FORGOTTEN for a moment, was the pain of the damaged trip and board. While drinking and driving – not driving while drunk, I must specify – emerald green swathes of trees appeared ‘round a corner, descending into the heaving ocean and stopping only at the thin strip of tarmac and volcanic rock. We’d arrived at the Great Ocean Road, and under a sky blemished only with thin, sparse jet-stream cloud, it was putting on a feast for our eyes. Triple j’s broadcast dipped and rose as we hugged the turns with a vehicle which threatened to tip with only a 10 km breach of the speed limit. There wasn’t even much wind. We passed through a few refreshingly lifeless towns and got stuck behind the odd daydreamer, stopping a few times to sear particularly spectacular visions into our minds.
Not long before Lorne, home of the Falls Festival, we marvelled at incredible waves which had our surfing salivation slippery once more. Forgetting the water temperature, we appraised Lorne’s incredible right-hand-point potential and, as dusk deepened, decided to stay. This would be our first night exposed, me within a tent and Ross within Mortein, to a sleep with Victoria’s famous cold as our companions. But we were determined to have an enjoyable Saturday night nonetheless. First port of call was a backpacker hostel noticeably void of both cheap drinks and Swedish backpackers keen on sucking our toes. It was warm, though, and the average-looking redhead behind the bar who held ambitions as a dancer momentarily captured my attention. We approached the town’s main pub as the frost began to gather. There we met a bouncer from Los Angeles, a couple from Adelaide and Sydney and a group of clueless girl’s-night-outers from Geelong. The bouncer had mysterious business interests both native and Aussie. The couple met at a warehouse party in which she approached him and said ‘You’re cute’. To which he replied ‘Hell yes I am’. And the rest, as they say, was history, and so too thankfully was his rendition of what he called ‘The Octopus’: walking backward while gyrating his arms out in front of him. I was kinda hoping he’d go too far and fall into the freezing Southern Ocean. No luck. Ross bonded well with the LA bouncer because he’d been there. The Geelong girls were reasonably attractive and from the city of my birth, and they certainly felt the cold, in comparison to us, like they’d not lived further north for any serious period of time. Apart from that, and my disappointment and confusion at the pokie room closing early, it was a pretty uneventful night so we headed back. Well drunk after stopping at another club if only for the warmth, and of course the drinks, we had a feed of noodles with help from the much suffered for kettle, then slept blissfully until waking up freezing cold at 3am and dropping in and out of unconsciousness until the sun rose, birds started chirping, and the breaking waves drew us hither.