2013 Wood Days

The 2013 Old Time Wood days took place in Milltown during the weekend of 9 and 10 November. 

The following report was written by the Grant Family, long-time Wood days participants.

From the moment you drive off the highway to enter the Old Time Wood Days, you feel like you are stepping into another era, it is like walking into an old time market village, leaving behind the hustle and bustle of modern life to escape for just a few hours or if you are lucky, a few days.

Christine and Andrew Duyvestyn generously open their private “bush block” at Milltown (about ten minutes’ north of Heywood, Victoria) to over five hundred visitors every November to host the wood weekend, with the sole aim of raising as much money as possible for CIKA, an organisation that they are passionate about.

Everything for the weekend is donated, which is such the country people’s way – from the food for the Saturday night feast, to the raffle prizes and auction items, to the time and effort of the exhibitors. It is this generosity that encapsulates the whole vibe of the weekend, a true sense of community and working together towards a common goal.

We had the extremely good fortune of meeting Christine and Andrew through our Finn’s love of horses. Every day during our summer holidays at Port Fairy he would be there going for a ride on the coach and it was from these early beginnings that we have forged a very special friendship. Andrew and Christine are such wonderful friends and role models for our boys and we are forever
grateful that they invited us in to their world.

There are many things that we love about the Wood Days weekend. The family atmosphere and chance to slow down, watching all of the kids exploring and playing in the bush environment, sitting down and chatting to the person next to you over a cup of coffee and homemade cake or biscuit or hot fresh damper that has just come out of the coals. Everyone is happy and sociable, interesting and interested. It’s getting back to basics, a “no-tech” weekend where you rediscover that the simple things in life really are what make you happy. It’s the opportunity for our “city kids” to live the life of “country kids” for just one weekend. Getting dirty, climbing trees, the freedom of roaming through the bush, hunting and gathering, learning and exploring, making new friendships and rekindling old ones.

The atmosphere is relaxed with visitors watching the exhibitors work their craft, and the kids can discover how things were done back in the old days. There is nothing more satisfying than watching a tree stump being manually chopped down and turned into a tangible post and rail fence to keep the horses in. The noise of the tractors, engines and saws are incessant but in a productive way, coupled with the voices of the workers and visitors sharing tales.

The star attraction for us is seeing Tiny and Lofty working in their natural environment, pulling massive tree logs up from the bush or giving the kids a ride on the sled. The clanging of their chains, the thunder of their big hoofs and their strong powerful bodies working is a sight to see. And let’s not forget Andrew being the Pied Piper with children following him down the bush track to see what things they may discover!

The three course meal cooked on the enormous fire pit for over 150 people on the Saturday night is truly a unique experience; all orchestrated by Christine and her many helpers. Once the guests have enjoyed their meal, the old time band starts up and people gather round the tree stump candles that Andrew has set blazing earlier in the day. Enjoying a camp fire under the stars in a peaceful bush setting is truly a magical experience, an ahhhhh moment.

But the thing that we love the most is spending time with the inspirational Duyvestyn family and their extended CIKA family and friends. Andrew and Christine and the CIKA crew are to be commended for the mammoth operation of setting up this wonderful weekend for all of us to enjoy and I’m sure everyone who visited on the weekend would join with me in thanking them for their efforts.

If you do ever get the opportunity to pull in off the highway to discover the wonders of the Wood Days weekend, you will not be disappointed. We are already looking forward to Wood Days 2014!

Kristen, Jason, Jack, Finn and Max Grant,
Geelong, Victoria.

We asked our boys what they love about the Wood Days:

Learning about the old equipment, catching up with friends, eating the very tasty food, making swords in the wood shed and walking around in the bush – Jack (10 years)

Seeing Opa (Andrew) and all the horses. Sitting by the warm cosy fire at night and seeing my friends – Finn (7 years)

Playing with Ray (quick draw with the banana guns!) and the pork crackle for tea and playing with Opa – Max (4 years)