Bucket List: The Dandenongs

Practising mindfulness is something I have found invaluable over the years. It doesn’t need to be sitting in a circle with your eyes closed, breathing in the good and breathing out the bad – that’s meditation and I HIGHLY recommend 10-15 minutes practice of that every day. No, I mean practising being present. Not worrying about the future, lamenting over the past but just understanding where you are, seeing, breathing, hearing, appreciating. It is liberating.

As part of my ‘6 months left in Aus’ countdown, I have promised myself to enjoy moments of my life here mindfully so I do not take for granted. I do not take regrets onto the plane, but can look myself in the mirror in March and say “I lived and enjoyed my life in Aus”. There will be things I don’t get around to, but that’s OK, it’s always good to leave a reason to come back.

So without formally coming up with a Bucket List, I’m taking that format to describe the next 6 months. First up a walk in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges.

Being the arse of winter here in Victoria, we’re all a bit fed up with the endless cold, the rain has finally arrived to fill up the reservoirs ahead of summer but it’s doing nothing to lift our spirits. It’s been a cold winter. So a weekend of temperatures in the high teens and a full day of sunshine brought Melbourne temporarily out of hibernation. And it’s on that coattail, I decided to jump in the car and head to the ‘Nongs.

An hour(ish) out of Melbourne and you’re in the woods. But seriously take some time to look at the trees. They are spectacular. On this visit, I forwent the touristy, heart-attack inducing 1000 steps, and did a short walk to Sherbourne Falls. The falls themselves are not spectacular but there’s plenty of trails to follow and fellow walks to nod to. It was very muddy and I did think 5 mins in, this was a bad idea but 10 mins in, I didn’t care about how dirty by trainers were – there were silvery poles everywhere, a thick springy carpet of moss everywhere, sun bouncing off a thousand surfaces.

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Walking along, I followed a family of Dad, boy and girl through the forest. The girl, possibly 5 years old, wasn’t happy traipsing in the mud in her wellies. She saw me with my camera and asked to see my pictures. I showed her, and her immediate question was “But where are all the fairies?”

“They are hiding from me, maybe one day we’ll catch them” I responded.

I was only half humouring her, it’s not difficult to believe fairies live in this forest.

A trip to the ‘Nongs is not complete without visiting Sassafras to pick up a coffee, wander around the tiny shops especially the sweet shop to stock up on retro 80s lollies. There’s many beautiful tea rooms up there, but as I mentioned, most of Melbourne had come out of hibernation and had the same idea. I was happy with my rhubarb and custard boiled sweets and takeaway coffee and singing to Smooth FM all the way home.

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