A very early start in Drouin this morning. Deacon Mark had kindly offered to put our washing on, and had told us that his machine was supposed to be a combined washing machine and dryer. I was a little concerned about this, as some of our special gear is not really meant for the drying maching, but as it turned out the machine didn’t really dry it at all – although it was well spun. I expect were Mrs Deacon at home we might have had a little more success. In any case, Mark hoiked on the gas heater and we hung our washing in front of that, rotating it like a pig, duck, pigeon and rabbit on a spit, so that all was nicely done in time for us to pack and leave about 7:45am. I was still mucking about (Josh says “faffing” is the word”) with the picture gallery for last night’s blog write up, and Josh was keen to get to Warragul in time for the 9:30am mass at St Joseph’s, so he left at 7:35, just as the sun was rising. Daylight saving ends this weekend, so it was the equivalent of 6:30am in the real money.
Sean had headed off as I packed the last bits into my backpack, thanked Mark profusely for his great generosity, and headed off. The first section of today’s walk was brilliant, all green and bathed in a sunny golden glow of dawn. Poetry is necessary for this description. There is a path all the way from St Ita’s Church and School in Drouin to the front door of St Joseph’s Church in Warragul called the Two Towns Trail. After going through some delightful wetlands, it curves up and runs along to Warragul with the highway on one side and open farmland on the other. Only the farmland is fast disappearing. Before our very eyes, we were seeing fields transformed into suburbs (see pictures…).
Mass was celebrated by retired priest Fr John Divine. I was sorry that we didn’t get to meet the PP, Fr Herman, who is himself retiring in the next few weeks. Fr Herman was a class mate of Cardinal George and Archbishop Denis back in the day at the seminary. We did meet the parish secretary, Pru, who very kindly provided us with a parish stamp in our pilgrim passports. She admitted that we were, as far as she knew, the first pilgrims ever to come through Warragul. I asked if Bishop Patrick was in, as it would have been nice to pop up to his office and get his blessing. Sadly, he wasn’t. I am praying for him and for his diocese as we traverse it from one end to the other.
We had morning coffee and brunch at Frankie’s, relaxed in the confidence that we had already knocked off one third of our journey, and it wasn’t even noon yet. Then shouldering our packs we headed south over the railway line to Bona Vista Avenue. On the way, I stopped at the Aussie Disposal store and bought a length of strap and a buckle for the front of my pack, to bring the two straps together across my chest. This totally reorganised the weight distribution thus offering a great deal of relief to my shoulders. Once out of town, the roads were considerably “up and bloody down” (as one of my fellow pilgrims expressed it), but albeit with extraordinarily beautiful views of the Strezlecki Range to the south and the Baw Baw mountains to the north. The road we were on was very much a backroad, with very little traffic and a bit of gravel at one point, but an excellent Camino route.
We were eagerly looking forward to arriving at the Darnum Pub, which looked very good on Google. As we approached, I saw the sign saying “Open 6 Days” and thought that it would be just our luck if Friday was the day it was closed. No, the sign said “Tuesday to Sunday” and today was definitely not Monday. However, the door was firmly locked and not a soul was to be seen within. Josh pointed out the fine print on the sign which said “Bar opens at 4pm”. Buggar.
So walked back to the “Tea Rooms”. You could get tea and scones there if you wished, but we had ginger beer and (I had) a nice Cornish pastie. Hitting the road again, we headed across the M1 Freeway, onot the Shady Creek Road. Again we were assaulted by passing quarry trucks. Josh points out that they hardly hurt us, and it is true that we were not hit by any of them, however were we to have to share much of the road with these monsters, I would be rerouting our little Camino. Happily we soon turned off onto the quaintly named Little Moe River Road. This road finally led downhill onto the open plain on which we will travel basically from now on. “Bloody up and down” no more? Perhaps. We are in Gippsland, after all.
Along the way today, as always, we have had the fun of explaining our little pilgrimage. Perhaps the best encounter was witha member of the local Anglican Mothers Union who spotted us leaving Warragul and wondered what these three strange persons with the ski sticks and little cart were up to. When she encountered us again in the Darnum Tea Rooms, she could not resist coming over to enquire further. Along the road, farmers greeted us as passed – cows also cast a quizzical glance in our direction.
Today turned out to be the shortest day for travelling so far. Google Earth made it 26.7km while my GPS said 27.81km. We were on the road only eight and a half hours and arrived at the Yarragon Motel at 4:30pm. The Motelier had reassigned us to a larger room, so our accomodation is spacious and comfortable, although at $150 for the night is perhaps on the more pricey end. Okay for three people, and the room can in fact sleep a half dozen. A good dinner was to be had at the pub next door, currently being renevoated on the exterior, but fully functional within.
That’s about it for now. Short day tomorrow to see us into Moe. Josh’s last day with us before returning home to work. A bit of rain has been forcast, but seeing the state of the paddocks around here they could do with it. I noticed the farmers dry ploughing today with clouds of dust. We gave up that practice back home in Pinnaroo years ago, but they are obviously confident that the rain will come soon.