Phillip Valley Road

Thursday, July 05, 2007

We’d been going out on Wednesday nights for two weeks in a row and the hijinks that occurred on these nights were well documented and retold at work. As such, more and more people were wanting to come out. Also, this was quite possibly my last Wednesday in Melbourne, certainly my last Wednesday at Stalactites, so it was a bit of a farewell as well. I knew Kirsty had something up her sleeve as she seemed to dodge questions I asked related to “the plan”. I thought maybe a cake or a few people shouting surprise or something. So I was a bit surprised when we met up and she led me to where we were going to be meeting and spending the night. And it wasn’t a restaurant or pub or anything of the sort, but a hotel room that the staff had all banded together to rent for my farewell party; A two-room suite on the 13th floor overlooking the old exhibition centre. I mean, to say I was touched by this doesn’t even begin to cover it. Kirsty and I grabbed some drinks and snacks, ran into up Eva in Melbourne Central, and picked up the rest of the crew at Stalactites: Andrew, Heather, Paris, Bianca, and even Nicole came out.

We all walked to the hotel with a few shot glasses in hand for the apple pie shots I was hoping to jury rig from bizarre Australian alcohol. We hung out for a time in the hotel room, discovering that the shots in question were not remotely tasty and then made our way to the pool just after it closed. The hotel staff let us hang out for 15 minutes in the sauna and pool and we put them to good use. The guys jumped in the pool for a swim and we all hung out in the sauna before heading back to the room. We basically hung out all night there, except for Nicole and Paris who had to go home, and everyone stayed the night too. We did venture out just long enough to grab some food at China Bar after an elevator split us up, and all in all it was a special night that made me realize why I love it here in Melbourne so much.

The next day we finally got out of the room by noon. Andrew and Heather had to go into work, but Kirsty and I didn't need to be at work until 6 and Bianca didn't have any work. So we went and grabbed a bite for breakfast - waffles and juice from the Tropicana. While the so-called "Best juice in the world" was not pleasant, the waffle was probably the best I'd ever had. With a second helping, the three of us wandered up to the aquarium to visit Ferg and his fish. There were all sorts of cool sea creatures, some of which were downright scary, and it was well worth a stop there. Plus, Ferg gave us the VIP tour both around the aquarium, and then up at the top of the oceanarium, an area normally closed to the public. It was really cool of him to take some time out of his busy day to do that for us and we were all quite pleased with ourselves for taking the plunge and visiting Ferg.

I worked my last shift after a quick stop to get changed and shower, a Thursday 6-5AM, after which Kirsty and I were supposed to get a little sleep before meeting Carol and Ferg at Carol’s house to do a winery tour of the Yarra Valley. As you can imagine after a night of party and a night of work this was going to be taxing, so Eva repaid the shift I covered for her so she could go away for a few days and Cathy repaid me covering the restaurant for her when I had to get Nick’s present sorted out. Which meant that both Kirsty and I left Stalactites by 1:00. We met up with Ferg, Carol, and Harry the next morning and set out for a wine tour courtesy of Ferg and Kirsty driving us around. We stopped at a vineyard called Yering Station and had quite a bit of wine there. Because Kirsty was driving, Carol and I took turns finishing her wine. So we were feeling it a bit by the time we went to Ferg’s family’s vineyard and his home, had a platter of fruit and cheese and a tasting of all the Ferguson wines. They’re really nice wines (especially the shiraz), biased though I may be, and we followed that treat up with a beautiful lunch before continuing our tour of the vineyard and finally heading down to Phillip Island where Ferg’s family has a beach house. I had some ‘port’ in hand.

We met with Nicola, Lee, Afra, and Gordy (a fellow Canuck from Ottawa) as we were leaving. After a long drive down in the rain, we would’ve been happy for any shack with a bit of legroom, so you can imagine our excitement when we arrived and saw that we would be staying in a beautiful beach house for the weekend. We stretched our legs, uncorked our spirits, and had a bit of party, a bit of Trouble (the game), and a good time was had by all. But mostly by Kirsty, who drank so much (i.e. 3 coolers) that she was “crook as a dog”. The next day we wandered into town for some tea and lunch and then went to see the place where the penguins come in from a day of fishing to sit, relax, and forget about things in their burroughs. My pictures didn’t turn out and the penguins were not coming anywhere near us, but we did get to seem them quite closely as we headed up the boardwalk home. Even so, those photos also didn’t turn out. Ah well, what you do? Make some food with Ferg and Haz and have a good night.

