Sunday, February 03, 2013

A brief visit to the Bellarine

Because I had the week off preceding Australia Day, I rather forgot that it was a public holiday weekend. Fortunately R finished work early, so on the Friday we headed down to the Bellarine as Little Jo was complaining we hadn't visited her for a while. As usual, we stopped at McDonalds (drink only) in Geelong, as we did when we used to give our dogs a break and a run when we had them and we were heading west to visit our friend at the foot of Mount Elephant. The traffic through and out of Geelong was heavy, but it could have been worse. We left home at 3pm and so avoided the worst of it.

I was going to suggest we go to a pub for a meal, but no, Sister cooked us, not them, pasta and then she and Bone Doctor went out to a posh doctor function. Think of a successful doctor with a big house and land on the Bellarine with room for not only a pony and spa, but a pool, in ground trampoline and tennis court. Sister returned early on her own. I think she wanted to watch an Australian Open tennis match on tv.

Little Jo was grumpy that evening. She had been on a whirly gig at a playground in the morning and in spite of Sister telling her enough more than once, she continued on to spin around and around. The inevitable happened, four episodes of projectile vomiting. I suggested that pineapple on toast for breakfast may not have helped. The wee lass was exhausted and for once, it was no trouble to get her to sleep and she was bright and fresh the next morning.  The next day we gave her a good stirring, 'Little Jo, do you want to go to the new play park and have a whirly gig ride?'

Telstra has improved the signal on the Bellarine, and so the note book, via my phone as a modem worked perfectly without having to sit outside facing a certain direction, or inside at a window. Not before time. I am not sure if using my phone as a modem or listening to radio through the loudspeaker the next morning flattened my phone battery, but it was clear early the next morning that my phone had a flat battery and I had not taken my charger and Sister and Bone Doctor both have primitive phones with different charger plugs. Andrew was internetless. Quell horreur.

The morning was a slow start. The cuckoo clock went off at seven and woke Fuzzy, who barked, and in turn woke Little Jo. Little Jo went to her mummys' bed, having forgotten that R was in the house. She remembered. She opened the door to the lounge room, where I was sleeping, possibly to check the availability of tv watching, but I wasn't encouraging. She then went to R's room for an in bed cuddle.

'Come for a walk Brother', urged Sister, while Bone Doctor had a rare sleep in. 'Too early for me to be walking Sister. Bye'. I had some cereal and read my electric book while R and Little Jo were crafting a puppet theatre and robots.

Bone Doctor rose from her sleep in when Sister returned. I had planned to have some toast bust Sister said, 'Who is for ham and eggs.?' 'Yum.' We had it with some special bread from an upmarket Queenscliff bakery. Sister had bought some Dick Smith Ozemite, a Vegemite substitute. His Australia Day tv advertisement was judged controversial and so restricted to certain times. He pulled the ad. We opened the Ozemite and none of us really liked it. R does not eat Vegemite, having grown up in England where unlike us proper Australians, he did not suckle it from his mother's breast. The best thing about Ozemite, was that the Dick double entendres stretched to at least five minutes.

Little Jo wanted to watch tv after breakfast and was allowed. We sat outside where we had eaten breakfast under the shade of the mock grape vine, myself reading my electric book, R the Geelong Advertiser, while Sister and Bone Doctor fought over the sports pages of The Age.  I watched Bone Doctor unwrapping The Age from its plastic wrapped delivery state. It took her quite a while. Co-incidently, at work this week, I found a plastic wrapped newspaper. It took me about three minutes to unwrap it from its plastic and then it had nasty creases and rolls in it and would not lie flat. Does anyone know of a good technique?

By eleven we were at Queenscliff Harbour and had a very good cup of coffee at an ice cream shop. Who would have thunk that? We went up in the tower to admire the views. Back down below, I saw a monster stingray cruising among the moored boats. Don't point it out, Sister whispered. Apparently Little Jo gets scared, unless they are in an aquarium.

We left and went on to the Australia Day celebrations at Queenscliffe Town Hall. Speeches, a sausage sizzle and lots of entertainments for the kiddies. We called by a house to pick up some ordered mussels, but they were not there. It was ok as they had been delivered to Sister's home and she made a very nice mussel dish for lunch.

