11th March 2014 Go
I’m given a wide berth at Southern Cross Station (think London Bridge but darker, with a bigger WHSmiths and upside down). It’s been a pretty shitty day by Melbourne standards, raining this morning when I said a very public goodbye to Andrea. I spent the rest of the day running about the city buying last minute things: new gas cooker (the old one was rubbish), waterproof jacket (just to look like a pro), and an axe (because who does this sort of thing without an axe?). Necessities. After getting on the wrong tram, talking to old people and parting with more and more money, I was sat on a tram and got caught having not swiped my card getting on by a ticket inspector. The only time I’d ever seen one actually on a tram, typical eh? Not sure whether that’s Murphy’s or Sod’s law. They ended up nearly arresting me because they wouldn’t let me show them my proof of residence by walking around the corner and letting them into my hostel.
Having finally gotten into Hostel 291 (the best place I ever could have stayed), I packed rapidly, said very few goodbyes, and left. It only struck me when I got to Brunswick station that I was actually off.
The trip to my campsite in Torquay was pretty short and uneventful. I’m now sat moping over a rapidly cooling, shit chicken soup, texting Andrea and reminiscing over those days (this morning) when I wasn’t a loner. I’m scared really. Scared of being lonely, I’ve finally got a social thing going on in Aus, and I’ve ditched it to live in a tent.
It feels like I’ve been on my own for weeks. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been so social lately or because I’ve sort of still been alone, or I’m just homesick and just need to sleep.
12th March 2014 Meant to
I was meant to wake up at 04:30am this morning; I did. Having heard a downpour over my tent, I stayed in my sleeping bag. I wasn’t meant to do that. I was meant to walk 55km (the longest day of the journey) to Allenvale Mill, but decided very quickly that I wasn’t going to start the whole trip sopping wet for 14hours.
Once up I realised I was in a really shitty mood still. I tried to aid this by making myself a coffee, with the mug that I’d left in Brunswick, which wasn’t quite a good enough excuse to pack up and go home. So I used the chicken soup can from last night. Surprisingly still not feeling any happier, I attempted to make a watery, vaguely grey porridge, noting on the efficiency of the new gas cooker as my porridge burnt.
In a dire effort to prevent myself committing suicide I took my poultry flavoured latte and my cold/burnt porridge to the beach (where the final scene of Point Break was filmed). This, thank the lord, worked. Sat there, sipping on basic food (note how my opinion changed), and just watching the sea, as a few early risen surfers bobbed in the waves, waiting for the perfect wave to make them want to get on their feet, I remembered why I was doing this. I need this time to myself, to put myself through a bit of a challenge so I can come out a better person.
I’ve made some rules to keep me almost happy all the time.
- Stay sane:
- By this I mean, if it’s too much, call it a day. Either get on a bus or take the day off.
- I’ve already promised myself to write the journal out in a blog when I’m done, but I’m going to be brutally honest for all to see if it works out. (Mum I got a tattoo).
- De stress when I can.
- Whenever available I’ll have a hot shower and eat some ice cream. Because, if you can keep a few luxuries and some hygiene, everything seems better.
- Split it into 2 legs.
- Do 3 weeks, go back to Melbourne for a week or so and do another 3 weeks. 21 days is a lot nicer to countdown than 42.
- Meet people
- Go out of your way to talk to people.
So today I actually walked 30km to Anglesea. It ended up being a really nice, sunny day. I walked a lot on the beach, which is a different challenge, but some of these beaches were massive, with 400m between cliff and sea; it was beautiful. When I got to Anglesea I met a guy who was on his second to last day of a bike ride from Perth to Melbourne, at least 3 times the distance I’m doing. It had taken him 6 weeks. I want a bike.
I got on a bus to Allenvale Mill and took another 3km hike to the campsite. There was no one to talk to, it was about 8pm when I got there and there was a school group already there. Nothing major to report. I just had a cider, might have another and go to sleep.
The idea of ‘meant to’ suggests that one can prescribe emotions, actions, nature, coincidences, the future. You can’t, so be prepared to f*** that.
13th March 2014 Explore Exquisite
Today was an awesome day. I woke up later than expected, nothing new there. Waking down to Lorne I realised how little time I’d taken yesterday to actually look at things.
Once there I had a doughnut, which was subsequently stolen by a cockatoo, and then I went to the information centre, just to check that I could walk to Wye River (my next stop). The guy there, who looked like he travelled by SBS Airbag from here to home and no where else, told me I had no chance of walking there without being run over, which only made me sure that I’d be fine, he had to be over exaggerating right? I did however, change my mind and decided to walk the 7km to Erskine Falls in order to payback for the distance lost yesterday. 7km is supposed to be about an hour and a half, but apparently the sport ‘extreme bushwalking’, is where people come along and purposefully cut down trees in your path, and make it damned near impossible to get past. 5 hours later I arrived, having sweated out half of my bodyweight. In hindsight I shouldn’t have taken my whole 25kg pack with me.
The falls were worth it though, amazing to look at, and I got a shower, in front of photo snappy tourists who’d driven up. I’ve decided to try and lose as much shame as possible, I mean, I was sweaty, and they were waterfalls. If I’m going to act like Alexander Supertramp, I need to go all out.
I walked another slow 4km to a picnic area near by. It was getting dark, and I was shattered and really wanted a cigarette, when three German road trippers turned up in a van, looking for a free campsite similar to the one I’d stayed in last night. A miraculous idea struck me, in return for a lift and a cigarette, I’d take them to the campsite (genius).
