Yes! As they say, you may not be paranoic, but that does not mean the bastards aren't watching you.
The Facts: the Yandoit said he was to come along on the mountain frolic with Deaf John, the Lupino, and Arfer Long.
The Arfer pulled out because his A Model became allergic to both oil and water, and because he had to cope with a madhouse of women "catering for" the marriage of his mainsqueeze, Ms Fizz's daughter. Ms Fizz is of Italian extraction......nuff said!
But the Yandoit? No explanation was offered, and, trusting souls as we were, we did not realise why, till that night when it pissed down.
The Apostle of Wetness had struck again! How many times has it happened? Event planned... Yandoit says OK... Yandoit bails out... it pisses down. Wet Prick! Not that we bear any grudges...oh no!
The Arfer had given us some directions to his favourite camps, and I could tell he'd rather chew off his right leg than go through the impending malarky, but needs must, and besides, it don't pay to get offside with a manic Italian homunculus with the Mother-Of-The Bride meter turned up to +120! We weep for him.
Anyhow, the Lupino, Her Musical Indoors, the Feral Cultural Attache: Frazzle, and Deaf John set off, and, as we
always say: Only one entrant makes a feral event!
Did not get far, when unexplained mechanical noises forced a stop. Fortunately this occurred right outside the Redesdale pub, where we had a pleasant chat with the new owners, who seem like really decent folk, despite being Pomms. What saves them is that they also own the local winery.....and they don't whinge!
HMI surprised us all by finding some ripper roads till we got to Tooborac, where our mechanical travails beset us again, and we were forced to retire to the pub, where we met some really nice folk, including some heroes in charge of a group of intellectually disabled folk. We were humbled.
After each pub visit, the mechanicals had cured themselves, or, we no longer heard them...same thing really.
Well we motored without trouble till we reached the Molesworth pub, of which no-one took a pic, no doubt because we were all suffering from extreme thirst.
At the Molesworth we enquired about the camping spot suggested by Arfer, and they knew nothing. We showed them the exact details, but they still knew nothing. OK, it did involve going through a farmer's gate, which the Arfer had assured us was just a bucolic ruse, and that beyond was a ridgy didge road and camp. We trusted Arfer...many wouldn't... but we thought..."He has no skin in the game..so?"
The bastard was right! The track was there, the gate was there, past the gate was a sign by the authorities detailing how you could launch your boat, then, a quarter of a mile down the track was the most beautifully isolated campsite, on the side of the Loddon River, with a derelict bridge, just to excite the Deaf John, perfect!
The pic above right shows the camp, pre-dinner drinks stage, with Deaf John's alluring decolletage, HMI recovering from the rigours of the drive, and the splendid annex sewn together by the Lupino in a moment of alcohol fueled inspiration.
The idea for this was inspired by another trip to the hills, (which the Yandoit also bailed out of), when it pissed down, and Robbo's tarp provided shelter, and saved the trip.
Deaf John is not someone that enjoys being reliant on others, and so, not wishing to take a tent, he took a tarp (new) to spread over himself and the Austin.
It pissed down during the night, and the tarp(new) leaked,
and so he was forced to retire (wounded) to the annex.
The next morning we sorta decided to go to Mansfield, and stopped off at Maindample where the Pub was closed, but they had a splendid feral bike on the verandah.
Stocked up big with beer and sundries at Mansfield (including yet another tarp (new)), then headed for the Howqua.
At Merrijig, the pub was closed (sigh), but they directed us to another establishment where we found succour.
Went up the Howqua track where we met many poseurs in 4WD's, though the track was no worse than the Lupino's drive. Deaf John made heavy going of it because his tyre diameter was about the same, or slightly smaller than the 4WD's, so he bounced around badly. The Huddo, with its much larger tyre diameter, just rode over the corrugations and noticed no roughness at all.
The Howqua is stunning scenery, and we mosied along till we hit the multiple campsites at Sheepyard Flat, where we decided to lodge for two nights.
The camp shot shows the rails, in the background, which lead straight down to the river, and the concrete ringed fire pit that is a joy to use.
