With uncanny family understanding (or extreme hunger) we left the Torquay caravan cottages heading for big breakfasts and coffee. I had a very nice hash brown harry (hash brown, bacon and eggs on bread) from the Sand-bah in Torquay and two cups of coffee to keep me going the rest of the day. Kelly tucked in to a very big breakfast while Mum and Susan got info from the owner regarding whether the Otway airwalk was worth diverting for. With a big fat “not really” Mum decided against the side trip so once again has to shelve plans to go on an airwalk. We’d missed the one in Tasmania as well.
A quick after breakfast toilet stop was made at the surf shopping mall in Torquay. This area is the home of the Rip Curl brand and the store was a fitting monument to all they had accomplished. The only people there were staff opening up the stores at 9.30 on a Sunday morning. If surfers were ever looking for a surf shop shrine then this would be the place. Billagbong, Oakley and numerous other surf stores all worked in unity to make sure the dudes and slags looked their best in boardies and thongs. Ok, so I’m bitter that all the female shirts I liked would have covered only one of my breasts. 😀
20 mins later we were standing on cliffs overlooking Bells Beach. The surfers were out but the waves didn’t look gnarly or bitchin. There are some expensive houses out there with big windows and telescopes that are probably owned by Tom Carroll or Kelly Slater (or Burt Newton). I wasn’t especially overawed but we only spent 3 mins there so it isn’t really a fair judgement.
Back on the road again with Mum at the wheel and Madonna riding shotgun. I got the middle seat at the back and discovered how uncomfortable it is to be in the back of a van. I’m sure Mum was aiming for the potholes. We’re all happily chilling out to Carole King while taking in the views when I suddenly find myself with seat belt burns and the sound of “shit” ringing throughout the van. Mum had seen the Great Ocean road sign and slammed on the brakes so we could stop and get a picture. Grumbling and moaning we evacuated the vehicle in front of a large busload of Japanese tourists. Seven of us were lining up for the requisite photos when Madonna suggested we do a bum pose worthy of some Aussie beach bums. This photo amused the Japanese greatly and they all took shots of us laughing as they did so. Kelly got singled out for a private photo which she interpreted to mean more bum baring, so I took a photo of the japanese taking a picture of her. Surreal. Giggling we all got back in the van, waved to Kelly’s fans and squealed out of the carpark cackling as we went.
Our next stop was a lovely town called Lorne that had galahs eating grass near the beach and life boats practicing catching waves to the shore. Toilets were seeked out, shoes were purchased and maps were read searching for Teddy’s Lookout. Auntie Sue decided that her asthma was worth a trip to the medical centre so we ditched her outside the hospital and headed up to check out the view from the lookout. The view was magnificent. There were crashing waves, dipping mountains, a green valley, curving roads and a big cock. I don’t think I quite understand the male need to talk about large appendages but this also occurred when we went to Tasmania. Is it insecurity, is it bragging? I don’t know cause I don’t have one.
Auntie Sue still hadn’t contacted us so we took another side trip to a waterfall about 8kms out of town. After a quick glance and some photos we headed back to town to pick up Auntie Sue. We found her at the bottom of the hill near the main road. Her asthma had settled enough for her to get an ice cream. As the car stopped for her I saw her taking a childish and estatic lick from it as she rounded the back of the car. The next thing I see is a broken bottom of cone and forlorn look on her face. We all cackled at her misfortune as she got in and the last thing I remember of Lorne is a lonely and uneaten ball of icecream in the middle of the road eating dust from our Tarago’s wheels. I had tears in my eyes and I’m still not sure if it was for the ice cream or laughing at Auntie Sue.
About an hour later our hunger forced a stop at McDuff’s Bakehouse which is “seriously yum” according to the sign. Since we are suckers for advertising we figured we’ll take up their challenge and see if it lived up to it’s promotion. It had started to spit when we stopped so the couches and fireplace were a welcome site. Unfortunately the place was “seriously busy” as they were short a waitress but after a long wait I managed to get an apple pie and hot chocolate. I was happy with my purchase and Pauline enjoyed her flourless chocolate cake but I guess they weren’t rave worthy. I liked the stop though and I’m sure it wouldn’t be as crazy on a weekday.
Another long drive and we finally arrived at the destination we had aimed for all day. The famous Twelve Apostles. It’s odd because on the approach you see some cliffs, a highway and a large mass of people walking around in the middle of nowhere. This is because the carpark is one side of the road and the cliffs are on the other. Everyone has to walk under the highway to get to the viewing platforms. Surprisingly there isn’t a grotesque souvenir shop there with t-shirts and snow trinkets. Only toilets, a few arty installation things and a wheelchair friendly walkway. Oh and 1000 foreigners and 8 ladies from Queensland. It was quite chilly so Madonna did a quick run through and then back to the car while we all posed for pictures with ET. Mum informed us that a shipwreck occurred here and a cabin boy scaled the cliffs to find help for him and the only other survivor who was a woman. These days they’d call what he did free climbing but in those days it wasn’t an extreme sport, it was survival.
