Nii Nah Nae Nee NO!
Have you ever been to Eildon? Or Lake Eildon?
If you haven't but are planning to some day, make sure that you have a robust sense of self-worth and a big wallet or you'll suffer the same fate as we three - sorry, four, Locketts.
After deciding to meander home from Mansfield via Lake Eildon, we discovered that the town itself looked like it had decided to stay and fully embrace 1982. The optimistically-titled 'restaurant' had mis-spelled cappuccino, the 'bookings essential' sign was written in chalk with the specials already worn off by the rain and the pungent aroma of green slime was wafting up from the upper and lower ponds. The real estate shop had long gone, with only 'houseboats for sale' stickers placed in the hardware shop window.
"Nah, it's all good," said Love Chunks, jollying Sapphire and myself along. "The old guy in the Information Centre says there's plenty of spots where we can see the lake and take Milly for a walk."
An hour and several detours later, our views of the lake were restricted to stretching our necks over the cement barrier as we drove along the edge of the dam(n) wall and reversing out of three 'Private Boat Owners Only' signs and padlocked boom gates.
'No Climbing on Rock Face,' said one sign in the only spot we could see that wasn't fenced off.
'No walking on bridgeway', said another.
"Well, lets head off to Jerusalem. It's a state park and we're allowed to bring Milly." Our orange dog yawned like a squeaky screen door from the back of the station wagon.
Several minutes later, LC pulled over into a muddy ditch and I ran out to read the park's noticeboard. 'Dogs are permitted in camping areas one to eight.' Oooh, that's good, I thought, before reading the next sign, 'Areas one to eight are booked out for the long weekend. No further sites are available.' Oh.
Back in the car, we decided to drive on in search of a picnic ground.
'No cats, No dogs, No firearms,' it said, carved into the pine bollard and coloured in yellow paint for added emphasis.
Love Chunks pulled over into a side bay to turn around. 'No 2WD vehicles beyond this point.'
"Why don't we just go back to Eildon and have a bit of a better look around the river there?"
A car park overlooking a houseboat marina but without public access had a cement brick toilet block situated on top of the hill. Each of us visited it gratefully but no water came out of any of the taps. Sapphire started to laugh, "It's us, remember? We've been told 'no' to everything we've tried to do in this place, so why would we expect water to come out of the taps?" It was one of those times when the tube of Wet Ones circa 2001 mouldering away in the glove box was a welcome rediscovery.
In Eildon itself, we soon got used to the odour of slime and became more and more amused by what we weren't allowed to do:
Milly was busy trotting between us we walked the circuit of Upper and Lower Pondages. The sun had finally emerged and we were even feeling slightly warm. Milly lapped at the edge of the water before I noticed another bloody sign. 'No drinking water available. Water is unsuitable for human consumption.'
Further along, some burly blokes had their rods resting on Y-shaped sticks jammed into the muddy bank and were standing near their cars, drinking beers. "Caught any fish, fellas?"
"No love, just a cold."
We walked on, and I noticed some blackberry bushes entwined between the eucalypts and willows. Yes they're a weed but maybe it was right time of year to eat.......... 'Please note - these blackberry bushes have all been sprayed. Do not eat the berries.' Right.
Our circuit completed, we stood in front of the town bakery. It was 2pm and we were all starving for a late lunch.
"Do you have any beef pies left?"
Of course not.