Sunday, January 7, 2001
Sunday was our day to take off with the McAllister family to explore the beaches to the west of Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road. Our destination for the night would be Lorne, a resort community partway up the highway, just a few hours from Melbourne. The beaches border on the notorious Bass Strait between mainland Australia and Tasmania. The strait is the site of the middle portion of the Sydney to Hobart sailboat race and the bane of many a sailor.
Our first stop was for fuel and all of the kids needed a snack, only five minutes from home! Then it was off to Jan Juc Beach for a surfing carnival. Waves rolled in lovely sets and four surfers plied the waves while the speakers blared commentary on this, the third, set of semifinals. Most amusing was the observation that surf lingo and speaking style is the same world round and that it hasn’t changed since early Beach Boys.
Just a couple of minutes down the road was Anglesea Golf Course, world famous for the kangaroos that inhabit the fairways. Sure enough, big grays lounged under the trees while the silly golfers stood in the sun chasing tiny white balls around the course. Then it was on to Split Point Lighthouse … the Stines can never simply drive past a lighthouse.
Finally, we entered the Great Ocean Road, proper. We began to see a few spectacular homes set in the hills, overlooking the ocean. We also saw a number of hang gliders taking advantage of the strong, on-shore breeze and the steep hills along the beach. Late in the day we arrived in Lorne and settled into the Cumberland Lorne Resort Hotel, overlooking the ocean. This would be our home for the next two nights.
The weather precluded any beach swimming. It was very cool and very windy. We’re still waiting for our first hot Oz summer day! That evening, after a little racquetball and squash, we headed out for an Italian dinner and a cake to celebrate Ryan’s twelfth birthday.
Monday, January 8, 2001
We spent a kick-back day in Lorne. After a lazy morning wake-up, the adults walked the beach path and returned to tear the kids away from the TV and see that they were properly fed. Then it was off to play racquetball and tennis and swim in the pool. It was too cool to enjoy swimming in the ocean, so Sandy and I opted to lay on the beach in the sun and read for a while. Well, maybe not! The wind was so strong that we and our blanket were quickly covered with wind-blown sand. Sandy retreated to the grassy area above the beach and Bill joined the McAllisters for a light picnic lunch by the tennis court. Later, we piled in the car for a drive to nearby Erkstine Falls and a short drive farther up the Ocean Road to Cumberland River campground. After a stop at a nearby grocery store, Bill made our traditional burgers and grilled veggies on one of the grills on the hotel grounds.
Now, Australian barbies are a national pastime and deserve and require some explanation. Nearly every roadside stop, park, campsite area and even hotel grounds are equipped with one or more small barbecue pavilions. Each pavilion contains two to four grills. These are usually coin operated, large, electric griddles. You bring you own meat, veggies, etc and simply pop in a couple of coins and grill away. You clean up when done and enjoy the meal! It is quick and easy and there is no charcoal mess. You can even find mixed grill packages in the grocery containing an assortment of snags (sausages), burgers and chops! As in the US, the actual grilling process seems to be a male-only rite!