Well, the quill of the feather pointed due south.
As we came onto the street fully loaded, our neighbour Bob greeted us and said (quite concerned), “You’re heading north aren’t you?”
A kilometre later at the top roundabout, south meant taking the third exit (right), and as we did so another neighbour, Gordon, took out his phone.
The bikes were laden and our legs not yet in tune.
It was always going to be slow going at first. We stopped for a splash of mineral water at Sailors Falls,
and Irish strawberries (Arbutus unedo) recharged our energy fields,
and then we truly left home, and crossed this threshold into Wadawurrung mother country.
We rode on through the Spargo Creek Road forest, crossed the Western Freeway and dropped into Gordon with these beautiful wood blewits (Clitocybe nuda) blinking up at our foraging eyes in a small reserve.
We were keen to get out our instruments for our first play on the road, when Maureen, a local resident, came by and introduced herself.
Maureen invited us home for a cuppa, which quickly developed into a backyard blitz, where we helped weed out the bent grass, trim the poa tussocks,
and plant them in another patch of the garden.
In the gloaming hour, Maureen showed us Kirritt Bareett, the hill where Bunjil resided after he created the first people.
With an invitation to camp over, and the lend of a few more blankets, we spent our first night in the tent at Maureen and Vince’s. It got down to minus 2 degrees celsius.
Vince (DJ icon from PBS radio’s Soul Time) and Maureen really keep a spirited home,
and their neighbour Andrew kept dropping off food packages for us over the fence while we were there. Such generous souls! Our first 24 hours were magical.
Just down the hill, heading towards Mount Egerton on our second morning, we came across John Smith in his front yard. We pulled over for a quick yarn and a laugh and rode on,
finding some lovely saffron milk caps (Lactarius deliciosus) on the road to Lal Lal.
We thought Lal Lal might be a place to lay our heads, but with all the downhill of the morning and still energy to burn, we selected a few books to take from the free roadside library and thought we’d try our luck at reaching Meredith before dark.
The delicious three-cornered garlic (Allium triquetrum) greeted us on the edge of town.
We rode through rough forest tracks and C roads for a few hours until we realised we’d better start looking for a camp at Elaine. Being landlocked and running alongside the A300, Elaine didn’t offer much in terms of a public reserve to pitch a tent. It was looking like an undesirable roadside camp when friendly Dave walked across the road to see if we needed assistance. That came in the offer to pitch our tent beside his woodshed. Thanks Dave!
The mercury fell to minus two again, and the fields over the back of Dave’s fence felt the full exposed force of the frost.
Home is the combination of kindness and fire. Thanks Dave!
In Meredith we swapped over the Lal Lal books,
and had a play in the sun,
before pushing off for Lethbridge to dry out the tent,
and cook up the mushrooms with the sourdough leaven we are carrying and mixing up each day.
The combination of the cold and the riding is keeping us perpetually hungry. We stopped in Bannockburn, played some tunes, received our first coin for our efforts, and cooked up some grub.
On dusk we headed down to the footy ground and on the margins of the reserve set up camp. We crashed early and woke an hour or two later to the sound of spinning wheels and a car zooming past our tent just metres from our heads.
A few hours later we woke again, this time to the thump of lemons being used as grenades at our tent. Despite the burnouts and lemon hurlers we got our first decent sleep of the trip. It was a balmy zero degrees and we had everything we needed, including lemons.
On the way out of Bannockburn we discovered the lemon hurlers had had a busy night. We rode down the noisy A300 without breakfast and found the sleepy Batesford Tennis Club,
where we set up the camp kitchen.
Some late season roadside apples and a few overhanging mandarins filled us up some more,
and we collected wild fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgare) as take-away spice.
Woody jumped off the bike and harvested some wood sorrel (Oxalis),
munching the golden flowers with gusto.
We’re not sure why we were drawn to easting into Geelong. The feather’s quill was only ever to be a starting point to enable the flow of the journey to set itself free. But it felt right and so we followed our intuition. And soon found ourselves beside a mussel and paella float, and struck up a yarn with another family about the indefatigable learnings when living in the realm of school of the road.
Blackwood quickly tried his luck with the local fish populations,
and we slept, cooked and sang our way across the afternoon.
With more musical pennies in our pocket, though no luck with the fish, we gathered up sea lettuce (Ulva australis) to join the evening’s meal.
Invited to stay in Tom, Clarrie and Lachie’s home garden farm in the burbs, we once more set up camp on dusk.
The next morning we feasted together on backyard rooster that Jenna had despatched the night before, and were treated to the soup of a pumpkin that had spent the summer growing where our pumpkin coloured tent now sat.
Just like our pumpkins back home are powered on humanure, same too here in Norlane,
as is the whole damn fine garden. These guys are living the RetroSuburban dream.
We all jumped on our bikes after a nourishing closed-loop brekky and headed downtown to join Wadawurrung mob celebrate their culture.
Blackwood added another hunting tool to the kit,
and we pedalled down the Bellarine Peninsula,
only to be hi-ho-ed off the highway by gardeners Ivan and Gretta to spend some time with them and the family’s herd.
Brother Zephyr called while back on our bikes, and so we pulled right off the road to hear his news and to share ours, finding lilly pilly (Syzygium smithii) delights alongside our conversation.
This was our biggest day in the saddle yet. Almost 50 kms with just a few big climbs. We were well spent by the time the pelicans witnessed our arrival.
Friends Jo and Tony offered us to stay in their beach shack at St Leonards and thus have given us a chance to get out of the cold and damp over the next few days when a load of rain is expected.
We’ll spend time gathering some saltwater nourishment thanks to Wadawurrung mother country,
resting, and carrying out some modifications and upgrades.
The generosity of people has been overwhelming over this past week, both at home, online and on the road. We are so grateful for your support in leaving home and during this first 180kms.
So the question is, Dear Reader, where to now? Any guesses? We look forward to sharing our next leg with you down the track. Signing off for now, with love, Artist as Family xx