A day (and night) in the countryside began by heading out of Melbourne in the car.
I learnt a lesson on the way, somewhere near Sunshine: if you’re going to try and overtake (well, “undertake”) a truck on the left from a standing start, be at the front of the queue at the lights AND have plenty of space. The lane ended sooner than I thought, and the cars in front took off slowly. Thankfully the truck driver was paying attention, and gave me a bit of extra space to merge in.
Anyway from the Western Highway it’s a beautiful drive up to Trentham through the bush. The target was lunch at our friends’ place just south of the township. I’ll put in a plug for them as they’re selling the house: it’s a glorious mudbrick home, with a lovely walled garden and a tower! You’ve always wanted a tower, haven’t you! There’s even a sundial or two.
From there we headed north, up through the town, then via Dayesford to Maldon to stay the night in a B+B/French restaurant called the Rendezvous, in the old Eaglehawk hotel. The owners of that are also selling up. After settling in, we had a walk around the town.
Rego Brand self-raising flour. (Was this a prominent brand? I couldn’t find anything on Google, though apparently they also made cordial.)
(Breakfast the next morning — croissants, muesli, egg and salmon on brioche — was great too, resulting in a similarly clean plate.)
I had to get back to Melbourne, which meant we didn’t get to ride the steam train, but during a morning walk before breakfast we spotted it getting ready for its day’s duties.
These towns — Maldon, Daylesford and Trentham — were all once connected by regular passenger rail services. (Maldon had passenger trains from 1884 to 1941. Trentham and Daylesford had passenger services 1880 to 1978 — I remember as a kid going to Daylesford by train; it must have been shortly before services ceased. Regular train with old wooden carriages to Woodend, and a rail motor from there.)
All three towns are getting very busy on the weekends thanks to tourism. In fact some of our group went back to Melbourne the way we’d come, and found bumper-to-bumper traffic around Daylesford. Evidently the three coaches per day on weekends (two from Woodend, one from Ballarat) don’t cut it.
Even on weekdays there are only three coaches from Daylesford via Woodend/Castlemaine, and you can’t reach Melbourne before 9:27am. Chatter among the locals is that while some hardy souls commute to Melbourne from this area, most moving to the area with this in mind live in the towns along the (main line) railway line. Those in the other towns tend to drive to a station — hardly surprising.
Anyway, it’s a nice part of the world. I don’t think I’d fancy that kind of commute every day, but it’s good fun to visit.