Posted by: jkirkby8712 | May 2, 2012

Tuesday 24th to the 27th April 2012 – a few days with a friend at the seaside town of Barwon Heads…….

Unfortunately, the weather was not very kind to us, but it would nevertheless be a peaceful and sharing few days – a chance for me to get away from daily commitments and routines, and for my old school friend, the opportunity to wind down after a year or so of drama leading up to the death of her mother a few weeks ago

Tuesday, 24th April – I precede my journey with another visit to the dentist!!

Yes, that was the start to my day – a 9.15 appointment at the dentist, really, a follow-up and finalisation of the process of the past few visits, and not too difficult a procedure to cope with. But what a miserable morning to have that appointment, prior to my drive across to the coast!

Thankfully, the dental appointment was over fairly quickly, no injection for pain, so no likelihood of any drowsiness or numbness, but disappointed to find it was still raining when I set off from Sunbury, because with the car packed, etc, there was no need to return home.  My destination was the small coastal town of Barwon Heads, but rather than drive what was probably the most direct and fastest route – across the Western Ring Road to the Geelong Highway, and bypass freeway around Geelong, I travelled across country, via Melton and Bacchus Marsh, and then through the ‘backblock’ country between the Marsh and the city of Geelong. As I would remark to Heather later in the week, as a father with young children, any such trip, no matter how short a duration, usually involved the obligatory toilet stops for one or other of the kids. These days, such stops were necessary for the ‘old Dad’, and with the day being wet and miserable,  that necessity seemed even more prevalent – so for what turned out to be a two hour trip, I had to stop twice, at Melton, and then on the Bellarine Peninsula side of Geelong!!  Actually, the weather improved a little as I got closer to Geelong, but again, the rain began once I reached the Ocean Grove area, and Heather would tell me that it had not really stopped raining through the night – I think she had been a bit concerned about my driving in the weather as it appeared where she was, and was surprised [and I think relieved] when she learnt I had reached Geelong earlier than anticipated [for those not aware, Geelong is the largest city in Victoria, outside of Melbourne, and is located on the coast, an hour down the highway from Melbourne].

The holiday town of Barwon Heads is located on the southern coast of the Bellarine Peninsula and separated by the Barwon River from its twin coastal town of Ocean Grove which I passed through just a few short kilometres from my destination.. Barwon Heads is a popular seaside community, offering a diverse variety of coastal attractions from the shallow and sandy shoreline of the Barwon River to the windswept surf beaches which front Bass Strait along 13th Beach Road. The Bluff Lookout, at Point Flinders, is situated on a rocky outcrop and a network of surrounding walking tracks provides views over the town centre, along the Barwon River and in all directions across Bass Strait. I have spent many visits either walking around the Bluff area, either at the top, or exploring the rocks, etc, at the waterline below.  The commercial centre of Barwon Heads includes the town’s major hotel just near the river bridge and a strip of shops including cafes and restaurants along Hitchcock Avenue.  Since I was last here, those kind of facilities have grown and modernised immensely, and in particular, I would soon realise the variety of eating places had also grown. Just north of Barwon Heads is the expansive waterway of Lake Connewarre and surrounding wetlands which make an ideal spot for fishing and bird watching. I seem to recall sitting on the back of a motorbike back in the early 1960s, on an early morning rabbiting outing with a fellow camper [Roger, the ‘ambulance driver’] – presumably he obtained permission from my mother at the time for me to go with him!

Anyway, I think it was about midday when I reached Barwon Heads, and turned into the street whether Heather had found her accommodation for the week [she’d being here since late Sunday morning]. A brief delay to respond to a text message from Susie –  she’d had obviously just got up, seen the state of the weather outside, and was sending her commiserations for my decision to spend these few days at ‘the beach’!!

It was raining steadily when I reached the apartment, and it would in fact, continue in that manner for the whole of the afternoon and into the night. Heather had already organised food, etc, so that unless absolutely necessary, there would be no need for us to leave the apartment again today should the weather continue, as in fact it did. There would be no excursions along the beach front on this particular first day!!

