|beautiful spot surrounded by a 1000 hills|
STRATH Creek has a thousand hills and attractions, writes BAZ BLAKENEY
WE arrived in Strath Creek after dark and after battling Melbourne traffic.
The area around the creek is described as the Valley of a Thousand Hills, but all we could see in the glow of the headlights was a ribbon of bitumen.
Then next morning, as the sun winked between the trees, behold, what countryside. I didn't actually count the hills, but 1000 sounds as good a number as any.
The rolling hills include the poetically named Mt Buggery, which I am assured was named after the feeling you get when you reach the top. We didn't climb. We weren't looking for that feeling.
Our accommodation, Halls on Falls Homestead, gazes up at Mt Buggery and Mt Disappointment, where explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell passed.
The intrepid wayfarers expected to climb the peak and gaze out on to Port Phillip but, alas, were Disappointed. And Buggered, I'll bet.
The accommodation is top notch, cabins fitted with every convenience: full kitchens, wood-burning heaters, large-screen TVs. And everything is solar powered, say owners Peter and Lisan Hall.
Horsy types often visit because there are riding trails galore around there. But it's strictly BYO horse. There are no steeds for hire.
We relished the things we city folk had almost forgotten: the night so silent you can hear your own heartbeat, the sky lit with millions of stars, the misty mornings, and mocking kookaburras.
Nearby is the Hume and Hovell Cricket Ground. Don McQueen built himself a cricket ground roughly on the scale of the famous Lord's in London and aficionados of the ancient game roll up to wield the willow. It's a magical place in the middle of nowhere, a little Shangri-la for cricketheads.
It's available for hire for social matches and the pavilion Don built houses a smart little cafe that serves a mouth-watering list of daily specials and city-grade coffee. The cafe, recently taken over by Chris Adshead and Shaunna O'Grady, is a delight.
The cricket ground has accommodation for cricket fans, groups or even couples. There are many places to get off the beaten track around Strath Creek, with walking tracks and picnic spots.
In summer, apparently Mt Piper, near Broadford, is abuzz with butterflies. It is also handy to Tallarook State Forest, Strath Creek Falls and Warragul Rocks.
Nearby Trawool is an ethereal landscape dotted with granite outcrops. As a motorist who often takes the Hume Highway to Sydney, I wasn't aware such treasures existed just a few kilometres from the main drag.
For a majestic view of the thousand hills, stop off at the Murchison Gap lookout.
Strath Creek is also a handy base for exploring the Upper Goulburn wine region. Close to Buxton Ridge and Gioiello Estate and Little River Wines, it's not much farther to other clusters of vineyards near Mansfield and Alexandra. Make a day of it, or several days.
Kerrisdale Mountain Railway takes visitors on a chug through stunning countryside. There is also a rail museum.
A trail will soon be finished on the disused line between Tallarook and Mansfield, for cyclists, riders and walkers.
Getting there: Strath Creek is an 80-minute drive northeast of Melbourne.
Staying: Halls on Falls Homestead, Strath Creek. Weekend B&B packages (two nights) start at $320 for two adults. The two cabins sleep up to 12 people or eight.
More: hallsonfallshomestead.com.au, goulburnrivervalley.com.au, humeandhovell.com.au