“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of the air, that emanation from the old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”
~ Robert Louis Stevenson, from Essays of Travel
Trailing behind, I watch my little family toddle along the forest path. Both children so engrossed in their surroundings and their grandparents they barely register I’m not in my usual position right beside them.
The eldest rushes along, keen to beat everyone back to the picnic area, whooping to hear the echo of her voice and whipping wild flowers out of their comfortable homes as she goes. Grandad tries to keep up, getting his measure of exercise for the week.
The little one, holding hands with her Nanna, stops every two minutes to bend down and inspect the small things, taking her time to smell the flowers.
I love their differences, and how a short walk highlights their personalities. I love being able to take a step back and see how they interact with their world. And I love being able to record the memories.
We’re exploring Sheoak River Nature Walk in the Otway Ranges up behind Lorne, on the Great Ocean Road. Well maintained walking tracks and a picnic area make it a popular with visitors to the area, but today it’s wet and cold so there are only a few people out here wandering about.
The walk is just a few kilometres long, looping around from the picnic area at the car park and back again, so it’s great for small children with lots to explore, pick and prod along the way.
Fungi erupt from the damp undergrowth and fallen tree trunks; a hollowed out strangulation fig provides shelter from the transient rainfall, and miniature wild flowers make for lovely child-sized bouquets.
Like all walks in the forest, the weariness accumulated from late nights and disturbed sleep ebbs away with every step.
And so, when we arrive back at the picnic area and the sun has climbed high enough to reach down into the forest floor, we’re rejuvenated once more, wondering why we don’t go walking more often.
For more information, Visit Great Ocean Road have a great downloadable PDF with map.