A new journey begins…

Posts tagged ‘journeys of life’

Serene & Peaceful – Buxton & Marysville

Weekend Gateway Melbourne, Victoria

The year 2020 has been a desolate year for travellers. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, travelling seemed a distant dream. However, towards the end of 2020, Australia had managed to control the virus to a suitable extent and travel within the state of Victoria was allowed. As soon as this news was issued, everyone started planning day trips or weekend trips to various towns within Victoria and I was no exception. December is a summer month in this part of the world and considering the weather, we finalised a place called Buxton, 104 km North-East of Melbourne. We were four of us, my cousin’s family and I. In no time, we packed our bags and were all set for a nice 2 hrs drive from Melbourne city to Buxton for a weekend gateway.

The Journey

We started our drive after breakfast and soon left the city roads behind and saw the hills at the horizon and drove through curvy roads. The holiday feeling was slowly creeping into us! After an hour and a bit, we reached Healesville. It is a beautiful town on the way to Buxton where we decided to break for lunch. After having a nice Asian lunch, we explored the surrounding boutique shops, cafes and markets. We did our grocery here so that we can reach Buxton and relax for the rest of the day. We had plans to cook in our Airbnb homestay in Buxton.

The drive

The journey from Healesville to Buxton was picturesque, serene and through winding roads up the hill. The drive was beautiful with tall ferns and eucalyptus trees on both sides and mountains over the horizon. We crossed a beautiful lake while exiting Healesville and soon were amidst the rain forests. The roads turned through the hills and it started to drizzle. The wind, the rain, the roads and the sky together felt no less than an experience we have been craving all through the year. Someone as if had painted a scenery and we were driving through it! It was a blissful experience!

The lake as we exited Healesville towards Buxton

It took us little less than an hour to reach Buxton from Healesville. Buxton is a small countryside town with stretches of farmland and grazing animals, hills, cute little houses and narrow pathways across lush greenery. We left the main road and drove through a narrow pathway to reach our destination. It was a beautiful quaint house by the Steavenson river called “Rivers Edge”.

Our Stay

The hosts for our stay were beautiful cockatoos and colourful parrots. They greeted us with their loud and funny screams and didn’t hesitate to share a cuppa with us! The thin stream of the Steavenson river behind our stay and the sound of flowing water felt peaceful. There was a gated bridge as well on the river stream, it looked very picturesque. The house was cosy and soon we all took a nap to rejuvenate us for the evening.

Bridge behind our stay at Buxton
Bridge on the Steavenson River stream, behind our stay in Buxton

Evenings fall sooner in the hills and it was dark really quick for a Summer day. We were cooking lamb curry for dinner and having philosophical conversations over a drink. The best part of holidays is the relaxation of the mind and the body so that it can self-heal. It’s very necessary to let our mind and body relax, so that when we are back to the grind, we can pick up the pace again. It’s imperative to slow down, breathe and let things be.

After a sumptuous dinner, we took a brisk stroll in our backyard and heard the river stream flow in its own rhythm…almost making its own music. It was surreal. The night was quiet, beautiful and the stars seemed to have formed a celestial net above us. The silence everywhere was intimidating for city dwellers like us, but at the same time it felt magical!

Marysville

Mornings are so beautiful in the countryside. After our morning cuppa with our beautiful host birds, we got ready and headed off to the Stevenson Falls in Marysville, which was a 20 mins scenic drive from Buxton. The tall fern trees and the stretches of farmland on both side of the road, made us all sit in the car silently as we were absorbed in the mystic creation of Nature. A blissful moment of joy!

Soon we reached the Steavenson falls. The falls is really whopping and picturesque. After we parked our car, it was a small hike up to the waterfalls and we could hear the gushing sound of water as we walked up. Whenever I visit any waterfall, I make sure I touch the water, even if it freezes my fingers and this one was no exception. The water was ice cold even in summer but was crystal clear and soothing. We clicked lot of pictures and even video-called our family back in India so that they can virtually share our experience and happiness!

