Safely back on the mainland, leaving the magical Apple Isle in our wake we started the journey to Keith. We had 10 days to do justice to one of the most spectacular drives in Australia, The Great Ocean Road. We headed to Torquay first, home of the discount surf store. We had plans to find Ned his first board and perhaps pick up a new winter wettie for me. Boy,did we get more than we bargained for. We found a 6"1 foamie for Ned reduced by 200 bucks and a warm 5/3 for me down to 150. Then, we lucked into a Quiksilver sample sale which apparently happens every Easter and September. Well, goodness me- we got two pairs of Volcom shoes each for Tom and Ned, one pair for me at 10 bucks a pair(!!) one computer bag ( volcom) at 15 dollars, and a pair of roxy jeans for 20 bucks as well! Unbelievable. Seriously considering making it a yearly trip..... Caught up with Kaz and John at Anglsea and stayed the night at their mates house- cheers Pete for the hospitality. Next day, headed out along the epic coastline that is the GOR. Ned tried out his board in airbrushed 2 ft perfection at urquharts bluff and I have to say, the weather turned it on a treat for us. Sun, gentle off shores and sparkling, turquoise southern ocean.
Things have changed since I was last here. The 12 Apostles has been theme parked somewhat, with a massive visitor centre and an underpass leading to the boardwalk lookout which was literally teeming with people today. Still magnificent though. We stayed the night at Johanna and Tom manned up to surf massive ocean swells. From there, on to Warnambool, which we had picked as a likely spot to spend Ned's birthday. John and Kaz had told us that it had a great playground and it did not disappoint. Flying fox, ponds with paddle and motor boats for hire, big slides and an array of different play equipment kept us all happy! Happy 9th birthday Neddles...
On a slightly sobering note however, we had an experience in Warrnambool that I would not want to repeat. Oscar and I went for a shower and he finished earlier than me and asked if he could go back to the caravan. I said ok as the van was only across the path fom the ablutions. I finished drying my hair and headed back to the van, only to have Tom look up and say, "where's Oscar?" It was dark, about 15 degrees and the caravan park was huge. Tom and I split up and searched for half an hour without finding him. We were shouting and obviously woke up a few campers. I had a little hole in my stomach that was getting bigger and blacker as I ran through the possible scenarios of what could have happened to him and why he hadn't heard us shouting. Had he tried to go across to the park? He might have fallen in the pond, perhaps someone has taken him, maybe driven away with him...
I was heading off to the park office to ring the police, when a big, unkempt, bearded, bikie type loomed up in front of me. Cradled gently in his arms was my son, sleeping peacefully. He had been found, sound asleep, on the back steps heading in the opposite direction from the caravan. He must have wandered around for a bit and then got tired, sat down, and decided to curl up, which is why he hadn't heard us shouting. The relief was rapturous; i can now have an inkling of the sheer mental torture parents experience when their child is abducted and I never want to feel it again. I cannot thank our unlikely guardian angel enough for finding Oscar that night- may good things be yours, forever.