TITLE: All Aboard!
There’s nothing wrong with chocolate and half a banana for breakfast. I don’t suggest you take bananas on a road trip though, they don’t fair well in the fridge and they’re worse left in the heat.
Once packed we headed through town to the train station. The officer in charge, Ken, had us on the 9am departure for Critters Creek, a two hour round trip on the Gulflander Train – I’d been looking forward to this.
The Gulflander train journeys through savannah floodplains and goldfields on original heritage listed steel rails and sleepers that were constructed in 1891. The affectionately named “Old Tin Hare” rattles and rolls along with great commentary, informative stops, lots of history and still delivers the mail. The 5 hour trip from Normanton to Croydon overnighting in Croydon before returning to Normanton the next day is what it’s known for but in the tourist season the train also does 2 hour return trips to Critters Camp – this worked in well time wise for us so we took our seats and settled back to enjoy the ride.
There’s something relaxing about travelling by train, for me I think it was also the chance to stare out the window at the surroundings and not with unwavering concentration on the road ahead. On the return journey Ken pulled the train up on the bridge and let Fred and I off to take photos and film. He backed the train up and crossed the bridge once more. Me with camera poised standing in a dry river bed and Fred positioned up alongside the tracks ensured we got some great images and footage with plenty of passengers waving as the train rolled by.
Before leaving town we dropped by the BP to see Wayne, the local mechanic who’d been giving Jason some advice. Wayne’s workshop was a photographer’s dream, even for an amateur photographer such as myself. I’m sure he knew where everything was but to the passer by it was a sight to behold! I’ll post a photo on Instagram as soon as I can use my mobile – at the moment I can only get WiFi on my laptop and have no reception.
Burketown was our aim for the day, it was to be five hours on the road by the time we’d made a few stops. The first of which was Burke and Wills Campsite 119, this was their most Northerly campsite during their expedition in 1861. On February 1861, four members of the Burke and Wills expedition attempting to cross the Australian continent from South to North established their most northerly campsite adjacent to the Bynoe River in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Two of the party camped at this location for three days while expedition leader Robert Burke and surveyor William Wills ventured further North in an attempt to reach the Gulf Coast. During their occupation of camp 119 the party blazed fifteen trees to mark it’s location, all of which were marked. It was surreal to be there, reading the history and imagining what it would have been like for them back then – all before returning to the comfort of our air-conditioned vehicle loaded with supplies.
The road conditions varied, much of time it was only one lane, you’d have to move off onto the gravel if a car was coming in the other direction. Other times it was all gravel – you always need to concentrate on the road but on these roads I needed to take it to a whole new level, you’re constantly judging where best to position the vehicle for a smooth ride, dodging the big rocks, looking out for wildlife and what’s up ahead.
It was hot and I wasn’t drinking nearly enough water, we pulled over for a bit of a break and while Fred was shooting some footage I stood talking to Jason.
“Look.” I said pointing to the ground. “That was a big lizard.” I said staring at what I thought was a leathery version of the lizard’s former self.”
“That’s a dried up cow pat B.” Said Jason.
“Oh.” I said. “I think I’m going to get some water, could be I’m dehydrated.”
The afternoon was getting away from us but as we crossed Leichhardt Falls the riverbed either side of the causeway was completely dry so we pulled off onto it to make ourselves a snack and take a look at the nearby gorge.
75kms on and we’d pulled up in front of the Burketown Pub, the original pub was the oldest in the Gulf area but it sadly burnt down in 2012. Nevertheless it’s now back better than ever and owners Peter and Ian had put us up for the night in the well appointed cabins at the back. Peter used to be a truck driver himself so The Bold Line story meant something to him too having lost a number of close friends during his time on the road. He made us feel right at home and we propped ourselves up at the bar with a beer and me with my laptop. Fred and Jase took to the pool table to while I worked on the blog. A local Aboriginal man stood alongside me, ordered a drink and asked my name, in the same moment Peter popped Jason’s room keys in front of me and said, “don’t leave those lying around.”
