Aireys Inlet: pub, parmas, poetry, Perlman, police and pulchritude
|The Grand Ole Dame: Airey's Inlet Pub|
Our weekend away for R and R had everything. But no matter where we roamed, we kept finding ourselves back at the hub, or should I say the pub, and a grand old one she is. First built on the spectacular Great Ocean Road in 1904, the Airey's Inlet pub was razed during the bushfires of 1983. It was totally rebuilt but then shut down again in 2011. Recently it has reopened in style after a consortium of local residents decided the town isn't the same without her.
Last weekend the pub provided us with parmas, wonderful views of the ocean and the Otways in the distance, a roaring open fire in its sheep-sized original fireplace. And culture to boot.
On Saturday afternoon, local poets Amanda Johnson, Antony Lynch and Brendan Ryan read their poetry to a small group of enthusiasts. Their task wasn't an easy one as the venue was adjacent to the kitchen, where it sounded as if there was a cutlery war being waged. Obviously made of stern stuff, the poets managed to carry on regardless. Which was a blessing, as even this non-poet could appreciate that some of their poetry was very fine. The poetry reading, I should mention, was merely the supporting act. The main attraction was to be an interview with the internationally renowned Melbourne writer, Elliot Perlman.
I want to say that the interview was great, because I love Perlman's politics and his commitment to introducing some of the unspoken and unpopular big issues into the public domain via his fiction. I'm not sure if the session just wasn't pitched correctly for me. The interviewer assumed audience members had no prior knowledge of the writer and avoided any probing questions, so that while I found Perlman charming, I came away with nothing controversial or challenging to mull over.
But I certainly got challenged on the way back to our 'home' - Surf Coast Cabins - our peaceful bush retreat.
|View from our cabin's doorway - see what I mean by peaceful?|
Mere metres from the pub, driving along the unfamiliar windy dark highway, I noticed a police car with flashing lights trailing me. Panicking, I missed the turn into our access road and wobbled back on to the main drag. The policeman, drawing the obvious conclusion, turned on his siren, and clammy-palmed I pulled over to the side of the road. He was very nice and after checking my license and breathalysing me sent us on our way. But I didn't stop hyperventilating until the lock of our cabin door clicked behind us.
Despite that, I'd return to Airey's in a flash. The beauty of the bush and the sea are the perfect tonic for all human and writerly ills.
|The surf meeting the turf|
I look forward to many return visits to Airey's and its great old pub.