little antics and their unfailing supply of 5 eggs on a daily basis did nothing to reduce our waistlines (No, we didn’t eat them ALL, but we did put a dint in them!) Scooter the cat was predictable in his sleeping habits. I don’t think I have ever met a cat that sleeps quite this much! Happy to be patted at any time, in fact he fair revelled in it, but would not seek attention at all (except at meal times).

The region is some of the most picturesque in the world, between the mountains, the iconic Australia farmland, dotted with snowgum and huge boulders and the huge Jindabyne lake which plays host to the lovely village. Our trips up into the mountains were memorable for the wildflowers and vast expanse of mountains heading into the distance. It was just amazing and I could sit and take in those scenes forever.

Alas, it’s over now, but we will remember our time there forever. It finished in a lovely social evening with our poor exhausted hosts, Donna, Rob and Ryan, who had driven all the way back after taking the Spirit of Tasmania overnight. I hope all our future hosts are as fantastic as these ones. It really was a wrench to leave, but life goes on and there are more travels to be had.

There are a bunch of photos of our experience here in the galleries on the portfolio section of this website and I will be posting more as I get the inclination to process them. None of them can do justice to the region, but I will try my best.

Cheers

Gary and Glenda

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Farewell to 2014

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    MORE PHOTOGRAPHS AT www.garyberesfordimaging.com under the Portfolio tab

    It’s been an eventful year, with one thing and the other. There seemed no better way to end it than up in some of the most spectacular real estate in our land – the high country up around Kosciuszko. It’s quite a hike up to the lookout from Thredbo, but worth every minute. Quite a way to end the year, overlooking Australia from on high. The wildflowers are at their peak currently and a stunning foreground to the layered blue of the mountains in the distance. A magical place at this time of year and highly worth the huff and puff to get up there.

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A Different Christmas

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For the first time ever, Glenda and I spent Christmas day not surrounded by family. It just felt plain weird. Sure, there wasn’t the panic of getting everything ready, making sure the house was in a fit state etc etc, but we really did miss the hurley burly that is such a part of the Christmas day process. That being said, we had a lovely roast lunch, a few wines, joined the family for a while on Skype while they celebrated and had the traditional post Christmas snooze. We tried to get the animals into the spirit of the thing, but they just didn’t seem that keen.

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An Unexpected Fog

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Nothing is likely to get me out of bed in the morning like a good mist. This morning was no exception as a lovely, unexpected fog rolled in, deadening the sounds and softening the scenery. We took the dog for a walk in the dank mist. There is nothing quite like Australian rural scenes when it’s foggy. The gumtrees melt into the whiteness and the animals seem a little calmer and of good humour.

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We came across a few cows and their young along the way and they were just that little bit curious but unconcerned. A little later in the morning, I headed down to our creek at the bottom of the property. The mist had risen considerably at this point, but was still lingering a little in the background. It’s a beautiful setting and I hope to stagger down there one evening when the light is golden..

MORE IMAGES AVAILABLE at garyberesfordimaging.com