My new friend piped up assuming the keys were mine and said, “Jeez you’re making it easy for me, is that an invitation?”
“You should give stand up comedy a go because you can’t possibly be serious.” I replied glancing over in Jason and Fred’s general direction hoping they’d come back soon.
They did and we ordered dinner. The Wild Barramundi on the menu had caught my eye and I was not disappointed!
TIP: UHF radios are great on a trip like this. Today two road trains pulled off the road to let us pass by. I said “thank you” over the radio and then heard Jason’s voice “It’s peak hour traffic today!” He said.
“Yep,” I replied “at least they moved over for us.” Turned out I wasn’t speaking with Jason, it was one of the truck drivers. Oops. Must remember it’s not a private line.
TRACK: Moonrabbit – Cloud Control
TITLE: A Long Day on the Road
Good morning. Apparently I slept, but only for 4 hours. Geckos may have featured in my dreams, I swear the curtain moved again during the night. Nevermind, breakfast awaited. Not just any breakfast either, an authentic bush breakfast, billy tea and freshly brewed coffee. We cooked our own toast over the coals of the campfire and then enjoyed bacon, sunny side up eggs and sausages.
Kane met me at breakfast and we talked at length about the history. The Undara Experience is a product of the Collins family, the earliest white settlers in this locality whose cattle grazed in the area since 1862.
Gerry Collins, a fourth generation member of this pioneering family, applied to develop a tourist facility in 1987 to showcase the Lava Tubes located on his family holding, Rosella Plains Station. Working closely with regional and state government bodies, the Collins family proposed a national park should be gazetted around the caves, and tours to the lava tubes be accessed from a lodge facility managed by the family.
In December 1989, the theme of the Undara Experience accommodation was born when Gerry discovered eleven de-commissioned Queensland Railway carriages on a siding in Mareeba. The carriages were duly purchased and restored to provide the unique style of eco-accommodation that Undara Experience has become well known for.
I listened intently whilst enjoying my breakfast and strategically working my way around my plate saving the sausage until last. I was most surprised to see it swiftly taken from my plate by a kookaburra who, unbeknown to me, had been watching from a prime vantage point, a nearby gum tree. He timed it perfectly and for such precision I let it go, as if I had a choice. I went back for some cereal, he wasn’t nearly as keen on that.
We left just after 8am. Five minutes down the road I looked in the rear view mirror, no Jason. I thought it best to pull over and wait. He showed up eventually, his vehicle wasn’t ready to leave having had a minor tantrum, fortunately not a lengthy one and we were soon on our way again.
We were bound for Georgetown, The furthest West in Tropical North Queensland that Dad had been in the area and officially our starting point. The concept of The Bold Line is to join the lines on the map, to start and end where Dad left off so to be here was significant.
Jason’s temperature gauge kept rising so while he did a tour of the town’s mechanics we went to the Ampol for fuel. I decided to call in here because it was the biggest and I imagined if Dad had needed fuel before he left this may have been where he went.
In Normanton, much further down the road Jason stopped at another mechanics while Fred and I went onto the Albion Hotel to check in. Carolyn kindly gave us rooms for the night and we unloaded our gear. Fred went for a walk and took some photos while I stared almost cross-eyed at my computer screen writing a blog entry before my eyes glazed over and I gave in to a power nap.
For a meal that evening we walked all five metres to the bar, ordered pizza and a beer and sat on the deck talking about he day as a cool breeze blew. So refreshing after a day of intense heat. One beer felt like liquid gold. I recalled saying in an article for Australian Traveller back in 2011 about the first stage how I had come to fully comprehend the joy a beer could bring at the end of a long, hot day and today was yet another example. Dad’s beer of choice was Cascade Premium Light, it meant that he could enjoy a couple and not be over the limit. I remembered then my twenty first birthday when Dad had given me some money to buy drinks for my party. “Get whatever you like, just make sure you get me a carton of Cascade Premium Light.”
