IN SHORT: The final day. Surprisingly everything fit in my backpack far better than when I left home, must’ve had something to do with the 13 days of practice. True to his word Harry arrived to take us to the airport. Our flight departed just after 1pm and touched town in Launceston a short time later. I picked up my car and drove down the Midlands Highway bound for Hobart. There were grass fires all the way back but the sun shone and a light breeze kept the smoke from the road.
After 14 days on the road it was a privilege to gain such an insight into the demands associated with Dad’s line of work. By no means was it the same but there were plenty of contrasts to be made along the way:
Dad drove in weather that we try to avoid. While I was afforded some flexibility, he rarely was. Intense concentration could be draining but I still knew come evening I’d had it so easy – there was no need for me to drive all night, there was no place I had to be. I craved fresh food but had time to browse the aisles in the supermarket; he ate at Roadhouses and on the run. He would fall asleep to the sound of road-trains, the hum of refrigerated containers and trucks rolling into the Roadhouses. I slept in oversized beds with white sheets to the sound of silence. I learnt about the small towns and met the locals, he saw the inside of the freight yards, loaded trailers and hauled tarpaulins.
Nevertheless he loved being on the road and while conditions often presented challenges in the moment I know that a sense of achievement on reflection propels you forward. That said there’s more to it; I still meet people who knew Dad and seldom did he tell a story that didn’t refer to someone he’d met. So it’s the conversations, the laughs and the countless new memories that have brought my time on the road to life.
Thank you to Carol, Keith, the elderly man on the bus to Bondi who sported long hair and aviators and an attitude toward life I hope to have at that age, Kel, Alistair, Elisabeth, Ali, the man in the big red ute who waited patiently for me to realise I was going the wrong way down a one way street, Elle, Dylan, Heather, Kerry, Jennifer, Eric, Peter, Winsome, Joy, Paula, Noah, Maz, Charles, Mum, Deb, Laurent, Liz, Cathy, Arthur; whose story telling is second to none, the man on the tram who yelled at me to get back on when I got off early and to anyone who made me coffee.
“You’re only alone on the road if you want to be.” B.C Mahony 2012
Planning has already begun for Stage III – stay tuned. It’ll be a road like no other!
TIP: Things I didn’t need to take: A third jacket, the third pair of jeans, runners (best intentions), that many tops, a dress and heels (too cold Melbourne) and my book (no time).
KMS: 33 + 474 + 197
TRACK: Paradise – Coldplay