Little Jo wanted to make some biscuits but we had used all the eggs, so we all walked off to the shop and Sister and Bone Doctor continued on while we returned and and got the oven going.
'Little Jo, I counted the Smarties that were to be pressed into the biscuits and now they are done, there are many Smarties that have not appeared on the biscuits', I queried.
A big grin, 'R ate them.'
'I don't think so.'
I didn't count them, just took a stab in the dark. I would have done the same at her age.

We had a thought that we might stay the Saturday night, but we really weren't sure. The decision was made for us as a friend of Sister's had asked if their Canadian visitors could stay the night at Sister's before hitting the Great Ocean Road early next morning and flying out of Australia that night. It was the only way they could fit the Great Ocean Road in their forty hour visit to Victoria.

We were home by six and Household Management was very reluctant to busy himself in the kitchen, so he went out and bought us fish and chips.

Moomba in Melbourne happens in March, around Labour Day. It is a local festival, essentially for kids, but there are big kid activities. Moomba is supposedly an Aboriginal word meaning 'let's get together and have fun', but our local tribe, on whose land we live, suggest it means baring one's bum to someone.  Someone named their boat with doubtlessly the first definition in mind.  Look at the mother of a boat in the background. Queenscliff was home to many couta fishing boats (barracouta), but redevelopment of the harbour with massive increases in mooring prices has driven them elsewhere. 

The boat in the background is very interesting, with its massive lights surrounding the boat. I thought it might be a boat for catching flounder, but Bone Doctor said, I think, it was for catching squid.

Pilot boats guide large ships along the relative narrow dredged channels in Port Phillip Bay. They are based at Queenscliff. Tip: There are 'eco' tour boats that operate from Queenscliff, showing you some interesting things in Port Phillip Bay. If you book them through the local Marine Discovery Centre, you pay about a third of the normal price.

As a kid,  I can only remember the greeting Happy Easter and rarely Happy Christmas. In the nineties I first heard Happy used for other purposes, Happy Mardi Gras. Now, it is used often and the greeting of the day was Happy Australia Day.

I spied this from the main street of Point Lonsdale and I have never seen an apricot coloured oleander before. I dragged R down for a closer look. He agreed, he had never seen one either.

Oleanders seem especially good this year. They don't like wet feet.

 This bogan collection of cars is a bit out of place in the quiet and wefined (sic) streets where Sister lives, but I am sure they had a happy Australia Day.


  1. Massive post! I have this sudden desire to make cookies with M and Ms bits. We have had Borvil, Marmite as well as Vegemite growing up so all yeasty stuff in a dark potty bottle is fine by me.

    1. Michael, the biscuits turned out well. I pleased that another ex colony pays homage to its mother country's foodstuffs.

  2. Queenscliff is a pleasure, isn't it. Messing around in boats, coffee shops overlooking the sea, fresh fish for dinner, elegant guest houses, gorgeous trees, attractive shops and streets. The perfect place to retire, one day.

    1. Oh Hels, how wonderful of you feeding me such a line. There is nothing quite like messing about in boats. Many do retire there. It is such a peaceful place. But....
      Retirement rule 1. Good public transport.
      2. Close to medical services, preferably in The Alfred catchment area.
      3. Shops an easy distance on a zimmer frame.

  3. Gorgeous pics. Yes Oleanders are marvellous this year, full of blooms and colour. The apricot one looks fabulous, I've not seen one either.

    1. Thanks Fen. I guess the apricot one is a hybrid, but the red and white may well be too.

  4. I love Dick Smith's Ozemite!
    Soft and shiny black, easy to spread, it's almost exactly like the vegemite I remember from my early childhood when Mum would buy it in big seven pound tins. Yellow tins with the red diamond shaped logo. It's a far cry from the brown hard-to-spread sludge that now passes for vegemite. I even sent the company an email saying how much I liked it.

    1. River, so you are saying that the taste and texture of Vegemite has changed? Hmmm.

  5. Me not fan of the the black 'stuff' but all other members of clan are, so its presence is always there! Dick Smith, so funny!! Sounds like you had the perfect Australia Day , Little Jo is a lucky little vegemite!!

    1. Grace, no surprise that you are not keen on Vegemite, being a bit foreign and all that. Lucky little vegemite, or very privileged child.