Committee for Lorne: Simple Pleasures

April 26, 2024 BY

On a recent warm, still, and utterly magical early autumn day, Pete, Jan and my next-door neighbour Tom came with me for ‘a Bunnings in the Bush’.  Most will be familiar with the regular weekend [and some weekday] sausage sizzles hosted by Bunnings to help small community charities and organisations raise money for their cause[s].  My own bush version is:

  1. a thin beef or Cumberland sausage [or two] cooked on …
  2. an old frypan over a single-burner gas flame, then …
  3. wrapped in a slice of plain white bread [NB: I was recently roundly criticised for providing sliced multi-grain!] and …
  4. topped with tomato sauce …
  5. washed down with a beer or a pleasant red.

Consumed in the quiet of the Otway bush, this has become a simple, frequent, and incomparable pleasure … and an excellent way to introduce friends to the serenity [think ‘The Castle’] of the magical forest at our back doorstep.  Add in as the only other ingredients:

  1. onions, if onions are your thing, and …
  2. a folding chair and …
  3. a small teak folding table and …
  4. a shared joy in nature …

Then, think bliss.

I have written before in both the Lorne Independent and on the Committee for Lorne page in the Surf Coast Times about my pleasure in the song of frogs and my now almost proprietorial relationship with this particular pond.  Snuggled in the deep forest under its Otway doona of mists, giant trees, and impossibly beautiful tree ferns, it is—to borrow from Thomas Hardy—”far from the madding crowd”.

Just a short drive away by the coast, Lorne now throngs with crowds throughout the summer and most weekends.  As Melbourne has rapidly sprawled west and new city hubs have popped up like mushrooms around Werribee and Hoppers Crossing, and as the fast-transit Geelong Ring Road has bypassed the past chokehold of its city centre, the golden goose that is the Surf Coast is suddenly now within easy reach for day-trippers from Melbourne’s west.

Add the relentless promotion of the Great Ocean Road as a tourist ‘must’, and towns like Lorne now groan under the strain.  This makes finding a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity—two of life’s calming salves for the soul—even more essential.

We all should have [or find] a special place—whether a pond in the bush, the lily pond seat up Stony Creek, a smooth, sitting-height rock by the ocean, or a sheltered cove of sand—a place to tend our thoughts and escape, if only for a little while, the madness that is the 21st century.

On the day of my most recent visit, ‘my’ pond was alive with song.  Frogs have a calling season, with autumn and early winter being the common croaking periods for the frog species at this particular spot.  As a car approaches, they fall silent.  It can seem that the pond is deserted, lifeless—at least for a minute or two.  But once silence descends, the first tentative croaks ask querulously in frog language, “… do you think they have gone yet?”

Soon, a score or more will have cranked up their croaks to a near-deafening cacophony.  But, even if frog-silent in the low-calling months, the pond still beckons me, though in a different way.  Then, it remains a contemplative, moody space where the only sounds are the buzzing of myriad insects and the bird calls from the bush provide company.

One day last year, Tom brought along his friend Tony—a celebrated musician and composer—to whom I had waxed lyrical about the magical sounds he was about to hear.  ‘You could even write a Frog Concerto’, I remember suggesting.  What I had forgotten was that it was out of calling season.  On arrival, nada!  Not a sound.  Silence!  Soldiering on, we cooked our sausages, had our glass of red, and lamented the perfidy of frogs.

An App on my phone—Frog ID—is one that anyone keen to identify their local frog species should download [the App icon is a yellow four-fingered frog’s foot on a black background].  The site contains a wealth of information about some 200 species, and, importantly, it permits a one-minute recording that can be forwarded from within the App to the ANU National Frog Lab [yes: there is one].  Then, within a day or two, the ID of the recorded frog call is emailed back.  The predominant frog in my pond seems to be Geocrinia victoriana, better known as the Eastern Smooth Froglet … but they are shy little fellows and very hard to spot.

