It is always easiest to start these daily reports with where we are right now. And the lines have fallen for us in goodly places. We are staying with Deacon Mark Kelly in Drouin. Sadly, his wife Hilary is not with us, as she was admitted to hospital over Easter and is undergoing treatment at the moment. Mark has, nevertheless, been an excellent and most generous host. We had the great luxury of bangers and mash for dinner with good beer and red wine and fruit pie and ice cream for dessert. Being very weary after our 30.8km (Google Maps) or 32.75km (GPS) walk from Tynong North to Drouin, it was wonderful to be welcomed with such friendly kindness. Josh was very weary, and Sean is dealing with blisters.
The hill into Drouin was a bit of a killer – outside Longwarry, there is a 100m rise, and then there is another 50m or 60m rise up to Drouin itself. Drouin boasts the highest altitude railway station on the Bairnsdale line (138m), and I am told it is also the highest point on the Princes Highway, aka Highway 1, which circles Australia. St Ita’s Catholic Church in Drouin is, of course, on one of the highest points of town, and Deacon Kelly lives next door. A bit of a stretch at the end of the day.
So, going back to the start, we made a good beginning at Tynong North, with a “the same but different” menu for breakfast: instead of omelettes, we had fried eggs with the same fry up of silverbeat, mushrooms, tomatoes and leek as last night (but with additional garlic from Sean’s stock). With fresh coffee and tea, we were well and truly set for the day ahead.
The day was – for the first time on our journey – sunny. Although the warmest was only in the mid 20’s (Celsius), it was nevertheless a very different experience from walking in the cloudy cool weather we have had thus far. The morning was simply brilliant. Crisp and cool and glistening with sunlight, it is easy to see why the “Australian colours” are green and gold. To that I would add white and blue, as descriptive of the sky above us.
We followed a route that went “Tynong North Road, Mintern Road, Wright Road and Garfield Road” down to the M1 (Princes) Freeway. It was very beautiful, the only draw back being that there is a quarry in this vicinity, and there were big quarry trucks coming and going on the gravel roads. I had wondered last night as we were travelling towards our destination, why the local gravel roads had been water sprayed and who had done it (my experience is that councils are reluctant to spend such money). I realised now that this was to reduce the dust from the Quarry trucks, and must be a responsibility of those who run this enterprise. Given that for the rest of the day we were often on gravel roads being passed by local vehicles kicking up a billowing cloud of dust, I really appreciated this.
The elevations were all over the place at the start. I had expected that we would simply descend onto the plain, but there was no such simplicity. At least for the first 10km, we undulated between 130m and 60m, before fI ally reaching level ground at Garfield. As I said, the bottom of the Garfield Road took us to the M1. Crossing this was a little tricky, but no real hassle. There was a very good roadside path leading all the way from the freeway down to Garfield, obviously with the idea of attracting local walkers and bike riders. I wish more municipalities had this idea.
In Garfield we stopped at Brewsters coffee shop for an early lunch (it was after 12 already). There was a (very) chatty local woman in the cafe, but no other patrons, so we made ourselves at home and had a good meal to keep us going. We had our pilgrim passes stampede the Post Office next door.
Heading out of town, we started on the main road between Garfield and Bunyip. It was, however, much busier than I remembered it. Sean put his finger on the problem. The local towns are fast becoming satellite suburbs, and the increase in population meant that what were once sleepy backroads are now becoming congested with traffic.
At the first opportunity I diverted our pilgrimage to the other side of the railway line, and we walked on the much quieter Railway Avenue until we arrived in Bunyip. This was a mixture of gravel and bituminise surface, but the traffic was much less than on the main road.
At Bunyip we called in on the Butcher’s Shop Hotel, where Josh shouted me a can of Guinness to keep me going. Only cans and bottled beers were available as there was some kind of malfunction with the beer taps. We met the manager (who has a horse farm in Drouin) and the couple of the guests. These two guys were quick with information about where we should walk next but, as we have discovered by now, they were the directions of those who have never walked but only ever driven. The real “secrets” had already been divulged by Google Maps. There is a track that leads all the way through from Bunyip to Langwarry on the north side of the railway, although at times it is a bit scrappy. At Langwarry we met our two friends from the Bunyip Pub just pulling up to enter the Langwarry establishment…
We found a good way into Drouin, following Edgar’s Road and Old Drouin Road. The publican at Bunyip had warned us about “the Drouin Hill”, which we would have to climb. About two thirds through our journey, we came across said hill, which initially raised us from about 30m to 102m. This was only the start of our ascent. Once we got the end of Shillinglaw Road, however, there was some disagreement as to which way to go next. In the end, I recommended (perhaps wrongly?) going up Lampard Road to the Railway Station and Shopping Centre. This road was a repeat of the earlier climb, taking us at least another 50m higher. Maybe there wasn’t any option. I dropped in to the Woolworths to buy some cheese, olives and wine to give as a gift to our hosts, Mark and Hilary Kelly.
The rest of the story is told above. Mark has each of us sleeping in our own rooms and beds, for which I am very thankful. Sean and I put a load of washing on, and Mark and I talked while Josh retired to his blow up mattress in Mark’s study. For all other info see above. I’m falling asleep now writing this, so any other details will have to be entered later.