And why are the two of us here, in this relatively quiet seaside location, on a miserable wet Autumn afternoon?  Two people who a few months ago had almost forgotten the other had previously existed in our lives. Although that is not really true, because as conversations over the next day or so would reveal, neither of us had ever completely obliterated the other from our collective memories.  We went through most of Primary School together in the 1950s, were associates in Church and Sunday-school during that same decade, and sat up on that makeshift stage for the annual Neil Street Sunday-school anniversaries for a number of years. Both of our parents were associates of each other, and on one occasion, Heather’s mother showed a particular kindness to my mother, and younger sister,   a kindness that was looked down upon by others in the Church at the time! And then, at the end of our primary school years, and with my family moving to another part of Ballarat, and our attendance at different secondary schools, we  drifted apart as pre-teens at the time.    Until that  arranged lunch meeting, in Bacchus Marsh, this past January, following my decision to contact Heather late last year, after speaking with her brother at the Neil Street 150th anniversary reunion in August!!  After 50+ years, two friends have found each other again, and neither of us dare to think beyond each day as it passes!!

Certainly, with atrocious weather outside, there was little incentive to venture beyond the apartment for the rest of today – think it was called the Ozone Apartments, one of two, with the bottom one unoccupied this week, we were upstairs, and the complex owners [husband and wife] away at work, in Geelong I assume!]. Both quiet and private, although as we would discover during the night, rather open externally to the forces of the strong winds which were roaring inland off the southern ocean right through the night. However, also a great opportunity to share thoughts, reminisces of what we had both being doing over the past 50 years, including three marriages, both of hers with men who  turned out to be cheating and violent partners, and to also share and enjoy our mutually found love of both classical music, and in particular, jazz!!!  Together with the odd class of wine – although in that area for me,  one glass is genuinely my limit these days!

Meanwhile, as already indicated, it would be a wild night outside. The wind was ongoing, and the fierceness of it  continued relentlessly until around daylight when I think it calmed a little, while the rainstorms continued in an unusual pattern – consistently, there would be a major thunderous downpour lasting 10-15 minutes, followed by relative silence [apart from the wind] followed by another spell of drenching rain. My original plan for this Tuesday night [before I’d decided to come and join Heather a day earlier than intended] had been to go around to Sunbury’s Clarke Oval and watch the Sunbury football team’s first 2012 game in the Ballarat Football League – what a miserable night that would have been – a game won by Sunbury by the way, in dreadful soggy conditions –  I had absolutely no regrets about the change of plans, and choosing to be with an ‘old’ friend in a warm and comforting environment, irrespective of what was going on outside!!

Wednesday, 25th April –  a wet & miserable [weather wise]  Anzac Day

It was a little calmer outside this morning – the rain seemed to have gone away in the main, though it remained quite windy. It was while we were preparing to go out, that Heather pointed out the sound of the bagpipes coming from the nearby main streets, clearly audible above the wind.  This morning was of course Anzac Day, and I noted that this was the first time for many years that I had not been wake from 5.0am of an Anzac morning to listen to the broadcasts of the Dawn Services, firstly from Canberra, and then from the Shrine in Melbourne. In fact, to be honest, Anzac Day didn’t really register, until we heard the bagpipes playing. I don’t know if Barwon Heads had any kind of Dawn Service – didn’t hear anything – but in the town this morning, local residents were assembling for a service and parade from around 9am I think it was [when we heard the band music] from Hitchcock Avenue along the road to the Barwon Heads RSL building where a wreath laying ceremony took place. In fact, that site was just around the corner from here we were staying, and when we passed just after 10am, there was quite a large collection of wreaths, etc at the local war memorial.

