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  • Writer's pictureSuchi

Heartbreak around Heathcote: The Australian bush, the Pink Cliffs, and the elusive Mr Edgerton

Time visited: January 2023

Time spent: Three nights

We did venture into the cliffs, but not by much

The cliffs are pink. They look like a miniature range of mountains with rounded peaks and curved ridges. The range furthest from the lookout point is the pinkest, with the colour fading to a pale yellow as the undulations approach you looking out at them. Eponymously known as the Pink Cliffs Geological Reserve and a quaint little sight for travellers and tourists alike, the pink land formations - caused by human activity - are an attraction of Heathcote, a quiet town in Victoria about 135 kilometres from Melbourne. We took a walk along the gravel path leading to the cliffs. The views of Australian bush along the way were stunning. It was hard to picture this quiet site as a locus of gold-mining activities only about a century and a half ago, when high-pressure water jets were being used to wash down the terrain to collect gold found in parts of Victoria and New South Wales in the mid-1800s. As the layers of soil on top got washed away, the spectacular, cliff-like, pink land formations were revealed. If you wanted to look closer, you could descend from the lookout and weave your way around them for the adventure...and for some photos.

The pinkest of the cliffs

The discovery of gold in Australia was a significant part of the country’s colonial history. Large numbers of people, from Europe predominantly, flocked to Australia to prospect for, and mine, gold. In Victoria, many small towns with gold-mining histories have survived and thrived as places of tourist attraction, Ballarat, Bendigo, and Castlemaine being among the most recognisable ones. Heathcote - though not as well-known as some of these towns where you could go on guided tours down old goldmine shafts - is much quieter with no mine to explore as such. However, if you wanted a few days of quiet, away from the Melbourne din, Heathcote could be your next holiday. It takes less than two hours to get there by car. The place has some antique shops and accommodation options that are well worth your time. We stayed at Fetching Treasures: an antique shop, a café, and a charming fully furnished loft accommodation, all rolled into one, but with a separate entrance to the living space upstairs through the garden at the back. You could spend a quiet afternoon in this cool green patch behind the house, which is host to a range of native flora, climbing, twirling, and swaying ever so softly. As you make your way around the trees, you discover unusual shrubs and succulents on the ground kept curiously fresh and moist by the canopy overhead. Or you could be upstairs in the loft, curling up with a book on one of the rocking chairs in the alluring little alcoves as sunlight streams through the lacey window curtains.

The town post office from the loft
A wooden bridge along the McIvor Trail

I found the countryside of Heathcote to be the typical Australian bush: rugged and still, punctuated by the majestic kangaroo. We saw a mob on a field. As we stopped to look, some of them returned our gaze with a gentle sureness that perhaps only native fauna can possess; a gaze that conveyed welcome and wonder at the same time. Once this fleetingly exquisite ‘Hello, stranger!’ moment between us passed, the mob hopped away, their curved tapering tails bouncing majestically behind.

The walking trail along McIvor Creek is worth the do. It takes you across interesting parts of the town. Some further explorations will bring you to the town kinder, the school, the churches, and even the cemetery. A wooden bridge that swayed dangerously as you crossed it was the thrill of the trail.

For more breathtaking views of the land, take a walk up to the Viewing Rock Lookout. About one and a half hours return, the trail offers the best of Australian bushwalking experience. When we got to the lookout, the excursion felt incredibly rewarding. The view, of course, was stunning. There was a picnic table where you could rest before your walk back. If you wanted, you could divert a little to see the intriguing Devil’s Cave, a place of shelter for Australia’s aboriginal peoples in the past. Views from the Mt. Ida Lookout were equally stunning with patches of green on taupe soil, a meandering body of water, behind which stood parts of the Great Dividing Range.

View from Mt. Ida Lookout

A 24-kilometre drive northward from Heathcote will bring you to Toolleen. We went there to lunch at the iconic Toolleen Hotel & Tin Shed. After a sumptuous pub-like lunch of huge serves, we packed the takeaway leftovers for dinner later. The boys watched cricket on TV while I snoozed on the table.

Post lunch at the iconic Toolleen Hotel & Tin Shed

This hotel, famous for the historical artefacts on display, left me mystified and heartbroken for a reason unconnected with anything related to this travel. I think we crossed paths with the famous Australian actor Joel Edgerton there. He sat at the bar counter with a hat on, yet-to-be-cleared-away empty plates in front, along with another man. We could only see his profile and it felt as though he had kept his eyes resolutely fixed on the TV screen above the bar. I think he had sensed my intrigued open gaze and suddenly made swift exit with his friend. If it really was him and if he ever reads this post, I hope he knows that a fangirl got – and lost – an opportunity of a lifetime.

Whoever could have anticipated a heartbreak awaiting just around the corner of this quiet town of Heathcote...

About the Author

Suchi is a suburban mum and wife who signed up for a PhD course to keep mid-life crisis at bay. Born and raised in India, in the city of Kolkata, she has worked in advertising and journalism, and then in corporate communications at a fossil fuel corporation in New Delhi. Following an arranged marriage 18 years ago, she moved to Melbourne and was devastated to learn about the impacts of fossil fuel use upon the climate. In her chagrin she avowed to not work for corporations, ever (if it could be helped, that is), and has dutifully provided service at a TAFE and in tertiary education in Australia. Following a Covid-precipitated redundancy, she elected to become a PhD student full time while juggling care-giving duties for her children part time… with the other part of childcare responsibilities resting stolidly on the toned shoulders of her children’s father, whose excellent weight-training ethic over the years has accorded him incredible strength, resilience, and most importantly, patience. So, when hubby is flexing his care-giving muscles, Suchi is researching Indian stand-up comedy, an area far removed from fossil fuels or household duties, but intrinsic to the globalised culture of contemporary India. Both her children are of the view that the PhD has caused her permanent head damage. Despite her impaired brain, she has managed to not let any hate speech escape her lips, nor has she broken any significant law yet… except for running a red light on an arterial road in her suburb once. However, she is yet to purchase an electric car so her family and she could go on more guilt-free road-trips exploring Australia, developing their characters during these travels, and musing about their experiences in this excellent blog set up by their dear friends.


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2 Kommentare

Tupur Chakrabarty
Tupur Chakrabarty
14. Juli 2023

You have an enviable way with words, Suchi - it left me with a longing for all things lost...

And your bio had me in stitches!

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14. Juli 2023
Antwort an

Thank you, Tupur. Thanks to you and Rakesh for giving me this wonderful opportunity to put my words out... literally😍

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