The Twelve Apostles was an experience akin to visiting Uluru, the Opera House or Brisbane’s own Kodak beach. A truly Aussie experience.
By now we were singing the song “on the road again”. A quick fuel stop at Port Campbell, a few twist and turns and we are off the Great Ocean Road and heading back towards Melbourne along the Princes highway. We stopped at McDonalds in Colac for some coffee and a loo. A caramel sundae in a cone was not enough to keep us there no we were in the perpetual motion mode so it was back on the highway. We zoomed through Geelong pointing out the two large churches and the Mitre 10 Mega. The skyscrapers of Melbourne appeared in the distance as Pauline navigated her way through the traffic. The pressure was on me to navigate our way through the complex freeway and road system so with a map, some signs and a bit of arsey luck we drove directly to the apartments without having to turn around once. Sweat was rolling down my back the whole time we did it as I had 7 women ready to pounce if I got it wrong.
We were staying at the Paramount Apartments for the two nights we were in Melboune and Mum had booked it through wotif. Each apartment had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchenette, study, lounge and balcony. It was really good value for about $230 a night – especially for where it was located. It’s in Exhibition St on top of a shopping centre. It does have an annoyingly complex maze of elevators and doors but the security is hard core. You need a swipe card to get to your floor and the lift doesn’t let you press any button other than your floor and ground. There are more swipe cards at the exits so even if you get through those you still can’t go anywhere.
We dumped our bags and chilled on the couches for a while until it was time to eat. Kelly, Fiona and I ditched the others who were going for chinese in Chinatown and decided to take our chances in St Kilda. We headed down to Collins St to await the 112 tram freezing our butts off. Had a hard time trying to decipher what ticket we needed to buy to get there. We knew we had to get a zone 1 but could only afford the city saver with our change. So we got on the tram, bought the citysaver and then realised we needed to get the $5.80 ticket instead. We decided we would take our chances as Tram criminals and DIDN”T change our tickets! Who’s bad. 😀
After about 20 mins the tram dumped us at it’s final stop at Fitzroy St. We contemplated waking the guy up in front of us who had fallen asleep with his head sticking out in to the aisle-way but nobody wakes a bear when it is sleeping. At 9.00pm on a Sunday night St Kilda was still awake and kicking. It was like Brisbane around 5pm on a weekday. Lots of restaurants, lots of buskers, lots of pubs. We bought some pizza at the New York Pizza slice and sat outside to eat it. Excellent place to people watch. There were tourists, yuppies and indie kids all mingling together in the one st. The Tramcar restaurant paused to change it’s direction right in front of us and managed to block traffic because the driver forgot to take down the front trolley pole when he put up the back trolley pole. It amused us for quite some time.
After eating we decided that we should stop in a pub to see what the results were for Australian Idol (Kelly was curious). We found a boutique pub with the show on the tv so we entered. Lots of people were sitting in front of the bar so there was no way we could order. We stood awkwardly for about 3 minutes looking at them looking at us then we hightailed it out of there. I’m sure I heard them laughing “queenslanders” behind us. Undeterred we headed for the next pub along which was the Prince of Wales. Upon entry we saw extremely masculine men, extremely feminine females and lots of pool tables. Kelly ordered a weird cocktail, I got a beer and Fiona had a rum and coke. We found this square room with seats that was completely devoid of people so we sat in there. Kelly spotted two guys hi five each other then proceed to enter the room and place their jug of beer on our table. One of the guys began his chatting up ritual on Kelly but she was not receptive to his charms. By then I was wondering why the room was so empty, was this the desperate and dateless room? I mentioned this to Kelly and she pointed out that this was the non-smoking area. No wonder it was empty!
I decided that the room on the other side of the bar looked interesting so I said I was going to have a look. Kelly and Fiona quickly followed me to the jukebox where we perused the material. Expecting the usual Jimmy Barnes and Diesel we were stunned to see the Sound of Music, Grease and the Village People. Kelly looked at me inquisitively as I turned around and noticed the Rainbow coloured flag above the bar. “Kelly” I said with anticipation of her expression, “Do you realise this is a gay bar?”. “Ohhhh” she says, “that explains everything!”. She then proceeded to ask the nearest gay guy who won idol and was told Casey. The chat up guy overheard this conversation and interupted saying it was the short little guy. He then started swearing that it was the f**kin little guy who won it and f**ckin this and f**ckin that. We took that as our cue to leave. We discovered later that on Sunday nights half the Prince of Wales has a gay night. Funny!! 😀
We bought some legal tickets for the tram from a very nice guy in the 7-11 and headed back to the apartments for some well deserved sleep. You know you’ve had a full day when you’ve been to the 12 apostles, seen a big cock and been chatted up by guys in a gay bar.