Not a beer drinker back then, I came home with Boags Premium Light. I still feel bad about that to this day.
Jason had taken off to Karumba for the night to check out the town, while there he saw an up turned crocodile, a golf course mowed regularly by wallabies and the Sunset Tavern, a hive of activity – a typical outback pub but on the coast.
With more still to write a glass of red was in order before returning to my room to call it a night.
TIP: When stopping on the road to photograph a passing lizard (big one) make sure all your cargo is strapped down, otherwise your stopping time is much slower. The lizard will have time to cross the road and make a cup of tea. We didn’t get a sh0t of the lizard.
TRACK: Blue Kind Brown – All Nations
TITLE: Cattle Safari
So it’s time to begin for real. Bags packed and loaded into the vehicle we filled up with diesel and bought cord so I could attach my iPod, no road trip would be complete without a playlist. Then it was time to meet with a photographer from the Cairns Post for photo to accompany an article that would run in the following day’s newspaper.
Just as I was beginning to feel marginally okay with being filmed by someone I know I was back to pretending this happens all the time and that I was completely comfortable sitting on the bonnet of a 4WD at the entrance to the Mantra Trilogy having my photo taken by a complete stranger. The whole ‘acting’ naturally went out the window. I felt and probably looked more like one of those mannequins you see in the shop windows, unable to move freely, looking somewhat robotic and smiling like a moron.
Photoshoot complete it was time to get the last of our gear and head off. As we made our way out of town we began the gradual climb up the Gillies Range, famous for its 263 corners, and 800m elevation change in only 19km of road. Seemed to go on forever but the views were spectacular.
It was nearing lunchtime so we called into the highest pub in Queensland at Ravenshoe, having envisaged a traditional pub meal we were surprised to find that Sunday lunch was on this day an Indian buffet, with pavlova for dessert. We gave it a miss and pushed on to the next town Mt Garnett, the roadhouse there does great burgers so we each devoured one and returned to the vehicles.
The cattle safari began on the way to Undara, with no fences they roam free. I spotted a small gathering off to the left but neglected to see the one camouflaged right by the road. From then on the local contingent was out in force, what a welcome.
At Undara we were greeted by Kane the manager who had set us up with some accommodation for the night, he led the way on his quad bike and we promptly unloaded our gear and drove back to the restaurant for a beer and barramundi. Tired and content we piled into the 4WD to navigate our way back to camp. The first attempt was unsuccessful, the second attempt was just as unsuccessful because we ended up in the same spot. After the fourth failed attempt where we had to reverse out of a campsite we decided to go back to reception, Jason went and asked the way, even brought Kane to the car to ensure we all heard the directions so he couldn’t be held responsible. We made it!
I was so looking forward to getting some sleep, I went up the stairs to my little cabin and had a quick look around the room to check for creepy crawlies, lifted the curtain. Big mistake, a yellowish, almost translucent gecko fell out. I screamed. Those things aren’t pretty. It fell on the floor and disappeared. Fred came in to see if I was alright, I told him what had happened.
“What way did he go?” he asked
“Left!” I said with urgency. Fred went back to his room to get his camera tripod and ushered it out after taking the scenic route around the walls.
I couldn’t sleep.
TIP: Don’t check behind the curtains
TRACK: The xx – Islands
TITLE: Preparation (more)
I slept for six hours straight without moving, it was as if the bed had been remade with me in it. Good thing too because we had a massive day ahead, but first, breakfast. Fuelled on bacon and eggs we took a walk along the esplanade and then headed down to pick up the 4WD.
It was waiting for us, loaded with camping gear and a recovery kit. There was no room left! The manager offered us a roof top bag which we jumped at. He handed it over and left us to it. Goncalo and Jason set about securing it on the roof. After ten minutes I went and got the manager who seemed a little perplexed that two blokes couldn’t work it out – they would have, this was just quicker. Back inside I filled out all the paperwork and signed the umpteen pages of terms and conditions, all the while being reduced to the vulnerable tourist he clearly saw me as.
