The night before, my aunt had chortled that I was to sleep with my feet in the ashes of the kitchen fire. I replied that it was appropriately Dickensian and I was thus living literature.
The best part of sleeping on the kitchen floor is that you never miss someone else making tea. It also means that she can instantly harangue you with her Litany of Complaints about the cabin.
How soon we grow accoustomed to comfort.
Comfort in this case includes a bathmat, a bathroom door that shuts, and a stove and shower that work properly.
Caroline was looking forward to a relaxing soak after beating the bathroom door into submission but had a horrible experience instead: hot then cold then hot then cold.
My shower was fine.
'How can that be!?' she raved.
'You have obviously never made love to a French woman.'
I explained that it sounded like the Slobro's shower in Canadia.
'I just learned from your experience so that when I went in I'd be fine - like Iraq. We learned all the lessons from Vietnam. The most important being "Don't fight the Vietnamese". And we didn't, and we're winning!'
I went for a walk along the beach and over the heath. It was sunny again and the rich honey orange headland glowed in a very pleasing manner. 'Well done', I said and took photos.
The evening before, Caroline had pointed out that this was the type of cove in which the Famous Five discover smugglers.
On my return I found that she'd had rudely burnt my cheese on toast. It's so hard to find good aunt these days.
She explained that the stove knob that read 'both elements' only turns on one element. I make an inspection and agree that there is a setting for one element, for the second element and, if she wanted the life-force to burst out of the stove, one for the fifth element.
My reward for lifting the morale of the unit is an inner glow.
Caroline has given me another chore. Not only am I driver, packer and unpacker, photographer, roadwork finder, entertainment officer, and (after last night's giggling episode) navigator, I am now to keep a journal so that she can remember what her trip has been about. As you can see, I have abused this power to the full. But it serves her right.
H: Do we turn here?
C: giggle giggle
H: Is it down there?
C: I don't know. giggle giggle
H: You're the one with the map.
C: giggle giggle. Where are we? giggle.
H: Oh for f....
The Festival of Victorian Roadworks has surely reached it's zenith. They are scraping up the tarmac directly in front of the driveway INSIDE the caravan park! Caroline is so overjoyed she nearly gets run over by the slow-moving machine that looks like a brontosaurus.
We bought supplies in town and were away.
This was the start of the Great Ocean Road which was the second focus of the trip.
We stop at several pretty places including Anglesea and Defiance Point. There is an info board here about William Buckley, of "You've got Buckley's" fame.
Some rich person's house near a lighthouse.
Defiance Point. See how defiant I am?
We visited mussel encrusted rocks and then went inland to a forest walk at Maits Rest. It is temperate rainforest of nothaphagus (southern beech) and tree ferns. I explain that it is remnant Gondwana flora and make my 'Viva Nothaphagus' Elvis joke. It was a hit back in second year biology, and it's still gold. It is very similar to the rainforest near Cairns where we went within two months of each other - the discussion of which lead directly to this trip.
Like a cathedral the trees command reverence. We point out epiphytes as we would stained glass, spandrels of fern fronds, and cloisters made by straddling roots.
At the rainforest margin stand the enormous mountain ash that herald the eucalpyt forest beyond. These are the biggest trees I have ever seen with girths like the fish that got away. Several are the broken columns of a Greek temple, their snapped trunks sun bleached grey.
The southern tip of this part of Victoria is Cape Otway on which there is a lighthouse. It is here that Caroline visits her first ever portaloo.
We wander around until Caroline gets "querelous". She is fading fast and needs lunch. I grab the esky and stride past a snake warning sign and up a track at random.
The following dialogue is provided by Caroline, in conversation with a friend.
CF: What did you do for lunch?
C: Sat on a four wheel drive track, surrounded by snakes, and covered in flies!
CF: How did you get there?
C (querelously): I can't remember!
We were rallied magnificently by lunch. We were full of vim, vigour, shucked oysters and gorr-may sourdough sandwiches.
C: I've got the bread. Let's go!
H: The bread must get through. For god's sake, don't let Jerry get his hands on it! He can have the entire nutritious contents of the esky, but not the bread. If I fall, try and take shelter behind the avocados.
Prattling away and giggling like mad things we drove off to the Twelve Apostles Part 1.
The late afternoon sun, the gentle sea breeze and the majesty of the Apostles are instantly relaxing and humbling. The walkways and platforms are quite crowded but everybody speaks softly and politely gets out of each other's view. It is overawing geography.
Caroline smiles warmly.
'This is beautiful! If I die tonight, call the girls and tell them I was happy.'
I share the moment with her.
'What's on the beach? It's Aunt Caroline. She's blue because she's wearing trakkie daks...'
'Ooh, look, quick! How pretty. The sun's doing stuff!'
Peterborough: God's country.
One of the info boards at the Apostles said the ocean reserve was home to giant cuttlefish...
Evening adventurerering along the beaches and dunes around Peterborough. My powers of nerdness overcame me and I pretended I was a 45ton battlemech, complete with sound effects.