We decided to ditch the computer games and really slow down the pace, hiring a quaint horse-drawn gypsy wagon in the Otway State Forest. It was a terrific family getaway and we even took the dog.
Graham and Penny Nowell have four gypsy wagons for hire at Barongarook, near Colac. The wagons are spacious and comfortable with the air of a 1960s caravan. The deluxe cabin is slightly wider than the others, has an oven and is pulled by two rather than one horse. Apart from the honeymooner’s wagon, the other wagons all sleep five.
Graham hitched up Mighty and Andy, the two horses, and showed us the ropes. The kids played cards inside, hung out the front window, took turns at the reins and jumped in and out of the wagon as it rumbled along at the pace of an easy walk.
When we reached the campsite, Penny had already started a fire, lit the gas lantern and set up the camp table and chairs.
She unharnessed the horses, gave them food and water and hitched them up for the night, and with a cheerful farewell left us to the silence of the forest. Guests have to take their own food but all utensils, as well as fresh water, are supplied. The stars twinkled above us, the horses snorted amicably and we sang around the campfire, toasting marshmallows.
Next day we relaxed into the rhythm, let the dog run free to sniff rabbit holes and the girls took over the reins completely. But all too soon we were heading home, relaxed and happy.