April 25th is of course the day that we Australians remember the sacrifice of those who fought in both the First World War, and all subsequent wars and conflicts. Normally on this morning, I would be in front of the TV, religiously watching the Melbourne Anzac march down St Kilda Road to the Shrine of Remembrance. But this week, there would be no television watched in our unit [apart from a brief look at tonight’s news] – not even the big annual Anzac Day football match between Collingwood and Essendon, the result of which I noted this evening, was a one point win to Collingwood [another disappointing outcome for Adam, though his team had all the glory last Saturday, when Essendon thrashed Carlton!!

As I have been realising over recent months, Heather doesn’t cook many meals at her unit in Ballarat, certainly her late morning habit being to partake of what one could call ‘brunch’ [combination of a late breakfast/early lunch] as her main meal of the day, and I soon discovered, something I would have to [willingly] adjust to this week!!  It was after 10am when we found our way to ‘Annie’s’ all day breakfast establishment [which also provided a huge range of other speciality produce, wines, etc] – Heather had already made herself at home here, but sadly this morning [obviously not long since the Anzac Day ceremonies] the place was packed out. So down the street a few doors to one of the more modern pubs which also served a pretty good [if not over-priced] breakfast menu. That would also be my major meal for the day –we would get to Annie’s on the next two mornings –  which actually suited me at present in view of my current dietary problems, finding heavy and/or large meals at the end of the day not agreeing with me. I actually can’t recall what I ate this morning, but it was tasty and filling, and naughtily, followed up with an iced coffee [the only one today!!].

Went for a bit of a drive after our ‘brunch’ – up to the top of the Bluff’.  This feature is represented by a set of imposing limestone cliffs, forming a simple peninsula at the point of the Barwon Heads township – described by ‘The Friends of the Bluff’ [a local environmental group] as a ‘spectacular symbol of the beauty and diversity of our marine and coastal environment’. The Bluff is indeed a local icon, a popular tourist destination and a profound Aboriginal site of significance, as well as being of geological, scientific and educational value. It’s really the only ‘high’ point in this part of the coast, rising above Bass Strait, and forming the western headland of the Barwon Estuary [entry point of the Barwon River].

In past years, I have spent many hours exploring both round the top of the Bluff and down the narrow steps that lead to the beach and rock pools etc below [which I think was under cover of high tide at present]. We stopped briefly at the lookout, but the wind was still too strong [and cold] to venture out for long, and for Heather’s sake, with a major knee operation due within the next few weeks, there was no question of asking her to attempt to clamber down those steps [think I might have struggled with the return journey myself!!]. Despite my many past visits, I wondered if I had really taken much notice of the following kinds of facts applicable to this area, as promoted by the conservation group?

The Bluff has more than 80 indigenous species of grasses; herbs, twiners, ground covers, shrubs and spectacular coastal wildflowers including many that are considered locally rare and threatened.

  • From Prickly Stipa grassland      on the western slopes to the large ancient Moonah on the east represents      the diversity of plant communities on the Bluff.
  • The rugged cliff face is      home to kites, kestrels and falcons and a host of hardy plants growing in      sand traps.
  • The dunes to the west have a      unique natural flora and are home to the rare Hooded Plover.
  • The dynamic tidal estuary is      a stunning ecosystem that is a regular stopover for dozens of species of      resident and migratory shore birds.

The rockpool shelves of the Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary are teeming with a myriad of marine flora and fauna and are the most complex of ecosystems.

Most likely not, and it was obviously a much more fascinating environment than I had imagined, but for today, not the ‘climate’ to prove or disprove those facts!! Back into the car, where we proceeded on a casual drive [to the annoyance of a couple of locals using the road] along the cliff-top coast road – some magnificent views looking out to the Southern Ocean and Bass Strait, but we both agreed, not the morning to be in  boat out on those waters – wind still quite vigorous, and the waves from this viewpoint gave the impression that any such activity [in a boat] would be highly uncomfortable, and probably quite dangerous!  As we drove, I looked for a parking spot, so we could get a better view out at the ocean, but there was no clear view by remaining in the car, so I persuaded Heather [and me] to brave the biting wind again and venture to one of the cliff-top lookouts. More steps down to the deserted beaches, which we decided could remain that way today!!

