Thursday, 5 November 2015

Salsify days (from Trentham to Violet Town)

Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) flowers have been out in great numbers this year, lining the roads between Daylesford, Woodend and Kyneton. They are a great source of free food if you can identify them before they flower. By now the roots have become too woody to roast. The flower seeds however can be toasted and used in a salad and the petals make a great edible garnish.

We arrived in Woodend with an afternoon to relax before introducing ourselves to Woody, co-owner of New Leaves Bookstore. He had set up a prominent stand of our books before a nice little crowd gathered. Thanks Woody!

We were invited back to the Earthstar's home where we were treated to delicious food from their garden, a fine bed and the chance to enjoy Sam and Woody, both 3 years old, playing together. Thank you sweet family!

We left Woodend early attempting to beat the storms, but got wholly drenched anyway and thus reinitiated into the vagaries of cycle touring life. We loved it, especially as it remained warm and the ride along the old Cobb and Co coach road was quiet and virtually carless until we arrived in Kyneton and pulled up at Aesop's Attic Bookshop, greeted by the store owner, Clare.

From Aesop's we took a small group out on a foraging walk identifying over 20 edible species within a short walk from Clare's well stocked bookshop (that sells excellent books such as Dark Emu), 

before returning to give a reading and Q & A to a lovely bunch of book punters. Energised by our first two events we rode on towards Pastoria, coming across this wonderful signifier of chemical-company-embedded environmentalism — get your government-funded carcinogens cheap!

We made camp behind the Pastoria CFA,

slept soundly, woke up, had some breakfast, stretched down, 

took to the road and momentarily became muddled with all the possible routes we could take.

We've been finding this trip that if we have a few nuts and some dried fruit in the mornings, ride for an hour or two, then cook up a big billy of porridge we get away much earlier and do more riding in the coolest part of the day.

The road from Tooborac to Seymour was fairly uninteresting, punctuated regularly by roadkill in varying states of decay. When we arrived in Seymour we put Zero in a regulation travel box and for the first time we were all legitimate travellers on the state's public transport.

We got off a few stops along the track in Violet Town, where 2 weeks shy of 2 years ago we arrived in this little town. We found the same friendliness and abundance of street accessible fruit.

In 2013, at 14 months of age, Woody fell in love with loquats in Violet Town, and the passion hasn't waned.

And once again the town offered up free camping,

free power, and one of the local shops was giving away the most delicious grapefruits.

We set up the Artist as Family merch stand on the main drag and sold a few copies of our book,

before we ran our second foraging walk for the tour and our third book event. These two gigs occurred at Dave Arnold's Murrnong Permaculture Farm.

Before we say farewell for this leg of the trip we want to tell you we've found an error in our tour map. So, for all you Southern Highlanders, please note our event is on the 2nd of December in Bowral.

OK, so we said we weren't going to blog much this trip. Let's update that to we'll blog when we can because we'd like to. We hope, Dear Reader, that your days are filled with things you like too, that your winds are fair and your hands are sticky from overhanging fruit.


  1. I've been wondering what this flower is - thanks for the foraging lesson :-)

    1. Apparently salsify was a more popular root veggie than carrots in Renaissance Europe. Without its flower salsify blends into the roadside as grass so is hard to spot. But we've successfully established it in our garden where alongside parsnip they have naturalised.

  2. Hi Patrick,
    Sorry I missed you at Aesop (it's Will the one you met on the train a couple of times to Melbourne!). Was gutted we couldn't make it, but was stuck at home with two sick children. Hope you have another great adventure - maybe we can catch up when you return?

    1. Hello Will, lovely to hear from you. That's such a shame your children were unwell, hope everyone is much better now. It was a great event at Aesop's Attic. Thanks for calling in and saying g'day, we'd love to catch you when we get back in late January.

    2. Lets do it. Happy travels. If by chance you're coming back via Malacoota of all places, we're renting a place for a couple of weeks over Christmas and you'd be welcome to pitch up there. Just throwing it out there. Something to consider. :)