G’day from Gippsland

This may sound like I am on Gippsland Tourism payroll but I swear I am not, Gippsland really is a stunning place.  The usual vision many of us have of Australia is the dry and dusty outback with lots of nothingness between little towns, and huge ranches where the cattle are mustered by helicopter, a few choice vineyards as well as the spectactular-ness of the Gold Coast.  You don’l really picture luscious green fields and rolling hills, rivers rivers everywhere, all gathering as one and rushing into the open ocean.  But that is what Gippsland is.

I have several photos to show you, but before I do so, I have to tell a little story.  About 10 or 12 years ago I was visiting Unc.  It was January time – the height of summer – and stinking hot.  We headed for the mountains in search of some cool breezes. He mentioned the parish of Omeo which is close to Mt Hotham, the local ski destination that would surely be cooler, being at altitude (1,800m). I guess all things are relative.  Anyway, we arrived in Omeo and at the parish house where we had planned to stay there for 2 nights.

Oh joy!  How wonderful to a lovely house set in the hills …. that I suspect no one had lived in for quite some time, unless of course you count the furry creatures who had taken up residence, along with the many insects that flew, slithered, crawled and skittered across the floors, ceilings and walls.  My first stop in Omeo was the hardware store where I bought every conceivable cleaning product imaginable, brushes & cloths to beat the band as well as packs of rubber gloves so I could kid myself into thinking that I was not really touching the creatures.  Oh, and copious cans of insect killing sprays (which I normally would not buy but the dire circumstances warranted it).  After I had stripped the beds and sprayed the mattresses for bed bugs, I shut all the windows and bombed the two bedrooms and kitchen with the sprays, then shut the door and prayed the stuff would work.  It did.  It was not too bad to sweep out the now un-moving carcasses of an array of insects, most of whim I had never seen in my life.  Hope I never will either.  I remember also tacking bug screens onto the windows, giving the place another spray in the hope the rooms would be Ok by the time it came to go to sleep.  I think we ate out that first night as I was too exhausted to tackle the kitchen and BBQ, which I suspect had never been cleaned – ever.  Clearly this was a frightening enough experience for me a decade later, given I remember every detail of my visit there.  Anyway, some things never change as Fr Ceju, a priest in the Bairnsdale parish told me family of friends of his who stopped off there for the night after a day’s ski-ing at Mt Hotham, had to do the exact same thing just a few years back.  Uggh!  Thankfully on this visit to Omeo, we drove by the dreaded house, and kept on driving.

A bit of a segway, Fr Ceju is from Kerela in India and does not really cook very well.  Mary Anne has decided I am rather a good cook so invited him to dinner and told him ‘Kate will cook a curry for you!’.  Thanks to my cooking classes, I could at least give it a shot!  So I planned on serving Rajashis chicken curry with okra curry, rice and chapatis.  When I found out I was cooking everything from scratch, he decided to come along for a lesson.  So get this, the Irish girl from Cork ended up teaching the Indian guy from Kerela how to make a couple Bengali dishes.  Neat eh?  Anyway, it turns out Fr Ceju is an excellent student and with my help, made all the dishes which we scoffed immediately.  He went home with the leftovers and the confidence to repeat Rajashi’s recipes again.

Ok, now for sure I will post a few photos of beautiful Gippsland which I hope you will enjoy.

Silk Jetties, Gippsland.  A narrow piece of land that separates the two waterways.  Pretty neat area

Silk Jetties, Gippsland. A narrow piece of land that separates the two waterways. Pretty neat area

Black swans are all over the place in Gippsland, and seem not to be as grumpy as the lovely white swan we had on Bowen on the Lagoon.

Black swans are all over the place in Gippsland, and seem not to be as grumpy as the lovely white swan we had on Bowen on the Lagoon.

Raymond Island ferry - a tad smaller than the Bowen Island ferry but goes every 15 mins, costs AUS$10 return per car, with 2nd household car free, and foot passengers are also free.  Take note BC Ferries!!

Raymond Island ferry – a tad smaller than the Bowen Island ferry but goes every 15 mins, costs AUS$10 return per car, with 2nd household car free, and foot passengers are also free. Take note BC Ferries!!

This is the catholic church on Raymond Island.  It reminded me of Shelagh MacKinnon's United Little Red Church on Bowen.  Don't you love the bell tower?

This is the catholic church on Raymond Island. It reminded me of Shelagh MacKinnon’s United Little Red Church on Bowen. Don’t you love the bell tower?

Fr Bernard used to be Parish Priest of the Lakes Entrance church, he was involved in it's renovation so I was keen to see it.  A beautiful job!  This is a huge rock found on the grounds that was made into the altar.

Fr Bernard used to be Parish Priest of the Lakes Entrance church, he was involved in it’s renovation so I was keen to see it. A beautiful job! This is a huge rock found on the grounds that was made into the altar.

The the sail-shaped back on the priests chair on the altar, in keeping with the ocean theme at Lakes Entrance

The the sail-shaped back on the priests chair on the altar, in keeping with the ocean theme at Lakes Entrance

The beach at Cape Conran

The beach at Cape Conran

Windswept beach at Marlo

Windswept beach at Marlo

Lakes Entrance, where about 5 rivers flow into the Bass Strait.  Fresh water in the foreground, salt water beyond.

Lakes Entrance, where about 5 rivers flow into the Bass Strait. Fresh water in the foreground, salt water beyond the sand.

The Omeo Valley ..... no photo of the church I am afraid, we drove away too fast!

The Omeo Valley ….. no photo of the church I am afraid, we drove away too fast!

Seaspray at the start of the 90-mile beach.

Seaspray at the start of the 90-mile beach.

For those of you interested, Tarraville, Gippsland had the first Catholic Church in Gippsland, opened in 1852.  It has huge significance to the Irish as many escaped the Famine in the 1840s and fled to Australia in search of a new life.  The church is no longer but the floor boards were used to build the church in Yarram.

For those of you interested, Tarraville, Gippsland had the first Catholic Church in Gippsland, opened in 1852. It has huge significance to the Irish as many escaped the Famine in the 1840s and fled to Australia in search of a new life. The church is no longer but the floor boards were used to build the church in Yarram.

I love stained glass and this window caught my eye in the church in Yarram, donated by the Sweeney family (ex Cork) in the 1960s.

I love stained glass and this window caught my eye in the church in Yarram, donated by the Sweeney family (ex Cork) in the 1960s.

 

About Kate Coffey

After 25+ years in the investment management industry, I packed in my job and spent 2014 living and working in Nepal and Bangladesh, and visited some other places in between. It took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and it's people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Sanga foothills. Since 2014, I have continued my warm relationship with SIRC and worked closely with my friends there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes to date. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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2 Responses to G’day from Gippsland

  1. Renu says:

    Haha! Gal from Cork cooking indian dishes in Australia! Small world indeed;)

  2. Debbie W says:

    Kate! No swan is as mean as the one on Bowen! I do think the church looks like the Bowen church too! I lol’d about the cabin! You were very brave!
    x0 D

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