Spent the night drinking, talking and listening to a guitar being played to a great level and a very strange idea of what singing is. Now I’m in my sleeping bag, in loads of layers; all my clothes will stink, but it’s so cold, and I have a really thin sleeping bag.
There is exquisite beauty in being the smallest prisoner in the largest prison, and realising it.
14th March 2014 Placement
Today started off with a species-mixed babble around my campsite. With 25 school kids about 10 meters away acting like idiots (i.e. Me at that age), and 10 ducks 25 centimetres away, circling my tent apparently in heated debate as to whether it dispensed food or was dangerous, and -either way- how long they would have to screech until confirmation was received.
I watched the kids argue and play (they were about 14). “Hey let’s all get sticks”, “I’d happily murder my little brother to save this campsite”, “I won a staring contest with a kookaburra”. I pitied them. Here I was, not trying to find myself, but trying to find what to do with myself, while they were juggling the mixture of imagination, understanding and reality that starts to hit them at that age. When they fall off the fence they’ll hit the ground like an Atomic Bomb of sex, drugs, hip-hop and closet door. Worse happens at sea, but still, I feel lucky to have gotten past those years.
I met two Swiss dudes last night as well, and they woke up about half an hour after me and made me some damn good coffee. We left together after saying goodbye to the Germans from last night. We had another coffee down in town, all resupplied, and they left to hitch rides to Wye River. We planned to meet up there in about 5 hours. I had an awesome walk there, with some amazing scenery on the Great Ocean Road, although it was pretty hairy, with times where there was not hard shoulder to walk on and some really tight corners. The 21km took me 6 hours because I stopped often to grab some photos.
The views were amazing. I was so glad I was walking it. Although cars are comfortable and convenient, to see the Great Ocean Road, which is pretty much carved out of the cliffs as far as the eye can see, and to know I’ve walked from as far as the eye can see, is unbeatable.
I got my first major fright walking through Separation Creek, with my head down, when I nearly stepped on a Tiger Snake, which I saw last minute, and screamed my head off. It turned out to be dead, but for that half second, I thought I was dead.
A bit later I got passed by a Porsche, who gave a hoot and a wave. When I got to Wye River the driver turned out to be the beach ranger and offered to let me stay on the grassy outcrop in the cove which had public toilets and barbecues, or he could drive me to the free campsite near a sewage plantation back in the direction I’d already come to meet the Swiss guys. Out of water and breath, watching the sea in a beautifully tiny cove, with more surfers bobbing in the dusk, I thought “those guys weren’t that great anyway”, and lept at the idea of the unique spot.
Now here, I’m in my tent, having reluctantly putting the rain cover on, blocking the view but keeping me warm and dry, on soft grass, listening to the waves, well fed and planning a full English breakfast. I’ll sleep well tonight.
Placement isn’t where you are, it’s your mood, weather, time, smells, and sights, mitigating factors that make you the person you are when you’re where you are.
15th March 2014 Movement
Well. Today started brilliantly. Woke up in time to watch the sunrise from my amazing spot, went to the General Store, cooked bacon, mushrooms, eggs and porridge for breakfast as dog walkers passed by. Had a cold shower and left a little bit late, which wasn’t a disaster.
After walking 2km up a track that I thought was a shortcut and turned out to be a direct dirt road to a bush, I turned back, annoyed I’d wasted so much time. I stopped to eat at Kennet River and had a chat with a tour guide from New Zealand who did a lot of big walks too and fully understood why I’d do such a thing. His first question was about my feet, which was nice to actually be asked. The truth was pain and blisters.
About an hour after lunch the sky spread it’s legs, squatted, and soaked me. Soon I was saturated and trying to explain to well meaning drivers that I wouldn’t be any drier in their cars now. Also I was meant to be walking, yes, walking. No I didn’t want a lift. As the damp set into my boots, my feet began to hurt more than ever, but I had no chance to stop anyway, the kilometres just kept coming and coming. I passed a campsite that I was massively tempted to rest up in. It had a sofa room with Blackadder on video. I don’t think I can convert how appealing that was.
I finally got to my campsite in Apollo Bay, where I was given ‘Grog’ (a bottle of JD and Coke) by the owner. I’ve just had an hour long hot shower and my clothes are in the drier. Thinking of cycling back to Melbourne.
16th March 2014 Think
So I took my first rest day today. It wasn’t scheduled, but it was still tipping it down when I woke up, and I didn’t see the point in getting soaked again having dried all of my things. Especially with 5 days before my next laundrette.
I went into town, hobbling, to buy supplies. After cooking at a public barbecue, something I adore Victoria for, I bumped into the two Swiss guys and went back to their hostel to watch a couple films. The people there were massive stoners who spent their time not doing anything with their time, which made me happy to be doing what I was doing.
Anyway, I have decisions to make.
- What do I do once I get to Adelaide? I’d like to cycle back to Melbourne.
- Do I stay in Australia until August?
Time is something I’ve found superfluous and stretching, but when I grow and use it better, it becomes priceless and enduring, behind me.
17th March 2014
Not much to write about today, nice walk, would’ve been better in nicer weather. Got to Blanket Bay, although I was meant to stop earlier. Feet and legs feeling a bit better.
Met a group of 8 old blokes doing the Great Ocean Walk, they’re pretty cool.
Saw a Koala fall out of a tree and die. Real life drop bear.