Friday 21 June 2019

Away in Lorne

Every so often I feel the need to get away from work, to literally toss the phone in a hotel room drawer and ignore email, social media and everything else. When that happens, I usually choose Lorne.

The Mantra Hotel in Lorne, on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, was once Erskine House, popular accommodation for Melburnians seeking fresh sea air. It’s still a good place to head for that item, and as a non-driver I like it particularly because it a) can be easily reached by public transport; and b) it has the town on one side and the ocean on the other, so it’s easy to walk to everything.

The standard rooms are fine, but this time I was staying in a small apartment on the tree (rather than ocean) side of the property. It was a nice space with a proper kitchen, and I always appreciate being able to self-cater.

The gutter above the open-air terrace of the apartment seemed to retain water after rain, and this drew a set of regular visitors to the rooftop: sulphur-crested cockatoos!

These sizeable native birds are all over Lorne, often looking to cadge food from visitors, though signs everywhere tell you not to feed them. I saw plenty of cockatoos during my stay, as well as galahs and various waterbirds.

I have a pattern when I visit Lorne for a four-night stay. The first couple of days are spent largely collapsed on a sofa, reading; in between eating the buffet breakfast and swimming in the hotel pool (there’s a steam room there too, which I appreciate in colder weather).

On the second day I’ll stretch myself slightly by walking down to the excellent Swing Bridge Cafe just beyond the hotel, where the river flows into the sea.

It’s a beautiful spot in good weather, a great place to do more reading. Then I’ll cross the bridge and pass by the local supermarket for catering supplies. Lorne is a reasonably upmarket destination, and you can tell that fro the posh bread and cheeses on sale at the supermarket.

On the second or third full day, depending on weather, I’ll push myself a bit more by taking the coastal walk around past the beach to the pier. Next to it is a seafood restaurant which is a nice place to sit and have a drink or a meal, while looking over the ocean. I find it soothing.

Then I walk back to the hotel via the main road, which runs higher up and passes the local pub. Sometimes I’ll look in the shops, sometimes check out the film schedule at the old-school cinema.

It’s not a complex holiday, but sometimes that’s what I need.

Makes a hugely refreshing change from being somewhere where I have to stay alert, taking notes and framing photos for later use in published travel stories.

Love Lorne! Even the thuggish cockatoos that run the town.

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