3/11/18 Ian and Lesley, long-term friends who now live in Hamilton, VIC, met us at Smythesdale to camp overnight with us at the pleasant campground maintained by the local Progress Association. We’ve known them for close to forty years and, despite the two year gap since last catching up, it seemed like only yesterday. A lot’s happened in the meantime, including some health issues, but everyone was well and bubbling over about being back together again. Needless to say, many wines were consumed and we all had a great time.
By the end of our stay, the weather had turned nasty, with warnings of damaging winds and rain, and a temporary heat spell well into the 30s. We decided to go on power for a night at Treetops Camp outside Riddells Creek. Instead of taking the main highway to get there, I chose backroads instead – more peaceful, I thought. Anyway, the 118kms via the direct route blew out to well over twice that distance on the twisty network of backroads that took us up and down steep ranges (towns that start with Mount should have raised a flag or two). Blustery side winds and rain also slowed our speed. So, four hours after heading off from Smythesdale, we pulled up outside the pub at Riddells Creek and went in for a well-deserved drink and lunch. The drive had been OK; the conditions just made it a bit wearying.
So, after taking on steaks and beer, we fired up the rig again and headed off to locate Treetops Camp. It’d been so long since we’d used the aircon in the Kruiser that we’d forgotten we still had it. Sitting inside in the heat with the windows closed because of the gusty winds, Di was the first to say “Why don’t we turn on the aircon?” Brilliant! And it still worked! As I type this, I have a blanket across my lap to warm my legs that were getting rather cold. Outside is a blustery furnace with intermittent showers. You can keep this Victorian weather – four seasons in one day.
Riddells Creek put us within easy striking distance of Melbourne where we headed the next morning to overnight before loading onto the Spirit of Tasmania for the trip across Bass Strait. The run into Melbourne was uneventful and we soon found ourselves just a narrow side street away from our destination. Cars tightly parked along one kerb allowed enough space to just squeeze by on the right, until we came up on the only car parked on the opposite kerb. There was no way for a mouse to get through, let alone us with the van. My first thought was to use the Force, but weirdly this didn’t work very well. Nor was there sufficient room to turn around in the tiny street. The thought of reversing the van out onto the main road backwards brought images of exploding fireballs to mind, and was swiftly dropped from the quickly shortening list of options. So there we sat, me cycling through various renderings of the F word and hoping that the age of miracles hadn’t passed. A small crowd of onlookers formed on the footpath, and I felt like Jeremy Clarkson trying to take a Lamborghini down a tight parking garage ramp in Milan. I was about to apply the handbrake and camp there the night and let someone else sort the problem out, when Di grasped the moment, leaping out of the Landy. Through some female witchcraft kind of thing, she located the owner up the street, who came out to move her thoughtlessly parked vehicle; luckily, as it turned out, as she was done up like a prom queen, complete with magnificent feathery Fascinator, and about to Uber off to Flemington Racecourse for the day. Another few minutes and we’d definitely be camping on the street.
“Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.” – Sir Terry Pratchet