The smell of the Otways

Have you ever decided on a nice warm summer's day to just hop in the car and go for a drive up into the heart of the Otways. Pack the thermos, throw a few sangers together and load up the kids ("hey why not take the camera instead of that game boy thingo "). Away you go.

Head off up the hill past the last bit of cleared land and far off views and hit the bush. Let's see who spots their first tree fern as we get closer to Benwerrin. Anybody ever been to the old Great Western Coalmine near Seaview Track. It's only about a 45 minute walk from the bitumen. (Unfortunately it's more than an hour back UP from the coalmine!). Grab a hunk of coal and throw it on the fire tonight. "Come on dad, rocks don't burn". Wonder what that old rusted safeway trolley is doing way down here and why would someone plant a poplar this far away from home? Questions questions.

Righty-o, back to the car, the oldies into the thermos and oxygen mask. Kiddoes pullin' leaches just discovered. Don't ya' just love the bush, kids? As we hit the Mt Sabine Rd we pass the old sawmill, a glimpse of the sun before we duck back into dappled shade and tall trees. Hey isn't this the spot where we come to when it snows. Build wet, dripping snowpersons that have melted like the wicked witch before we're hypothermic and ready to go. Ahh, the memories. But today it's 27 degrees, the insects are noisy and flitting about, the birds are mid day silent and us human types have decided to stop the diesel mobile for another stretch in a patch of land that can best be described as a glade. A myriad of shrubs and bushy trees snuggled under some towering roughbarked messmate.

We open our doors and then it hits us. Our first breath sinks in to the lungs and our brain reads a fragrance best described as THE OTWAYS. Maybe it's the smell of bush all over the countryside. Who knows, who cares? All we think about is the Otways and that luscious, sweet and musky odour that appears to be everywhere but is emitted from nowhere in particular. It is truly the smell of the bush. Take away one component and the smell would still be there but slightly changed. You go up to a blanket leaf and take a whiff. Oh yes, that's it. But hang on dad, this musk daisy has quite a smell too. And what about all this yellow flowered fireweed, there seems to be quite an odour when we crush the leaves. We walk further down the track and come across a nice grove of satinbox and phew, strong smell here too. And then another few metres and we hit the wall with that gloriously named shrub, the stinkwood and our senses go into warp drive!

The strange thing is, not one of those plants by themselves resembled the original smell that we breathed in as we got out of our vehicle. That beautiful all encompassing frangrance of the Otways themselves. It can't be bottled.

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