End of Term:
The end of Semester at Uni seemed to come on us very quickly. But considering that all the staff and student leaders were completely exhausted it was probably just as well.
Emma and I both took leave from work for the first week of the Semester break. It was our first proper holiday together since our honeymoon. So we both sat down in front of the computer, went to the YHA website, and looked around for interesting places to visit. We settled pretty early on Victoria, neither of us has spent much time there (other than a trip as a small child, I had spent 2 days in Melbourne last year). We didn’t want to have to travel further than could easily be done in 1 day. After a bit of discussion, and a little skepticism on my part we settled for the little village of Hepburn Springs, about 1hrs drive north of Melbourne. We didn’t know the first thing about Hepburn Springs other than it is advertised as the ‘Spa Capital of Australia’. You understand my skepticism…
We left early on the Monday morning, and after about an 8hr drive, passing the world’s most weirdly out of place submarine, and a little bit of arguing over who got to drive what bits (Emma got all the interesting parts of Victoria – but no, I’m not bitter) we arrived in Hepburn Springs. We pulled into the YHA – known as Wildwood. It’s a 1920’s guesthouse that rambles all over the side of hill. There are some very flash hotels in Hepburn Springs – Wildwood YHA isn’t one of them. Slightly run down and being repaired slightly more slowly than it decays, yet welcoming and homely. We done a great big shop at Aldi in Canberra, brought all we would need for cooking and setting up house, so once we unpacked, it felt that we had basically moved house. We were the only guests staying for the entire week, apart from one night. We had our own double room, complete with mosquito netting over the bed, and free run of the kitchen, lounge room (with tv.dvd, and open fire that was kept alight by mysterious pixies), and bathroom, In case you’re not getting the vibe, it was a great spot, you should go there, particularly in winter when no one else does.
Over the next few days we set about exploring Hepburn Springs, which turns out to be really just a satellite village of a larger town called Daylesford. Hepburn Springs is the Spa capital of Australia because dotted all around the countryside are mineral springs – places were the ground water is forced back up the surface by unusal geological features, and sometimes a bit of human ingenuity. People have been going there since the 19th Century to “take the waters”, it’s a bit like an Australian version of the pool of Bethesda. As you walk around the parks in the village you come across these old fashioned water pumps (with the handle and spout). We took our water bottle and as you go you can sample the natural minerally goodness. Most of the springs are naturally lightly carbonated (fizzy) and taste basically like soda water, some on the other hand, taste like someone farted in a bottle of soda water (a bit more sulpher in the water). It was amazing how springs that were only 100m apart could taste quite different.
Lots of wealthy Victorians go to Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, and so there are a large number of very flash spa resorts. There is also a public spa resort in the centre of the springs reserve. For $30 we got to run around in our swimmers all morning (the place was practically empty) jumping in the hot spas, hot salt pool (like the Dead Sea but with soothing music…) spa chairs, sauna, massage machines… Who could of dreamed you could pack so much relaxation into one building? After 3 hours, I was cleaner that I have been since birth.
The other highlight for me was the botanical gardens in Daylesford. They are right on the top of the hill in the centre of the town. The gardens are around 150 years old and were designed by some of Australia’s best Victorian (as in Reign of Queen) gardeners. They have a number of stands of Giant Californian Redwoods that are, well, giant… It was a beautiful place, I spent some time wandering around in awe at God’s creation one afternoon while Emma kept the cafe scene under control.
Victorians (as in the State) are famous for their cafe culture, so naturally we indulged as well. Most days followed the pattern of adventure in the morning, lunch at home, afternoon mixture of adventure and reading books next to a fire in a cafe somewhere. Then watching DVDs at home in the evening.
We drove down to Melbourne for the friday and spent the day walking around the city and riding trams (I love trams). In the evening we went out to a movie and coffee on the famous cafe strip on Lygon Street. We staying in another YHA in Melbourne for the night, and then drove home again on Saturday.
Well, I hope that you’ve enjoyed our holiday as much as I did, It was a fantastic provision from God for us, particularly as right before we left some close friends gave us some money toward the trip that freed us from having to worry all the time about how we would pay for things. Praise God for his beautiful world, for his provision through his people! Praise God for rest and the Rest to come…
“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” (Heb 4:9-11 ESV)