This trip began with an intention to revisit the Great Ocean Road. We had last seen it in January 1979, when we drove West to East and covered most of it in a single day of driving from Mount Gambier to Apollo Bay. We intended to take a more leisurely approach this time. Although we had thought to fly direct from Toowoomba (Wellcamp), as we did the planning we realized the best dates followed on from a Monday night in Brisbane for a Paul Kelly book launch. That made Brisbane a more practical departure point.
In the end we left home on Sunday and drove to the Gold Coast where we visited friends and stayed the night. On Monday we drove back to Brisbane, pausing at IKEA to see how that might have changed since we last visited 12 years ago. We visited Majella’s mother and then checked into City Palms motel on Brunswick Street, a short distance from the Old Museum where the book launch was happening. Parking for the Old Museum was going to be difficult so staying nearby with parking was a good solution.
We had some time to spare in the afternoon so we wandered into Fortitude Valley where Majella reminisced about the weekly shopping trips she had with her mother and siblings as a child. We walked past the old Waltons store and through the ‘retail mall’ that now occupies the old McWhirters building. Both were in a state of decay and far from the grandeur Majella recalled.
The T C Beirne building that was their regular first stop to buy lollies is in better shape. It has been taken over by a variety of night clubs and the like which have updated the decor. We had a drink at B Lucky & Sons, a noisy games place and bar, before wandering on through what remains of Chinatown and back to our motel.
A bit before 6:00 pm we walked back down Brunswick Street to eat dinner at Foresters. Majella was keen for steak until we were advised that the prices for two steak meals were reversed on the menu. She did not fancy paying $10 more for the 250g fillet and did not think she could manage the 350g rump. She had a funghi (mushroom) pizza instead while I enjoyed a rump steak which Majella pronounced overcooked since it was not as pink as she likes her medium rare steaks. It was probably a good thing she had the pizza.
After dinner we strolled back up Brunswick Street to the Old Museum. We arrived a few minutes before the doors were supposed to open but were greeted by people checking lists of names rather than tickets and given our package of goodies – an autographed copy of the book and tickets for drinks and entry. We collected our cans of beer (no plastic glasses of wine for Majella) and found seats in the middle of the room, four rows back from the stage. Mostly at shows we find ourselves well back and barely able to see the performer so our seating was a bonus.
Paul Kelly’s performance, with Alice Keath assisting on banjo and vocals, was strong as usual. Mostly he/they sang selected poems but he recited/read a couple. Several were versions of tracks from recent albums but there was some new material too. Majella commented later that he must be enjoying performances that do not involve all the old favourites from his extensive repertoire. Whatever damage his past lifestyle may have done his memory seems to be excellent – at least for lyrics.
The performance lasted a bit more than an hour so it was not a late night. Afterward we walked back to the motel for an early night since we had an early flight today.
We were up early and on the road to the airport about 6:00 am. We dropped the car at Andrews and were shuttled to the airport where we checked in and dropped our bags. As we headed for security Majella remembered that she was carrying the pocketknife she got from her mother when we moved her. Luckily there was a small store that had bags and stamps so she was able to mail it home.
Without the knife, security was easy. We ate breakfast in the Qantas Club and then boarded for our 8:10 flight. It was delayed a little but not too long. The onboard meal was a second breakfast so we arrived in Melbourne a little later than anticipated and well fed.
Our Thrifty rental car was to be a Corolla or equivalent. It is a Holden Astra which is similar in size and possibly a little better equipped. Majella drove the first shift toward Geelong while I worked on getting navigation sorted. The car has Apple CarPlay and once I worked that out I was able to get the Maps app from my phone onto the car display so we have both visual and verbal assistance.
By the time we reached Geelong we were ready for a light lunch so we paused along the shore and walked out onto Cunningham Pier. At the end we found Wah Wah Gee where we ate pork dumplings with a spicy dressing and had coffees. Refreshed, we explored another nearby pavilion where we found an old (ca 1892) carousel that had been restored.
From Geelong we drove east toward Queensclif which I had identified as worth a visit since it is at the extremity of the Bellarine Peninsula, across the entrance to Port Phillip Bay from the Mornington Peninsula. Along the way we visited the Flying Brick Cidery where we tasted the range of ciders and bought some of the Original and the Pachinga (with chilli, ginger, and lime). I was surprised that Majella fancied the Pachinga with its chilli but I think it is enough like ginger beer to tickle her fancy.
Before leaving the Cidery we spoke with two volunteers dispensing tourist information. They confirmed the value of visiting Queenscliff and suggested things to see and do.
When we parked in the Main Street at Queenscliff we spotted a store named ‘Frankie – say – relax’ and had to grab a photo for Margot and Damian’s Frankie born a week ago. Next door the Rolling Pin bakery was advertising a special – 5 pies or quiches for $20. Without knowing what facilities our accommodation would offer, Majella decided she had to have that bargain.
Before leaving Queenscliff we visited and climbed the Observation Tower near the ferry terminal and checked out Fort Queenscliff with its two lighthouses – white and black – which we had been told by our tourist guys were aligned for navigation purposes. The fort is still a military facility and we were too late for the tour so we could not get inside but were able to wander around outside and view the buildings over the wall.
From Queenscliff we drove on to our accommodation at Point Lonsdale Guest House, which is a short walk from the Point Lonsdale lighthouse. After checking in we discovered there was a communal kitchen where we would be able to heat our pies for dinner. That was just as well since we discovered on an after dinner walk that none of the eateries in the small village nearby were open.
While our ciders cooled in the refrigerator we walked out toward the lighthouse. Along the way we found the pier and walked out to the end to see what the fishers were catching – nothing at that point. We also walked down the steps to the beach where we think we saw Buckley’s Cave – it is described on a notice up top but not marked where we saw it. There were some interesting rock formations to explore.
We enjoyed our pies with cider for dinner. Afterward we walked across the road to The Rip Lookout, named for the churning waters of the Port Phillip Bay entrance. We missed the lookout because we took a path that seemed to be the way and followed it into town. That was when we realized how lucky we had been to have those pies for dinner since all the restaurants were closed for the night.