We said goodbye to Dave. Again. He came and visited for another week. Always great laughs. This time we toured through wine country in South Australia, through undulating hills with handfuls of cattle grazing on brittle saltbush. We swam in Rapid Bays surrounded by cliffs once used as a quarry. So close to Adelaide but feels like days away. The city itself was much like any other, not nearly as interesting as the diverse landscapes that nestle it from all sides. We visited a big bosomed German village stuffing it’s face with pretzels and strudel, nothing had changed since layderhausens were in fashion. We sipped Riesling in the Barossa, Shiraz in Mclaren Vale. A baby wombat the size of my hand just born was found at the bottom of a grapevine and sat next to me in a cotton filled shoebox, my eyes were starting to close as his were first opening. Bodhi and Dave rolled around in parks, parks and more parks. Great to have someone else to carry the weight. Driving down a steep windy road I had to slam on the breaks, cars behind to let a big chunky grandpa Echidna cross the road, his fat spiky body slowly waddling not a worry in the world.
our mate Dave
Such a short distance to go. We’re already starting to make plans, which is a clear sign that the trip is over. I’m definitely excited to see my family and friends, pretty sure things have moved on without us. Trees have grown over, seats have been filled. You can’t recreate the past, stay in memories like heated rooms in winter. Nostalgia forgets. Savours only the sweet taste but not the aching belly. Winter is on it’s way. The van gets pretty cold at night. Covered in foggy dew in the mornings we stay tucked in blankets till daybreak. Steaming cinnamon porridge and sweet honey tea.
It’s greener on the other side of the border. Cows are better fed. As I write on paper, skeleton trucks traverse the highways hauling the carcasses of dead pine. We park in the scrub off the highway so we can hear the Corellas and Corollas compete for twilight tunes. I’m nervous, excited, ready to have a shower without wearing my thongs, grow a garden with basil and chilli. Bodhi’s ready too, he keeps picking up bags, plastic, beach, whatever puts it over his shoulder and says “HOME.” I’m not sure where that is for him, some say it’s the heart but it’s a bit hard to receive mail there. But no rush, the day we’re stuck in the mud we’ll be screaming for help to get out! Ah the struggles for happiness seekers, never. truly. happy. It’s raining. I’ve brushed my teeth. I’m wearing last nights minestrone soup and ugg boots. It’s a pan-fried cheese sandwich kind of day.
We wound ourselves round the Great Ocean Road. In and out of rainy seaside towns and isolated beaches. Cove after cove we swam and played in Viridian and Aquamarine. The City’s thrown itself upon us, slapped us in the face, angry reds, and black storm clouds. Trying to stay somewhere in Melbourne is like arm wrestling Russian Mafia (you don’t want to do it) They’ll charge you an arm and a leg, then break em for fun. The only place we could find in our budget was way out of town, at a place called Honey Hush, a cheap brothel of a backyard where missing teeth were served for breakfast. Actually there wasn’t any breakfast. Just a caretaker swearing at a 10 year old girl in the rain, a muddy patch of grass filled with sunken in tents and a few stained mattresses hanging out of a death stink skip, which we were meant to park next to for the night. Um, I don’t think so. I went back to reception politely asked the limping cross eyed man for my money back and sped out of there. So far the Big smoke seems like a smouldering ash heap, a junkyard dog sniffing for scraps. I used to love the city, but now it seems dirty, angry, afraid or maybe that’s just me in it? Maybe the rain will stop and I won’t see so much grey? Farmers markets and old friends helped to bring me back. The colourful exchange of aubergines and mandarins. Reminiscing on hay bales in the sun. We all now hold babies, instead of schooners in our hands.
There were some characters in POOWONG! How could there not be, with a name like that. Gorgeous country. Dairy farms in the Gippsland, rolling lush green hills with Victorian farmhouses scattered like black and white cows. We stopped by a small creek, a young guy with long heavy metal hair pulls up in an old red Pulsar, comes over and introduces himself. Says he’s travelling alone. His name was Colin, but he changed it to Bodhi a couple of months before. He spoke of his favourite philosophers and Taoism, how he had a two week affair with a girl named “Tasty”. He suffered from Anxiety and spent most of his life playing ‘World of Warcraft’, except for when he went to work as a chauffeur for an escort service.
Next thing we know this old guy pulls up, Terry I think his name was, in a white 1970’s Valiant with a trailer on the back, said he had a problem with tailgaters and was taking the old girl for a test drive. He told us twice. He had a slight stutter and a turrets twitch, said what came to his mind, no matter if we were listening or not. He talked about the weather, about collecting wood, and tailgaters. He had a sweet tooth, and a sweet ride and was taking the old girl for a test drive.
Don was a butcher turned farmer who had leased his 500 acre property to a man who ran it to the ground. Don liked to kill things, didn’t think too much of penguins and was always waiting for his woman. The old boys we’ve met so far always seem to be waiting for/on their women. As age starts to eat away at the bones replacing them with steel it seems the women rule with an iron fist. The old boys just nod their heads and roll their eyes and bitch about them any chance they get. The women don’t seem to mind they’ve got the heated house, soft leather lounges while the men are confined to the cold concrete shed. “Happy wife, happy life.”
The weatherman was wrong
Two black cockatoos fly over head. Means two days of rain. I watched the storm cover the peaks of Wilson’s Promintory and head straight for us at which place I can’t remember the name. A rocky beach with a fire pit and Estonian neighbours who gave us year old marshmallows, leftover from last years trip. We made cauliflower and split pea soup on the fire, fresh damper on the coals. One of our last bush tuckers before we returned “home”. We were surrounded by wombat burrows, we tip toed past them in the daytime and left a trail of rolled up bits of dough at night, but a fox came and ate it all before the moon was fully out. That Cunning Fox.
Those three Cunning Foxes now burrowing on the Sunshine Coast. Fixing up a little light filled den for themselves scratching for food and finding things to keep busy. Drinking cups of tea in a growing garden they listen to their favourite radio station on the CB. Truckers looking for love and directions.
Alpha Bravo Foxtrot Charlie do you Copy?
I repeat Over.