Since becoming a dad my fly fishing time has been somewhat reduced. Which is fine. It turns out there are far more important things in life than hitting the water at every chance possible. Plus, the dreams I had of strapping the wee fella into a carrier and heading off for an afternoon on the water have proved to be just that. Dreams. Like most expectant dads, I was wildly optimistic about what would be feasible with the little dude in toe. Reality turned out to be somewhat different, having to take into account expressing milk, all the stuff you need to carry around for a day out with a baby and the regular need for naps to name just a few of the complications. Fishing with babies is possible and I’ve done it at every chance possible, its just that those chances, where everything comes together, have been few and far between.
In light of these constraints, I’ve had to find more baby appropriate outdoor activities that allow me to spend time in the great outdoors. Spending weeks on end in the city eventually gets me down and I need to get out, even if its only for a few hours. This has seen me embracing day trips to the areas just outside of Melbourne. Its also freed my exploring of my major pre-fatherhood constraint, “is the fishing good?”. Suddenly, there is a reason to visit areas around Melbourne that I would never have previously considered. These day trips have provided me with an increased appreciation off the outdoor delights that lie just outside Melbourne.
By necessity, the pacing of these day trips is far more leisurely than a day out fishing. Instead of go go go, downtime needs to be incorporated. The need for a nap can be accommodated by taking time out for cheese platter and a glass of pinot at a local vineyard. And you know what, its a pretty awesome way to spend a day. So while I’m fishing less, fatherhood isn’t all doom and gloom. Instead the constraints provide the opportunity to see and appreciate things in new ways. I’m sure this will only strengthen as the little dude starts to grow up. I can’t wait to get him out fishing and exploring further afield, getting the chance to experience “old” things as new again (hello bait fishing!).
Last weekend was a perfect example of one of our recent day trips. Instead of being up before the sun and fishing as the sun poked its head over the horizon, we had a leisurely breakfast at home and headed out for a coffee. After his morning nap we bundled the bub into the car and made our way out to the Dandenongs, a place I hadn’t really explored in my six years in Melbourne, because, you know, the fishing isn’t great.
The first stop for the day was Yamina rare plants. Set on a number of acres right in the heart of the Dandenongs are row after row after row of weird and wonderful plants. For someone like me who has a bit of a thing for plants, it was heaven. On its own its well worth the trip from Melbourne, I highly recommend it. I can’t wait to get back there in spring when more of the plants are at their best (mainly the deciduous plants, winter isn’t really the best time to appreciate those). We couldn’t help ourselves and ended up coming away with a few new plants for our backyard, one for me, one for my partner and one for the bub.
Next stop was Sherbrooke forest and the walk to Sherbrooke falls. The cold, crisp, winters day provided the perfect backdrop for the forest, giving the tree fern understory and towering mountain ash an enchanting moodiness. The walk itself was an easy one, relatively flat and just a little over a kilometre to the falls. If you live in Melbourne and haven’t walked among the local Mountain ash forests, you probably should. Mountain ash are the second tallest tree in the world (second only to California’s coastal redwood) and there is something humbling and enriching about walking through the wet, lush tree fern understory while huge trees tower overhead. The little dude was absolutely transfixed by the forests and spent the whole walk with his head back looking up, taking it all in in a way that only babies can. The falls themselves weren’t all that impressive, but the forest more than made up for it.
After our forest walk it was time for a nap, so we headed home (car trips are great for naps), picking up some cannoli on the way, because who doesn’t love cannoli. It might not have been fly fishing, but a pretty damned good substitute.