“See this?” he asked, pointing to the scar on his forearm. “A croc did this.” he said. “I went down to the river and never saw it coming, you won’t, you don’t see them, they see you though.”
“Right.” I said trembling as I scrawled my initials across the pages in front of me.
“They look for patterns in your behaviour.” he continued. “Never repeat the same actions at the same time of day, they’ll catch on, they’ll be watching you.”
“Okay.” I said, racking my brain for something to say to change the topic.
“How many kilometres will I get to a tank?” I asked
“About 1100,” he said and in the same breath, “it’s their breath that’s the worst though, the SMELL, I’ll never forget that smell.”
“Okay all done.” I said backing out the door. “Thanks.”
We decided it would be best to leave the seats down in the 4WD, for extra space and because after those stories I was adamant I would be placing my belongings in a tent and sleeping in the vehicle. They wouldn’t go down and our illustrious crocodile guru couldn’t help us either. He did however call a local mechanic and point us in his general direction.
Seats flat, or close enough, a couple of spare fuses and a “she’ll be right” from the mechanic and some confidence had been restored.
Back at the Mantra it was time to put the signage on the vehicle, Eye Spy signage in Hobart did an amazing job, nothing was too much trouble and the result was exactly what I’d hoped for. It just took us a while to put it all on! We wanted it to be perfect and so an hour and a half later we’d done one vehicle. Jason’s ingenious idea to spray soapy water (brought all the way from Burleigh Heads) saved the day, we’d still be there now if he hadn’t. With one vehicle complete I suggested Goncalo (affectionately now referred to as Fred) and I go to the supermarket to gather supplies for the journey while Jason tackled the other vehicle – marginally easier to do alone.
Upon arriving at the supermarket we grabbed a trolley and began working our way through the list. Water was first up and after loading 75 litres into the trolley we had to go back for another.
Second trolley over flowing we headed for the check out and manoeuvred our way across the road to the car. With the shared shop done it was back to the supermarket to get snacks. What road trip would be complete without chocolate – this took pride and place in the fridge, and we’ll have no shortage.
At the Mantra we took five before thinking about dinner, given we’d been too busy to stop for lunch we were pretty hungry. Fred stayed behind to catch up on some work while Jason and I walked back down to the Marina for dinner. With Barramundi on our minds we looked at the menus out front and made a decision.
“Sorry, we couldn’t seat you until 9.30pm.” We were told. We were kindly recommended a couple of other places nearby and phoned ahead to both, it was a case of third time lucky at a restaurant quite literally two minutes walk from our hotel, we’d walked off dinner before dinner! Never-mind, the barramundi was worth the wait.
TIP: The soapy water from Burleigh Heads is simply the best in the country.
KMS: 8 today
TRACK: Angus & Julia Stone – Main Street
TITLE: Go Time!
Day one was a long time in the making, so long in fact that it was difficult to believe it was finally happening. I’d played this moment over in my head so many times since work began on this stage and now here I was standing at the airport checking in my overweight bag (no surprises there). A mere 28kg – those extra 5kg were of course essential.
Stage three was about to begin, but this time I would not be setting off alone. Goncalo, a friend from Portugal would be joining me to film the journey, to help me tell the story and provide further insight into my time on the road. It was a good feeling to have company, though the prospect of being filmed on a daily basis was daunting to say the least.
Filming had officially begun three days earlier on the evening of Dad’s Anniversary so I’d had a taste of it. From this introduction I’d gained a tiny bit of confidence, just enough to know that given time, I may become comfortable enough to ignore the camera and ‘act’ naturally.
I wasn’t quite there yet though and also needed to stop directing questions at Goncalo while he was filming.
“I’m not here.” He kindly reminded me. After I’d given him a big grin as I walked by wheeling my bag to the check in counter.
