Waking up with a throbbing headache sucks when you are on holidays. I woke up with one to rival the great migraine of cadbury chocolate hangover from the 2000 Olympic Opening night. I took some drugs, but the only thing that actually fixed it was when I blew my nose. For a good 3 minutes I blew – so much so that I felt there was nothing left in my head and I was shocked to see that it was nearly all blood. Must have been the tumour. It was pretty disturbing though because the headache left immediately. I don’t think that is quite normal even if I had a cold at the time. Now that I’ve grossed you out, I’ll move on.
Today was the first day of Pauline’s shift. We had decided ages ago that she would be organising this segment of the journey so I had no idea really what she had planned. This would be the first time in our relationship that she planned a holiday so the pressure was on. Even if she did get a lot of assistance from my mother – don’t think I didn’t notice. 😉
Pauline and I spent about 20 minutes debating what method we would use to get to the rental car in Franklin Street. One choice was to buy a 2 hr pass, ride the tram to Flinders St Station, get on another tram down Swanston St and get off near the rental. The second option was to walk through Fitzroy Gardens, take the free tram to Latrobe Street and walk to the rental. This was the option we selected even though Pauline had to pull our luggage behind her (I was still sick you see). It was only when we arrived at the free tram that I thought to check what time it started and realised that it was 10am. Not good when we were there at 9am. Thankfully Parliment Train Station was nearby so I convinced Pauline that we should use that and get off at Central and walk from Elizabeth Street. That part was surprisingly easy and allowed us to buy breakfast at Central Station (even if it was Subway).
At Avis we managed to get the incompetent lady who didn’t talk to us about petrol, insurance or how to get to where we wanted to go. Thankfully one of the other ladies was aware of her incompotence and tried to make up for it with some directions. The whole process took AGES. Even people after us left before us. When we finally got the keys to the car we tried to leave the building but didn’t have a ticket. The lady had forgotten to give it to us. I had to tell the guy behind us to reverse to let us out then I ran back to get the ticket. It’s a shame that the lady let down the company that way as the other ladies were quite nice. Very frustrating way to get the car.
A few quick turns from Swanston Street and we were on the Eastern Freeway heading out of town. This area started looking familiar around about the time I saw the Mitre 10 Mega which was when I realised that this was the way we came to go to Domaine Chandon on the golden girls melbourne trip. This portion of the journey was rather uneventful as we made our way towards Lilydale. I guess there is no romance in viewing shops and industrial areas but you have to go through them to get to the good stuff. As usual I was the navigator and Pauline was the driver but I was relying on her whereis printout that she had preplanned. We were out on the Wharburton Highway having no issues when it told us to turn off. We turned off, kept driving and then turned off again – to a dirt road. Quickly reading ahead I realised that we were going to be directed back on to the highway again. It was at this point I threw the whereis printout in the back seat and went with my own map. This was the day forever known as the day I learnt not to trust whereis.
We drove in to Wharburton about lunchtime passing a tea house on the way in to town. This was a bit of a detour we took because I wanted to go to an information kiosk to get brochures. The kiosk had a water wheel and a burning log fire that I kept gravitating towards. Pick a brochure, walk to the fire. Put the brochure back, walk to the fire. After not getting a lot of brochures, we took a walk down the main street of town. It reminded me a little of Maleny in the 1990s with it’s cafes and antique shops although Maleny doesn’t have a creek running behind it. For lunch we headed back to the tea house unaware that it was invaded by little old ladies on a bus tour. The shop was full of stitching and knitting stuff for sale which was really quite strange for a cafe. All the grandmas wandered around us getting ideas while the other nannas ate their lemon merangue cakes. Pauline and I ordered sausage rolls and a chicken filo with salad. But not those fancy coloured salads you get these days. It was proper iceburg lettuce, grated carrots and beetroot. Pauline had an incredible looking iced coffee to drink while I tried a subpar hot chocolate with marshmallows.
On the road again and we made a quick stop near Noojee to check out the trestle bridge. It’s apparently one of a few left that hasn’t burnt down or been demolished. We made the climb up the stairs huffing and puffing the entire way – Pauline stopping twice. As we walked over the bridge and looked over, Pauline said loudly to me that the oldies are walking up! Later when we got to the car I realised that they could probably understand what she had said. Little did they realise that they were actually showing the two of us up. 🙂 Of course, when we arrived there was no one and in the usual manner we drew a crowd so that it was packed by the time we left.
Onwards to Walhalla meant twisty and turny roads up to Erica and Rawson then an incredibly twisty and turny decent in to the town of Walhalla. Mum had suggested the town as a place we should go and it was a great recommendation. Apparently she saw it as a one liner in the Lonely Planets Guide but based on what I’ve seen it should have it’s own paragraph. Nothing quite prepares you for the town because it’s topography is unique. A creek runs through it’s centre, there are only 18 residents and they don’t have tv or mobile phone reception. Apparently it was the last town on the mainland to be connected to Australia’s electricity grid in 1998. We were booked in to the Star Hotel which is 4 star accommodation. Even though they didn’t have a tv in the room we were provided with a cd player and a communal library/cd collection that I raided. For dinner in the hotel I had the duck in plum sauce while Pauline had the minute steak. Then it was off to the king size bed with electric blankets to keep us warm.
You can check out more photos in the photo gallery.