On the day Tony joined us, brimming with enthusiasm and inspiration to write ‘frog music,’ the silence from the frog pond was deafening.  How deeply I felt let down by my usually vocal little friends!  Indeed, they could have managed a single ‘kreeeek’ for us!

Finally, after waiting in hope for half an hour of silence, I turned to Tony and said, ‘…this is what I had hoped you would hear.

I opened the App and pressed ‘play’.

To my surprise, a tentative and quiet ‘kreeeek’ answered the App back from the far side of the pond.  Like Sam in Casablanca, I played it again.  Another very nervous ‘kreeeek’ emerged from a different corner.  Real frogs were talking to my recorded ones—not a hullabaloo, mind—not enough to stimulate a concerto—but there were signs of life!  It was a truly magical moment.

So—and I don’t mean to sound trite—you could do worse than to find yourself a similarly special place—a frog or lily pond, a sitting rock, or a sheltered cove—a place to pause, listen to the sounds of nature, refresh the mind, and soothe the soul.  And, as the world goes mad [as it has], finding a frog pond—or its equivalent—will matter more and more.

John Agar

Feature Writer


A word from the chairman


What do we do in Lorne when the temperature drops and the days get shorter?  Do we rug up and hibernate?  Certainly not, we get out and play!

Take last weekend for example.  On Saturday the mighty Dolphins took on Simpson in netball and football at home with some good wins and some close losses, but with the football seniors having a resounding victory.  Well done boys!

On Saturday afternoon, we were honoured to hear from the inspirational Rosie Batty AO, Australian of the Year 2015, at Qdos.  Rosie has shown amazing courage and strength in the face of unbelievable loss and continues to be a strong and unwavering voice against domestic violence.  Well done to Caroline and our local bookshop for organising this event.

Later on Saturday at the Anglers, a good crowd were entertained by the blues music of Maskell Love Band, great company, a free sausage sizzle and some energetic dancing.

On Sunday, the proud owners of Ravenswood opened their beautiful house for a Mothers’ Day High Tea to raise funds for the Smith Family Learning for Life programme.  It was another sold-out event and a generous gesture.

On Monday night the community night market came to the Clam with local produce and wines, live music, food and lots of fun.  Another great initiative.

And what about the mermaids you ask, isn’t it getting a bit cold for their morning dips.  Certainly not, there’s just a bit more chatter!!


As I complete my first year as Chair of the Committee for Lorne, it is timely to recall what the Committee for Lorne is and does.  The mission of CfL is “Promoting and enhancing community, cultural and economic assets, while protecting and conserving our unique natural environment”.

The Committee members include representatives of our local school and hospital, as well as representatives of our sporting clubs and community organisations.  There are also a number of individual members who are interested in the future of Lorne and our local councillor Gary Allen attends our meetings by invitation.

CfL aims to tackle the challenges and opportunities for Lorne that are too important or too big for any single community group to address on its own.  Examples are affordable housing, the Point Grey redevelopment and the future of the foreshore/pool precinct.

We also aim to be a strong voice to advocate and represent Lorne to local, state and federal governments and with bodies such as Tourism Victoria and GORCAPA.  We want to ensure that Lorne is heard, supported and resourced for the future.

We are always looking for new members and fresh ideas for the Committee.  If you are interested in the future of Lorne and are willing to make a modest time commitment, we would love to hear from you.

And now we really are going, (I went early last week!), and I leave this column for a few weeks in the safe hands of Pete Spring and guest contributors.

Adios.  Hasta la proxima

Lorne Ward Events Calendar


11th – Lorne Dolphins Football and Netball V South Colac, at Stribling Reserve, juniors match from 9am, seniors at 2pm

12th – Lorne Country Club Mother’s Day Evening of Fun – Drinks, Dinner, Raffles and Comradery from 6pm

25th – Lorne Dolphins Football and Netball V Birregurra, at Stribling Reserve, juniors match from 9am, seniors at 2pm



8th – Lorne Market, 9-3pm https://www.lornemarkets.com/

8th – Lorne Dolphins Football and Netball V Colac Imperials, at Stribling Reserve, juniors match from 9am, seniors at 2pm

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