Emerald and Puffing Billy.

There comes a time when you absolutely have to get out of your house away from routine and what feels like duty and into the real world. Last Thursday was one of those days.

I headed up into the hills, to a nice little village with the delightful name of Emerald. It’s one of the stopping points for the Puffing Billy Heritage Railway. The century-old steam train runs for 24 kilometres on its original track through the forests and farmland of the Dandenong Ranges, from Belgrave to Gembrook.

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Tarra-Bulga National Park, Victoria

After my exploration of the villages along the South Gippsland coast, I stayed at Yarram, a short distance north of Port Albert. It’s a spotless town, with the wide streets that Australian country towns have, and all amenities needed to make it, I would think, a very comfortable spot.

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Aireys Inlet, Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Relatives of mine live in one of the world’s magical spots. I may be exaggerating but that’s how it affects me. Aireys Inlet is on Victoria’s iconic Great Ocean Road, about 120 kms north-west of Melbourne. I’ve been dumping myself on them periodically for years, to clear out the cobwebs of the city and take advantage of the cliffs, the beach, the trees and birds and the quietness of nature, not to mention the free accommodation and some very nice cooking.

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Springtime in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens

A few days ago, mild temperatures and sunshine were forecast. I took the opportunity to head into the Royal Botanic Gardens for some much needed exercise and sun. I had never properly explored them before, sticking mainly to the edges along St. Kilda Road, or climbing the hill to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, an outdoor entertainment venue that’s hosted hundreds of performers over the years. The Bowl sits in a valley surrounded by hills.

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