At the same time I’ve been learning about how manifestation personally works for me. All this is to say that I love writing blog posts, I love travel, and I love people, community, connecting, and belonging to a global family. An annoying situation occurred recently that has led me to realise how I can have some fun sharing my adventures, what I’ve learnt about people, and promote some great places to visit. I’m going to start with where I live and move on from there…
I’m a born and bred Drouinite. I went to Drouin Kindergarten, Drouin Primary School and Drouin Secondary School. Growing up I loved the green rolling hills and the weather. It rained a lot and my favourite memory was of summer when it would be hot for a couple of days then a shower of rain would come, everything cooled down and the steam would rise off the concrete and road surfaces.
Back then Drouin only had a population of 3,400 people and I will admit as a teenager I was keen to adventure beyond this grassy nook. It felt suffocating to know everyone. I went to Melbourne for University and then to Victoria’s North-East for love and to teach in Shepparton. The flatness and heat were in stark contrast to West Gippsland.
The diagnosis of Human Seminal Plasma Hypersensitivity, an allergy to semen, changed everything about my life. My marriage dissolved, it led to a career change, and my health became my priority. I realised that my soul felt at home in the hills of Drouin and I returned twenty-one years ago to set up my naturopathic business.
There is a peacefulness to Drouin that I love. The people are friendly and filled with the Aussie spirit. There is a strong sense of community, helping each other, and building on what brings out the best in people. We have a proud sporting history and an expectation of success, not just in football but badminton, volleyball, netball, and underwater hockey as well.
A community project called the Path of Achievement was opened by The Hon. Peter Garrett, in 2009 celebrating excellence in sport, recreation, and sports administration and coaching. It begins in the beautiful Drouin Civic Park and winds up through the Drouin Recreation Reserve. Over 580 people have been acknowledged and creatively celebrated in seven artworks. This unique project is worth a visit.
Drouin, 90km east of Melbourne, is perfectly located for easy access, with just over an hour drive to the snow at Mount Baw Baw, the beach and penguins of Phillip Island, the Gippsland lakes or into the city for the theatre and dinner, or of course, a game of footy during winter or cricket and tennis during the summer months.
Every February we have the Ficiofolia Festival. It’s important that you pronounce it like a local – f-ice-a-folia. Apparently the Latin pronunciation is fic-ee-folia but that doesn’t sound quite right to us! Our main street is lined with ficiofolia trees and they flower in February filling our streets with beautiful red and pink flowering gums.
We have a popular street parade, with a different theme each year, where sporting groups, schools, scouts, girl guides, and vintage car clubs participate and the community lines the streets to wave them on by. It finishes up in Civic Park for a daylong celebration with stalls, food, and entertainment for all. There is a poetry night, an Art Show, Open-air Movie Night, Fun Run and so much more.
One of my many favourite things about Drouin is the beautiful gardens. Even the Shire maintains stunning gardens and park areas throughout the town. Gardivalia is a month long garden festival in October where local people open up their gorgeous gardens for everyone to enjoy. It includes art in gardens, garden tours, demonstrations, events, and workshops all complemented by local decadent food and wine from the Gourmet Trail.
With the growth of Drouin’s population to over 9,000 in recent years our shopping precinct has changed dramatically. I’m not a coffee drinker but we have lots of places to meet with friends, have a coffee or herbal tea and chat. My favourite place to eat and socialise is Middels Restaurant. It is a tappas bar, bistro and Friday night music venue. Matt, the owner, sources great acoustic and rock bands to entertain.
We have a very active, vibrant, and creative arts community and the Gippsland Arts Festival, held for the entire month of May, is always incredible to partake of. Many artist hold open days of their studios, run workshops, displays, and events. Every form of creative expression is supported and promoted.
The Boxing Day Picnic races has become the must-do event on the calendar over the last twenty years. It’s just one big catch-up day filled with fun and laughter and is attended by young and old alike.
I feel like I’m just getting started and I haven’t even told you about all the great places you can visit within the Baw Baw Shire region like the quaint little town of Yarragon or the beautiful Tooronga Falls near Noojee (picture insert) or the old mining town of Walhalla, let alone Mount Worth at Darnum. The Shire’s motto is that ‘we are the best kept secret’ and it’s true. There is a beauty in West Gippsland that has to be felt and experienced to appreciate.
Ficifola Festival https://www.facebook.com/FicifoliaFestival
Creative Gippsland http://www.creativegippsland.com.au/
Gardivalia Festival http://www.gardivalia.com.au/
Baw Baw Shire http://www.bawbawshire.vic.gov.au/Things-To-Do
Picnic Races http://www.countryracing.com.au/drouin-picnic-racing-club
Path of Achievement https://www.facebook.com/pages/Drouin-District-Path-of-Achievement/115365425186063
Gourmet Trail http://www.wggcta.com.au/
Cannibal Creek Winery http://www.cannibalcreek.com.au/
Tarago Cheese http://www.taragocheese.com/
Laurie Collins http://lauriecollins.com.au/
Tooronga Falls http://www.world-of-waterfalls.com/australia-toorongo-falls.html