Yarra Ranges is my stomping ground. I never tire of its beauty,the creativity of its people, and the abundance of things to do and see.
Fun without plastic
'Crank- Up' is the ultimate heritage festival based as it is in the grounds of the Upper Yarra Museum. Recently refurbished with the assistance of Yarra Ranges Council, the museum is a living history museum that demonstrates the way life used to be when timber was one of the most vital industries to sustain the population in the Upper Yarra Valley.
Situated in what was the old railway station and adjacent to the Warburton rail trail, the museum has a fine collection of costumes, memorabilia, equipment, machinery and buildings. There is a working forge operated by a team of blacksmiths, hay baling machinery, butter churns, weaving looms, and a complete station house and school room.
A simple children's play area constructed basically from old logs is situated on an expanse of lawn within the museum compound and is a place where children can play imaginatively with not a drop of plastic in sight. The festival continues on into the surrounding parkland where working draught horses are kept for admiring and patting as well as a few demonstrations of their incredible strength. These beautiful animals remind you of how reliant we once were on them to just survive.
The piece de resistance of this festival is the woodchop event on Sunday 7th, which showcases the skills of professional axemen from all around the country. This is a great spectacle to watch, and is always a big drawcard. Coupled with the 'hot chainsaw' race, it is a reminder of the old show days when these types of events drew thousands of people in a big arena.
However, this is a smaller, and very intimate venue, with lots to see and do. It is beautifully situated next to the Yarra Centre, and in parkland that runs down to the Yarra river. When you're exhausted from watching such physicality, you can pick up something to eat from one of the many stall that will be available, meander down to the river, admire the draughthorses on your way, and have a picnic under the shade of the giant trees.
Alternatively you could ride bikes along the Lilydale to Warburton rail trail which goes right past the front door. Dismount, enjoy the festival, and either return the same way or continue on. Yarra Junction, for those not familiar to the area is situated about 25 km from Lilydale on the Warburton Highway, or 68 km (1 .25 hrs) from Melbourne by road. The rail trail is easily accessible from Lilydale railway station, which makes it a fabulous day out for bike riders, or even an overnight stay.