For two days I camped in a cold and wet forest in the Central Highlands (approx. 3 hours from Melbourne). Despite the bad timing (weather-wise), I had an excellent time and it was so great to get out into the countryside. I was invited along for the trip by one of the girls I was staying with – her Aussie mate drove us in his massive 4×4.
It took a while to get to the small camp site in the forest as we took a wrong turn… needless to stay it ended up being a rather fun but rocky ride in the car along all the dirt tracks – thank goodness we had an off-road vehicle!
We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the secluded camp site and checking out the local town. Woods Point was once a thriving mining community – most residents worked in the gold mines. There was once multiple hotels, pubs, shops and a hospital. But now, with the closure of most mines (only a few come to work in the mines, but they stay in the provided accommodation), the town has dwindled to only 40 residents, but it still boasts an old fashioned pub and tiny general store. We enjoyed a drink in the pub, a game of pool on the tiny pool table, and walked around taking pictures of the abandoned petrol station and classic cars lying around in the bushes.
Whilst I was taking a photo of the above abandoned car an elderly gentleman walked past who had lived in the town for most of his life. He was taking his daily walk to the store to post his letter and have a chat with the policeman who seems to spend most of his day drinking coffee at the single table in the store, come post office, come cafe. He told me about the change in the town, about how one of the famous Australian beers was first brewed there, and how many pubs there once were lining the main street. He recognised my British accent because there’s a young girl working in the pub (I was surprised to hear a British accent in the middle of nowhere!) – this seems to be the talk of the month. The community seems very tight-nit, but also very friendly to outsiders.
It’s an incredibly fascinating town, and is an example of how many rural communities have dwindled in size because of the lack of employment and opportunities on offer.