The first leg of the journey was the flight from Hobart to Sydney, uneventful and pleasant. It was nice to just be for a while, after so many months of planning I was exhausted well before this day! In Sydney we used the time to catch up on emails, calls and post on Facebook before getting some lunch. Due to board at 1.40pm we made our way to gate 45 and joined the line of people. Moments before having our tickets scanned a chirpy voice came over the PA, “Reminder, Virgin Australia flight 1421 is now departing from gate 34.” We were in the line to go to Australia’s country music capital, Tamworth. Not part of the plan.
On the right plane we stowed our carry on luggage of which we had three items each, Eye Spy signage for the vehicle came in one large bubble wrapped cylinder and a big flat bubble wrapped square, we had a camera bag each and our laptops as well as the jackets we’d each discarded as the temperature was 10 degrees warmer than Hobart, a balmy 17.
A child cried for much of the three plus hours in flight but this didn’t bother the man seated alongside Goncalo. He had his earphones in and was switching between reading comics on his iPad and play air guitar. Across the aisle was a women we’d spotted earlier in the bar where we’d eaten lunch. I don’t think she’d eaten lunch but she’d made up those missing calories in alcohol. This resultant inhibriated state turned her into the baby whisperer and even though the screaming child was three rows in front on the opposite side she instigated a game of “peek-a-boo” which was surprisingly successful. Either that or the child was in shock. Whichever it was, we were surrounded.
On the ground in Cairns we were met by Jason, he would be driving the support vehicle on this stage. Jason took us all to our accommodation in Cairns. Tropical North Queensland Tourism had put us up at the Mantra Trilogy for two nights which afforded us a wonderfully comfortable base from which to prepare the vehicles and gather supplies.
By this stage it’s 6.30pm, just enough time to have a quick shower and head to the Boatshed for dinner with friends. Over a well earned beer and a tasty meal of kangaroo we shared stories of adventure before walking back to the hotel to fall into bed.
TIP: You never need to be so rushed that you resort to peeling away the foil underneath the cap of the complimentary shampoo bottle with your teeth. More shampoo in ended up in my mouth than would’ve been required to wash my hair sufficiently.
KMS: Only 5 by road today
TRACK: Flight Facilities – Clair De Lune (feat. Christine Hoberg)
The Bold Line has a new website, click here www.theboldline.com to be redirected!
This Blog will still be active while on the road but this new site will make reading the daily updates from past stages that much easier!
It began nearly twelve months ago…
It was the character of this little outback pub that had me enthralled. The walls, a patchwork of stapled bank notes and business cards, fans circulated the warm air creating a scene reminiscent of ‘washing-day’ as the underwear that hung from the rafters blew in the breeze. Through the door came an endless stream of cheerful travellers, sunlight illuminating the trail of red dust that followed them in. Truck drivers dined on large steaks, backpackers manned the barbeques and grey nomads looked over their glasses, smiling with youthful approval as children played and parents relished their meals. There was something about the place, a comforting familiarity that made you want to stay.
At the Daly Waters Pub in Australia’s Northern Territory I sat among this good-natured lot wondering what Dad had thought of the place. He was the reason I was there after all. Nearby, a Father unfolded a road map and laid it out on the grass, his wife and children listened intently as he spoke with passion and gestured avidly. His wife smiled at his enthusiasm and his children’s faces were awash with excitement in anticipation of the forthcoming miles.
A road map is a powerful tool. The one I have once belonged to my Dad, while old now, its visible imperfections could transport you back in time.
As a child my imagination became entwined with Dad’s stories, his desire to see the country in his truck and those meticulously drawn lines that marked the roads he travelled. As I got older the reality of sitting high above the road left me in awe of the passing surrounds and delighted, as seemingly fictional characters came to life. The maps unspoken promise of adventure sustained me into adulthood but it was the tragic loss of my Dad in a road accident that inspired me to continue his journey.
