Life is a beach

If only! It’s been great to decompress down at Ocean Grove on the back of 2020 and all that seems to have befallen me these past couple of months. As I’ve said, I’m looking forward to starting my new year all over again next month. While we had a strange 24 hours in Melbourne attending my step-mum’s funeral, we decided to return to the beach given we’d paid for a full fortnight and a holiday in a green zone seems to be one of the greatest luxuries at the moment.

After playing ‘Spot the Porsche’ in Blairgowrie last summer, we moved on to ‘Spot the Ford Ranger’ in Ocean Grove. It’s one of the top suburbs for first home buyers and a different demographic given it’s more affordable. While perhaps a bit more rough and ready than the polished Mornington Peninsula, I really like the Surf Coast – it has a different feel.

My kids had their first ever surf lesson at Go Ride a Wave managing to get up on their beginner G boards. Friends who are surfers recommend doing 3 lessons in a row, similar to skiing, to really get the hang of it. If you’re a competent swimmer, then I think surfing is a bit of a no brainer in Australia – we’re an island continent surrounded by water and it’s been incredibly therapeutic to be by the sea.

I was lucky in that two sets of friends were holidaying nearby and we caught up with the first group at the Ocean Grove Bowling Club, which serves consistently good food although the air con was turned up high and we were one of the last tables to leave as we were in the 7pm (not 5pm) booking session. I think they’re used an older crowd who have dinner early, and leave early!

Brewicolo Food Truck – Ocean Grove

With our second group of friends, we dined for the first time at The Dunes which has ocean views set amongst the sand dunes of Ocean Grove near where my kids did their surf lessons at the beach (and where you can grab coffees from their kiosk window). It gives this more stylish establishment a great atmosphere and the service and food were excellent.

The Hive Gallery – Ocean Grove

Our last night in Ocean Grove was spent at Japanese restaurant Cha Cha on the main drag and while the interior is fairly sparse, the food is very good although I’m not sure the sliver of Japanese cheesecake was worth $16! Maybe pass on the dessert if you go.

It was cool the last few days we spent there so we did end up returning to the Grubb Road industrial estate to visit the Salvos store which was OK, the Vinnies store which was much better and Mr Rosanna had a quick drink at local brewer Brewicolo although we were too early for the food truck which doesn’t open until 5pm. We also popped our heads in to the Hive Gallery which is worth a visit if you’re in the area and located in the same building as Zero Point Yoga.

Barwon Heads food truck

We packed up yesterday after walking to Kyosk (related to but separate from Japanese furniture retailer Kyo) to grab takeaway coffees (which you can pre-order using the Skipp app) before jumping into our very packed car and driving home here to Rosanna. Mr Rosanna and I had an interesting week at the beach, which I’ll explain next time, suffice to say that a new year always rings in changes and this year is no different.


New horizons

Well what a Year of the Rat is has been – it may have brought a plague (!) but the Universe is obviously not done with us yet. On a global scale, the US seems to be imploding and at a personal level, my step-mum passed away last week after a 10 year illness. It was all very quick and peaceful in the end but my heart is broken for my Dad losing his life partner. Let’s just say I’ll be glad to start my (Chinese) new year all over again on 12 February when the Ox moves in.

I’ve been at Ocean Grove the past week coming to terms with many things and having some much needed time out to re-group. We feel incredibly lucky as a family to have booked our holiday in Victoria back in September in the hope that restrictions would lift. Given the COVID cases in Sydney and Brisbane, we’re very glad we chose to stay local and it’s given us pause for thought in relation to interstate holidays in the midst of a global pandemic without a vaccine being fully rolled out. You can simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time and I feel for anyone who was caught out this summer. The greatest plans…

It’s the third time in recent years we’ve holidayed on the Surf Coast with location being determined by having a dog! Yes, the princess has had the time of her life frolicking on the dog beach while we’ve enjoyed our 70s beachhouse with courtyard and ping pong table. It’s been a great place to chill. My kids and I have enjoyed running on the beach and Mr Rosanna has now been for three bike rides in a row. It was cool when we arrived last weekend but we got to visit the Ocean Grove Summer Market (gold coin donation) after the rain enjoying coffee, donuts and sausages in bread. We didn’t buy anything but I enjoyed seeing Baru sustainable mens swim shorts being sold. Very cool.

Blackmans Brewery & Burger Bar – Ocean Grove

Our holiday diet has been the usual suspects of fish and chips, pizza, pies and hamburgers so the running may need to be upped. We had our burgers (and beer for Mr R) at Blackmans Brewery on the corner of the main drag, which feels like going back to the 1980s including the customers with their moustaches and mullets! Next door is Florence & Threads, which I’m yet to visit but glad it’s still there.

On the cooler days, we visited Japanese furniture warehouse KYO (closing down to the public to go solely wholesale) in the Ocean Grove industrial estate and discovered the more authentic Tetsu selling vintage Japanese wares in another warehouse further along where I bought a wooden abacus. I think we may be back to check out another local brewer Brewicolo as well as Vinnies and Salvos stores in the same back streets with The Hive Gallery also nearby.

We also drove to Geelong to check out the Geelong Vintage Market in a huge warehouse on Mackey Street with the imposing and bold former Federal Woollen Mills building behind it (now a business park) where the carpark is. It’s a great way to spend half a day fossicking around for treasures. I ended up with an Art Deco plate and a vintage silver metal handbag. A tip if you go there and get the munchies – The Pickers Union cafe closes at 3.30pm so make sure you get there before late afternoon if you want to eat! We’ve been in holiday mode most of the time we’ve been here so off to slow starts most days in no rush.

We spent yesterday morning at the Barwon Heads Community Market – more of a craft market with posters, ceramics, soap and jewellery but we did enjoy the cannoli stall. I’ve mentioned before that Barwon Heads is the Portsea of the Bellarine Coast with its upmarket retail stores and cafes lining its main street. We grabbed a bite to eat outside at the always excellent Annie’s Provedore, which I’m glad is also still there. There were lots of people enjoying the Barwon River – I’d love to try stand up paddle boarding if we visit again and it was lovely to see the Ferris Wheel in action before we crossed the bridge back to Ocean Grove.

I’m enjoying the right here, right now but know I also need to work out where to from here once I get back to Melbourne. Losing my job has raised some existential questions for me and also presents an opportunity to forge a new path forward – indeed some new horizons. Sadly a funeral also awaits and I have chosen Rilke’s Go to the limits of your longing as a reading – it seems to have taken on added poignance and meaning for me over the past 9 months with the things that have happened to me, and the people around me. And while this is for now, in Rilke’s own words – no feeling is final.