By now, early afternoon, and it was back to the township, for a bit of shopping at the only local supermarket that I could find – just behind the Barwon Heads Hotel, a remarkable old building which was probably one of the town’s earliest buildings – I spent a couple of nights here back in the 1980s at a Shire of Gisborne Council/Management team Conference and Working Weekend – had to share one of  the  traditional rooms with Rick Murrihy, then Manager of Administration if I recall correctly. Interesting to note that in the accommodation blurb, the note is included that because the rooms available are directly above the hotel facilities, which don’t close until late every night, some noise will be heard from downstairs. I would have thought that common to most hotels of this nature anyway. Anyway, our visit to the supermarket, and later, Annie’s again, was to purchase some items for an in-house meal tonight following a mutual decision not to dine out. That suited me for reasons already specified, and with the weather deteriorating again, sounded a good move.

Before we returned to the apartment this afternoon, did another around the town, and came across another very impressive set of accommodation units. Being curious and not shy, Heather decided to go in and ask some questions. She came back with the resident manager who invited us to have a bit of a tour and inspection of the facilities. Wish I could recall the name of the place now, but was quite substantial in size, had a number of varying accommodation units, almost little homesteads, and the internal facilities and contents were quite excellent, think we both went away quite impressed, with Heather retaining a little collection of literature for future reference!

We spent the balance of the afternoon and evening at the apartment, simply enjoying each other’s company, the music [mostly jazz again, although I did take the opportunity to share some of the music I play on the radio, which Heather is not able to hear in Ballarat], some wine [the establishment had left a rather nice bottle of champagne for our use], a casual meal later in the evening, and lots of conversation, as we continued to make up for 50 years of wondering where life had taken the other! It was obvious that my friend had been through some traumatic times in years past, but years which had also included two ‘solo’ holidays in Greece and that part of Europe. Obviously wants to return at some stage!

Thursday, 26th  April 2012 – touring around the Bellarine Peninsula

This morning, the first of two of Heather’s famous ‘brunches’ at Annie’s restaurant – not sure if I could permanently adjust to this style of ‘meal arrangements’ but for this week at least, I’m enjoying the experience. Though admittedly, my choice of dish this morning proved a little too heavy – field mushrooms and other delicacies, delicious but for myself, a little bit strong for 10.30am of a morning!! It was certainly a very crowded environment, and one where it did not pay to want your own exclusive company – mostly a series of long benches seating up to 8-10 people [there were a few smaller spots but they were usually taken]. This of course was the perfect environment for my friend, as I came to learn and admire yet another aspect of her persona – the ability and willingness to strike up a conversation with complete strangers, and in the process at times, almost gain their life history from them. Today, it was a couple of other women, on their own separately, that she began chatting to as we ate our meal, etc – initially, by simply commenting on the glasses that one of the women was wearing.  Had I been on my own, despite the nature of the seating, I would not have ventured into any kind of conversation [I guess I bit more obvious in terms of an older man seeming to be trying to chat up a woman, regardless of what the real intention was] unless it was initiated by another party – and even then, I doubt very much that I would have continued to have indulged in an ongoing conversation up to the point where the other party came to the time to leave.  For Heather, it was almost as though she’d suddenly found a life-long friend with whom departures were treated in that manner irrespective of the most likely occurrence of never meeting again. Certainly, something about this lady, I am coming to greatly admire and respect, and would be repeated time and again, over the next couple of days.

After today’s brekkie/lunch, it was decided that a trip to a couple of the other Bellarine Peninsula beach towns was in order, and we soon set off via Ocean Grove to the popular resort of Queenscliff, another place I had visited my times in my younger years, and subsequently.

