The beaches, the humour and Helen at Barwon Heads op shop

IMG_3526I am looking forward to heading to Australia to stay with my good friends Demi and Max McLeod. I am going to Perth.   I have never been there before and I can’t wait.

It has got me thinking about why I loved my time in Barwon Heads so much. I tell people I went to Melbourne because it’s easier but I visited Melbourne and lived in Barwon Heads. So I thought I would attempt one of those list blogs and limit myself to ‘The Five things I loved most about Barown Heads’.

Nostalgia for a past I remember (but didn’t experience first hand)

Barwon Heads is a very small town with one main road running through it. It is prosperous and unpretentious. On my regular walks down to the beach(es) I was soon on nodding terms with people walking their dogs. There is a community hall that is truly used by the community, it has a life of it’s own and you can feel the history of the  the daily, weekly and monthly things that happen there.  I felt as though I had landed in a small corner of Star’s Hollow (Gilmore Girls reference).

The atmosphere had a 1950’s feel to it – I was born in 1959 so this must be a memory I have inherited from my parents. This is place where people know each other, care about the place they live in and take an interest in making the place ‘work’.

The beach culture 

january negative spaceThe most beautiful beaches I have seen fringe Barwon Heads. There is a footbridge and a road bridge that are parallel to each other (odd planning but photogenic). The footbridge is home to fishermen, walkers, runners, phtographers like me.IMG_1175The sunrise and the sunsets are breathtaking and it is hard not to stop in your tracks and just gaze until the day has started or completed.

The beaches define the place. People are nuts about surfing and this was the cause of lifestyle envy for me. I have never loved anything as much as the people who dash to the surf love surfing. People organize their worlds in order to be free to surf. People who surf are great to watch, not just because it creates great physiques but also because you can see total focus in action. Young and old people go into a zone that enables them to lose themselves in the moment and that is beautiful to see.IMG_3434

The attitude to life 

“You’ll be right”, “Good on ya” and other positive sayings greet you every day. This is a very different experience to the ‘have a nice day’ greeting in the States. In Barwon Heads they are statements of attitude. Generally people look on the constructive side of life. I think this is the distinction between the ‘have a nice day’ automatically said and this culture. People still complain about stuff but at the end of the story there seems to be a shared understanding that moaning, although enjoyable, gets you nowhere.

‘Shit happens, get over it’ is the unwritten rule.  You are defined and judged by how you deal with it. There is no excuse for wallowing or overanalyzing life and there is no such thing as something that can’t be laughed or that can’t be used to ‘prank’ others with.

The ‘Op Shops’

IMG_4212In particular the Barwon Heads All Saints Opportunity Shop. This is part of a very sweet looking church that has a library, a lovely garden and a very extensive and busy op shop. I only discovered this a few weeks into my stay, driven out of need for some warm clothes.

The place is really well organized and has a small army of very determined ladies who have clearly got the place working like clockwork. The person who defined the spirit of all op shops I visited was Helen Edwards, a really lovely woman full of the joys of life. As you browse through the extensive stock you can hear her chatting to customers about their families, their worries and always greatly admiring of their choices of purchases. She personifies optimism and no-nonsenseness.

I went to another op shop in Queenscliff run by two lovely ladies (who I just remember I owe $4 to) I didn’t have enough cash so I got ‘subbed’ with the reassurance if I didn’t manage to get back don’t worry ‘its over priced’.

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Hamish and Andy and driving on quiet roads 

The DJs are all funny, constant banter and pranks. My faves were Hamish and Andy, ‘laugh out loud’ funny.

My favorite phone-in was ‘Possum or Prophylactic?’  (on Meshel and someone’s show) Don’t ask but the answer to where one of these two things was found was “in my dog’s poo” and it wasn’t the possum, thank the lord.

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But the thing that made the shows so delightful was driving on very clear roads through a wonderful landscape. The sky is magnificent and it is impossible not to be in good heart at the end of the show or the drive.

So that dear reader is my fave five from the Heads.  Thanks to Pennie, Ian, Piper and Owen for sharing it with me. (this photo is in Armadale, another wonderful place)

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