Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hot Flushes, Road Trips and Fun With Friends

I'm back from what is arguably one of the most beautiful pieces of coastline in Australia, the Great Ocean road extending from Airey's Inlet to beyond Pt Cambell. It's wild, blue, rugged and has the most amazing cliffs and free standing rock pylons battered by the sea. Of course, my camera decided to do a bunk on the first day and refused to open the lense so I had the advantage of borrowing TheTeacher's Sony D-SLR. I think I've found my new interest and may make the investment and buy myself an early Christmas Present.

The trip started slightly whacky as we waited at the wrong gate to board our plane. Qantas ended up combining three empty flights and changed the boarding gate but we were so enjoying our $9 champagnes and nattering at the bar that we didn't hear the announcement "Greaves Le Nevez and Bainbridge . . . you are delaying QF 546 to Melbourne, please make your way to Gate 23". Ah, it was all in good fun although I realised that I haven't actually 'run' anywhere for quite some time, let alone from gate 11 to 23 on a shiny terazzo floor! Maybe that's why I don't feel crash hot. Could have damaged some of the wobbly bits.

We started with eggs benedict in a book shop - the only way to start a day then moved on to Monsalvat, home of the Heidleberg school of artists, a higgledy piggledy hotch potch of french reproduction buildings that encourages craftsmanship and artists from all over Victoria. From guitar makers to dressmakers, painters and sculptors, it's well worth the $10 entry to wonder around and the photo opportunities are plentiful.

Monsalvat Artists' Retreat - Heidelberg

Then we hit the road. It was hilarious, old friends, catching up for the first time in a year. Four women, two hot flushing, two awaiting the joys of menopause, all in great need of good coffee, managed to road trip from Melbourne along the Geelong coast and down to Airey's Inlet and in great comfort and style I might add. We were comfortably packed into a state-of-the-art Toyota Kluger, complete with ringing bells and whistles, GPS navigation and all the electronica to ensure we were heading in the right direction. Although the argument is still going on as to whether it was 'gold' or 'mushroom' in colour. I think Struth Ruth is mixing her metaphorical mushrooms if you know what I mean.

We stayed in the cutest, most cluttered(in a nautically overdecorated way) little blue weatherboard house surrounded by a lovely cottage garden. We nattered, we giggled, we cooked, we shopped, we blissfully talked about the lack of mugaccinos and the crappy Saturday markets at Apollo bay. We walked the beach, we fossicked in the rockpools, we admired stunning views, walked up to the lighthouse that featured in Mad Max and Round the Twist and enjoyed a restaurant dinner which was way overpriced but hey . . .we were on holiday.

The highlight of the trip, besides being with good friends, was definitely the 12 Apostles. It's a long drive along the Great Ocean Road in southern Victoria but unlike the rest of Australia, the scenery seems to change more frequently. Once we emerged from a towering forest of Mountain Ash and headed towards that, wind-battered, rugged, cliff-lined coastline, it's well worth the trip. It's windy, very windy. The surf was huge, the Southern Ocean blue as the Amalfi Coast. Very spectacular and quite frankly, took my breath away. No photo can do it justice and I've seen plenty. Hopefully my shots will turn out and once TheTeacher downloads them, I'll upload them to Flickr.

Beginning of the 12 Apostles - thanks to the one in the foreground falling over,
there are now only 11 but many more in the making

After four days our local guide, TheTeacher, who lives in Melbourne, dropped us at the airport. We hugged and lamented that it would be a while before we see each other again. Thommo and Struth Ruth went home, I caught the shuttle to Flinders Street Station and was met by Arky and his lovely partner 'Nore and felt very important sitting in his vintage Mercedes to spend a couple of days them in the city. After scouring specific city stores for a particular cut of beef, the name of which escapes me but was very important for Ark to procure, we headed back to their little house and cracked open um . . . I think it was about 8 bottles all up but we stopped counting after 4. It's the first time I'd met 'Nore even though I'd talked to her on Skype and we'd emailed and thrown stuff at each other on Facebook. She's lovely, emotional, strong-willed, easy to talk to - Her first words to me "We are going to have fun!" Bless . . .and it all started out just right. These are two of my internetty friends . . .well not quite. Met Ark on a Helldesk and he was so helpful and friendly that we played a little via email and stayed in touch even though he's now moved on to better things. I didn't know it at the time but 'Nore also worked for a company with whom I have dealings. He visited me in March so it only seemed right to connect when I had the opportunity. Whilst 'Nore spent time with her own visiting family, Ark and I discovered the highlights of the city including a brief walk through Crown Casino (mainly because it was cool!) Federation Square. A masterpiece of modern architecture housing various artsy fartsy buildings, cafes, forecourts and a stage, shops and arts centre. You either love it or hate it. Actually, only the intense heat emanating from the cobbled square made me hate it . . . quite a lot.

We sighted the Aussie Netball team after their world cup victory, browsed an occult bookshop, bought geeky gadgets at Minotaur. This is a great shop. Pop Culture icons, fantasy, science fiction, models, dolls, t-shirts. I could have spent much longer there and managed to purchase talking dashboard toys for the kids . . . Darth Vader was a winner!

