Great Ocean Road
The descent into Apollo Bay marked the end of the long hard days: we had pushed pretty hard through South Australia! As we then began to wind our way along the Great Ocean road we started to relax and enjoy the scenery, knowing we would have no trouble making it to Melbourne for the weekend. We timed our Great Ocean road experience well: smack in the middle of schoolies week! We were probably lucky not to get skittled by some boozed up teenager.
Great Ocean Road was great! Please excuse the understated tone and lack of detail, I have not really had time to detail everything we did on the trip!
Torquay was the last stop before the ride to the train at Geelong. The holy ground of surfing in Oz was as commercial as you can get: all kinds of warehouse sales populated by young girls and their mothers on a shopping trip from Melbourne. We ate lunch at a funky cafe next to the offices of some of the big surf brands, with most of the customers sporting the latest gear and attitudes that signalled we really were getting close to the city. Unfortunately our camping spot was less than funky: in a sea of beautiful grass we were assigned a site that was 100% sand. Although it turned out to be a good vantage point to observe a heated, early morning, inter-generational debate about what is decent hour to go to sleep!
The surf museum was alright, especially cool was the shaper in a box: this guy shaping away, covered in foam, being peered at like a goldfish through a perspex window!
We also spent an afternoon lazing around on the grass near the sea, looking over the pine trees and curve of the bay and thinking about what we could eat. An afternoon cruise around revealed a number of good eateries, but we chose the elephant/hippo (????) where we had a few glasses of wine whilst waiting for……..my wasabi risotto balls (???) I was incredibly enthusiastic about my meal … declaring it to be the best I had ever eaten and profusely thanking the staff there. Surely all very amusing to Gabrielle, though we were surely both over 0.05 for the ride home!
Melbourne was very cool. We started off staying with Gabrielle’s friend Dave. A classic moment was our quick trip to the beach that took hours! It was cool to visit Portsea, and there were a few waves to be had, but the lifesavers were pretty vigilant about swimming between the flags! A very different beach experience to Perth!
Gabrielle had to go home to work, but I stayed on, but not before we both went to meet John at his bookshop. It was a bit of an affort for Gabrielle and I to find the right part of Acland street, but well worth the walk to see John pottering around in his fancy bookshop wearing cargo shorts a t-shirt and thongs: very Melbourne.
Melbourne to …Geraldton!?
The most vivid recollection from my time in Melbourne was my excursion wiht John to the Belgian Beer Garden next to the Deaf Institute, not far from the Botanic Gardens and St Kilda road. The afternoon was sunny, with just the amount of rain to make you think about taking shelter, but then deciding against it. The experience of watching my glass: cleaned, rinsed, filled, left to sit, foam scraped off, then given a final rinse off added immeasurably to the great taste of the dark and light varieties of Hoogaarden beer. (Note: the beer is the technically the same in the Freemason’s Pub in Geraldton, but tastes very, very average in comparison to Melbourne.)
I think I had downed one each of the dark and light varieities of Hogaarden, before John’s phone rang. It was Caroline to say that my mother had somehow managed to call her and had an urgent message: I had to call a person by the name of Kim Nardi in the next 20 minutes to secure a job with Fisheries in Geraldton!!! This was totally unexpected, as I had previously been sent a letter saying I didn’t get the job!
I pondered the message for a minute: briefly discussing the pros and cons of the position with John over the dregs of my beer, before heading off to find a phone box, as John’s phone was out of credit. Speeding off, half-cut, around the Melbourne streets in search of a phone, and wouldn’t you know it the first TWO I found were broken! Hesitating at the beer garden to consider my options had taken some time, and now I was getting stressed out!! I finally found a phone and made the call. I immediately accepted when the offer was put to me and began to wildly underestimate how long it would take me to get from Melbourne to Geraldton and be ready to start work. Kim, on the other end of the phone, tried to stop me from making rash promises…but I still managed to say I would be there in just a few days. So, my Melbourne holiday got cut short, and I was off to Geraldton!!!! but, not before I few more beers and half a bottle of very, very expensive cleanskin wine that Caroline had been keeping for a special occassion!!! Ooopppsss.