Steavenson Falls, Marysville

It was lunch time, so we drove down to Marysville from the waterfalls and had fish and chips in the beautiful Marysville town. The Steavenson falls is just a 10mins drive from the Marysville town. The town had boutique shops and amazing cafes with the most delicious pies. There was a quaint little shop that attracted me. As I walked inside that shop, I realised it was actually a post office! The old lady at the counter was really nice and told us that the Steavenson falls is the tallest waterfalls in Victoria. She also mentioned how the Winter months in Marysville get really cold and often experience snow. We bought a beautiful scarf from the post office and bid adieu. I have always experienced very warm hospitality from the locals in the countryside. They are so graceful in their manners and welcoming in their spirits. There is nothing more engaging than knowing about a place from a local, no google can every tell you such stories!

The beautiful Marysville during Christmas

My First Fishing Experience

What’s travel without food! From Marysville, we went to the Buxton Trout and Salmon firm. It was a fishing farm with different sized fishponds full of Trouts and Salmons. The fishing gears are provided by the farm and whatever fish you catch, you can purchase that. The farm staff will clean and cut the fish for you and pack it nicely.

Considering this was my first fishing experience in Australia, I was very excited! The fishponds we full of fishes and every time I threw some fish food, all the fishes jumped up to grab them! I took some shots with my camera and then it was my turn to fish! After a few failed attempts, I did catch a trout and managed to get the jumping trout into a bucket. Within seconds, the trout started bleeding and the bucket was full of blood =( I wasn’t sure if this was my idea of fun and hence gave up on further attempts and resorted to my camera instead. My cousin and my nephew caught a big Salmon and we got it home for dinner. While I had fun capturing moments with my camera, I wasn’t sure if capturing an innocent fish with a sharp hook was fun…but either way, we had an exciting day and soon headed back to our holiday home. It started raining.

We got you Mr Salmon!

A Relaxing Evening

After a refreshing day of hike, listening to the gushing water from the falls, feeling the chill of the cold water and the thrill of fishing, we were back to our cosy abode with the birds! It had started raining and the nature looked more beautiful and greener than ever. I have heard people complaining about the rains when they are on a holiday, but I feel that the rain adds that extra bit of beauty. When it rains, it’s as if you can see the place in a different canvas, in a new form and also experience a flavour of the season. The bridge behind our stay looked more beautiful in the rain as we enjoyed our evening cuppa watching the rain.

Petrichor

We all had sneaked in a power nap and now were all excited to grill the Salmon which we so efficiently caught! Surprisingly, my young nephew turned out to be an expert chef and guided us with the cooking. We listened to some good music, heard the rains outside and enjoyed a family time while the Salmon looked delicious. We also grilled some veggies as side to compliment the pan-fried Salmon. We all sat together and had a very satiating dinner to treat the epicurean inside us. We kept reminiscing the beautiful moments and memories of the trip and felt happy and peaceful at heart. It is important that wherever you go, you should travel with all your heart! The trip then becomes memorable for a lifetime. We didn’t want the night to be over, however, we all were sleepy and hit the bed.

The next day, after breakfast we bid a fond goodbye to our quaint little abode in Buxton and of course our lovely hosts, the birds! The drive back home was quiet, we all were probably cherishing the moments and thinking of the next holiday destination!

The Experience

It had been a year since we were experiencing the pandemic and this gateway was much needed. The quietness and serenity of Buxton made our minds calm and gave us the hope that this too shall pass! Sometimes when we are far away from the city’s commotion and take a break from our daily regime, we have clearer thoughts and can experience the calmness within. Buxton was a perfect spot where nature had embraced us with its simplicity and charm!

Marysville on the other hand was quaint and picturesque which made us appreciate the things we have and the bonds we share. Personally, I love waterfalls, it makes me calm even though the water gushes down from the hills to the earth with so much pace, it teaches me to keep moving and not let anything stop me. Also, the warmth of the locals in Buxton and Marysville made our trip comforting and fuller. A simple smile can create wonders!

