V from my workplace had invited me for a weekend at her place, which was very nice of her. We had arranged 19-21st August while she was on long service leave at home.
It was a gloomy, rainy day – pouring at Mont Albert, when I caught the train. Got to Southern Cross then waited for the 3.10 to Geelong. It had been a while since I’d been on a V/Line train (last time to Bendigo last year).
It looked a bit brighter towards the west. The suburb of Deer Park looked awful – houses so close together you could jump from roof to roof.
Further out I saw half-grown lambs. I hadn’t seen lambs since last spring. It’s odd not to have seen sheep for about nine months. I was delighted to see a flock of galahs flying and also some shags around a pond.
We arrived at an ugly industrial area that sounded like Kurayo, but discovered it was actually spelled Corio. We were basically at Geelong and it hadn’t even felt like an hour. I had enjoyed the trip.
V met me at Geelong station just as it started to rain. We headed to a fresh food place in Pakington Street and V bought some ingredients for the evening meal. She was going to make pizza bases. I spotted some rather nice pizzas and pointed them out to her out of interest, and she decided to buy them instead – good choice. I’m all for time-saving. The houses in West Geelong were wooden and reminded me very much of NZ. V’s house was no exception and had lovely oak-panelling. Lovely big kitchen, split level, an office each for her husband, C, and herself and a library with shelves built by C. It was a wonderful room with a large selection of fiction and non-fiction.
After pizza V showed me some of her genealogical research. She also had a mini office next to the kitchen (perhaps it used to be a walk in pantry) which was filled to the brim with folders, boxes, filing cabinet, etc of her research. She had obviously been doing it seriously for years. I was envious of the space and organisation. She showed me large sheets of a family tree that an ancestor had drawn up. He had collected family details in 1870 which made for such a treasure trove. One branch of her family alone filled most of those boxes and folders.
Saturday dawned sunny but windy. After breakfast, V visited the fresh food store again. It was a good shop full of nice things I would love to try. V’s mother dropped by and it was arranged that C would drop her off to the hospital to visit V’s father who had pancreatitis, and then drop us off at Eastern beach for a walk to Western beach.
On the way we passed a fabulous old house, known locally as the ‘wedding cake house’. Apparently it had been shipped over in bits from England.
Google Street view
It was a cold wind and we were heading into it on our walk, but it was an interesting one with all the differently painted bollards.
We had a cup of coffee at one of the cafés along the way – this one more of a fish and chip shop, but a nice view. We chatted about work and her insane boss. It was her boss that put the kybosh on me working longer there, only to be contrary. Apparently she was dismissed from her last job (why do these people get employed?). Anyway, having got that out of her system, we continued on, past the ‘carousel’ (which I just call a merry-go-round).
The horses had been found in a state of disrepair (with an example to show), which they had restored and made into a fully-working carousel. I was tempted to go on it. There was also an old organ there which had, until recently, been in working order.
The sun appeared as we headed towards the end of our walk and C came to pick us up. There was still a cold wind though. After picking up V’s mother from the hospital we headed back for lunch – a roll with cheese, ham, etc.
After lunch we went into Geelong centre to visit the wool museum and library and heritage centre. We spent quite a bit of time at the museum, which was hosting a scarf exhibition/contest with some of the scarves for sale.
Apparently it’s an annual event. Many of the scarves were lovely and some, of course, quite weird. We didn’t think much of the judges’ decisions as to at least three of them. One looked like doilies sewn together, made of plastic, another was made up of cut up coloured plastic straws and another was just skeins of wool in a loop, tied together in about four places (no real skill involved there at all).
The museum itself was well done, even though I come from the land where back in the day there were about 60 million sheep.
There were reproductions of shearing and other sheds and workman’s cottage, and the three of us (V’s mum included) pointed out old things we had had in our houses growing up, such as aluminium teapots, old tins and enamelware, etc. On display were three uniforms from the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and we thought the designer should’ve been sacked. At the end of the tour through the museum they had a reproduction of typical suburban house of the 50s and it immediately reminded me of my grandmother’s house in Westmead, NSW.
The hallway, apart from the carpet, was pretty much exactly as my grandmother’s had been, with the same layout.
There was little time left to explore the new library and heritage centre but we headed over there anyway. The library reminded me of the public library at Palmerston North – a bit of an industrial feel on about three levels with a mezzanine. I was pleased to see Australian literature was separate from the rest of the fiction. My local library lumps them all in together, which is frustrating if you’re wanting to read Australian fiction. Nice views from the higher levels.