Leaving behind the comforting familiarity, I set off along a road that would have been new to both of us, for it was where those bold lines on the map ended, that mine would begin.
B.C Mahony – March, 2012
The impromptu pose by this vibrant San Francisco street art on Clarion Alley in the Mission District captures an unmistakable sense of freedom and excitement! Explore any city that hums with the same tireless energy – it’s infectious!
Thank you to everyone who entered, all were outstanding photos in their own right. Special mention to the grade 9/10 photography students who entered – keep up the great work, you’re a talented bunch!
Big thanks to Ali Nasseri and Allen & Unwin for the prize. And to all of YOU who follow The Bold Line!
TERMS & CONDITIONS
- Find The Bold Line on Facebook and hit ‘like’.
- Submit a photo via email that captures the moment.
- All entries are to be submitted via email.
- Entries open on Monday May 7th 2012.
- All entries must be submitted by midnight (AEST) on Sunday May 20th 2012.
- Only one entry per person.
- By submitting an entry, entrants are deemed to have agreed to and are bound by the Terms & Conditions.
- The winner will be announced by 8:00pm (AEST) Wednesday May 23rd 2012 and notified by email.
- The winning entry and winners name will be posted on The Bold Line website and Facebook page.
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
TITLE: Evacuate The Building!
IN SHORT: You have to shop in Melbourne, I’m fairly sure it’s stipulated in the terms and conditions of all good airlines. Mum and I got a cab out to Port Melbourne after completing this requirement, our cab drivers name was Harry. Harry was from India and asked us more questions on the journey than we were required to answer in our national census. We pulled up out front of The London Hotel and bid him farewell, temporarily since he’d decided he would be taking us to the airport the next day.
We were in Port Melbourne to join the final bold line of this stage. Directly across the road from this Hotel is Station Pier and the freight terminal operated by the Spirit of Tasmania. I’d been there before with Dad as a child and had a meal or two at The London Hotel prior to setting sail. I guess it was effectively his local back then. This was 20 years ago so it had changed considerably inside but the exterior was still the same – to be somewhere we had been together brought back plenty of memories.
Later we took a tram back to the CBD. The intention was to spend a couple of hours relaxing at the apartment before going out to dinner. That plan was interrupted by sirens and what I thought was the distant sound of an alarm going off. Not so distant as it happens. A robotic voice filled the room to deliver this repetitive announcement; ‘wooop wooop wooop wooop – evacuate the building’. I was headed out the door pulling my shoes on and with Mum hot on my heels we made for the stairs.
Once the firemen had ascertained that it was the steam from a faulty fire hose in the basement car park that had set off the fire alarm we were given the all clear to return.
That night we met friends in Chinatown for dinner. The meal was brilliant, we couldn’t fault the food but the service was frantic! I’m positive the waitress said ‘chow down’ when she brought out our appetizers. She must’ve known that we were to spend the rest of the evening guarding our plates against the ‘efficiency’ of the other waiter. He shuffled around the room swiftly seizing plates as patrons lifted a last fork full to their mouths.
TIP: Belt up! The taxi driver who collected us in Chinatown refused to move off until we all had our seat belts on and rightly so. Except that he himself was the cause of the flashing red seat belt sign!
TRACK: Spiritus – Lisa Mitchell
TITLE: Lest We Forget.
IN SHORT: My Grandfather enlisted in the army here in Melbourne at Royal Park. Honoured to have inherited the war medals that were to have gone to my Dad – I knew incorporating ANZAC Day into this stage of The Bold Line would be a fitting tribute to them both.
We left the hotel on foot in time to reach Swanston Street for the march, the weather was cold, the rain incessant and the winds unpredictable. The rain dampened everything but people’s spirits; the atmosphere gave me shivers and pride shone on the faces of hundreds as they lined the streets.
It was at the Shrine of Remembrance that we met up with my Aunty (Dad’s sister). The fact that we were all able to be there together made it a day to remember in more ways than one.
