I have an inexplicable aversion to GPS navigators. I’m one of those obstinate shits that maps out a route beforehand and navigates relying only on landmarks, street signs and a vague feeling in their waters. Of course, this often means I end up axle-deep in a logging track, or facing oncoming traffic down a one-way Melbourne lane, or performing several vehicular pirouettes around a roundabout, but my pride still won’t let me invest in a voodoo box that barks demands and chastisements at me in my own damn car.
So that’s how I ended up in Leongatha today. I awoke with a pervasive urge to escape suburbia, strengthened by the dawn of a crystalline blue sky that’s exceedingly rare during a Melbourne winter (two days ago it was hailing, even snowing in some regions, and the Yarra River had burst its banks). I was aiming for Mount Worth State Forest, but overshot it by 30 kilometres to the south, landing myself in Leongatha. Like many small Aussie townships, Leongatha looks like the kind of place you’d move to when joy and fulfilment are no longer qualities you deem entirely necessary. When the magic of life deserts you, and you want nothing more than to spend your remaining years waiting for Hawaiian parma night at the RSL and playing Keno, you move to a town like Leongatha.
Ok, I’m being harsh (probably because I still have my nose in the air after two weeks gambolling through London & Paris). Fortunately, like many small Aussie towns, there’s much more under the surface. There are ghost tours and a Daffodil Festival, and this photograph of some women with their tits out by the creek. Also I’d highly recommend a visit to the Number 9 Dream Café to sample their raspberry and white chocolate slice. I would’ve stayed for lunch, but I was a bit pissy at having failed to spot an entire FOREST.
After coffee and a sugar boost, I backtracked up the Strzelecki Highway and dutifully followed the brown signs to Mount Worth State Forest. An hour later I found myself back on the Princes Highway, having evaded my destination yet again. I gave up and pointed my bonnet towards home, but not before I’d:
– Spotted a lyre bird crossing the road. The lyre bird features on our ten cent piece, but they’re so elusive that most Aussies have never even seen one. Seeing a lyre bird is a bit of a big deal in some circles. By which I mean my circle. They look a bit like a miniature pea cock, and will imitate everything they hear with almost disdainful accuracy. Here’s David Attenborough chilling with one.
– Almost died in a head-on collision. A ute came plowing around a wide corner on the wrong side of the road – he was doing about 80km/hr, as was I. Luckily I’d been paying attention and not gawping at the scenery, and managed to slam on my brakes and steer onto the grassy shoulder. I often mull over the fragility of human life and the series of coincidences which brings myself and my loved ones safely home at the end of each day, so that demonstration was seriously unnecessary, Universe. Ta.
– Realised how much of a country girl I am, despite 13 years in a capital city. I don’t know how to mend fences or shear a sheep, and I drive headlong into every single damn pot-hole like I’m playing Whack-a-Mole with my $1100 mag wheels. But I still unconsciously lift two fingers from the steering wheel in the universal ‘country salute’ if I pass someone on a rural road, and when I’m squatting in a muddy baret waving handfuls of damp grass through an electrified barbed-wire fence at a highly suspicious cow, there’s really no place I’d rather be.
So, did anyone notice the dogs in that photo?