I have spent my first few days at Skenes Creek consciously fighting the thought that I should be doing something … to go for a drive, see stuff, go fishing, practise tying fishing knots, cut back on the drink (yeah, like that’ll happen), go for a long walk on the beach (OK, there have been a couple of short walks) – you get the picture. Instead I have been setting up and re-setting up various parts of my tent. It’s been a pack here, a rationalisation here, a tweak there. I’ve been eating when I’m hungry, drinking when I fell like, sleeping when I feel like it and all the time I’ve been driving home the fact that I don’t have to do anything unless I really want to… I have the rest of my life for that.
This morning was a good example. I woke at seven and thought “nah, too early”. I went back to sleep and woke again at 9.30. It was time to get up, put the billy on and make a cuppa, roll a smoke and ponder the day.
The only things on the agenda were to go to Apollo Bay and buy dead beast to cook for dinner tonight and, of course, to buy some incense, something I always have in my tent. At last, an oversight in the packing department.
I had a follow-up cuppa and cooked bacon and an egg, which I had in a beautifully fresh multigrain roll … and just a smidge of tomato sauce.
Shower time, I thought, but I’ve also instituted a new rule unless it’s absolutely necessary or I have company … a shower every second day, so I was free to hit town on the incense trail.
Glory be … the Apollo Bay Music Festival is on and there is an open-air market to go with it, which included a lovely woman selling her handmade incense.
Ten bucks lighter in the pocket I was armed with 40 sticks of lemongrass, lavender, sandalwood and frankincense, myrhh and cedar wood and now the tent is all the better for it.
I may head into town to check out the music later in the day, but I reckon beers and sleep will win the day. I made a tentative arrangement to head in with some Brit backpackers after having a couple of jars last night with a young fella called Louis. He’s just bought his second house with a mate back in Yorkshire so he was in the mood for a celebration. Not a bad effort for a 25-year-old.
THE BEACH BECKONS
I have ventured onto the beach a couple of times for a wander and to get the feet wet. First up I was armed with my camera and a can of beer. The rocks at either end of the campground are worth the price of admission. Beautiful shapes, lots of rock pools each with a varied collection of beasts of different persuasions, and the mostly violent swell belting the bejesus out of the extremities … the tide was out. At full tide it goes really hard, up close and personal with the rocks.
I hammered away with the camera, picking out shapes that looked like a croc (not the footwear), another that had a perhaps prehistoric family connection, perfectly formed circular holes, bits of seaweed … I had a crack at whatever took my fancy … even some terrific doggie prints in the sand.
The sun was warm, so too the water (OK, it was get your feet wet warm, not swimming warm) … the last time I was here I was thigh-deep in the very same water trying to relieve the ocean of a fish or two and it was freezing.
I was all walked out and headed back to the tent to replenish my beverage all choice when the phone rang. It was Liam, checking in on my progress. “I’ve just been walking on the beach taking a few shots,” I said to him. “Bourbon or vodka,” he responded. Yeah the apple didn’t fall very far from the tree. It just made me want the time to fly when he has finished his work and we can hit the road.
Yesterday at about 4pm I again hit the beach, yeah, armed with a beer and followed by the campground’s two resident border collies, Oscar and Roxy.
Now, Roxy is as mad as a meat axe. She loves chasing and retrieving rocks that people throw (I tried a stick, but, nah, no interest) … along the sand, into the water, whatever. She runs like the wind, skidding to halt much like a bogan in a ute dropping rubber on the road. Oscar, although enthusiastic, is just along for the ride. We wandered for about a kilometre, checked out the rock pools before heading back.
There were plenty of other dogs on the beach. By now they were all sharing a ball thrown by a brave young bloke called Richard, brave because he actually went for a dip. The woman who was with him, Jane (she may have been his grandma), stopped for a chat with me. “I’ve just walked from Apollo Bay,” she said (it’s about seven kilometres), “It’s such a beautiful walk.”
“Yeah, it is a lovely drive,” I said. She laughed.
We got to chatting about our respective backgrounds and what direction we are heading. I told her that in about three weeks I’ll be heading to the Grampians and setting up camp at Pomonal. “We’re in the Grampians,” she said, “You’ll have to come and visit. We have Mount Zero Olives in Horsham. It’s about a 50-kilometre drive from Pomonal. The road should be open by then … it has been closed because of the fires.”
We chatted for about half an hour … it was one of those chats that make travelling worthwhile … a wonderfully interesting person willing to share.
It’s a date. I’ll be Mount Zero bound in a few weeks.
ON THE MENU
Apollo Bay is blessed with one of the best fruit and vegetable shops around, right at the far end of town near the pier.
Every time I have been down here, I seem to eat better as I’ve made a beeline to the place because its produce (it all comes, I’m told, from Colac) is first rate … and the staff is the same. There’s always time for a chat, always a smile and always pleasant demeanour and, compared to the produce on offer at each supermarket in town, a no-brainer.
I’m still easing into the cooking in the tent thing. The past couple of nights have been stir-fried eye-fillet, lots of vegetable and noodles, chill, coriander, garlic and ginger. I’ve even used chopsticks. But more importantly, I’ve (most mornings) been having cereal and fruit … and sandwiches or rolls with greens and various dead beasts.About the only real downside has been the wine intake. I’ve taken to drinking cask wine (OK, it’s easy to store, it’s cheaper and it’s easy to get before you start with the Philistine comments) … and for the record, the best I’ve found so far (and I’m pretty sure my wine writer mate, Ben Thomas, gave it the thumbs up) is WineSmiths tempranillo and to a lesser degree, the chardonnay. Both are about 17 bucks for a two-litre cask and I’m pretty sure I’ll be packing a few tempranillos in the trailer somewhere. Anyway, it’s 3.50, I’ve had a couple of beers and now I’m going to have a snooze. Some habits are just too hard to break.