Saturday 11th …Seafood and blackberries.
A downpour at about ten coincides with the opening of the inaugural Apollo Bay sea-food festival and the regular Saturday market. Signs are not good that things will improve as dark clouds still appear to be gathering over the sea. Undaunted we make our way down to the sea front and are pleasantly surprised at the healthy numbers of people arriving.
We get showered on a couple of times but it doesn’t stop us enjoying the local mussels, cooked in a delicious tomato and chili sauce and a rather tasty fish and scallop kebab washed down with a summer ale from the Otway Estate Brewery that we are visiting tomorrow for lunch.
We watch a demonstration from a local chef on how to prepare and cook lobster in a cognac/butter sauce served with fresh local asparagus and a bed of home made linguini. I’m still not sure I am brave enough to try such a recipe that involves the killing of a live animal. I would have no qualms in eating one that had been prepared as this dish has been. Delicious.
Later in the day Dav, Barb, the two dogs and I take off for a walk up the hill behind the house in search of blackberries. Walking up the steep dirt track I am reminded just how difficult access must have been to these coastal settlements in the days before sealed roads that only came in the form of the Great Ocean Road in the 30s. The Colac Road that threads its way northwards through the forested Otway range also opened up the interior at about the same time. Before that tracks like the one we are on would have been used and they soon become steep, muddy slides that would be virtually impassable for much of the time.
Despite the approaching drizzle we gather a lot of berries in a short space of time and can enjoy the views from the top of the hill over the Bay. Those berries along with a few locally scrumped apples are very soon in the oven, topped by one of Barb’s delicious crumbles.
Sunday 12th……Sunday lunch and wild echidna
Lunch is planned at the Otway Estate Winery and Brewery today as the theme of good food continues.
The route to Colac takes us initially up Wild Dog Creek Road ( great name) where we look for the site of our memorable holiday thirty odd years ago at ‘Fogarty’s Cottage’. It could be one of two dwellings that lie at the bottom of the steep valley that are reached by precipitous paths. These are now sealed but in those far off days they were mud tracks after rain that we remember having to negotiate in the old Combi.
We then drive through Forrest where a few days ago we had stopped for lunch at the small Forrest Brewery and enjoyed the local IPA.
A short drive through flatter farmland takes us through Colac and then back to the Otway Estate. Dav and I enjoy a taste of the ten beers on offer and agree on the four that top the list – A Red, a Stout, a Wheat Beer and a wonderful IPA . I am forced to purchase a selection of these to take home after we have enjoyed a very good meal at this popular spot.
It is just as we leave and are trucking home through the start of the forest that wildlife spotter Dav shouts out that he has seen an echidna on the side of the road. There is virtually a handbrake turn and soon Marilyn and I get our first glimpse of this wonderful creature, one of Australia’s two monotremes – a mammal that lays eggs. The other is the duck billed platypus that we have yet to spot. The echidna does a little turn for us, burying its head shyly before sussing out that we present no danger and waddling off with its little back feet sticking out and pushing it along. It eventually ambles into the bush where it becomes beautifully camouflaged. In her life in Oz Barb has only seen this elusive creature a half dozen times so we feel honoured and very pleased with Dav and his eagle eyes. This weekend he has saved us from the dreaded tiger snake and spotted the shy echidna. Who’s to say it won’t be a platypus next?
Just as a throwaway on the way home he points out a huge wedge-tailed eagle that slowly circles an open field.