The seaside resort of Queenscliff is located just inside the entrance to Port Phillip Bay on the Bellarine Peninsula near Point Lonsdale [which we would briefly visit on the return trip].  Queenscliff was settled in the 1850s and soon became a strategic defence post given its proximity to the entrance of Port Phillip Bay which provides shipping access to the cities of Geelong and Melbourne. Legacies to Queenscliff’s defence and maritime history can be found at Fort Queenscliff where tours are available [I was a part of one of those tours some years ago], and further insights into Queenscliff’s past can be discovered at the Queenscliff Historical Museum in Hesse Street [thought of having a look there today, but waylaid, pleasantly, in book shops and art places!],  and the Maritime Museum on Weeroona Parade. The commercial centre of Queenscliff, characterised by historic shop fronts and buildings, is situated on Hesse Street, dominated by the ornate Vue Grand Hotel which was constructed in 1881. Grand hotels and guest houses can also be found along Gellibrand Street which is separated from the cliffs along the coast in this area by extensive parkland.

Queenscliff is surrounded on three sides by water, giving the town large stretches of coastline, consisting of a combination of sandy beaches, rocky outcrops, cliffs and historic piers. At Shortlands Bluff is the Queenscliff Lighthouse which was built in 1862 and includes a lookout near the base. Further north along the coast is the Black Lighthouse, unique in Australia, having been constructed from bluestone.  Queenscliff Harbour is located near the eastern end of Wharf Street and consists of several wharves which are home to a number of fishing fleets. A retail strip including a selection of cafes and restaurants overlook the harbour. A circular 30 metre tall navigational tower is located at the harbour, and there is an observation deck at the top which is open to the public and provides panoramic views over Queenscliff and the bay. At the eastern end of the harbour is a car and passenger ferry service which operates between Queenscliff and Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula, providing an alternative to the road route via Melbourne.  Looking at the ocean today, while much calmer than yesterday, I certainly did not fancy that particular means of transport – though I do recall doing that trip with four friends from Queensland, back in the late 1960s, Alan Norris, who was working in Melbourne at the time, with his fiancée and a couple of her girlfriends, touring around Ballarat and this area in one of my little VW cars of that period. I also seem to recall been rather sunburnt ‘before’ we made that ocean crossing! Presumably, we had to make the return journey, as the car was still at Queenscliff!!

But I stray in my thoughts  again!  It is April 26th, 2012, and today there are just the two of us, with no intention of getting on the water! First ‘port of call’ [appropriate description] was a quayside restaurant – forgotten the name again, but right on the port, which was full of moored boats, didn’t seem to be too many of them out at the present time, imagined this to be a very busy little harbour on the esplanade there.  This whole area was obviously fairly new and recently developed with shops, restaurants and some offices as well covering the complex. Just here for a drink and a nibble of something before moving on – via a couple of the shops, where Heather began another of her conversations with the proprietor whilst choosing a couple of small ‘soap’ items for purchase!!

