We’re going to Bonnie Doon!

16 to 18 January 2020

Devonport to Melbourne, by sea, 232nm

to Bonnie Doon, 166km

Wherever you are, you have probably seen the pictures of the devastating fires raging through New South Wales and Victoria in December and January. Like you, we have watched the news with a mixture of horror and deep sadness at the loss of life, homes, wildlife and entire landscapes. The size of these fires is unimaginable to us coming from such a small country and yet having travelled through Australia these past few months we have a better sense of just how they can spread so far. Returning from Tasmania, we had our own reason for becoming glued to the emergency warnings.

Our onward route on the mainland, whichever way we chose, took us through some of the worst affected areas where fires were still burning, where people and animals were still dying and where communities were still being destroyed. We feel powerless to help and don’t want to get in the way. We don’t want to take important resources from areas that are struggling. Food, water and shelter from people evacuated. We don’t want to be tourists in areas of horrible devastation and unimaginable trauma and we made the decision to make our way back to Brisbane as quickly as we could.

Our original plan had been to head north from the ferry to tick off another favourite Australian film location at Bonnie Doon and then stop at the historic town of Beechworth before taking the Hume Highway to Canberra. Whilst fires were still burning not far away there was no immediate danger to us in sticking to that plan.

Before we did, we could not resist one more opportunity to see Julia and Bill in Mount Waverley. It also meant an opportunity for us to visit our new favourite Sri Lankan restaurant and make another visit to one of our favourite pools.

Importantly, it gave us an opportunity to actually document our time together with a photograph.

(Though setting it up involved a very complicated garden furniture and book tower in place of a tripod!)

Thank you, Ju and Bill for having us (again!), for indulging our request to revisit Corlam Kitchen and for being gracious enough to let me finish your Christmas jigsaw. We definitely won’t be turning up again (this time at least) but that makes us just a little bit sad.

So we were going to Bonnie Doon, legendary holiday destination of the Kerrigans in The Castle, Stefan’s all time favourite Australian film. The Castle is a wonderfully funny tale about family and home and one man’s battle to keep the two together. It is full of classically Australian characters and it will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy. We thoroughly recommend you see it if you haven’t and you’ll understand why a trip to Bonnie Doon was very firmly on our agenda. And, yes, we did sing “We’re going to Bonnie Doon” all the way there!

It’s a funny kind of place, Bonnie Doon – a few holiday homes dotted around a nearly dried out Lake Eildon where real life families stay to spend time on the lake, just like the Kerrigans, careering around in motorboats, fishing and enjoying the serenity.

Because this is the place that gave us the phrase “How’s the serenity?” and when we were there in mid January towards the end of the summer holiday and with bushfires not far away there was an eerily quiet kind of serenity to Bonnie Doon, a kind of other worldly, almost post apocalyptic serenity.

“If there is one thing Dad loved more than serenity it was a two stroke engine of full throttle” Dale narrates during their trip to Bonnie Doon.

There was not much activity on the lake when we were there, the occasional trip by our neighbours to mess about on a jet ski or water ski but, disappointingly, the engines were all four stroke.

And any serenity in the tent was totally shattered at 5.30am by the over enthusiastic and over friendly cockatoos. After that early start and without a motor boat to spend time on the lake in we decided to move on…