Thank you, Buxton and Marysville, for giving us hope and positivity and a heart full of memories to cherish, until next time!

Christchurch – The Brave Heart!

A Sudden Plan

In the busy Melbourne life, suddenly I got two weeks break while changing jobs. Being a traveler at heart, immediately decided that am off to somewhere for a week! Considering its winter in July in Australia, the cheapest and best option was New Zealand. Within couple of days I booked my week-long trip to South Islands, New Zealand.

I wanted to have a relaxing trip and hence decided to visit only two cities – Christchurch & Queenstown. This was a solo trip, so I kept the itinerary simple. In no time I found myself in the JetStar flight from Melbourne to Christchurch! I had dozed off during the flight and woke up with the Captain announcing that the flight is landing. I opened my eyes and looked out of the window, the view was breathtaking. Something inside me said that my trip was going to be amazing!

IMG_8983

Landing at Christchurch, NZ

The TranzAlpine train trip

Checked-in to Ibis, Christchurch. The hotel is located at the heart of the CBD (main city). My day 1 was just walking around the city and getting myself used to the cold. I called it a night pretty early as I had an 8am Tranzalpine train to catch the next morning to visit Arthur’s Pass National Park.

IMG_8987

Kiwi Rail – TranzAlpine journey

The Kiwi rail personnel picked me up at around 7.30 from my hotel and dropped me to the Christchurch station. The Tranzalpine train was already standing there and looked very striking and impressive. This train is operated by ‘The Great Journeys of New Zealand’ in the South Island over the ‘Midland Line’; it’s often regarded to be one of the world’s greatest train journeys, for the scenery through which it passes. The journey is 223 kilometres one-way, taking almost five hours. I had decided to go half way till Arthur’s Pass and then return back the same day.

The train left the mainland and soon was running amidst the mesmerising Southern Alps. We crossed snow clad mountains, rivers and waterfalls. There was a pantry inside the train, from where I got a nice coffee while I enjoyed the views. It felt both peaceful and exciting at the same time! The co-passengers were from different countries and they seemed to love New Zealand as much. With every turn the train took, there were more mountains and sometimes tunnels, overall this was my best ever train journey!

Arthur’s Pass National Park

The train reached Arthur’s Pass at around 11am. Few of the passengers got down here. The scenery was breathtaking! I couldn’t believe nature can be so beautiful.

fullsizeoutput_8aa2It was freezing though, but I was all wrapped up in my jacket and beanie. I found my way to the Visitor Centre, collected some maps of the area and chose to do a hike to the Devils Punchbowl Waterfall. My return train from Arthur’s Pass was around 4.30pm in the afternoon, so I had around five and a bit hours to myself, to explore this beauty.

 

fullsizeoutput_8aa1

Arthur’s Pass

Started my hike, there was ice on the way but no one else around! I was very excited as I have not seen much snow in Melbourne or in the other countries I have visited, so it was a very different experience. Kept walking on the trail, was getting exhausted as it was uphill, but then I met some tourists coming from the opposite direction, who said it’s worth finishing the trail! The track crossed through a sparse forest and I could see snow-clad mountains from some points, the cold was getting intense but when I heard the birds chirping yet felt the silence of the place, I was feeling happy and ignored the cold. It was an experience I never had before! Finally, I reached the Devil’s Punchbowl waterfalls.

fullsizeoutput_8a63

The waterfall was massive and really worth the hike! On one side was the waterfall and on the opposite side was this huge snow-clad mountain. I felt an immense happiness inside me. Nature had waved its magic wand again and made me ecstatic! I spent some time by the waterfall, just hearing the sound of water gushing down and then forming a stream. The return trail felt shorter as I was already so gratified and had all my energy back from the picturesque magnificence around. I reached back to the base and grabbed some food in the Wobbly Kea Café and Bar. Then I explored around little more and soon headed off to the station for my return to Christchurch. Chatted with the co-passengers on the journey back and shared my solo journey experiences with them with a glass of wine! Nothing feels better than telling your stories to strangers, who are your friends in a strange way! Arthur’s Pass had made my day and so did the transalpine train journey. After a quick dinner at Christchurch, I crashed off to bed.

