Mini for Christmas

Marita may never own a car (she doesn’t need one), but she likes (new) Minis. Always spots them on the road.

So I got her one for Christmas.

Mini Cooper

Well, for a day. Hertz offer them as part of their “fun collection“, so I reserved one and went along on Wednesday to pick it up. Despite the posters on the wall at Hertz saying “Every second counts”, they had a very long queue due to computer problems, but eventually I got it and drove over to Marita’s to pick her up.

I had told her to expect me at 11:30, but hadn’t told her what I would bring, and it did manage to catch her by surprise.

We jumped in and went for a spin to see her brother and his girlfriend fiancée down in Cape Paterson, which is past Wonthaggi.

If you’re driving to Cape Paterson, be aware that Mr Google doesn’t know about the roundabout outside the Wonthaggi hospital. If you think that’s the roundabout referred to, and follow the directions and take the third exit, eg turn right, you’ll end up near the Desalination Plant and the nearby wind turbines, which are impressive, but not where we wanted to go.

Wind farm near Wonthaggi

We had a nice afternoon tea, a walk around the beach, and then drove back into Melbourne.

The next morning, before returning the car, we had a nice little drive around the place… up Beach Road, through Elwood, along Acland Street, that One Sweet Promenade, then around Albert Park Lake, back to Beach Road and through Port Melbourne, over the Westgate and back again, and along St Kilda Road, before filling it up and taking it back to Hertz, where for the second day in a row, they had a queue out the door (which fortunately we could avoid this time).

Marita driving the Mini

The Mini is a heck of a lot of fun. Very nice to drive, very zoomy, and seems as economical as my Astra (eg, very). And of course it looks great. Quite comfortable, too… at least in the front.

On the down side, there’s virtually no room in the back seats, unless you’re going to limit yourself to carrying only amputee midgets. In practical terms it’s clearly a vehicle for 1-2 people max. Ditto, very little room in the boot. The speedometer is in the middle of the front console, so you have to keep looking across to check your speed. This version didn’t have cruise control, though I would assume some do.

I don’t think I’d want to own one (it just wouldn’t be practical), but it was great fun for a day.

A short break in Inverloch

Got back yesterday from a few days in Inverloch. We rented a house near the beach with my sister and her family.

Sunday

Drove down as sorry, but even V/Line’s new improved services only provide 3-4 services a day. Anyway we had lots of stuff to carry. Stopped at Korumburra for lunch at the Kelly bakery (not sure what Ned Kelly’s link to Korumburra is), and checked out the tourist railway but didn’t ride on it.

Then onward to Inverloch. Drove around the town looking for the supermarket, which we found eventually. Very crowded with fellow holidaymakers. We stocked up on stuff and then headed for the house.

Quite nice and comfortable, if a little basic. One toilet was a stretch for so many people. Isaac ended up on a mattress on the floor, but seemed to get used to it. No actual dinner table — just an island kitchen bench with not enough stools, so the adults got used to having meals standing. And a TV which was tiny and had no proper antenna, and was therefore unwatchable. I was glad I’d brought a radio to be able to listen to the news and the cricket.

But these minor issues were forgotten when we found the slot car set in the cupboard.

After settling-in we strolled down to the beach (about 10 minutes walk). It was a little cold, but very nice. The kids kept themselves entertained by wading in the water and scrawling pictures and words into the sand.

Inverloch beach Inverloch beach

Strolled back and Adrian (genuine Italian) cooked us all pasta. Yum. Then we had a go of RoboRally, which took some study of the manual. I won, perhaps reflecting that I was the only participant who had played previously, as veteran rallier Marita decided she wanted to just watch.

Spotted a huge huntsman spider in the bathroom just before going to bed, but happily didn’t see it again all week.

Monday

Went for a nice long triangular walk down to the beach, along the coast into the town then back to the house. Seemed to be plenty of people about, and (for whatever reason) I snapped a few moderately entertaining signs with unfortunate pictogram men falling off cliffs and being carried away by strong currents.

Inverloch sign Inverloch sign

After some lunch we did the slightly amusingly named Screw Creek scenic walk up to Townsend bluff, taking a few wrong turns along the way. It’s one of those scenic walks where it turns out the best view isn’t at the proper End Of The Walk, but about 200 metres back down the hill. But oh well, there was some interesting stuff to see along the way.

Adrian fired-up the wood-fired barbecue in the evening and we feasted like kings yet again, before a game of Cluedo.

Tuesday

Into the car (we must have made an amusing little convoy, my sister’s Golf and my Astra, carrying four people each and both with matching orange “More trains = Less traffic” PTUA stickers on the back), we went for a spin down the Cape Paterson Road. Lots of glorious views of the sea, and after a stop at some place called Eagle’s Nest (great view of the cliffs) we took a look around the State Coal Mine in Wonthaggi.

Some really interesting stuff around the mine — it’s free entry to the surface exhibits. Time and the presence small children prevented us doing the hour-long mine tour (for which there is a charge); maybe another time — if it’s half as good as the one in Bendigo, it’d be well worth while.

The lady behind the counter recommended lunch at the Caledonian hotel in Wonthaggi, and sure enough their BLT burger went down a treat. Then we headed back to the house for a rest before hitting the beach.

The promised beach weather never quite eventuated, but it was nice enough for some paddling, sand-castle building and beach cricket, before home made pizzas for dinner. Yum. Followed by another game of Cluedo, and a quick go of the telescope the kids got for Christmas, though not many stars were out.

Wednesday

Time to head home, but beforehand a ride on the South Gippsland Tourist Railway, from Korumburra to Nyora and back in a 1950s diesel railcar (apparently once used on the Adelaide suburban system). It’s a bumpy old track, but some great scenery along the way, and my nephew Leo was thrilled to be able to watch out the front window to see the track ahead.

South Gippsland Tourist Railway South Gippsland Tourist Railway

After lunch, back to the car and the drive home to the big smoke. A nice little relaxing break.