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I was back on the road and the paranoia from the gas bottle was waning, as was the stench of the stink pit lake. Then I noticed that gas of a different kind was also waning. The fuel gauge on the car was starting to look pretty sorry for itself. I pulled up the GPS and saw that the next town wasn’t too far away.
Half an hour later and I approached Sale. I thought about getting some breakfast but still wasn’t overly hungry. I don’t know why I’d become obsessed with the idea of having breakfast as I never usually eat it. I stopped to fill up the car and was actually surprised that the fuel prices were comparable to those in Melbourne. I had expected to pay way more in the country towns. I filled the details in the spreadsheet I’d created to keep track of all my car stats. I had only done 414Kms. For some reason it had felt a lot further. Not that it mattered.
I headed off and fifteen minutes down the road came to the small town of Stratford. As I made my way along the main street, a big bakery sign called out to me. I pulled over, headed in and picked up a beautiful loaf of bread. Next door was a butcher. I figured I’d grab some meat to cook my own dinner after the previous nights effort (or should I say lack of). A short walk down the street and into IGA for some ham, cheese, tomato, onion and beef jerky.
Okay, so a few years back I was living and working in Albury on the border of Victoria and New South Wales. I was hired to produce television commercials for WIN TV. For a whole bunch of reasons, this was a really miserable time in my life. However, there was a little fruit & veg store around the corner from where I was living that also sold packets of Jack Link’s Beef Jerky for only $1. It was one of the few good memories. I loved the Teriyaki and BBQ flavors and they were great snacks to keep in my desk drawer for the many long hours I was working. Needless to say, I became quite hooked and was buying them a box full at a time.
After returning to Melbourne, I was less than happy to find the price up over $4 a pack. My addiction was cured but I still love the stuff. However I felt it was the perfect food to carry on a road trip; it was dried and didn’t need refrigeration, would last a long time, had good amount of energy and protein and tasted damn good. I got several packs.
I made my way back to the car and packed the groceries away. I had originally planned on having a car fridge with me and borrowed one from my Aunt & Uncle who have done a number of 4WD trips over the years. However, once I started packing things in the car, it became obvious that there wasn’t going to be room in my little X-Trail. Instead I had a couple of fridge bags. Not the same but they would keep food fresh for at least a day or two which is all I really needed.
I set off once more. To be honest, the migraine I was suffering from was putting a real downer on the day. It hadn’t gotten any worse but hadn’t gotten any better either. There were roads I passed and areas that looked interesting that I would possibly have stopped to explore if I didn’t feel so bad. I just wanted to curl up somewhere dark and cold and sleep through it. As a result, I passed through Bairnsdale without stopping and kept driving til I reached Lakes Entrance.
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I’d always wanted to see Lakes Entrance but never found the time to get there. As I approached, I stopped at a lookout point on a hill that overlooked the whole area. Perfect blue sky and a beautiful turquoise ocean and lakes, little houses dotted around whited sandy islands. It was a wondrous site. I took a few photos before realising that hunger had finally crept up on me. Not really surprising considering it was now lunch time and I hadn’t eaten yet.
I broke out the bread and made a ham, cheese, tomato and onion sandwich. I figured I wouldn’t be kissing any girls today, so raw onion would be fine. A secret pleasure (some may say sickness) I like to indulge in when I know I’m not going to be around other people.
After feasting, I made my way down the hill and into the town. I explored the area and delightful little town before finding a big old tree with a park bench under it’s cool sheltering branches. I figured it was the perfect place to setup the laptop and catch up on some emails and writing.
Just my luck, a moment after sitting down, a pretty girl approached me and asked if I’d be interested in doing a survey about my thoughts on the area. Totally self conscious about my raw onion breathe and the fact that I still hadn’t found a place to shower, I agreed and she sat beside me to go through it. I couldn’t have been more uncomfortable. I mean seriously, she couldn’t at least have sat the other side of the table?
I’m sure the girl would have picked up on my body language of leaning away and putting my hand over my mouth to talk. She seemed happy enough though and even laughed at my muffled attempts at humor.
I finished the survey, of which I knew nothing about, having only arrived at the town less than an hour earlier. The girl seemed to think it was ok and that my opinion mattered anyway. She thanked me and left in search of her next participant.
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While I had the computer in front of me, I opened up Google Earth to have a look what was around the area. It was then that I noticed I wasn’t far from Buchan Caves. I first heard about these caves at least fifteen years ago and had wanted to visit them ever since. I had even planned a couple of trips at various times, but for one reason or another, they had all fallen through. Not this time. I was heading to Buchan. I packed up the computer and headed back to the car.