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


Day Two and Three.

Another small town and another open air lunch break. We stopped in the middle of town at a small park near the 'information centre' in which volunteer staff ask you where you're going, where you've been and did you see this and that along the way; and if not, why not; and you musn't miss the historic feature on the road five miles out of town on north route 6. They're just trying to be helpful. But I just wanted a map.

Crowning the small park, set into an elaborate plinth, was a long white thing that looked like a narrow but very long overturned canoe. A plaque set into the plinth told the story. The long white thing was not an overturned canoe; it was one blade of a propeller from a wind turbine, an advertisement for the local wind farms. The local council website explained:
While in Millicent take time out to enjoy, experience 'clean & green' ... turn left at Canunda Frontage Road. Experience the peace and beauty of the natural environment, the bird life ... in their habitats ... gaze in awe at the mighty wind turbines that stretch as far as the eye can see ...
Birdlife? Mighty wind turbines? The council bureaucrats obviously published this without picking up the copywriter's savage irony. It is the very height of copywriting skill to inject irony into your words and have it published by an oblivious client. It might also be unethical, but funny nevertheless.

We ate lunch. Three or four birds sat on the propeller blade in the sun and preened themselves, the ultimate insult to the becalmed blade.


Earlier, we had stopped at the South Australian border and dumped a load of apples, after eating some, in the quarantine bin. Do the bugs know not to cross the border, one of the children very logically asked. I didn't know, I said. I imagined they stayed around their food source and that transportation, not self-propulsion, was the main cause of fruit fly infestation. I was able to demonstrate this later.


Ten thousand - or more - years ago, a Postglacial Marine Transgression made the sea rise, resulting in a coastline kink that was later named Guichen Bay in 1802 by French explorers who went around naming things but never actually settling. Not sure what the French were after but it obviously wasn't a pretty if somewhat wild and windblown bay which the British eventually turned into the seaport of Robe, now a sleepy fishing village.

We arrived at the house mid-afternoon. It was a 1940s timber cottage set on limestone footings, off the main street on a corner block. I opened the gate, drove in, parked by an overgrown rose garden at the side of the house and retrieved the keys - as instructed by the owner - from under an upturned terracotta pot on a shelf behind a small shed. A lawn behind the rose garden led to a rear garden, and an orchard behind that was sectioned off by a lattice fence with a small gate. I half expected Peter Rabbit to bolt from somewhere chased by Mr McGregor wielding a garden rake.

Inside the cottage was a timber-lined lounge with easy chairs arranged around a heater, an east-facing kitchen off that with a huge window that let in the morning sun, bedrooms at either end of the house and an old-fashioned covered laundry off the back door porch. There was a table and chairs on a front deck under the cover of some trees and another small table outside the back door that caught the morning sun. We stayed here two days but I could have moved there permanently.


Later the owner, a tall thin pleasant lady in her early fifties who had an easy smile and an air of being permanently busy in that getting-things-done way dropped in to see if everything was in order. She went behind the lattice gate in the garden, re-emerged a few minutes later with a basket of apples and figs, placed them on the table and then disappeared with a wave.

I looked at the apples. Perfect. Every home garden apple tree in Victoria produces fruit that is always full of worms or codling moths or whatever they are. There's the reason for the quarantine.

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