Our convoy of four-wheel drives line up at the local shops, as fridges and fuel tanks get filled to the brim. As we join the mass migration out of Melbourne on the Thursday night before Easter, my mind slowly starts to switch off. Boats, dirt bikes, camper trailers, cara-vans – everyone seems as keen as us for a weekend away from the city. With each kilo-metre we head north east I tick off my mental check list; yes I put my out of office on, yes I locked the front door, yes I brought the mosquito spray (it doesn’t matter what time of year it is or what climate I am in, if there is a mosquito out there, it will find me).
Our destination is around 200kms from Melbourne near Jamieson; Granny’s Flat is an idyllic spot right on the banks of the Jamieson river. With flat grassy sites, fire pits and even the ‘luxury’ of drop toilets, it is a perfect base camp for a long weekend away. With the sun having set several hours ago we set up our tents and swags aided by headtorch-es and lightbars, grateful that some of our group arrived early and saved us a good spot (and also got the fire going).
Time to unpack our camping chairs and fish a cold drink out of the fridge. There is noth-ing better than sitting around a campfire with a great group of people, unwinding from a busy week and having a couple of drinks. It feels a million miles away from suburbia and the 2-hour daily commute soon becomes a distant memory.
The next few days are spent alternating between fishing, hiking and touring around the local area. From river crossings on Mt Skene to exploring old mining towns like Woods Point, there is a lot to experience here on a weekend away. One way I love to switch off during an outdoor trip is to bring my camera and capture the natural beauty of the area. Jamieson is a fantastic spot for photography, with the river, wildlife and historic buildings. It’s also a great place to get pictures of your four-wheel drive tackling a river crossing! Whilst the four-wheel driving and hiking is fun, it is nice to take time to relax by the river with only the sounds of the running water and trees.
Eventually it is time to head back to reality. The damp tents are roughly stuffed into their bags, and clothes that still smell like last night’s campfire are packed away. Life seems to get busier and busier and it is wonderful to be able to catch up with people and spend time with them without distractions like phones and work. Though it’s only a short trip in the grand scheme of things, I am grateful to be able to escape to the outdoors for a few days, get off-grid and back to nature.
BY POPPY SHIRE