Day Seventy Nine (14 March)

Day 79 started with a difficult personal challenge.

Someone had written in with a DAILY DONOR DARE OF DooOOOoOM, and this one required me to list the good things about myself.

I’ve always been a bit self-effacing, but I also think I’ve been mentally flexible and open-minded. We’re all just people, and if we lived our lives as if we’re actually the same person – but separated by place, time and experience, the world would be a better and more compassionate place.

So for a variety of reasons, this Dare was particularly difficult (video to the left).

Afterward, I packed up, and found people waiting outside the hotel, including the lovely Phoebe and family.

(She’s the little girl, below left, and gave me this necklace she had hand-made, which delighted me. It’s great, and I still wear it all the time – although these days usually on my wrist).

That’s it in the picture to the right, and a chuffed old Captain Australia showing it off 🙂

Day 79 was another ‘lite’ day, as I was working backward from arriving Melbourne on Saturday, my next stop (Bunyip) was less than 30km away.

I was headed there on a strange and slightly cryptic invitation from a local celebrity “Henry the Bunyip”, and I would joke that I was looking forward to EATING him .. er I mean MEETING HIM. (And also a little worried about waking up in a Captain Australia sized cage in his cellar)

I made new friends along the way, including a miniature horse that I named Bon Jovi (from the photos you can probably see why), and my good mate Peter from Drouin/Longwarry.

This bloke was amazing, so friendly, and a wellspring of local information, absolutely lovely man – still in touch with him.

The day was basically jostling down long country roads, in-between smiles and handshakes with locals, although the closer I got to Melbourne the less aware of my Quest it felt like people were (or indifferent).

I met up with Peter at his property, and tried to hypnotise his Alpaca mates Jackson & Al. Apparently they’re pretty standoffish, so maybe the fact that I got Jackson to come over for a very brief pat does indicate some kind of special power on my part.

In retrospect I’m probably lucky they didn’t spit on me. Hmm, or is that Llamas ?

I shared the road with Peter the rest of the way into Longwarry and we also bumped into Kelly again (and a whole slew of her friends and family who came out for a g’day and a photo)

We lingered at a pleasant park in Longwarry for a half hour or so, chatting, talking about life in town, what I was doing and why, the concerns of the day (of which covid and vaccination was a dominant topic most places)

At this point, I really was just ‘living in the moment’, enjoying these last days as the adventure started to wind down.

I was worried about the charity in the back of my mind, and kicking myself a bit for not doing more shameless self promotion – but I’d also learned just to ‘be me’. I had no interest in manipulating people, it all depended on me earning your regard.

(and then looking past me and seeing The Kids’ Cancer Project, a truly great cause)

Leaving Longwarry, a couple of police officers came over for a G’day (and to see what was going on – it was kinda funny, a few of the people chatting with me had wandered out with beer bottles, which they hastily smuggled under jackets)

I explained who I was, what I was doing and where I was headed (Victorian, and especially Melbourne police did seem a bit more interrogative than their counter-parts up north – but as I was harmless, so too were they. (but I think there’s a fine line, and policing can be a bit of a slippery slope)

I don’t mean to be unfair to them, it was just a feeling, from my very specific point of view, that the area (the state?) is over-policed, or that officers are briefed to be … proactive.

In any case, these guys were fine, and I joked with them about visiting Bunyip, having been invited to ‘the museum’ (“but there’s no museum in Bunyip, Captain !”)

I jokingly said I’d be live-streaming later, and may be under duress, so if they saw me slowly blink three times, could they please send in rescue.

A completely unnecessary precaution, the folks at Bunyip were just plain gorgeous. Thoughtful, kind, embracing.

It was only 5km away, so after a farewell to Peter at the border into Metro Melbourne (weird borderline rules there under lockdown apparently, splitting Longwarry into halves), I got to hug a gorgeous miniature horse (who I named Galadriel), and finish the day with that final little stretch into Bunyip.

I arrived about an hour before sunset.

Daveena was there to greet me at the outskirts of Bunyip, but I could have easily found my way – as you can see, they’d decorated the sidewalk with arrows and messages of welcome.

I had some lovely g’days with the locals at the community centre, then got a gorgeous suprise when Daveena bought out a birthday cake and they all started singing.

At first I was a little nonplussed, then I realised – I had set out on my Mad Quest on my birthday. They realised the old fella had missed out on his cake 🙂

Not that I needed cake – with my thyroid difficulties after chemoradiation, I put on weight really easily .. I’ve found that even walking from dawn to dusk, I can easily gain pounds if I’m not very careful with what/when I eat.

But the cake was incredible – it tasted just like kindness.

Afterward, they showed me into the community centre, a lovely little hub where they attend to projects like the mural (which I’ll show you tomorrow – you can see it in the “Day 80” clickable below).

There was a little cot, so once more I got to sleep in dry, warm comfort. I was beginning to worry why I was carrying the tarp and hammock any more, and briefly considered mailing it back home.

The videos below will show you what Bunyip and it’s people are like, and my thoughts and feelings on the day.

But I was very grateful to be greeted so warmly by this lovely community, and I had another night of long, healing, dreamless sleep.