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, it was time to bid farewell to Smellbourne, so I wandered down to say goodbye to Chapel St, enjoying a breakfast of kiwi fruit (skin on, it’s 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 (explanation in part 4). 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 during manoeuvers 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 probably encircled the city twice before switching at Flinders St and, a miracle, heading in the right direction towards Geelong via Footscray. We got there, 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. They seemed to fail at both. It was time for a taxi accommodating boards once more so we sat there watching for a yellow van, and enjoyed scrutinising the natives screaming for their lagging behind, fat little brat children while scurrying for trains they’d miss by agonising seconds. Watched a fat redheaded bogan mother chasing her 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 than she had, but that was probably a little judgemental on face value.
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 rows of ancient, crumbling and rusty tombstones on your first day certainly would be, 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 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 Jim handed over a purple note. He was even in the reception 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 artistically yet morbidly spray painted surface. 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 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 back a sombre sky lingering over small swells. But, there was little wind, and the little swell we could see warmed the heart. The waves we could see at Bells Beach – one of the most famous point breaks in the world – almost literally boiled the blood, which would’ve been kinda nice under the circumstances. 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 Jim suffered a death in the family. . . .