It’s not often I’m told to, “Woman up!”
As an outspoken feminist – in the media, and our lounge room – I talk often about how words, and actions, matter.
We’re a fair way from the road when this phrase is uttered. To be precise, we are smack bang in the middle of towering eucalypts near one of Victoria’s highest waterfalls.
Steavenson Falls cascades over 122 metres, through dense forest filled with Mountain Ash, Myrtle Beech and Silver Wattle.The area around Marysville is regenerating remarkably since the 2009 bushfires but signs remain: a charred log here, a blackened trunk there.
The regeneration includes the ultra-modern Vibe Hotel on the site of the old Cumberland Guest House.The previous day, we’d visited eccentric artist Bruno Torfs, whose Art & Sculpture Garden was all but obliterated by the flames.
Like the phoenix it is renewed, along with Bruno’s humour. He shows the kids a painting, the “Mona Lisa“, before pulling a panel to make the eyes move. He then transported us on a mystical tour of mythological creatures hidden amongst the Hardenbergias. These plants are, appropriately, known as Happy Wanderers. This is how we feel, meandering around a town reborn.
The kids use eyedroppers to feed endangered birds at the nearby Healesville Sanctuary. But the highlight is the Spirit of the Sky show, complete with a talking Corella called Kevin.
At first, I’m concerned Kevin will parrot one of the phrases of his political namesake: “I’m here to help”, or “Fair shake of the sauce bottle”. Then, I worry he’ll be like my grandfather’s cockatoo, who’d learnt from his original owner, “Shut up woman, and get me a beer”! Fortunately, Kevin’s chatter is G-rated.
This celebration of avian life is followed by a commemoration of piscine death. (It’s important to teach kids about the cycle of life, right?). You can stay all day at the Buxton Trout and Salmon Farm, hooking a beauty and cooking it up for the family.
“Yikes, that’s brutal,” nine-year-old Grace whispers as our guide, Tegan, whacks her rainbow trout on the head. “It’s not cruel, actually,” Tegan explains. “A quick kill puts the fish out of its misery.”
Which brings me back to bushwalking, where I’m hoping to be put out of my admittedly-not-potentially-fatal misery.
Now I don’t know about you, but the sound of rushing water makes me want to do one thing.
I’d failed to ‘go’ at the toilet block next to Steavenson Falls. According to the kids, I was whingeing all the way back to the car.
“Mum, just go in the bushes, no one will see you!” Grace exhorts, repeating what I’d told her many times before.
“Well, someone else might come along the path and, I don’t want to get my shoes wet, and there’s a steep drop off the edge and, and, and …”
“For goodness sake, Mum. Woman up!” Taj yells.
On our path towards non-gender-specific language in the house, I had banned the term “Man up”.
Thinking it would be insulting to imply I’m not as a tough as a man, Taj is gently, but firmly, telling me to piss in the bush.
So I do.
No one watches, and my shoes remain dry: success in anyone’s language.
We leave with my dignity, and sense of humour, intact.
Tracey Spicer and family travelled courtesy of Vibe Hotel Marysville.