Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day Eighteen: Victoria/Werribee/Lorne

* out of order -- day 17 is still coming.

Relaxing in the massive living room of our oceanview apartment in Lorne, just off the Great Ocean Road. David and I scored an upgrade when the reception guy saw David's GoPro jacket and started grilling him about surf footage. He said he wanted to give us a better room to make up for the ear damage. Sweet!

It's been a busy and great day. After our late night last night, all three of us were hatin' it at 9:30 when we dragged ourselves out of bed to shower and check out of the hotel. They were nice and let us leave the car in the garage a couple hours so we could walk--less than a block--to the Queen Victoria Markets for breakfast and shopping.

Readers, that was awesome. I wish we had had time for the QVM "Foodie Tour," because the food stalls are incredible, everything from meat to produce to cheese to bread. And not crowded, possibly due to the freezing weather. We got tiny, puffed pancakes from one of the vendors and enjoyed them at a little bar, great for people watching. Then we got our shop on at the merchandise "sheds." I got some fluffy gloves and Jarrah scored some angel wings. Then, for reasons I'm still not clear on, I decided I had to have this tiny teddy bear dressed in a flowered chapeau and orange sweater. Yes, even goofier than that sounds, I assure you. David tried not to judge and Jarrah just wanted to know if I had enough allowance left to afford it. I named her Victoria, natch.

From the markets, we grabbed our car and drove Jarrah to Joan and John's apartment on Collins St. because...they have generously offered to hang with her while David and I do the Great Ocean Road by ourselves! Are they awesome grandparents or what?

On our own, we headed out of town and I arranged our first stop in Werribee. It's a suburb about 20 miles out of Melbourne, not very special except for Werribee Park, a massive mansion with formal gardens. The guidebook had described it as an amazing opportunity to tour a Victorian mansion with most of the original furnishings and artwork, but had strangely not mentioned the tragic romance behind it. Two brothers from Scotland, Andrew and Thomas Chirnside, basically stole a huge swatch of land and built a massive compound on it--they were big investors and had lots of money. Thomas was in love with Elizabeth back in Scotland, but her parents didn't approve. Andrew went back to Scotland for a bit and Thomas begged him to bring Elizabeth back with him. He did--and he'd married her himself. Thomas lived with them for most of his life, and I wondered how he felt about that. I found out--he eventually shot himself, having suffered from "depressive episodes" all his life.

The house and grounds are amazing, and this was on a bitter, rainy day with most of the flowers and trees bare. I couldn't believe the access we were permitted--we got to roam the place pretty much unsupervised, and I even opened a little door under the stairs just to see what was in there (a lot of junk.) The Chirnside family sold the house to the Catholic church at some point when they were unable to afford the upkeep, and now it's owned by the Victoria Parks Department. We were there a long time, and I suddenly realized I was starving, but the tea room was pretty much out of food. I had a coffee and we each had a biscuit, but we never did get lunch today because we realized we needed to press on if we didn't want to be driving in the dark.

Amazingly, the next leg of the journey took only about 90 minutes. Most of that is highway, not ocean road, but the last 30--which the light held on for--is on the Great Ocean Road for reals. It's pretty spectacular out there, but I was determined to get to Lorne before we were driving these narrow little hairpin turns with nothing but our brights for illumination. We made one photo stop, and I took these.

Lorne itself is very cute and picturesque, and the main street, Mountjoy Parade (how great a name is that?) was empty and damp, though I imagine it's hoppin' in summer. We got a dinner rec from our new friend at the desk, at the Grand Pacific Hotel down the road. The dinner was amazing--I had chicken stuffed with basil cream and some kind of cherry chilli sauce (always two 'ls' here) and David had red curry--but the most impressive part was how everything was served immediately. We were actually giggling a bit every time they speedily delivered a plate.

We were out in the cold all day virtually without food, so a hot meal is so satisfying, and now we're sleepy. Did I mention the apartment has a jacuzzi? G'night!

1 comment:

Jen said...

Aw, I'm glad you two got some alone time. I'm sure Jarrah loved visiting with her grandparents! And now I see on FB that you are back in CA and trying to make it home without falling asleep at the wheel. I hope you arrive to find your house transformed just to your liking! xoxo