Melbourne writer Dave Hart is working on something special for our next issue, something that’s almost too multi-dimensional to paraphrase. There’s fish, the Lorne Pier, the Greek Islands, poetry and reminiscences, George Johnson, Leonard Cohen’¦ if you’re a local to that coast, you’re probably onto the scent. In the meantime, here’s a few wandering thoughts Dave sent in as he developed his ideas.
Photo by and ©2002 Dustin M. Ramsey
I admit to harboring mixed childhood feelings about Lorne.
Lorne was the rich cousin who had everything. We were Wye River blow-ins. Summer hillbillies from around the bend, where the coastal road rises, unleashing
a series of deep and treacherous chicanes to finally ease, beyond the bridge, at the treated pine barriers of the beachside general store.
This is not a fair opinion, though. Lorne also meant: four flavours in a double wafer cone; racks of Okanuis; Big M girls cavorting on the 3XY fun bus; rainbow thongs; and shoeless backflips over the paint-faded, mesh cross of the foreshore trampolines. Lorne was a safe base station, but only ever a brief pit stop for the likes of us. We’d answer the call to pile back in the Commodore and prepare to tackle the high, winding mountain pass beyond. The next section of the Great Ocean Road, as beautiful as it is dramatic. A Big Sur, or a slice of the Amalfi. In those days, it was not to be taken lightly.
This stanza required an intense concerto of gear changes to remain safely adhered to the contours of the cliff face and away from the abyss. Nothing any driver should attempt with a milkshake wedged between the legs, or elbow steering to finish a hamburger (cheerio, Dad). This was a serious business: A sudden dip, a steep climb with another sweeping arc, repeat and stir. Past the bluestone lookout, and across the Cumberland. A feat of engineering (and an ironic reward for fealty), it was hewn by brave Diggers for Wayne Gardner, but not for me. With the burnt stench of brake fluid from the rear passenger window, and mono repeats from one of two Neils (Diamond or Sedaka), the asphalt mixed a cocktail shaker that inevitably forced further unplanned stops, even a change of clothes. Too much to keep it all in. It is unfair to associate Lorne with spew, but its Siren song always chided about the toughest leg to come.
The weather broke over the Otways between us. When we were rained out, Lorne was boogieboarding in sunshine. We had a fibro shack on stilts among Eucalypts, with marchflies, redbacks and blue-tongues. They had concrete driveways, carports and town water. We had seagrass tiles, which tattoo your hide in geometric reminders of an afternoon session of Cluedo. They had bright mansions, shag pile and a proper cinema. They also had a fish shop, with a restaurant on the pier.
Lorne didn’t make me sick. That’s not right. It simply had a bad habit of making us jealous.