For once Mother was ready and we did not have to watch her putting her panty hose on in the lounge room. We were heading to the small township of Erica, planning to have some lunch there, probably from the local bakery. Mother did not think that food would suit her and she could not withstand hunger for another thirty minutes until we reached Erica, so when we arrived at Moe she had decided our lunch should come from this classy cafe below.
From Warragul the railway line runs parallel to the freeway and I point out to R and Mother the concrete blocks that were the foundations for the stanchions that held the overhead electric wires. The train line was converted to diesel from electric many years ago. What a great idea that was.The photo is looking across the train line towards our destination.
We then drove through the centre of Moe and out onto the Walhalla Road, Walhalla being a bit further on than Erica. It took half the journey time for me to get up to speed, so to speak, with winding single lane country road driving. I didn't quite have a queue of cars behind me but I was aware I was driving more slowly than the locals prefer. We passed through heavy bushland, sometimes opening up to farms and then around a corner and we were suddenly in the township of Erica.
This is looking south to the hotel from where we were parked at the bakery. The huge oak tree was magnificent but just out of the photo the side of the tree has been pruned to a vertical plane, clear of electric wires.
Unlike many towns in the west of Victoria, Erica had a progressive and prosperous feel to it. It is anything but a dying town. I can't see it expanding without an induced population injection, but what is there works well. Dominant are the local bakery/shop/cafe/post office/newsagent and the hotel. There is also a CFA fire station, a primary school, a ski hire business and a restaurant. I only recently learnt that there is a new reoad to Mount Baw Baw, via Erica. I think it is called the South Face Road. Possibly it is something to do with the Thomson Weir. While there were only two diners for lunch in the restaurant, the bakery was going flat out. R and I shared a pie from the bakery and Mother had a toasted hot cross bun, washed down with tea and coffee. The pie was made on the premises and was very good. We bought four cold pies to take home for dinner the next night with Sister and Little Jo and a loaf of in house baked bread. I like to buy local newspapers to read later and get a feel for a town, so I bought the Latrobe Valley Express and the locally produced Thomson Times. The steady flow of customers in and out of the bakery never stopped.
Looking north towards Mount Erica.
Petunias were still blooming even though it is late in the season for them.
While waiting for R and Mother, I switched Grindr on again. Wow, a not unattractive lad a mere 200 metres away and quite a number less than two kilometres. We are in a hotbed of gays. What is this, I just discovered on the internet, Gay May Day in Walhalla.
Mein Gott, I looked at the Facebook link and there is Sis in Law's ex bro in law. We first met him some twenty years ago when he was the brother in law and R and I later compared notes about this guy making us feel uncomfortable by staring at us. He and Sis in Law's sister separated some time later and then we saw the ex at a gay venue and it all fell into place.
We left Erica but instead of returning via Moe, we turned right at a junction and travelled along the road to Willow Grove and rejoined the freeway at Trafalgar. The views of the rolling hills and mountains were magnificent.We stopped off to buy Subway for Mother's dinner and after dropping her home we arrived home at six, just in time for a glass of wine in front of the tv news.
While the day was long and there was a lot of driving, it was a very nice day. As R said, Mother was in good form and not moaning on. I thought I would have a lot of feelings of familiarity for this part of Gippsland where I grew up, but it has all changed so much. I recognised individual things, but their context had changed so much. That was perhaps a little disappointing.