Wrapping up and cleaning up took a long time, partly because most were too tired to do anything. Plus, Ferg took a LOOOOOONG time to pack up. But we did get out of there and finally, Haz, Ferg, Kirsty, Carole, and myself hit the bowling lanes (and McDonalds) for a couple boys-vs-girls game. My first score was very good, beating all but the Ferg. My second game score was more traditional, shall we say, and coupled with Haz’s performance, the girls took the trophy for the night. And then, we called it a night. Back to Melbourne, back to pack for the next mini-trip down the Great Ocean Road.

Which, as it turns out, was the very next day. No rest for the weary. Kirsty and I headed out pretty early, foregoing a few errands I’d hoped to run since sleep was necessary in order to salvage the day. The trip was quite beautiful. We stopped a few places along the coastline to admire the scenic cliffs dropping off at the continent’s edge, looking out towards Antarctica. We stopped at a lighthouse, hiked down to Erskine Falls, and were meant to stay the night with some friends of Kirsty’s family in Lorne but we couldn’t get a hold of them. So we made our way down to Apollo Bay and stayed the night after some hotel shopping (which was actually a lot of fun) in a bed and breakfast. It was a beautiful place. We went to grab some groceries but as we sat in the car outside the store discussing what we needed to get, the store closed. As well, the place we wanted to eat had shut the kitchen, so we wound up eating at Buff’s, which was a great choice anyway. We had some king prawns, lamb rump, and ravioli, not to mention dessert. I was quite stuffed, but it was a great first day for our roadtrip.

The second day we continued our drive, spotting my first wild koala en route! We stopped and toured the Cape Otway lighthouse and saw the twelve apostles for which the Great Ocean Road is famed. The sun was at a bad angle for photos from the viewing platform, so we drove down the road, parked, and tramped through the brush to an otherwise inaccessible cliff to get more photos. I thought we’d driven far enough to be able to look back at the apostles but we wound up right in the middle of them. Still, it was fun and we got some nice photos. We drove on to see the arch and gorge, where Kirsty got soaked as I tried to line up a photo (buahahaha!) and then we stayed at her aunt and uncle’s house and met some cousins and other family. All very nice people, her uncle looks exactly like her dad and her aunt went through their Canada photo album, which made me miss home a bit. I got a phone call that night from Nick’s mom that she was coming to the house the next day and going to have company, so we got back the next day, I bought them some flowers, picked up Nick’s present and Kirsty’s (a photo collage of finishing uni for Nick, and a 1m long Mt. Cook cloud panorama for Kirsty), and drove to Nick’s to pack my stuff.

I met up again with Kirsty and Ferg later and we went to an Irish pub for a drink and then to a place for some really nice pizza while we waited for poor Carol to finish work. We also sat and listened to some buskers that were pretty darned good and Kirsty bought a CD before we finally did meet up with Carol and returned to PJ O’Briens for some more drinks. I stayed at Kirsty’s mom’s that night and the next day was a flurry of tourist activity. We went to the NGV to see the exhibits at the gallery there (though we didn’t pay the $20 for the Guggenheim), then saw the Pixar display at ACMI, did the ferris wheel on the Yarra, and Kirsty went to work at which point I got a bunch of ridiculous stickers made to give to her. I also picked up cards for her, her parents, and Nicole, plus a few little knickknacks to give out. I met Norm for a beer and a tea before I was to leave tomorrow, and I met Andrew, Heather, and Bianca for a few drinks at El Greco café in the casino. We waited for Kirsty to be done at 4AM since the trains had stopped running, hung out for a bit, and then I went home and to sleep. The next morning, packing (where, oh where are my pajama pants??), stopping by the restaurant for a last goodbye, and so ended my stay in Melbourne.

Great Ocean Road Photos
Yarra Valley, Phillip Island Photos
Final Melbourne Photos

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