Day 5: Omeo to Melbourne, VIC.
When your breath gets taken away …
Last night was horrendous. I guess you get what you paid for. I just assumed that everywhere in these parts, there was heating. Not so in this pub. Or correction, in the rooms. I assume that judging by the size of the fire place downstairs, this is the pub’s way of heating all the rooms. Great when there’s a ‘do’ on, or on weekends when there’s more that 2 people in the pub, but they weren’t going to crank that bad boy, just for 1 person. Uuuugh. I discovered that there was no heating a bit too late, when the care taker had taken off for the night and secured the pub.
This meant having put on virtually every layer of clothing I had on, and wrapped myself in the single doona like a burrito. It looked like a nice doona, except in full winter I normally have to sleep with 3! And there was no joy with finding an electric blanket either. 😦
By about 6:30am I was exhausted and like a stiff icicle. I guess I was thankful that the day didn’t look like it was going to be raining making it more miserable.
There was a heavy fog that settled over the whole of Omeo and I thought this would be the case in many of the high country towns. I had a big day ahead of me so I got up, did quite a few star jumps and ran on the spot to start to warm up before packing my belongings and going downstairs to harness up the Lawnmower. Not even the local magpies looked happy about the day.
Took the Omeo highway as it looked to be the windiest road towards Melbs. I loved seeing the granite sections protruding from the hills, which gave it a multicolored feel. The first stop, was just before the Angler’s rest, near Bundara/Big River. Not because I needed a rest, but because I stopped to change my underwear. A corner or previous to this I came round a blind corner, and behind a huge boulder, darted out some sort of large wallaby. About 1m in front of me. I slammed the anchors on and was very glad for the ABS. The bike almost locked up, but due to the luggage and weight all on the back, the back kept skidding and almost trying to overtake my front. I don’t know how I was able to hold the thing up. But I found myself fogging up the helmet with my hyperventilating and trying to fight back tears from the fright.
That negative monkey mind was back, trying to psych me out even more out of this hair-brained trip. “What if you would have stacked it and hurt yourself?” “What if the bike was broken and you can’t fix it?” “What if you would have swerved and ran off the road?” “Why didn’t you just do an evasive maneuver, rather than hitting the anchors? Don’t you know you shouldn’t do that for animals on the road?”. It was relentless.
Once composed again, I saddled up and kept going through. I started to climb some more heading towards Falls Creek. Call it a weird coincidence or not, but at the time I didn’t know it, about the same time I was riding past Mount Cope, something just… clicked.
And in that instant I didn’t even realise.
When I did realise something had silently and completely changed, it felt like I was riding on a cloud. I couldn’t put my finger on it. But gone was the sheer terror and anxiety of riding alone, so unprepared, inexperienced and out of my depth. It was the difference like running cross country on the hard pavement, feet slapping down harshly. To running on thick soft grass. Everything else is a lot more cushy, plug and even luxurious. I had to stop at the start of Nelse West walk, to admire the view. This time really admire it. It was as if all was ok, would be ok and I was coping!
I got off the Lawnmower, and went to the lookout and just stood there looking out the Nelse mountain range. It seemed to go on forever. I don’t know how long I was there for, but even with the light cold breeze, I wasn’t feeling cold for once. The crunching of gravel behind me snapped me out of my trance. It was a car coming into the car park. Best get going on my journey.
As I walked to the bike, a young couple was getting out the car. The driver asked me where I had come from since he’d seen the Queensland number plate.
“Bit far from home! Where did you come from and where you headed?”
I answered politely, too much in a dream like state to really engage.
“Wow! That’s some way. Alone?” From then on I just kept answering his questions politely and as I was gearing up to leave. He meant well, and was genuine in his questions, so I felt a bit bad if I sounded distant and stand-offish. But that conversation was playing out in my mind as I continued on.
The rest of it went something along the lines of his approval, with a whimsical hint of jealousy that I was out riding ‘living the life’ while others would be tied down to the 9-5 lifestyle. Umm buddy….you don’t know what I’ve been going through and what stresses I’ve had to feel and what things I’ve had to give up to do this ‘forced’ trip!! But that wasn’t his fault, and why would he know?
And as I was pondering this, I remember riding around a bend and over a crest, and the Rocky Valley plateau spread over the horizon. You could see the road snaking its way over the flatter areas and disappear in the far distance towards the Rocky Valley storage waterbody. I realized that I had slowed down to 20-30kms/hr, and I was riding with my mouth open. This is the moment that it all made sense.
The feeling of smoothness and how it’s all clicked – was because gone were the multiple negative voices in my head vying for attention. Gone were the nay-sayer’s comments on this trip. Disappeared were the voices of fear from non-motorbike riding people. Gone was my personal inner voice – no dialogue. All that I could hear was the soft whistle of the cold breeze. I had to stop and capture this moment.
For me, the whispy stretched clouds represented my thoughts. Clearing after so much depressing, grey, wet, foggy weather I had experienced on this trip thus far. The blue skies were showing, and albeit cold, it gave me hope. This trip through the mountains was a metaphor for me having to climb my own mountains and overcome them. And it seems that I had done so! Corny, but this is what sticks in your mind the most.
It’s inexplicable and unpredictable what kind of feelings you’re going to have the closer you get to your destination. How sad or anxious or excited one gets the closer you get to your destination (regardless how sore your arse may be).
I estimate I’ve done about 2,700kms in the last 5 days & the last 200kms coming into Melbourne (yes, I survived!) was fought by the urge to find another twisty road AWAY from my destination. This particularly came about, when I was leaving the higher country and I came over a large crest. There was a nice long windy road ahead of me – for any normal rider, would be whooping with delight. However, I remember looking over the horizon to see the outline of Melbourne city. Tall buildings, looking grey and ominous. One thing that really shocked me is that you could see like a snow-cone bubble but instead of fake snow, you could see a grey hue. Air pollution maybe? Smog? Whatever the case may be, it wasn’t all that inviting.
Bogong Alpine Way, Falls Creek Dam, VIC did just that for me today.
It was a much needed and long overdue inner voice silence. Or maybe not silence, but the cacophony that usually goes on, was still there but all speaking in unison. Much less chaotic which helps think ahead, and speak with a clearer mind.
After 5 days of constant inner voice chatter echoing within my helmet. All voices finally came to a truce and the quietness that came about, was bliss. The long vistas and visions were filling my senses up. And all I could do was take it all in.
The rest of the trip I just wanted to get to my destination. Even as I came over, what I would describe as outer Melbourne’s mountainous ‘lip’. I don’t know where I was or what road it was called, but in my mind’s eye I have a vision of seeing Melbourne city in the distance, with the sea for backdrop and a grey haze or bubble around it – Aaaah civilization (more like air pollution!). This was the city that was either going to give me salvation or damnation. This could have been the last Australian city I would see and live on, or the beginning of the next chapter in my life.