In the afternoon we caught a cab to St Kilda, wandered Acland Street and thawed out by a wood fire with a much needed coffee. That evening we had a meal at Crown and returned home to our 9th floor apartment which shared the same level as the man in the apartment across the street whose occupation will forever remain a mystery. His attire; green underwear and nothing else. It doesn’t lend itself to your run of the mill profession I wouldn’t have thought…
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
TIP: As long as you’re wearing medals it’s perfectly acceptable to have filthy shoes and mud up the back of your jeans in a Country Road store.
TRACK: Carries On – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
TITLE: Rain, Horizontal at Times.
IN SHORT: The rain woke me up before my alarm clock. Breakfast was served at 8am but I was distracted. Apprehensive about the prospect of travelling in heavy rain again I wanted to get the drive underway and closer to over!
I’d spent the night in Rye and had decided to return the car in Frankston rather than navigate through Melbourne. So all I had ahead of me was a 45 minute drive. It sounds straight forward except the roadsides were flooded, the rain drops were on steroids and the windscreen wipers lacked the necessary ‘flat out’ option. It was a slow road in these conditions – I’m positive I worked off breakfast just through concentration.
Finally I arrived at the car hire depot. I lugged all my gear into their office and phoned for a cab to take me to the train station only to be told there would be a wait of up to 45 minutes. Could be I’d perfected ‘weary traveller’ because the consultant put the closed sign on the door and drove me up to the station himself.
The train took me to Southern Cross Station where I was to meet Mum who was flying in to join me for the last couple of days of Stage II as she had done for Stage I.
From there we taxied it to our accommodation, checked in and walked down to Southbank for a late lunch with friends. While we were inside and warm the wind joined the rain and wreaked havoc in the CBD. Umbrellas turned themselves inside out and people stumbled through the water that invaded their path.
Later that evening we braved the elements and the wayward umbrellas for a beautiful meal at an Italian restaurant nearby. Happy days!
TIP: Thongs, flip flops, jandals; not ideal footwear in a flooded petrol station – water and petrol make for a slippy surface. I slid, arms flailing, much like the first time I wore roller skates.
TRACK: Weather With You – Crowded House
IN SHORT: I stopped for petrol on the way out of Inverloch then pushed on to Portsea. I thought I was raring to go, but as the first hour passed I realised that my sleep patterns of late could be likened to charging my iPhone. I felt like I’d been metaphorically hitting ‘dismiss’ on the 20% low battery warning and then putting it on ‘charge’ for 5 minutes only to have it go flat again once in use. Coffee time! I found a park in Sorrento and bought one to have while perusing accommodation options for the night. I wasn’t getting anywhere so I dropped into the Tourist Information Centre for some suggestions. Armed with her shortlist I went back to the car, by now it was bucketing down, water was racing down the street, barely contained by the curbing. When it eased I moved the car elsewhere and noticed that the side street to the Information Centre had flooded in just 10 minutes. It was now midday and having made a reservation there were a couple of hours to fill before I could check in. I drove back out to Red Hill and Arthurs Seat. The view from the lookout was the first indication I had that the inclement weather had unfinished business, a second front was approaching so it was time for me to go! I was 20kms away from where I’d have preferred to be when it hit; thunder, lightning, torrential rain and just for something different, hail. Clearly this storm was not a perfectionist, it didn’t get it right the first time.
Finally I checked in; semi shaken, somewhat stirred. I ventured out to the supermarket not long after to pick up a few things and get some cash out. I came home with a few things and no cash. Hopeless. Plus somewhere between getting out of the car and opening the boot I misplaced my room key. 15 minutes later I’d been through everything and still couldn’t find it, upon leaning in to look under the seat the key appeared from nowhere and dropped onto the floor. It had been in the hood of my jacket. How it got there I will never know.
TIP: Two wrongs don’t make a right. But three do. GPS rules.
TRACK: Morning Light – Georgia Fair