The next couple of hours  – well we spent that time wandering around the streets of Queenscliff – sometimes together, occasionally wandering off separately, Heather to a clothing shop, your writer mainly in the couple of bookshops, one in particular, where I spent almost 40 minutes, and left with three purchases, including another of Arnold Zable’s stories about migrants, etc, and their lives in a new homeland – this one was entitled ‘Violin Lessons’, published in 2011 – and written within a quite modern recent aspect. More on that at a later date.  Meantime, also purchased another book for Susie, and a little gift book for Heather, which at the time, I would not realise the significance or impact it would have upon her – in retrospect, an intuitive selection.  Meanwhile, more shops, more wanderings, more examples of my friend striking up conversations with shop proprietors and others, and then we came upon a beautiful little at shop/gallery – where Heather had visited quite recently when she came down here with a girlfriend over Easter [explained why she was familiar with where she was guiding me too!!] –  now I recall the name this time – the ‘Seaview Gallery’ [86 Hesse Street, Queenscliff, even has a web site I can explore, because this place had some beautiful original paintings].  As it happened, there was an exhibition of  paintings by Michael Parker – it was some of his pictures that Heather and I had been admiring up at Daylesford a couple of weekends ago.  Here, there was much more to see with a full exhibition of a range of his works, which covered a much broader scope than had been evident in Daylesford. Born in Melbourne in 1968, and spending many years in Europe observing the techniques and styles of the masters, he has over the past 26 years, explored art and challenged himself by painting a range of subjects, including portraits, landscapes [these attracted our attention in Daylesford] and abstracted works. When he returned from overseas in 1996, he was commissioned to paint the cricketer, Sir Donald Bradman, walking out onto the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1937. This very successful painting was reproduced in a limited edition print, 20 of which were signed by Sir Don himself. At the Gallery today, there was one of these prints on sale [I didn’t notice but I doubt it was one of the 20 signed copies] priced at about $200. I was very tempted, knowing exactly where I would hang it at home – Heather reminded me it was ‘only’ a print of the original, and while I  reminded myself that prints were all I was ever likely to own, I put aside the idea of a spur of the moment purchase [as I am prone to do, viz, that ‘family’ connected book in Daylesford]. I wonder, if like the book [by Lilian Kirk] that Bradman print will still be there on my next return?

Apart from the Michael Parker exhibition, there was a wonderful collection of the works of other artists – one of two of them, having being commissioned to produce limited copies of particular paintings – most of these well above my price range, but apparently selling fast, according to the gallery proprietor  – whom I left behind briefly with Heather, as she tried to sell my friend a lovely scarf that Heather had been admiring. Don’t know what the price was, but perhaps that should have been my call to be chivalrous and purchase it for her.  Somehow, I think it would have been out of my price range also! Heather came out of that gallery without the scarf!   Meantime, Heather had been keen to show me through a second hand bookshop, which was located in an old church, opposite the gallery we had just visited, but it must have been one of those weekend/public holiday places, no sign of human life around at all, apart from us.

From Queenscliff, it was across to the nearby spot of Point Lonsdale. I had bought the family down here on numerous occasions when they were younger, and had come here with James’ Grade 6 as a parent helper for their school camp, in 1993, I think it was.  From memory, it was quite a good camp site for schools and other community groups, and was located just on the other side of the sand dunes from the ocean fronting beach.  Point Lonsdale is a coastal township on the Bellarine Peninsula, near Queenscliff, and included in the municipal Borough of Queenscliffe. Point Lonsdale is also one of the headlands which, with Point Nepean, frame The Rip, which is the ‘narrow’ entrance to Port Phillip Bay on which Melbourne is situated at the head of the Bay. The headland is dominated by the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse, a rather spectacular construction which I have inspected on the odd occasion. The town had a population just below 2,500 at the 2006 Census.

Historically, the traditional  Indigenous owners of this area are the Wautharong people of the Kulin nation. The escaped convict William Buckley is the first known European to have resided in the area, having lived with the local people between 1803 and 1835. A signal station was built in 1854. Permanent European settlement began at Point Lonsdale in the latter half of the 19th century with the construction of the  lighthouse occurring  in 1863. Since settlement numerous ships have been wrecked here on the rocky reefs at the entrance to Port Phillip, hence the need for the lighthouse, which even then did not save all shipping that came adrift.

Our visit to Port Lonsdale was long enough for another coffee and a shared savoury for afternoon tea, followed by a brief walk along the estuary – this was cut short, by the tide coming in, and waves being swept right up onto the footpath, as one unfortunate passing walker discovered to his wet chagrin. Whilst I visited the nearby public facilities, Heather wandered back across the road – looking for one of the local clothing stores I think from a previous visit. No purchases made however.

