cold is not a good enough reason to avoid travelling on a motorbike in the middle of winter.
I am serious , it really isn’t.
I ring Dad from Melbourne after finding out that he was whisked off to hospital in the middle of the night.
I mention the huge frost at our place on the day we left and he says I told you you would be better off in the car.
but dad that is not the point.
we are our own bike club me and John ,Rebecca and Gemma .
what shall we call ourselves? asks Gemma.
None of us wanting to be in a club we don’t come up with a name.
We stop at Eden for petrol and a wee break,
me and Gemma and Bec are laughing in the toilets
as we fumble thru our many layers of clothing to access zips and buttons
with hands that wont follow direction.
it is worse when you are busting,
imagine the time needed to access first my leathers, buttons, then my RM Williams, zip, then 2 pairs of long johns and the undies. then try doing all that up again while maneuvering over the bulk of jumpers scarves and jackets.
point being don’t wait till you need to go.
a woman came out of a cubicle and said ‘you are all mad its freezing’
yes it is and we laughed again.
further along the road we stopped for elevenses,
gem had made a thermos of coffee but it was only lukewarm, the date cake was good though and
so was huddling around the bike warming our hands on the cylinders that are so conveniently exposed on the BMW.
we stayed the night at lakes and the next day was warmer and drizzling.
by Sale the drizzle was determined to be rain
so I stopped off to buy wet weather pants
add another layer
by now I cannot walk well , more of a waddle.
the weather progressed its way into me, my boots my gloves and then my hands started to hurt.
the visor was totally fogged up so my view was like the day grey clouded with beads of rain.
so on day two wet was added to cold and I almost stopped enjoying myself but before that could happen
John turned off the expressway and took us direct to Springvale , a largely Vietnamese suburb for a very large bowl of pho as in soup.
I squelched into the cafe and that soup of vege beef and noodle warmed us enough to get the rest of the way to Zoes.
after we got up from the table there was puddles of water on the floor.
I read later that this was the coldest day in Melbourne for 2 decades only reaching 9.9 degrees.
Zoe took me straight to her drying cupboard to hang up my sodden gear .
she went back out to her dad who was getting our gear out of the panniers and yes my backpack had got wet too
do you want to have a hot shower first or hop in the cupboard with Sans.??
he joined me in the cupboard , it was quite roomy and so very very warm.
aah the joy of a brand new house with ducted heating .
It was the next day that I got the call about Dad
he is still there in Waikato Hospital waiting for the bypass surgery
the one where they nick veins out of your legs and stitch them into your chest creating new pathways for the blood to flow.
Jess Greg and Kingston now in their third week in NZ are staying in his house driving his car and visiting him every day.
yesterday they took him a bike magazine.
he sounds great and seems to be enjoying the attention.
if I tell him about the cold he thinks it is all about coming up with ways to avoid it and on some level he is right.
I do dress with the view of staying warm on the bike , getting rugged up as much as possible and mostly I am snug,
It is not about not doing it because it is cold more about being prepared as much as possible and then enjoying it .
the feeling of being alive,John says
he also says it is about adventure.
and where he goes adventure often of the extreme kind follows or leads or they go hand in hand.
mostly I am up for it though sometimes…
the day we left Melbourne was sunny a clear blue sky and we sailed up the highway to Moe
thinking tomorrow we will be home.
pea and ham soup with Donna the queen of mosaic making art happen in schools and shopping centres
shaking up the world in Moe until one day recently the earth shook and things fell off the shelves.
the power of art transforming our lives.
we sailed on up the highway to Stratford-on-Avon,
the turkish shop called us in to see their mosaic world in tiles plates and carpets
patterns unbelievably rich and vibrant in colour and complexity.
We stayed the night in The Old Hotel in Paynesville on the shore of McMillans Strait
next to lake King watching the car ferry go back and forwards to Raymond Island which the hotelier tells us is overrun with koalas.
fancy that while here on the south coast people jump up and down if a scat is found.
we ride off into another sunny day and find ourselves face to face with Ra the Sun God
hiding out in a little slab hut behind the Mingling Waters cafe at Nowa Nowa.
Ra is a wood sculpture from the roots of a messmate obliqua that blew over in a storm. Once 66 metres tall and somewhere between 200 -300 years old the root is 7 metres across and 4 metres high.It took J. E. Ramsdell 12 months to bring Ra out of the roots into a high gloss shining state.
From the presence of Ra the Sun God to the Royal Cave at Buchan this is no just getting on home trip this is something else some other map being followed, we walk underground thru limestone formations of stalactites and stalagmites along slippery wet paths and metal fences to stop us touching these calcite deposits.
It is after three when we stop at Orbost for fuel and John suggests another side trip.
The Buchan Cave was not enough and lets face it we were still two hours off dark just time enough to go up the Bonang Highway .
to where? I asked .
It’s a beautiful road a bit of gravel.
well we could get to Bombala.
funny I had never thought of going there and obviously we were not getting home this night anyway.
so we went along the Bonang a narrow forested road where the sun only visits in passing getting dimmer and dimmer and more and more windy.
I stopped looking at the wriggly road sign telling the story of more twists and turns and more..
logging trucks passed us scurrying away with some cut off beauty.
the road pitted and rutted with still much debris from fallen trees that had been mostly cleared off.
it was slow going and getting colder. Beautiful towering giants, tree ferns bubbling creeks and very isolated.
my visor kept fogging so I had to have it open even though the chill factor was extreme.
dark came and we were miles from anywhere.
mist curled over creek flats, wallabies bounced on the edge of the road now gravel .
bunnies ran out in front of us and thank goddess we didn’t know that deer were in that neck of the woods.
fingers frozen, existing on one toasted sandwich at Nowa Nowa and a few sips of water before it blew out of Johns jacket and disappeared.
nothing at Bonang.
Delegate looking abandoned except for the Carlton Draught sign
We pulled up and asked a chap coming out does this pub have rooms? yep he says.
we were off that bike and into that bar very quickly.
the barmaid threw more logs on the fire and all the locals wanted to know where we had come from and where we were going.
a couple of shots of brandy, a toast by the fire, a few chats and the promise of a meal and a room and we were restored fortified and thankful.
and so when we leave the next very frosty morning for home what can happen the sun is shining again ,the day is glorious and yes it is frosty but
there is ice on the roads
and there are all those lovely yellow signs that show a car careening off the slippery road.
not sure about that as a spell.
but Mt Darragh Road is beautiful and John takes his time and I pray
and then we are here,.home
everything as it is
starting up stanley
for a real cup of tea with pot and leaves
Oh and what did we get up to in Melbourne ?
in Melbourne we go to hang out with family and eat;
we eat pho at Springvale, we eat dumplings at Box Hill, we eat suckling pig in China town, we eat lentils and lamb Ethiopian style in Footscray, we eat cheese pies and baklava in Dandenong and pizza on Lygon street.
and when not eating we go to the movies a Chekhov morality tale called ‘the duel’
catch a matinée performance of circus oz going now for 30 years
to witness the enormously clever contortions and movements of the human bodies at play.
we buy merino thermal underwear ,help Zoe buy a couple of leather sofas catch trains trams and buses
and well it is nice to be home again.