WEDNESDAY, Thursday, Friday night – I’d not slept any of them very well. Too much fun to be had, and too much alcoholic dehydration, it seemed. Regardless, I wandered down to say goodbye to Chapel St while enjoying a breakfast of kiwi fruit (skin on, it’s totes normal), banana, mandarin, and breakfast sub. Plus the hostel’s complimentary upon return. The journey to West Footscray was painful, on account of lugging around a wheeled suitcase and a board cover within which less than half the weight was the board. Said weight was compounded by its girth, which my not so stubby arms struggled to encircle while I tried to avoid inadvertently knocking people out while manoeuvring through Melbourne’s public transport system. Ah, that trip. Getting to the city loop line was the easy part. What to do after that: a mystery. We encircled the city somewhere between twice and 20 times before finally switching at Flinders St and, a miracle, heading in the right direction, toward Geelong via Footscray. We arrived at the latter suburb, and it looked like a country town tacked onto a city in which people weren’t quite sure whether they were in fact urban or rural-ites. They seemed to fail at both. It was time for a taxi accommodating boards once more so we sat outside the station waiting for a yellow van, and watched the natives scurry for trains they’d very often and amusingly miss by agonising seconds. Watched a fat redheaded bogan chasing her fat redheaded son, yelling ‘Wait!’ like she was worried he’d be abducted by someone. My money was on anyone adopting that kid and giving him a more ample life, but that was probably a little pre-judicial of her parenting skills. Besides, she did catch up before he wound up on the tracks.
Across the road from one of the biggest – and most sparsely grassed – cemeteries I’d ever seen, was the Wicked Campers depot. Jesus, imagine. While a talking point the rows, and rows, and yet more rows of ancient, crumbling and rusting tombstones certainly might be on your first day; just imagine after you’d been there a few months, on a bad day, when you’re actually envying the restful souls who are your neighbours. At least a Wicked depot worker probably works less strenuously than a dead person. We thought we were free and finally had wheels we could personally control, but we had to pay the cabbie; twice. He had one of those school fundraising chocolate things and asked, no, told us ‘You buy some chocolate. $1 for one and $5 for (get this) five’. Yeah, we said and I forked out a buck while Ross handed over a purple note. He was even in there spruiking his wares as we drove off in the van. The van. ‘Mortein’, as we came to name it, which you’ll understand if you keep reading. And, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll already know one side of its paintwork. The other, inexplicably, had a painting of a rose with, even more inexplicably, a scroll wrapped around it with ‘Ouch’ written on it. Whatever. After small talking with the depot dude, who only treated us like human beings when he realised Ross worked for the company and was there to pick up a free van, we headed for Geelong and the Great Ocean Road. Geelong, ah Geelong. I was born there. We didn’t stop. They made a ring road ‘round Geelong a few years back, so we used it to bypass that sucker and get to where we wanted to go. Yes, the Great Ocean Road, but more precisely, the beach.
We both wondered why we’d taken so long to get there when we feasted our eyes on Fisherman’s Beach – the first left-hand turn we’d decided to take thanks to a beach sign’s prompting. Its ashen waters reflected a sombre sky hanging over small waves. But, there was little wind, and the whitewash we could see warmed the heart. The swell we could see at Bells Beach – one of the most famous point breaks in the world – boiled the blood. We were there about lunchtime and watched in awe as lines of swell marched in like an army of giants invading the southern coast from Antarctica. But shit those giants weren’t doing a great job; the water was crowded with surfers, and we both agreed we didn’t want to surf Bells just for the sake of surfing Bells, considering the crowd. Plus we hadn’t had lunch. So we had lunch. Then, after trying to check one place but giving up after we realised we’d walked a kilometre and still couldn’t see water, we came to Angelsea, where we both suffered knives to the face thanks to the cold water, and Ross suffered a death in the family. . . .