Thursday, November 06, 2008

Time away in King River...

I thought about keeping it a secret, but then I thought I should share it with all of you.

Do you have a big family? Do you have a tight budget? Do you have lots of friends you like to holiday with? Do you hate the touristy crowded areas and love to get out into the bush? Well, I have just the place for you.

King River Camp, 9kms south of the tiny hamlet of Cheshunt and about an hours drive south of Wangaratta in Northern Victoria, is nestled at the far end of King River Valley. The river winds through it, with mountainous national parks on either side, and, since tobacco farming was finally abandoned two years ago, the grape vine reigns supreme.

The Camp itself is fairly basic, with four bunk rooms (some with ensuite) each sleeping six to eight people, and one fully contained cottage (recently renovated). There is a large recreation/dining hall and kitchen included with a combustion stove for heating. A grassed area with a volleyball net, an open outside fire, and a creek for easy swimming (the River is okay too), and the whole place is perfect.

We were four families, the other three being Cathy's pastor and his family, a chaplain from Luther College and his family, and another Lutheran pastor and his family who drove all the way down from Queensland with their four kids and a Dutch exchange student in their Tarago. All three clergy are long friends of mine, we went to Seminary together, and have remained friends despite my defection to the opposition seven years ago.

On Saturday a group of us climbed the mountain from the bottom of the valley to the lookout at top (Powers Lookout - we sang "For all the Saints" in honour of the day at the top of our voices over the valley), on Sunday we went wine tasting to local wineries, and on Monday we visited a local cheese factory.

But that was the extent of our touristy stuff. We had rain and sunshine in equal measure, but it was never too cold or too hot. On Saturday night the kids cooked damper on a stick over the fire outside (Damper = a simple dough made of flour, water and salt). After kids went to sleep, it was wine and cheese and nibbles for the parents.

In short, it was terrific.

Funny story about how I got to Mass on Sunday though.

The Lutherans, of course, had their own Eucharist at the camp, so this lone Catholic tootled off to Moyhu, about 30km away, where I had been informed, there would be a mass at 10am. I got there quarter of an hour late, only to find that on the first Sunday of the Month, the service is held in Whitfield - which was 20km back the way I had come! I arrived finally in time for the offertory, and for communion, deo gratias. And a pleasant surprise - I had met the priest, Fr Peter, once before. He is a delightful "Brother-Roger-ish" sort of fellow, a late vocation ordained two years ago, very gentle. I am sorry I missed his homily, because he said mass faithfully and beautifully. The congregation could sing too, despite not having an organist. And afterwards they all went to a local cafe owned by a member of the parish for morning tea.


At Thursday, November 06, 2008 2:30:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Wonderful that you were able to make it to Mass, David. And I'm enjoying the photos of the vineyards. I remember them well from my stay in Aussieland.

At Thursday, November 06, 2008 6:35:00 am , Anonymous Clara said...

I love that part of the country. I wonder whether some of the singing congregation were Denahys? I used to visit a family who lived there in the 1990s. The parents Bob and Marikp have mored to Harden. They were pioneers in Catholic homeschooling in Australia and their kids were very musical. The eldest son is Pete Denahy who I think remained in the area. Check him out at:

Whitlands was also the centre of a Catholic cooperative endeavour in the 1950s where they attempted to set up an intentional ecclesial community - eventually shut down by the bishop - wrongly in my opinion. There is still a log chapel in a paddock facing Mt Buffalo - next time you are there ask to see it. I'm sure someone has the key.

At Thursday, November 06, 2008 6:37:00 am , Anonymous Clara said...

Bad typos in earlier post. Mrs Denahy is 'Mariko'

At Thursday, November 06, 2008 12:12:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Well, Clara, interesting you should mention about the ecclesial community, because my three clergy friends and I almost decided we would make a bid for the camp and set up our long planned (- scratch that - it should read daydreamed) "commune" there. As far as we could see, it was the perfect place - isolated, yet accessible, opportunity to develop farming, cheese and wine-making, to offer hospitality and retreats, etc etc.

One can dream.


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