GREAT ESCAPE: Menswear urban designer David wears chambray quilted shacket

As the cooler months started to approach, the Country Road menswear design team had a thought: they were due to get out of the office – get out of the city – and get back to experiences more authentic. Packing a few of their favourite winter designs, they set off into the forests of north east Victoria.

Words by Adam Baidawi
Photography by Adam Baidawi and Kerrin Schuppan

On a crisp (and rainy) Thursday, we set off for a forest escape, winding through the iconic Black Spur Drive towards the base of Mount Margaret in Victoria’s north east. En route, a breath of fresh air at Maroondah Reservoir (above) proved a perfect way to break-up the journey.

FORWARD PLANNING: Menswear design manager Kerrin, left, wears quilted gilet, chambray shirt and rib beanie and David, right, chambray quilted shacket, indigo windowpane check shirt, and waffle henley.

The rules for this trip were simple: rugged landscapes, absolute seclusion and a back-to-basics mix of roaring campfires and humble food. We settled on the forest-happy Marysville region, tucked in the Great Dividing Range.

ON POINT: Kerrin wears quilted jacket, indigo gingham shirt and chambray shirt.

WINTER REBOOT: Menswear casual designer Tom wears slim stretch chino and suede hiking boot.

Our first point of call on arrival? Dinner, of course. We couldn’t find any fresh fillets in town, so we opted to head to a local, sustainable trout farm. Soon after, we had a few spotted brook and rainbow trout on hand – and a proper meal to look forward to.

FRESH CATCH: Kerrin wears quilted jacket, indigo gingham shirt and chambray shirt.

When it came to cooking, simple proved best: plenty of butter and a generous helping of lemon for a little punch. We built a fire and threw them on a grill. After the trout spent 20 minutes being tickled by the flames, we finished them off by sautéing them in a skillet. The result: impossibly tender, fall-off-the-bone goodness. Simple things taste better when you’re camping. (This held true the next morning when understated bacon sandwiches were the breakfast go-to.)

DINNER: The spotted brook and rainbow trout were given a no-fuss treatment: butter, lemon and seasoning, then tossed on the grill.

A nearby Californian Redwood plantation proved a must-see. It was precisely the kind of experience that drives you out to nature in the first place: century-old timber giants that could humble even the most stubborn city-types. Plus, tall trees and late-afternoon sunlight make for a hell of a light show.

CALIFORNIA DREAMS: The hazy light streaming through the Californian Redwood plantation was a photographer's dream.

Something we forgot to do until late in the night? Look up. Suspended over the mess of trees was a bright, glimmering carpet of stars. We spent a lazy half hour scanning the skies with binoculars. Frankly, though, the campfire was the real hero. When overnight temperatures dip to single digits, you need to adapt. Happily, roaring flames, a few nips of whisky – and some winter-ready layers – kept the chill at bay.

NIGHT WATCH: The CR menswear team keep warm around the campfire. 

What they packed

Above, clockwise from top left: Hiking backpack, indigo windowpane check shirt, rib beanie, Fair Isle knit, quilted jacket, chambray quilted shacket, slim stretch chino, rib boot socks, suede hiking boot.