We marvelled at the ceiling in the ANZ bank and winced at an exhibition of art which comprised some bloke smashing and eating vinyl records and dragging a guitar behind a ute in someone's back paddock. I just hope he didn't get a government grant for the works otherwise I'm in the wrong game. We managed to visit five bars in an attempt to regain our composure after trapsing around in the heat. And before you make assumptions, only three beers and two champagnes were imbibed . . .soft drink was far more thirst quenching! We then met up with 'Nore and family for a light dinner. Crown Casino disappointed as the forecourt flames which are supposed to ignite every hour on the hour were a no show so after another round of Lemon Lime and Bitters, we headed home to put on our comfies. I love staying with people who wear tracky daks and T shirts.

We were pretty exhausted by Tuesday and frankly, I felt a lurgy coming on, held at bay only by some borrowed analgesic so we lounged and watched Ark mastering Guitar Hero and viewed multiple episodes of six feet under and the latest download of Top Gear while we all lamented the loss of winter. Melbourne was HOT. . . too hot . . . I shan't be disparaging about their cold climate again.

Then flew back Tuesday night. My fear of flying pretty much conquered althought I still hate that taking off bit. I was very brave and flew on my own. Naturally, the man in the seat next to me was doused in Joop, possibly the most disgusting aftershave ever created. It manages to blend with that end-of-the-day man smell and simply proliferates the sickly combination of cheap musk and body odour! Of course, I booked a seat over the wing so that if it did fall out of the sky, I'd be the first to go. I didn't even panic when we had to go into a holding pattern over Wollongong due to only one runway approach being used thanks to high winds in Sydney. May have had something to do with my oncoming delirium. Not sure what's wrong. No cold, no cough but definitely feeling flushy and fluey. So after six days leave I have lost all credibility with my employers by ringing in sick! Hence the rather banal post today, my imagination is feeling a little run down.

So to my darling friends, TheTeacher, Struth Ruth, Thommo, Ark and 'Nore . . . thank you all for making it a real break before my house arrest from next week. I love you all and look forward to doing it again next year! And if anyone knows where I can buy the full set of Six Feet Under . . . gimme the heads up!


nonny said...

Glad you had a good time. The 12 Apostles are amazing I loved the great ocean road. Did you get to that bit where some boat from Ireland crashed years ago and only a little deck boy survied and then he swam all the way back out to the ocean to rescure a damsel in distress, hanging onto a chicken coup I believe?

Baino said...

Hi Nonny: Yep the Loch Aird. Quite moving. How he managed to climb that cliff after rescuing the chick I dunno. (We speculated that after they'd 'rested' there may have been some hanky panky given their age and her probable state of undress!) Apparently they were rescued by a stockman! Hard to imagine even today as there's absolutely nothing for miles around. It's stunning alright. First time I'd seen it. Highly recommended for anyone visiting Oz.

Ryan said...

thank goodness, i've had my blog fix. welcome back.

Grannymar said...

Welcome home Baino, you were really missed.
Little Bro tells me it has been raining heavily non stop for 20 hours in Melbourne, bet you are glad you missed it.

Brianf said...

I'm glad to hear you had a good time.

nonny said...

I couldn't remember what it was called it was pretty cool alright the guide we had was great and told us all about the big bush fire and only that mad looking house was left standing. We had been pushed for time and decided not to do it until the last minute, so glad we did though it was amazing as was the free tram around Melbourne!!

Baino said...

Ryan: Aww thanks youngling

GM: Ah that explains last night's thunderstorm in Sydney must have been the evapouration from Fed Square's cobblestones - they were HOT

Brian: Thanks big guy. I thought about you and envied your winter!

steph said...


If this is banal... can't wait for the HOT stuff!

Welcome back and hope you feel better soon!

- in time for an important date
- you're gonna sail through it
- best thing ever
- I've got the tee-shirt!

p.s. it's 4 - 8 C in Ireland

Anonymous said...

FUN reading! Pleased you had a great time and surprised Melbourne isn't really cold! Passed through there only once ... to Tassie. Get well soon!

Anonymous said...

"an exhibition of art which comprised some bloke smashing and eating vinyl records and dragging a guitar behind a ute in someone's back paddock."

You sound like the most excellent friend to go on holidays with!

Round the Twist, eh? I LOVED that show when I was a kid, but for some reason nobody seems to remember it now, not to mention it's themetune. Bloody excellent totally twisted Aussie show, that was.

Baino said...

Steph: Thanks after today, I'm looking forward to the bloody holiday!
Anonymous: Surprised the pookanooey out of me too. The day I left it dropped to 15 and started to pour! It's a nice place to pass through. Tassie is prettier.
K8: Why thank you . . I'll have a go at anything as long as it doesn't involve jumping off something high with a rubber band tied round my waist. Good wasn't it "Have you ever, ever felt like this . . . strange things happen when you're going round the twist!" Apt anthem for today's antics.

Baino said...

And thank you my loyal little bunch of bloggymites. I feel much appreciated.