We decided to sneak in a long weekend away before COVID restrictions eased to allow metropolitan Melbournians out into the regions, so we headed back down to Port Fairy with Ky's parents, Joan and Al, and her sister, Marni, joining us from Portland. This was Lola's first time away from home with us and also her first more lengthy car trip!
It was a cool but dry start on Friday morning as we loaded up the car with one of our new folding bikes, all of Lola's paraphernalia and plenty of vegan food (both of the human and dog variety!). Our first stop was our "local" vegan cafe in Geelong, Faceplant where we enjoyed a hearty late breakfast (sitting outside given that Lola was with us). Hitting the country roads, we drove on for just under two hours before a comfort stop, for us and Lola, in Mortlake. It was then an easy hour's drive to Port Fairy, arriving at our accommodation for the next three nights, Gum Tree Caravan Park, at about 2.30pm. Joan and Al were already there and we were pleased with our en-suite cabin which was modern, spotlessly clean and with all the mod cons we'd need. After the long drive (which Lola clearly didn't particularly enjoy!), it was good to give Lola a decent run at the enormous dog park behind the caravan park, a great feature and one we'd make the most of over the coming days! Marni and her two girls arrived at about 5.30 and it was great to catch up with them (still outdoors only, though, due to COVID restrictions) and for them to meet Lola for the first time. A big stash of Yay's awesome vegan pies we'd acquired recently on sale at iPantry served us all well for dinner before an early night.
It was a showery start on Saturday but we all headed into town to check out the farmers market. It was a pretty small affair, no doubt due to the poor weather, but the town centre was very busy with locals and tourists alike. It was nice to explore the main street and to enjoy a warming coffee with Al at the Farmers Wife (sadly under new management since our last visit and not keeping up its high standards and vegan-friendliness). Once the rest of the clan had completed their various shopping missions, it was time to head to Poco to try some of their amazing vegan ice cream. Russ arrived just in time for ice cream and we all then walked around the wharf and out as far as The Passage - it was bracing off the ocean, but Lola enjoyed stretching her legs. While everyone else drove back to the caravan park, Lee popped Lola into her bike carrier and jumped on the folding bike for the short ride from town back along the Port Fairy - Warrnambool rail trail. It was an easy ride through pleasant countryside and this would be a great trail to explore more of (preferably in fairer weather!). Back at the caravan park, some serious table tennis action was in order to round out the day before Russ headed home and we retreated to our various cabins for dinner.
Sunday dawned cloudy but with brighter spells, so we all wasted no time in heading back into Port Fairy in the morning. A wander along the clifftops of East beach got us warmed up before the girls indulged in more main street shopping while Lee & Al sampled another coffee at the Farmers Wife cafe. We all met up again at Poco for more of their delicious ice cream before Marni and her girls headed home to Portland. We then walked out to Griffiths Island where we tag-teamed the lovely walk out to the lighthouse as dogs are not allowed onto the island due to its abundant wildlife (of which we spotted only wallabies and rays). Lee again took the two-wheeled option back to the caravan park, with Lola in her bike carrier up front enjoying the animal life along the rail trail. Lee whipped up a big pot of chickpea curry for dinner, a nice warming meal for everyone after an enjoyable day spent outdoors.
The day looked somewhat more promising as we packed up on Monday morning. Rather than heading home immediately after checking out, we drove back into Port Fairy for a nice long walk along East beach. Lola had a great time off-leash and running with other dogs, while we enjoyed the beautiful beach and pleasant morning conditions. Hitting the road at about 11am, we again stopped at Mortlake for a comfort break and then at Inverleigh where we went for a nice vegan lunch and good quality coffee at the excellent Sunny Wholefood Cafe & Store. Joan and Al stopped at Inverleigh too and Lola got another decent walk to break up the long trip (which she handled much better than the outbound drive). It was then an easy hour's drive back through Geelong to be home by 3.30, just in time for Lola's dinner!
We had a very enjoyable short break in Port Fairy even if the weather wasn't particularly kind. It was great to see how Lola fared on a longer trip and also being away from familiar surroundings. Catching up with family was a lot of fun and not to be taken for granted after the considerable restrictions we've all been under for so long here. As it turns out, this will be our last trip for quite some time as we will no longer be allowed to participate in most aspects of society by choosing to remain unvaccinated, so we're glad we took the chance to enjoy this trip while we still had the opportunity!
Review of the Gumtrees Caravan Park accommodation