I drove out of Melbourne Friday 14 September, 8:45am, a day later than planned and headed up the Hume Highway. It took a while for the sense of the open road to sink in. Getting used to the car, frightfully large and brutish trucks and the rain, although delighted to see it, kept me alert for much of the trip.
10 hours later and some gorgeous country-side and totally bizzare moments… like the roo carcase with grass growing through it’s belly, glistening bright green in the afternoon sun, I arrived somewhat disorientated in Braidwood, pulling up at the pub three hours before I was to meet Davey there.
With the open road in my eyes and fresh air in my lungs I entered with a hearty “g’day” which was warmly received. I felt immediately at home and proceeded to order a beer, which I shouldn’t be drinking any more, and began to fill the few remaining blank pages in my journal.
It wasn’t long before I got talking to people as anyone who came to the bar, where I was sat, would start off with, “watcha writing? bout us, hey?”. I was actually… and the conversation would go from there.
It was getting on to well after 10pm when Davey popped in, didn’t recognise me and was just about to leave when I got up and gave him a hug! He’d forgotten I’d be meeting him there and had dropped by to purchase a packet of cigarettes before the long, dark drive out to Currajuggle Creek… Well, I had grown a beard and was wearing a floppy hat. That I was dressed in black and distinctively out of sorts with the rest of the pub hadn’t tweaked his eye!
So we left for Curra and it was then that I discovered my high-beam was useless, giving me no more than 2 metres of light ahead of me to drive by in the pitch black of country roads that eventually turned to dirt, that would become a challenge for my low wheel-base auto for the weeks to come.
And it was from that evening on that I would find new skills, strengthen muscles that had been dormant for years, lose weight that had sloshed around my waist, accrue scratches and bruises, harden the skin of my hands, learn to listen for the sonar of bats as they navigate the clearing and generally blow my concept of what a person can achieve and learn when exposed to world we have so vigorously damaged, denied and defiled.
I would also spend much of my time collecting sticks for the fire that warmed my shack and I would learn to split wood…
Photo: One of the many late night fires burning debri collected from the surrounding bush in a zone surrounded by stainless steel remnants from various factories.