Hit the road, back towards Barwon Heads, with a brief stop at the Ocean Grove beach front – I think by now the weather had become a little cooler again, so it was decided no beach walk today! For me, Ocean Grove has always represented the best beaches in this area. The bustling commercial and holiday centre of Ocean Grove is situated on the southern coast of the Bellarine Peninsula, separated by  the Barwon River from its twin coastal town of Barwon Heads. Much of Ocean Grove is spread over the undulating hills and valleys which characterise this section of the Bellarine Peninsula, giving good views down to the ocean and of the surroundings. Blue Waters Lake and the Begola Wetlands are two major inland water attractions at the bottom of the town’s valleys, featuring walking tracks and a collection of birdlife.\  Being the largest town outside of Geelong on the Bellarine Peninsula, it offers a wide selection of shopping facilities including major supermarkets, restaurants, cafes and speciality shops, spread between the main shopping strip near the coast along The Terrace and the Ocean Grove Marketplace shopping centre to the north on Shell Road.  Coastal attractions include the surf beaches  [there were some brave souls out there today] which front Bass Strait and several walking tracks that offer good views along the beach. The focal point on Ocean Grove’s main surf beach is the Dunes Cafe & Bar, next to the Surf Life Saving Club, which is surrounded by lawns, native gardens and bollards carved and painted into people depicting the life and times of the area, and where we briefly parked the car.. The Barwon River, near the river mouth, offers safe and sheltered swimming along its sandy shoreline, while further upstream is a jetty and boat ramp.

Back to Barwon Heads, where we spent a little time exploring the streets, and actually looking for somewhere suitable to eat this evening, or some form of suitable takeaway meal. I think in the long run, we both decided that once we returned to the apartment, we would be content to eat there, and be satisfied with each other’s company.  In actual fact, Heather was waiting for a call from her son in Melbourne, who was supposed to receive some crucial medical test results today – that call came through just after 6pm, and as it eventuated, I was rather glad [as was Heather] that I was there with her tonight  –  the test results were apparently inconclusive, which left some doubt in the air, and upset Heather to a large degree with her thoughts all leaning towards the  negative side of things. She needed a friend with her this evening, and I was glad to be available and accepted in the specific role as needed on this occasion.

More jazz tonight, a lightish meal for both of us, and more conversation about the past, present and future. I think we both agreed, that from the distant past of our 1950s primary school days, some unknown ‘force’ had brought us together here in 2012, but where we would go from here was in the hands of the ‘gods’ or ‘something’!


Friday, 27th April 2012 –  back home after another of those ‘brunches’!!

Our final morning at the Ozone Apartments, and while there was nobody to ‘sign us out’ we did the right thing and attempted to leave by 10am. Didn’t quite work out that way – locked up the apartment, etc, but then we couldn’t get the key locking mechanism outside the building, where the key was to be locked away for the owners, and despite having to resort to ringing them, subsequent attempts continued to fail!  In the end, Peter [the owner, probably in disgust at a couple of incapable individuals] simply said leave the key & mechanism in the SEC meter box.  We were not happy to walk away, with that solution, but had little alternative. Hopefully the owner would be back here this evening, or he could arrange for their regular cleaner to call in – in fact, in retrospect, with us moving out, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was aware that the cleaner of the apartments was due in the near future in any case!

Anyway, with that little drama solved [albeit unsatisfactorily] we drove our cars back into town, and returned to Annie’s restaurant for one final ‘brunch’!! That occupied a good hour or so – I went for something I assumed would be a bit lighter this morning, a healthy mix of muesli and yogurt, etc, though wasn’t quite given enough milk to do it complete justice! Heather had a much more filling meal – in her usual fashion, this would last her through to tonight no doubt.  Meanwhile, not to vary her personality, whilst I was at the counter placing our breakfast order, Heather struck up a conversation with a youngish couple and their two young daughters.  As with the other occasions is was difficult to become a part of these conversations, and my friend always made sure I was included in any case. One of the daughters, aged about 6-8 years I think, had leukemia [Heather probably picked that up immediately, and it was fairly obvious that there was a problem of that nature]. Despite that, they seemed to be quite a happy and optimistic foursome, and the two girls, very bright and outwardly cheerful. Needless to say, the tests which Heather’s son had just been through, inconclusive, but similarly related came into the discussion, and I think [hope] that some of the doubt and negative feelings that Heather might have had about her phone talk with her son, might have been eased a little by today’s conversation with this ‘almost hippy style’ little foursome – I got the impression, they moved around a bit, for purposes of the medical attention required for their daughter, and generally stayed in caravan parks. Both parents were solicitors of some sort – interestingly, he had worked for a time with the Tenants Union of Victoria, with which my organisation prior to retirement, the Victorian Public Tenants Association, had regular dealings. He, or they, lived or were based in Northcote, and they were down here today, on a bit of a break from hospitals, etc.

