Today we left our self-catering cottage in Metung to head for our friends, David and Kay, in Darnum, near Warragul, Victoria. This is a stepping stone on our way back towards Melbourne where we will catch our flight to New Zealand. David and Kay are friends that we met a few years ago in Southern France when their campervan, which is garaged in England, suffered a mechanical. They limped into our favourite French dairy sheep farm site for repairs to be arranged. They have visited us in the UK and now it is our turn to visit them.
Our route was pleasant enough though unexceptional save for a side trip back into the mountains to see an historic old mining town called Walhalla. Being back into the mountains and given our meteorological track record, it also took us back into the grey and rain. Victoria’s weather is suffering an unsettled spell.
Perhaps because of the general conditions, we appeared to have Walhalla to ourselves; there appeared to be no other tourists in town. This, I suspect, is a very unusual state of affairs. I’m sure that the place would normally be heaving with tourists. Not today. Indeed, several of the few businesses hadn’t even opened. One coffee shop was open and we bought a couple of espressos/short blacks [the Australian term] which we soon regretted and threw away after a couple of sips.
The town had a western feel and many charismatic buildings still remain. Here’s a few images, taken before the rain began, to give you a flavour. The building that spans the river, incidentally, is the old fire station. Wonderful.
We briefly considered buying replacements for our discarded coffees from another open establishment but, as the rain had started and as there weren’t even any other people to watch, there seemed little point in dallying so we hopped back in the car and continued to Darnum, arriving at 16:00.
David and Kay’s place is called Wallaby Wood. It is an expansive house standing in 40 acres, much of which is wooded with gum trees. David has recently celebrated his 70th birthday and has been living here with Kay for 30 years.
Walking into the house, I was immediately struck by the unusual appearance of the building materials. The main structure of the house is made of mud bricks, mud bricks that were all individually handmade by David and Kay themselves, fashioned from clay dug from the site itself. The bricks were made in moulds, some of which were wooden, these also being made by David. Inside the house, all else is large wooden beams and pillars, also individually cut and fitted by this pair of artisans. The combination reminds me rather of a Swiss chalet, mainly because of the extensive wood – I doubt the Swiss would be using mud bricks. It was an enormous self-build effort that must have been a labour of love. Given the situation and outlook, I can fully understand why.
David took us on a 30-minute bush walk to acquaint us with some of the wilder parts of the property. We did see a Kangaroo bounce past just beyond the boundary fence. What a place.