Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Day One.

The rain started in Gellibrand, a small town on the edge of the Otways. We had started at eight in the morning of a warm, sunny late March morning.

Now it was midday and I had pulled the car into a small grassed park with one of those octagonal concrete picnic table and chairs. We sat and ate and watched the clouds gather. Down this way it can turn in minutes. I threw the lunch things back into the box I use as a hamper as the rain started and we resumed the journey into a raging storm.

Deep in the forest it was black at two thirty in the afternoon. The only other traffic was logging trucks going the other way, and I pulled over tight against the edge of the bitumen as they barrelled past carrying timber to be turned into home renovations for city hipsters with Save the Forests stickers on their cars.

Then over Laver's Hill, and the drive was a long coast down the mountains to the Great Ocean Road. The sky was clear now, but spume drifted across from the waves eating into the jagged cliffs. Past Loch Ard gorge. Imagine climbing up that at night, being one of only two people to survive a sailing shipwreck. Then the Twelve Apostles, all eight of them or is it seven now? Across the road from this, fifty buses were parked in careful lines, having disgorged tourists who were clambering along a small ridge where the cliffs met the churning ocean. Over the road, uniformed bus drivers could be seen smoking, bored, staring at nothing. Seen it all before. Then the collapsed London Bridge, or was that earlier? Port Fairy was a fuel stop.

I turned off before Portland along a lonely, picturesque road with no traffic, past towns with names like Bessiebelle and Codrington, and rolled to a stop in Heywood. Found a double room in an original fifties motel ("Business For Sale") with a DVD player and a selection of obscure old movies. For no reason, I put on The Magnificent Two, a 1967 Morecambe and Wise product extension satirising the John Sturges movie, its humour arising chiefly through Morecambe and Wise not being Yul Brynner, James Coburn, Steve McQueen or Charles Bronson. Earlier, the boys and I had visited the local footy oval which was still in that special twilight zone of having its cricket pitch still up, its football lines freshly marked and goalposts in place. Bring it on.


Destination summary: Heywood is a small town with very little in it except genuine shops and no 'shoppes', which is its main attraction. Tourist attractions and theme shops are the great fakery of the age.

Accommodation summary: Book in at a fifties-style motel while you still can and relive your retro dreams. Four stars.

Day One in a phrase: Hey! Wood!


Dr. Alice said...

I was wondering when your next road trip would be! I love reading these stories. I would so like to see some of these towns, but the idea of driving in Australia scares this Yankee to death.

paul kennedy said...

Dr. Alice, apart from snakes, kangaroo collisions, murderers and rapists targeting female backpackers, there is absolutely nothing to worry about.

Dr. Alice said...