So, with a heavy heart we left Lelania and her family and headed off north on the scenic route towards my friend Christie who lives in Goorambat. And what an amazingly scenic detour we took!
Again, through the Yarra Valley, we had to make a couple of food-related stops. First up: a freshly baked bread sign caught our interest! We found the most amazing artisan bread - wholesome and full of fresh ingredients. Wendy bought a loaf of fruit bread which contained semi-dried apricots, juicy figs and luscious raisins. And, being the typical Greek that I am, I got an olive bread. The owner recommended some award-winning cheeses to accompany the bread so we drove with the pedal to the metal to the Yarra Valley Dairy where we tried, and then bought, several goat cheeses.
Back on the Highway and the landscape changed from rolling hills with vineyards and cows grazing on lush fields to something far more dramatic and unusual. We were now passing through the tallest forest in Australia: the so-called Black Spur on the Maroondah Highway. Humongous, elegant Mountain Ash trees reaching towards the sky like cathedral spires. Whilst beneath them, giant ferns unfurling their leaves to catch the stray rays of sunlight. It was an amazing drive full of curves and bends.
We stopped at a picnic spot near a river and had lunch al fresco surrounded by tropical wild parrots with the brightest colours I have ever seen! They were so friendly that they even took food from our hands. It was amazing being surrounded by giant trees, beautiful birds and the sound of the river nearby.
Our next stop was Maryville, where Christie recommended we should go to see Bruno's Sculpture Garden. A few years ago, in 2009, if I'm not mistaken, a disastrous fire destroyed the town and much of the surrounding forest. An artist called Bruno has lovingly restored his garden and the over 100 clay, life-size sculptures. A great place to stop and admire art and be inspired by manmade beauty and nature. I loved the quirky relationships that the artist has created between his sculptures and the various found objects and existing natural resources such as trees. Art with a sense if humour - I like that!
By the time we reached Christie's place in Goorambat, it was already dark but she'd lit the fireplace and prepared a veritable feast of pumpkin soup and Mediterranean-style nibbles. We chatted until late into the night...