The phone rang, ‘Hello, Lyrebird Cottages, Stewart speaking. The lady on the other end said, ‘I want to elope to Lyrebird Cottages’.

I’d heard this before. The first time, a few years ago, our guest said she wanted to elope and would we be witnesses to the ceremony? Just five of us. It was a secret and no one else would know. We were delighted. The day came, the sun shone, it was bright and clear. Bride and groom looked fabulous, the ceremony would be on the deck of the cottage. The forest was alive with the song and chatter of birds in spring. We took pictures. The celebrant was relaxed and charming.

After formalities we toasted the smiling newlyweds.

At the time I wondered what it meant to elope. Didn’t it mean to run away secretly with a lover, without family approval? But our eloping guests were adults who had decided on a simple and secret wedding, no fuss, no stress and a surprise announcement and celebration for friends and family after  the event. It made sense.

Now, once again it was Springtime at Lyrebird Cottages. Wattles had burst into masses of yellow flower, fairy wrens flitted through the garden gathering dried grasses for nests. The earth was warming, renewal was everywhere.

Spring in Victoria is the time for the AFL Grand Final and the Melbourne Cup. In the Yarra valley, young lambs are grazing, buds are bursting in the vineyards, it is the beginning of a new vintage and elopement is in the air.

‘Certainly’ I said to the lady on the phone, ‘we would love you to elope to Lyrebird Cottages’.