From Annie’s restaurant, Heather followed me to Ocean Grove, where we parked our cars near the Dunes Café & Bar, and walked down to the beachfront, sat together on the retaining for a brief time. Heather had come here with ambitions of regular beach walks, but the weather had basically thwarted that idea – today she wanted to do that. Despite the fact that neither of us wanted to ‘part’ and go our separate journeys home, I felt that she wanted a little time on her own – sit and look at the ocean, and walk on the sand [both of which she would do after I left], and perhaps reflect on the concerns she had for her son’s health.  So around Noon, we said our farewells, and I left for the return to Sunbury.

Drove through Geelong with only a brief stop for fuel – had considered driving back via the  freeway, but instead, headed back across country, through Bacchus Marsh, and then onto Melton, where I stopped for a drink, and a call of nature. Through our regular communication,  I discovered that Heather herself had just reached Geelong where she had also stopped for a drink, before calling in to visit a girlfriend in Pakington St, Geelong. It would be late afternoon before she got back to Ballarat, mid-afternoon when I hit Sunbury, to find Susie at work until the early evening.

Feeling rather weary tonight despite the restful, and relaxing four days that had just past, and felt it a pity that tonight’s football coverage did not begin until 8.30, which would mean quite late getting to bed!!  I think tomorrow’s usual Saturday gymnasium session might be given a miss!!

The Carlton team to played Fremantle at Patersons Stadium in Perth tonight, and there were a number of changes with three players being ruled out from last week’s team due to injury. Andrew Carrazzo and Jeremy Laidler will both be out of action for up to two months as a result of injuries sustained in the Blues loss to Essendon in round 4. Carrazzo had surgery on Monday to repair his fractured shoulder blade while Laidler had surgery on his knee on Tuesday.  The former was a real blow, and disappointment, because he had made a wonderful start to the season. Chris Yarran was the third player to be ruled out of tonight’s important clash. Yarran injured his toe against the Bombers and while it was hoped he may be available, he will join Carrazzo and Laidler on the sidelines. Brett Ratten confirmed earlier in the week that both Andrew Walker and Dennis Armfield would resume this week. The big question is who else will be selected and will there only be three changes to the Carlton team for what is a very important game.

The game was on the TV at 8.30pm tonight  –  as indicated, in many ways, I wished it was on at some other time over the weekend, feeling rather exhausted after a ‘restful’ few days – those two descriptions don’t seem to fit, must have been the sea air!  In fact, as it turned out, the Blues went into tonight’s game as selected. I was a little worried about this game, as Fremantle were in pretty good form,  and one expected the Carlton team to have lost a bit of confidence after last Saturday’s disastrous result. However, after an even first quarter, the Blues started to get on top of the Dockers, and while the scores at the end of the match, were a bit flattering for the home team, it was a good game to come away from, over in the west, with any kind of win. Final quarter by quarter scores were:

·         Fremantle Dockers:    1.2.8      3.9.27     4.10.34    Final:          7.15.57
  • Carlton Blues:            2.1.13    6.2.38      9.4.58      FINAL:     10.5.65

In the meantime, a new addition to the family was announced this week – the baby that Colin and Angela have come down to Melbourne for over Easter, and had to return before it arrived – a little girl to my nephew, Craig and his partner, Cherie – Krystal Angela Kirk. Another name for the family tree!!


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