The city which recreated itself

As many of us know, the intense earthquakes in Christchurch in 2010 & 2011, created widespread damage to buildings, infrastructure and human life. My third and final day in Christchurch was exploring the city and enjoy a laidback day before I head off to Queenstown. I walked down to the Canterbury Museum after a sumptuous breakfast and coffee.

The museum had a beautiful adjoining garden and some really amazing piece of architecture. After spending some time there, I walked up the street to do a punting tour on the Avon river. It was a perfect day for punting! A leisurely trip along the picturesque Avon River, being punted by a friendly, informative guide felt very relaxing. There was lovely scenery in the Botanical Gardens. We were given blankets and hot-water bags to make us feel warm. The short half an hour tour felt even shorter when the surrounding was so breathtaking!

IMG_9144

The picturesque Christchurch

After the punting tour, I walked across the ‘Bridge of Remembrance’, dedicated to the soldiers of the World Wars and then reached the Christchurch Cathedral. As I got to see more of the city, I noticed how much damage was caused by the earthquakes and how the people here had accepted that and bravely rebuilt the entire city! Met many locals, who spoke of their loss during the earthquakes, but they loved this city and embraced all that they had to face because they felt Christchurch is where they belong! Many of them were immigrants from Afghanistan, Israel, Bangladesh and India. You learn so much, when you travel!

I was pretty tired by late afternoon, had some food but kept thinking of how brave the locals were and how much they loved this city. I reached the hotel by evening, went to my room and packed by bags as I had an early flight the next day. I went out to have some dinner in the Indian restaurant just opposite Ibis, called Mumbaiwala and had a happy tummy!

When reality strikes!

It was around 9 pm and I was watching the television in my room, almost half asleep, considering I walked a lot around the city that day. My mind was full of thoughts and my body was tired. Suddenly, my bed, the television, the tables, chairs and everything in the room started trembling horribly! My first thought was that I was dreaming, since my mind was full of those broken buildings which I had witnessed throughout the day. But it took me couple of more seconds to realise, that it was an actual earthquake!!!

I held the bed frame strongly and was scared to death, started thinking of my family back in India and every fraction of second felt like ages! After around 30-40 secs, the shake stopped. I was still immobile on my bed and was having a brain-freeze too. As I regained my senses, I jumped off the bed and dialled reception. The lady from the reception seemed pretty calm and said there is nothing to fear, this was just a minor tremor! I was freaking out on the other side and immediately hung up and rushed to the ground floor! Saw many frightening faces like mine in the lobby, all with the fear of what that city was infamous for! The receptionist calmed us down and after spending an hour in the lobby, anticipating another tremor, I was too drained out and returned to my room and felt asleep!

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12089522

The Experience

From the first day itself, Christchurch won my heart! The way this city has faced the most dangerous natural calamity and has accepted that fact and rebuilt itself, is sheer bravery and courage. Rebuilt not just buildings and infrastructure but also their minds, their hearts, their history and their future.

Life’s never easy but happy are those who face their fears and move on! No wonder the receptionist that night was so calm! She has experienced much more intense earthquakes than that minor tremor. Christchurch taught me that history and culture of a place is not only to treasure what was created by our ancestors, but it is also what we create as we progress. The history of Christchurch is not the infamous earthquakes, but it is the people who love that city more than their lives and properties. They say, ‘a thing of beauty, is a joy forever’, and Christchurch, you will be the most dangerously beautiful city I have ever been to! Stay safe Christchurch, until next time!

fullsizeoutput_8aa4

Christchurch – The brave heart

This blog post is dedicated to all the brave hearts who were sacrificed in the Christchurch mosque shootings, March 2019. I have visited this city and seen how brave are the people of Christchurch. My heart goes out to all the families who have lost their near ones in the shooting. May they rest in peace wherever they are! Hope the world becomes a better place one day.