Day Sixty Two (25 February)

I woke up early, really early, on Day 62.

It was my first day in Victoria, and I was being welcomed with relentless rain. The overnight storm was intense, and I spent those lonely couple of hours before dawn just laying there, listening to it bombard the tarp.

Little trickles of water got through, making me uncomfortable, but not too bad.

I waited until sun-up, hoping the weather would dial it back a little, but soon realised it just wasn’t going to happen.

Slipping out of my (mostly) dry uniform, I put the soggy stuff back on (if you’ve ever put soggy old clothes on outdoors in a cold & rainy morning, you know it’s pretty unpleasant).

And then a long, cold march through the rainy morning.

I only had two encounters that morning, and for the first couple of hours it felt like I was completely alone and my only companions were these little frogs out and about in force in the rainy weather.

But I bumped into Hayley’s family again (this isn’t the girl fighting paediatric cancer – there were two Hayleys that I’d shout out to – this was the one who had been the victim of bullying – and sadly she’d taken their garbage lies and treatment and internalised it, but I think she’s getting better and stronger).

Or at least, I hope so. The aggression she’s suffered was so appalling and unjustified, like someone stomping on a flower because they had a bad day (or are just mean spirited)

It was a delight to bump into her family again, but the weather was too foul to chat for long, so after a quick g’day, they were off and I was alone.

(Although I seem to remember I now had in my possession a bag of lollies – haha, that happened quite a bit, people would want to give me something, and Allen’s Candy Snakes and other similar lolly bags were the most common road-trip food that people had on them).

Too much sugar for a guy with thyroid difficulties, but they tasted like kindness, and that sort of nourishment is beyond value.

The second encounter was with my mates from Batemans Bay – Boatman Andy and his delightful wife, Mez.

Mez had been doing a lot better since we met, leaning into her cure more than her cancer – it was a delight to see her full of life and hopeful again.

They were on their way for a little holiday down at Phillip Island, but had been keeping their eyes peeled for old Captain Australia as he toddled southward.

That’s my mates there under the brollies.

While I was resting after chatting to Andy and Mez, I got another message from this family out at Mallacoota.

They were urging me to come out and visit, even stay the night.

It was one of these in & out coastal towns, not even a detour but a side-track, but since we’d modified the rules to allow me to travel out to these communities by car, I agreed (if they could come and pick me up & return me to the same spot after)

(I’m very glad I did, because these people were a flat-strap absolutely marvelous HOOT. Just big hearted, honest, giving .. the hospitality, the humour, it was MARVELOUS)

I think I got to the Mallacoota turnoff around lunch-time, and after a little wait, they rolled up in their 4WD and I was able to chuck my massive old pack in the back.

(It was initially a surprise that nobody swooned or fainted from the pong)

But once we got to their place, I was able to shower and change into dry clothes, and when we went for lunch at the local pub, get my clothes washed and dried in the laundromat next door.

In one of the photos below, you’ll see me behind the wheel of a car, which was another hilarious and surreal moment.

My hosts Shanna and Graham has drunk maybe a beer too many, and our only option was for me to drive home.

Thing is, it had been a YEAR since I’d driven (before the walk, our family car’s engine exploded not long after a service and repair – drawing me into a dispute with the dealership that left us without wheels for months)

So when I drove them home (picking up their lovely daughter Unya on the way) I was white-knuckle driving like a little old lady with bad vision – leaning intently over the steering wheel and driving SLOW. (But after all the walking it felt like WARP SPEED)

That afternoon I had a dilemma – the family asked me to stay on an extra day, come on a boat ride with them – and warned that there was some more really harsh weather due.

I decided to stay on, take a rest day – and I’m so glad I did.

What a delightful day it turned out to be. 🙂