February 27th, 2021Travel: Water views and Western Victoria
Being born and bred in Frankston, and walking distance from the bay, of course I love the water. Nah, not really. My memories of the beach are mostly being badly burnt as a kid and then having to climb into a stinking hot car with vinyl seats. A cold slab of butter was the remedy for any sunburn. It felt so cool as it melted and was the closest mum came to creating a lovely cooking smell in the kitchen. Joke.
Anyway, we headed off via Ballarat and then on through Skipton, Lismore, Mortlake, Koirot and Kirkstall. What a run. What a crap run. We think we have potholes. We don’t know what potholes are. And then after about 50km of roads so rough I was starting to wonder if my ovaries had come loose, there was a sign saying, and I kid you not, “Rough road ahead”. WTF?
Anyway, we made it. Not quite in the two hours that Kyle promised, which seemed hopeful for a trip of 255km with a driver who has never gone over the speed limit, but we made it before dusk. (We left at midday – I swear I saw a number of Volvos being driven by hatted men overtake us. And yes, it was a Sunday.)
Kyle had booked into the Victoria Apartments right in the heart of the town. There was a little confusion as we had to fill out the COVID paperwork on the phone with Kyle refusing to wear my budget reading glasses (thanks, That Bargain Place) and squinting while making huffing noises because he not only had to enter the registration plate but also his driver’s licence. But then a key dropped into the keysafe and we were in. And almost straight out the courtyard door. The living room was the smallest I have been in – and I lived in Japan for three years.
It contained a kitchen bench, fridge, dining table and two chairs, couch for two, huge round marble coffee table and a $10 white pedestal fan. Oh, and the biggest television I have seen. In fact it was so big, and so close to the couch, that it felt like you were part of the show you were watching. Hello Superstore. Mind you, the bedroom was normal, same size as the living area, with a king bed that was nice and firm (Kyle called it a rock bed) and a tiny clothes cupboard that didn’t quite have enough room to open.
It sounds like we are whingers, and yes, we are. And after we whinged we were given a complimentary upgrade for the following night to an upstairs two-bedroom apartment which was lovely. And massive. With a great view from the balcony. So a great spot to stay, if you pay a little more and head upstairs.
In Port Fairy we drove to the beach, walked around the parks, had a couple of beers in some lovely old pubs, did pizza one night and Thai the next, and generally relaxed. And we also went to Penshurst.
Now, I had never heard of Penshurst but a friend who lives in Lauriston and owns a gallery in Kyneton, has just bought a former butcher’s shop on the corner of the main street – so we decided to visit. What a great place. Penshurst is set on an aquifer so the botanic gardens include wonderful wetlands which is pretty amazing for Western Victoria.
There is also a 25-metre, heated outdoor pool – hear that Daylesford, and a multi-million dollar Volcanoes Discovery Centre. (The town sits under Mt Rouse, an extinct volcano.) You also can’t visit without heading to the 13-hectare Yatmerone Wildlife Reserve, home to more than 30 types of bird species and more than 30 flower species. There’s also lots of fauna – and a big sign at the entrance saying: “Snakes live here.” I bet they do.
We had lunch at the hotel – which is for sale BTW – and enjoyed real pub grub – parmas, fish and chips, and steak, out on the balcony. I also hear the bakery does an amazing bee-sting – but that’s for next time. And we will be back. Our friend is keen on creating another gallery at her new shop – so watch this space.
We were going to drive home via Geelong and bit of smooth freeway but decided we needed to check out the Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld. It’s pretty famous so seemed worth the trip. Of course, it’s shut Mondays, so we had hot chocolates and shared a reuben sandwich at Koopmans Dunkeld, a restored garage in the main street. Now while the usual components of a reuben are corned beef, Swiss, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on rye bread, ours was more ham and cheese and mustard. But it was good.
We pulled over at Streatham, just because one of the tyres seemed a bit flat, but all was well and we decided to check again at Skipton. All good. We’ll get the wheel alignment done later.
So, another couple of nights away with the mood lightening around the state. If you had told me back in August/September that part of the pandemic was a road trip and a couple of beers at a bar, I would have said you were dreaming. And now we are dreaming, of a vaccine, and a life eventually without masks and social distancing. Although I am happy enough for that to continue, just for now.
Words: Donna Kelly