The heritage centre was closed, unfortunately, but V took me up to look through the glass door to get my opinion on the colour scheme. It was horrendous. The walls were a luminous hot pink, not at all restful for study. V said she was going to let them know how awful it was. Perhaps if enough people complained…
Back home and V’s mother headed off before dark as she lived in Clifton Springs, quite some distance away. V made a lovely chicken and vege meal taken from one of Jamie Oliver’s recipes. I missed seeing the rhythmic gymnastics on TV (Olympics) as C thought it was rubbish. Naturally, he was more into the AFL games. We did, however, see an interesting documentary on Versailles.
Unfortunately, my mobile phone battery was getting low and I had forgotten to bring a charger (idiot). Daughter, C, sent me photos of Jasmine on her lap (she was staying over at my place).
Sunday dawned and the plan today was to head along the Bellarine peninsula. V took me first to the botanic gardens which had been set up very nicely. In all I was impressed with what the council had done around the place (even though they’d been sacked) – better than Palmerston North’s council in my humble opinion.
After V got her drive-through coffee, we headed to Portarlington (for some reason written as one word instead of Port Arlington). The wind was still cold but we had a pleasant walk along the main street and popped into a couple of interesting shops.
I saw a beautiful little bird with yellow wings, but didn’t have my camera. (Always the case. If I had had my camera it would’ve flown off. Birds only hang around long enough for a shot when I don’t have a camera!) I didn’t attempt to take a photo with my phone – it would’ve been too small to see. I think it was a New Holland honeyeater, judging by photos and the brief glimpse I had.
On the way to Queenscliff (which I knew of from Phryne Fisher stories) V stopped at a place where ex-convict, William Buckley, was said to have met up with Europeans after spending 30-odd years with local aborigines – a fascinating story. Apparently a book has been written about it and we both agreed it would be an interesting one to read. From the coast we could see the skyline of Melbourne on the opposite side of the bay.
On arrival at Queenscliff, through a beautiful tree-lined avenue which reminded me of driving along the shores of Lake Taupo for some reason, V saw that there was a tour of the fort soon. I didn’t know there was a fort at Queenscliff (and if mentioned in the stories, I had forgotten). It was lunchtime and cafés were full so after a look in one shop we headed for the fort. On arrival we were asked for identification and wrote down names and addresses. It was then I saw some cadets coming out – I hadn’t realised it was a working fort.
The tour was an hour-and-a-half long and included the haunted keep.
Apparently the windows in the lower section were often found open even though people kept closing them. Some windows were slightly ajar and the guide asked us to close them. There were once some archives kept there but a man who worked on them was plagued by ghostly noises, etc, and had everything moved out. I didn’t see any apparitions or feel anything, sadly. The ghost was shy.
The tour went past some buildings that had been part of the original township of Queenscliff, but were now in the confines of the fort.
The higher lighthouse (there is a lower white one to the south) is one of only three black lighthouses in the world, and the only one in the southern hemisphere.
The tour continued along the coast in bitterly cold winds and the guide told us about German ships and Japanese submarines trying to get through the heads in wartime. This I did not know. I thought only that the Japanese had bombed Darwin and got into Sydney harbour. I hadn’t realised that they, or the Germans, went as far south as the entrance to Port Philip Bay. The navigable space between the heads is very narrow – amazing that large ships can get through.
Old naval mine
There was lots more to see including tunnels, cannons, guns, and the museum was interesting, but my phone battery was in danger of giving up completely, so I turned it off.
Unfortunately by the end of the tour it had started raining. We returned to the full café and had coffee and cake. I would have loved to have walked by some of the impressive buildings there but it will have to wait for a nicer day another time. Instead, we had a quick look in a couple of the vintage shops. I wouldn’t call them antique – I don’t think anything was older than the 1940s-50s.
V continued on through Ocean Grove where relatives still had one of the original old holiday homes (what I would call a bach), surrounded by large new mansions. Barwon Heads was nicer, but it was getting too late for another stop or walk (the rain had stopped after we left Queenscliff). On the way back V drove round a winery/restaurant where she had married C just last year or the year before (I can’t recall). She had shown me a wedding invitation which was in the form of a penguin book – it was fantastic.
A fabulous day, marred only by heavy rain in Queenscliff. The evening meal was a lovely one of Thai beef, this time a recipe from River Cottage, with wine, naturally. There was a fascinating movie about Genghis Khan on TV (“Mongol”) that held us enthralled (in Mongol with Mongol actors, unlike some movies that use Japanese actors).
Naturally, a beautiful sunny day greeted me the next morning. I had a leisurely breakfast and V dropped me off to catch the 10.46 train back to Melbourne. A pleasant journey back, this time on the other side of the train.
I took a couple of photos despite protests from the phone (warning, warning, beep, beep, battery low). The You Yangs, although not very high, had dominated views from everywhere.
I love the cloudscapes.
There was quite a wait at Southern Cross before I realised I needed to change at Flinders (and the trains were doing the loop not heading my way). Got home in time to have lunch and see Jasmine had been sleeping. She enjoyed purring on my lap that evening.