Day Seventy Two (7 March)

Day 72 began in the Tanjil Motor Inn in Bairnsdale, thanks to the hospitality of my wonderful hosts. (If you believe in positive karma, give them a 5 star review bomb, the owners, the facilities, it’s bloody great, don’t lie, just put “thanks for hosting Captain Australia”)

Before I could even get out on the road, I had visitors.

The lovely Nolte Family (who have remained friends since) came in with their gorgeous gaggle of kids, to say G’day.

I loved giving a little wonderment into a child’s life as Captain Australia, so I greeted them all boisterous and big-voiced, and they took turns trying on the masks and having a few little giggles.

Wonderful family, they were so grateful that I took the time to meet with them, in the face of that how do I explain that it was my privilege and a genuine joy ?

I was also on the hook to do a DAILY DONOR DARE OF DoooOOOoooM, but I had one more g’day to do first.

After meeting the Noltes, thanking my wonderful hosts. I’ve always been awful with names, it’s like a mental deficiency of mine, but meeting all these wonderful people has helped – I can clearly remember the man’s name “Alan”, but try as I might I can’t get the wife, I’m guessing maybe “Cathy” or “Vicki” (and I can’t find a mention of her on the facebook page.

This makes me sad – they really were lovely, warm and very kind. The wife actually took a bag of my pongy laundry and did it with all of the hotel linens and whatnot overnight. Wonderful kindness.

(That’s them to the right)

So with a farewell, I left my bag in the room and headed off to find a local lady Sharni for a cup of coffee, and then onward to the ‘all abilities playground’ to do this DAILY DONOR DARE OF DOOOooOOooM (pose for funny photos).

Bairnsdale seemed like quite a pleasant town, plenty of amenities but not too big and built up, a nice compromise between small country town and a city. Shame for all the rain and me rushing around like a hobo with his bum on fire.

Sharni was wonderful, we had a great chat, and then after that I headed to the park, and before you know it I’d made a handful of new friends who had been watching online and ‘stalking’ me.

(Haha)

For a woman, the idea of a stalker may be wreathed in dark and scary connotations, but whenever someone said they were stalking me, I said “bring it on”, the idea of obsessed stalkers hiding in bushes wasn’t scary at all, but funny and charming.

The one signing my arm is Katie, she was down from the Gold Coast, was nice to bump into someone from sunny Queensland.

My new friends were tremendous, for most of the walk I was struggling to take poor quality photos and video myself, with sketchy sound from my waterlogged phone – having happy and enthusiastic people around made that stuff so much easier.

All I had to do for my dare was jump, play, and follow orders.

Haha, I felt a bit like a swimsuit model as they had me posing over here, over there, lean on this, lounge across that. It was tremendous fun.

I’ve really never been relaxed around people. All my life, I’ve fretted a bit, worried about being liekd or accepted, worried about what to say. Shy and uncertain. Awkward.

But I think I left that on the beach. Fell in love with myself, at least a little. Hanging out with these marvelous people on that rainy morning, there wasn’t a single ounce of shyness in me.

All good things must come to an end, so after about an hour of mucking around, I had to get back to the motel and continue my Quest.

(And thanks to more tremendous kindness, I was able to get a ride through the morning showers – backtracking to the hotel in a car wasn’t against ‘the rules’, a bit of local travel once I was based in a town was OK, we (the community) had decided together)

So back to the hotel, a few quick selfies, and then gather my things to get a move on.

Always time for a selfie or two, though.

Honestly, it was a delight how happy people were, especially in contrast to the stories they’d tell me about their lives.

Troubles with COVID stuff, estranged relatives over lockdown stress and vaccination disagreements, people sick with cancer or other chronic disease, feeling lonely, feeling hopeless.

Then in contrast, these giggles, beaming smiles, this enthusiasm for the crazy old hobo man who seems to think that he’s some kind of superhero and on a Quest.

They loved it.

And when I had the chance to talk about the cause, about The Kids’ Cancer Project, I had this special gravity, a strange kind of eloquence, I think it got in, got past the charity fatigue, the distrust, people understood — it was real kids. 3 every week, dying.

It was a cause worth supporting. Worth championing.

So with a deep thanks and farewell to the lovely owners of the Tanjil Motor Inn, I hit the frog and toad (road) and legged it out of Bairnsdale.

Apparently it’s about 68km to Sale, and that was my goal. I planned to camp at about the midway point.

In these dwindling days of the walk, I was on – or even ahead of – schedule, but it was still nice to have a day of toil, a reasonably long walk through tough weather, and sleeping rough at the end (roadside forest).

The walk was mostly solitary. A few g’days, but the weather was just too unkind to allow for comfortable chatting on the side of the road.

Check that sign for “Den of Nargun” though. If I weren’t on a schedule, I’d love to have checked that out – I was wildly curious.

I’m sure it’s some kind of indigenous cultural site, but it just sounds like the lair of a Cthulian Elder God or something sinister – it just captured my imagination. But sadly it was too much of a detour, so I just kept moving along.

By the way, tell me this bloke doesnt look like Mel Gibson – like if he had retired from Hollywood earlier and got a job somewhere in rural Victoria .. or maybe his younger brother. Absolutely lovely bloke, but I can’t remember his name. Ian maybe.

In the long-running gag about “Barry the Unpaid Sound Intern”, there was a new wrinkle … apparently he was going through a bad breakup or something, and was drinking on the job.

Sad stuff !

But, being a professional, Captain Australia soldiered on.

(Also for the record, I know Barry wasn’t real)

(I mean .. I thinkhe wasn’t real)

(Was he real ?)

(Maybe he WAS real …)

Anyway, let’s not get too caught up on that, maybe we live in a Simulation and MAKE OUR OWN REALITY, weaving it around us !

“Tathagata Buddha, the father budda said, ‘With our thoughts, we make the world'”

Stop being silly, Captain Australia.

I was very reflective, even meditative during the afternoon walk. It was a long day, but I didn’t really feel the toil, I certainly didn’t suffer the walking.

With few interruptions (a call from a radio station to tee up a visit, a lady who wanted to buy travel insurance but didn’t know my company was dead), I was mostly in my own head, and it was pleasant, nowhere near as weird as you’d think.

I did come across a fair amount of light flooding, and since the weather was harsh and it was all long flatlands, I reminded myself to be mindful of that when picking a place to camp.

Flash flooding and falling trees/branches, those were my biggest concerns.

I think I was past the bushfire affected communites, most of the forested areas were quite lush, rich with old & new growth, quite pleasant to walk through.

Toward the end of the day, I did come across the Billabong Roadhouse, and stopped in, purchasing the last 3 dimsims from the hotbox (looked like they’d been resting there for quite some time – but you know what they say about beggars and choosers)

Funny thing though, I put the bag to rest on a shelf outside when I was putting my pack back on, then got all distracted chatting with the owner.

I turned and walked away, leaving the food sitting there on a window sill. (Hopefully a bird or possum got at them)

Completely lost service for the next couple of hours, which I spent looking for viable/ideal places to pitch a rough camp.

I never lit a fire. Never left a mess. Never raised a tent – a military style hammock with an insect net and a tarp to deflect the rain, that’s what I was working with.

As the sun began to set, I just chose a random bit of dense roadside forest, and carefully made my way in. Thumping about to alert any snakes, I found a decent enough spot, set up my gear, and was asleep pretty much as soon as I clambered into the hammock and wrapped myself in the sleeping bag.

Cold night, bad weather, but resisted it well.