So JJ and I took a much needed weekend to ourselves and roadtripped off to Lorne, a lovely little tourist town on The Great Ocean Road. JJ had organised it all while he was off in China for a working holiday and I was staying with my mum and stressed to my poor little eyeballs. Knowing my taste far too well, JJ booked for us to stay two nights in a beautiful “tree house” unit with a simple Japanese theme. It had rice paper interior doors and traditional woven floor mats, a low, futon-like bed and a low, small table with cushions to sit on the floor. Somehow I could sit on the floor with my old joints but JJ couldn’t manage it; I never claim that my body makes any sense at all :).
The tree house was hosted by a lovely gallery with a small cafe and art studio on a beautiful bush property surrounded by protected bushland. The property had plenty of lovely sculptures scattered around, most were for sale, and I quietly wished I could afford to own several; I settled for buying a lovely little hand-crafted bowl from the artists’ studio. I showed the bowl in another post of mine here.
The woman who greeted us and showed us to our tree house warned us that the property was occupied by Koalas and they get quite noisy at night, but that we shouldn’t be scared. I responded by telling her that we’re quite used to the grunting of possums and wombats on our property. I hadn’t heard Koala grunts, and she hadn’t heard wombat grunts, so we both ended-up walking along making grunting sounds to try to show one another what the animals sounded like. I’m quite sure JJ was snickering quietly behind us.
Sitting out on our tree house’s private balcony one night I had the pleasure of seeing a very fat, healthy Koala sitting at the top of a gum tree munching away and openly staring at me in a curious daze. I’m a seventh generation Australian and I’ve never seen a Koala in it’s natural habitat, only at wildlife reserves; it was gorgeous.
I’ve only recently received my first car and JJ knows how much I love driving, now that I know how (when JJ and I met I’d never driven a car; he taught me and I eventually got my license at 23 years old). Driving along the great Ocean Road is one of those classic Australian things that everyone should try and is very popular with tourists. It’s a beautiful drive but the road is fast and windy, so I got to concentrate less on the scenic views and more of how fast I could take my turns *cheeky grin*. We drove further along to Apollo Bay, another tourist town, and also to see the Twelve Apostles which is another of those well-known Australian attractions which I’d never seen.
The Apostles are crumbling away, eroded by the ocean, so I’m glad I got to see them now while there’s some left. We were lucky in that we had beautiful weather the whole weekend and JJ got some absolutely amazing photographs. We also had the pleasure of meeting a little echidna who was more interested in all the food his was finding in the bushes than the crowd of tourists trying to figure out what this strange Australian animal could be. “An Australian Porcupine” an American couple decided, close enough hehe.
I spent quite a bit of our weekend looking through the lovely little shops filled with hand-crafted trinkets that are currently very popular in our local tourist towns, while JJ often gave-up trailing behind me and would go find a nice spot in the sunshine to read or write. At one point I was saying to him “It’s a bummer- .. well no, I guess it’s both good and bad. I enjoy spending way too much time looking through all these shops, but I rarely buy anything. I spend most of my time thinking ‘That’s seriously over-priced, I could make that and I’d enjoy making it more than buying it’.. But it’s great because all these little shops and galleries are causing inspiration overload and I think my brain is starting to leak out of my ears…” Now, don’t get me wrong, I love supporting hand-crafters and upcyclers; most of my birthday and xmas gifts to others I buy from Etsy. I love knowing that I’m buying a unique, hand-made item and supporting the person who has made it, instead of a mass-produced carbon copy and giving my money to a big corporation who probably uses sweat-shop labour. But the most of these little shops are selling mass-produced “hand-made” items (like little braided bracelets and painted ceramic bowls), and privately made hand-crafted items, but all at outrageously inflated prices for tourists who may not know better, or people with more money than sense. I’m happy to pay, within reason, to a profit to an actual person. The items I did buy and love are the small ceramic bowl I mentioned, that was handmade at the gallery where we stayed (there were lots but they were all individual and obviously hand-made), and a small pair of glazed origami crane earrings.
I really appreciate these items because they have a background, a story, and someone has sat down to make them with care, love and enjoyment. The origami earrings reminded me that I’d been intending to try the technique for years, after coming across a tutorial for glazing origami stars and using them as beads, so that’s definitely moved up on my to-do list. I found the earrings in a small upstairs room with a sign on the street reading “Gallery, art and crafts” (paraphrasing) where a woman had set up a display of her photography and was selling prints of her photos as well as lots of hand-crafted items from local artisans. There was all of the origami jewellery and broaches, chainmaille jewellery, steampunk jewellery; I was in heaven, I only wish I’d had more money. And JJ was enjoying talking to the woman, as neither of them have had formal training in photography. They were discussing their passion and how they taught themselves photography. It’s amazing but I find that often talented/successful creative people learn through experience, not formal study. Instead they gain practise, learning and experience through doing what they enjoy. Although I believe JJ just has a natural eye for composition; some people are just natural artists.
We also found a wonderful little tea house in Lorne where I had some of the best chai and green teas. They had a great joint venture going where they were connected with a shop (I don’t know if it was originally one large restaurant/shop or if they put in a doorway between two shops) that sold mainly balinese and asian styled furniture, tea sets, and other bits and pieces. All of the beautiful furtniture inside the tea house was for sale, supplied by the joint shop. I could have spent so much money there, especially on some of the gorgeous tea sets. In the end I couldn’t resist buying a very sturdy, functional teapot. I have some very pretty tea sets I’ve brought back from a holiday in China, but they’re better for two or more people or they get cold too quickly. (Yes, I have considered making some tea cozies, but then I’d be hiding the pretty tea set!).
I’ve always been prone to getting car sick but I don’t if I’m the driver, which is also better for my back. But at one point I wanted JJ to enjoy some of the driving and, in typical JJ fashion, we went off the main road for some exploring. We didn’t go far but he got some beautiful photos and I got to stop and meet two adorable calfs and a very friendly working pup. I also got a baby-cow lick with made me go all gooey and mushy. I’m usually an ethical omnivore, considering being vegan, but usually just plain vegetarian. Seeing those calves made me so happy and gooey, I think it’ll remind me for a long time why I choose not to eat meat (it’s not the killing of animals, it’s the inhumane raising and slaughter… that’s a whole other conversation, though.)
All-in-all it was a lovely weekend spent relaxing, driving and overloading my brain with inspiration. 🙂