A fair bit to cover as it’s been five days since my last update but I’ll try to rattle through everything. First of all, I have to give a huge thanks to everyone in Melbourne – Amy, her sister and housemate for putting me up the first night on short notice; Shelly, Reina, Julia and Henry for the other nights; and Ben for being great company as usual.
So I set off from Shelly’s place at around 5:30 on Thursday morning. The tram systam starts very early so I caught that down to Parliament station and then a train to Fawkner station. This was all within Zone 1 so only cost a little over $3 and got me out on the old Sydney Road. Here, I stopped by a large bus stop and stuck out the old cardboard sign.
After I was moved on by the police (they were very nice – simply telling me that the building on the corner was a police station so nobody would stop there… and that I’d have better luck a couple of hundred metres up the road) I was picked up by a very nice chap in a recovery truck. He had two dogs – one which just wouldn’t stop licking me, and a very cute little white thing that sat up and begged constantly.
He left me where the M1 split in two and after half an hour or so, a Vietnam war veteran (navy) gave me a lift about 200km up the road. From there I got a lift to a junction near a truck stop and after quite a wait my luck finally turned for the better.
The chap that picked me up (Benny, if I remember correctly) was only going as far as the Wagga Wagga turnoff. However, his mates behind me were heading as far east as Moss Vale. This is very close to where Vesna lives and a long drive – around 4 hours. However, there was a delay. One of the chaps was buying a boat the next day and needed to withdraw cash from a bank. The nearest was in Wagga Wagga itself, something they only twigged after we’d been heading east for 45 minutes.
This meant doubling back. Along country roads. On a strict time limit as the bank would shut soon. While the guys necked suds (as did I – they gave me three beers while we were travelling). Needless to say, I don’t think I’ve been on any more of a white knuckle ride than this drive. The good news is that they made it in time to get the cash.
Quite late on, and after a couple of pit-stops, we arrived at Moss Vale where the guys dropped off one very grateful hitch-hiker. A truck driver took me to the outskirts of town and then Ves very kindly drove out to get me. I was “close” to her place. In Aussie terms, this meant only about an hour each way.
After a sleep that I really needed, I was up in Sydney the next day. I got up by train as the service is frequent and cheap enough that hitching just wasn’t really needed. I’d only popped up to see Sarah and Alan and I met them in the evening at Darling Harbour.
We sat for a good couple of hours in the Strike Bowling Bar on the Harbour front and just chatted away. I had a really good time putting real faces and bodies to people I’d chatted to online as is usually the case and I thank them for taking the time to pop into Sydney. Hopefully, I’ll catch up with them again on another visit!
Afterwards, I just kicked around at the bar. I’d not booked a hostel and was toying with just crashing at a train station. I got talking to the two bouncers who were on duty – a British Indian guy (Jeff) and another from Vanuatu (Kalo). Their work ethic put just about everyone else I’ve ever known to shame with each having at least two jobs.
There was no trouble all night, and the guys were more than happy to talk away as they welcomed patrons in and wished them well as they left. I was tempted with one invite from a group who were heading off to a club somewhere, but I didn’t fancy forking out $30 to listen to music I hate at ear-splitting volume. Music I like at ear-splitting volume is fine.
Instead, I loafed and found myself helping close up the club. I got myself a couple of free drinks, shared a burger and chips and was dropped off a few train stations down the line south of Sydney. I crashed on a bench, but this saved me a few bucks on the fare back to Vesna’s in the morning.
Saturday and Sunday were a complete chill-out. Marg, Rod, Chris and Janine came over for a barbequeue on the former, and the kids returned from their cousin’s on the Sunday. The rest of the time we justy kicked back and chilled. I finished two books – something I’ve not done in such a time frame since I was in India with Hans.
Today, Mike (Ves’s partner) took me over to Huskisson where I wandered around for a few hours while he was at work. It’s a lovely little seaside place with some beautiful beaches, a cute little cinema and an awesome bakery. Try their cheese and bacon sausage roll if you’re passing through.
So I’ve had a great couple of days here, thanks in no small part to my excellent hosts. Ves and Mike (and Emma and James) – thank you very much indeed! My next stop will be Newcastle tomorrow. Marg and Rod have offered to put me up for the night to break up my trip to Brisbane into manageable slices.