Depending on who you speak to I'm either in Mirboo North, Milford or Dumbalk North right now. Regardless of how you call it it's a very pretty place.
I drove up yesterday with an over-excited, borderline hyperventilating Rigby in the back seat. It took about two hours all up. For most of it I was driving on the M1 freeway, or a dual lane highway. It was a good drive. The traffic was steady, but moved quickly. For much of the drive the speed limit was 110 kmh and so managed that pace or a little above all throughout.
It was fun to be on a trip. It was a lovely day for a drive, the sky clear and the sun winter bright. I enjoyed being in the car and really stretching its legs for a change. I listened to an audiobook while Rigby quietly whimpered in anticipation or else rested his head on the centre console.
As before I observed patterns on the road. It reminded of a cycle race and how as the race goes on the peleton is stretched out into clumps of leading and following riders. On the road the peleton as such is split by on ramps - vehicles emerging onto the freeway in clumps separated from each other. While the road was relatively clear I was one of the quicker drivers there, and so moved between peletons, like a chasing cyclist, leaving the front end of one to bridge the gap to the next, and then moving through it to repeat the process.
Something else I noticed was a good sprinkling of doubtful types on the road. Out in this direction there are some pretty good concentrations of regional bogans, and so heading out that way amongst the long weekend traffic were the mandatory types in Subaru WRX or souped up Holden's with personalised licence plates. In the thick of the traffic, when it was virtually travelling in a quick moving convoy this lot were discernible by their insistence in travelling too closely behind.
Soon enough I ventured off the highway and into the back roads. The roads were single lane. They wound between hills covered in lush growth of gum trees and plantations. They climbed and dipped in a general inclination, the ground falling away in places to spectacular valleys and deep gullies. It was very pretty.
Along the way I passed through small townships and by pretty homesteads built into the hills amid the trees. Signs along the road advertised cheap potatoes, 10 kilograms for $6. Once I was stuck behind a caravan, another time a timber truck slowly taking the curves and with a stockpile of patient drivers behind them. Rigby mewled behind me, my audiobook described a strange battle in a sc-fi world as I paused in line and waited, taking the opportunity when it came to press down on the accelerator and zip around the traffic in front on the winding road.
What traffic there was thinned still more as I neared my destination. By now the road was largely a little wider than a single lane to accommodate traffic going in either direction. At times we travelled in the bright sunshine atop a hill or following the razorback the road hat been cut from, but more and more as we dipped the sun came filtering through tall trees on either side into a shaded, cool road not yey properly dry from recent rains. I turned and turned again, the road higher one side than the other and somewhere on my left - the high side - the farm I was looking for. Look out for the toilet paper at the front gate I had been told, and I was releved to see the pristine white paper tagged to a fence post. I had arrived.
The property was up a hill in which a track had been carved. There was a slurry of mud at the front gate churned up by the heavy tyres of 4WD. I stopped wondering if the Audi would make it up there, before deciding to play it safe and reversing the car into a clear spot on the other side of the narrow road. I roused Rigby from the back seat keen to explore this new place and together walked up to the household and rang - literally - the bell.
That was it. Managed to get the car up and thereafter spent the afternoon eating cheese, drinking beer, taking a tour around the very pretty farm, and generally chatting. Last night was a roast dinner, a bottle of wine and a DVD.
Rigby loves it up here. This like Luna Park for a dog. He runs and runs, he jumps and plays. He has a permanent smile on his face going from one person to the next. He's such a beautiful, happy, affectionate dog that no-one can refuse him. Last night he slept on the bed next to me. This morning we ventured out into the cold to see the mist in the valleys.
It's now about lunchtime. I'm a little sleepy. It's the country air maybe, and the mindset in a place like this that loosens the tight bonds that confine you to sensible options back in the smoke. Here it's ok to take it easy, to live differently, to read all day if you want. For all the sun outside - and it is bright - there is a chill in the air and inside the warmth of the fire and the tang of wood smoke in the air. I settle like an old man who's found a good place to rest. I missed this. It's great to get away, great to get down to the bush again and remember what it's like. I should do more of this, it's definitely my thing.