It’s the end of Summer, apparently. Here’s a few beach recollections, I thought I’d share with you….
I admit to harboring mixed, childhood feelings about Lorne. Lorne was the rich cousin who had everything. We were Wye River blow-ins, from around the bend, where the coastal road rises, unleashing a series of deep and treacherous chicanes, to finally ease into the treated pine barriers of the beachside general store. This is not really fair, though. Lorne also meant: four flavours in a double wafer cone; racks of Okanuis; Big M girls cavorting on the 3XY fun bus; rainbow thongs; and shoeless backflips over the paint-faded, mesh cross of the foreshore trampolines.
Lorne was a safe base station, but only ever a brief pit stop for the likes of us. We’d answer the call to pile back in the stationwagon and prepare to tackle the high, winding, mountain pass beyond. The next section of the Great Ocean Road is beautiful as it is dramatic: A Big Sur, or slice of the Amalfi. In those days, it was not to be taken lightly.
The next stanza required an intense concerto of gear changes to remain safely adhered to the contours of the cliff face and away from the abyss. Nothing any driver should attempt with a milkshake wedged between the legs, or elbow steering to finish a hamburger (cheerio, Dad). This was a serious business: A sudden dip, a steep climb with another sweeping arc, repeat and stir. Past the bluestone lookout, and across the Cumberland. A feat of engineering (and an ironic reward for fealty), it was hewn by brave Diggers for Wayne Gardner, but not for me.
With the burnt stench of brake fluid from the rear passenger window, and mono repeats from one of two Neils (‘Diamond’ or ‘Sedaka’), the melting asphalt mixed a cocktail that inevitably forced further unplanned stops, even a change of clothes. Too much to keep it all in. It is unfair to associate Lorne with spew, but it’s Siren song always chided about the toughest leg to come.
The weather often broke over the Otway ranges between us. When we were rained out, Lorne was boogie boarding in sunshine. We had a fibro shack on stilts among Eucalypts, with marchflies, redbacks and blue tongues. They had peeblemix driveways, carports and town water. We had seagrass tiles, which tattooed your hide in geometric reminders of an afternoon session of Cluedo. They had bright mansions, shag pile and a proper cinema. They also had a fish shop, with a proper restaurant on the pier.
It wasn’t Lorne that made me sick. That’s not right. It simply had a bad habit of making us feel a bit jealous.