There were lots of horsey people and doggy people, for this was a state park, and not a National Park, and therefore the atmosphere was more welcoming. People with kids who camp often have dogs, and the places accommodating these three are becoming more restricted. A pity, because the dogs like to meet others, and so do the owners. It's often the dog in the camp that overcomes people's shyness in coming over for a chat. Mind you, having a feral car seems to break down all barriers, especially with women in the 50 -80 demographic, who seem to be extraordinarily fond of checking out the back seat areas of the old clunkers, and who we all suspect of having fond carnal memories of those same areas. What other explanation could there be for such chook magnetism!
There was to be less rain that night according to the chicken-entrail readers at the weather bureau, so DJ prepared for the night. The pic on the right shows a double-tarped DJ and Pram. Not a drop got in from the outside, however, it being a mild night, such was the condensation under the tarp that he got even wetter that night than the night before. Back to the drawing board. The rest of the trip DJ slept in the Lady's Lounge Annex.
Youth Suicide is a tragic occurrence in these troubled times, and we came close to it on this trip.
The Lupino, having reached the official Old Fucker status, which enables the OF to fish freely in Victorian waters, decided to have a go. The Arfer (both OF and Trout Hunter) worded the old bastard up on the correct procedures, and left him to his own devices.
Having purchased some several African Night Crawler Worms, the OF set off for the trout infested waters of the Howqua, armed only with a rod, the ANCW's, and a supply of Mr Coopers best old.
It is an amazing rush of memories, when not having done something for half a century, it all comes back, though in a different perspective. I don't recall any revulsion in the 1950's at running a sharp hook through the guts of a sentient creature prior to drowning it. They tend to object to such treatment, as you would.
However, t'was done, and the offering made to Neptune's brethren. Fuck me, but into the first stubby, a strike was made!
A poor teenage Rainbow Trout, measuring about 8 inches from snout to tail, had had a rush of adrenilin, and with appalling judgement attempted suicide by Night Crawler.
The OF, judging that minus head and tail, gutted and scaled, divided by three, it was actually three-fifths of fuck all, and put the errant youngster back into the stream, hoping that he had learnt his lesson.
About stubby three, a three and a half inch primary school aged fishy attempted suicide, and then, at about stubby four, as the Lupino was reeling in, in order to go back to camp, an even
smaller, nappy aged fish, chucked itself on the hook. Enough, we thought, this was like The Slaughter of the Innocents. Had no stomach for it... too close to the grave for all of us. (The African Night Crawlers were later released into the Lupino veggie garden where we hope they will overcome their trauma. Counselling could'av been arranged, but we can't find them.)
The next day we choofed off to Kelly Country, and tackled Mount Samaria.
This is a very interesting bit of Victoria with lots of early relics of timber getters and their often quixotic struggles. The pic on the right shows a bit of on-site value adding by having kilns to dry timber. The enterprise was a fiasco in the end because they picked the wrong timber and over engineered the production process. Worth going to have a look at though.
The picture at right shows HMI recovering from a .750K hike straight up the actual mountain, and DJ having a relieved ale that we got back down without him.
From there we made for the nearest pub, which happened to be the Tatong Tavern.
A pommy pub in Kelly Country! Good stuff though. The bar staff were bonza, and the locals (we arrived around about 5.00pm) were your builders and other real folk, and they were very friendly. They put us onto a really nice camp site a little way down the track, though they intimated that we'd also be happy if we just camped around the corner at
the creek, and just stayed at the pub. Have not had that sort
of local response since we went to South Australia where they really welcome travellers.
The campsite they put us onto is a little pisser. Not signposted, not on VicRoads, has bogs and is next to a little stream with mountains all around.
When we arrived there were an extended family there as well, and without asking, they came over and offered to have the boys chain-saw some timber for us. They probably cut 4 day's worth, but that will just be a bonus for the next lucky lot that arrive there. It is called the Jones Reserve Campsite, for those with the excellent NorthEast Region VicMap Book.
Which leads me to digress. For those interested in exploring bits of this state, there's nothing better than the VicMap books. These are topographic maps, showing contour intervals,and creeks, which means you know exactly where in the forest you are.
They are pricey, going at about $90 per book, and there are 5 books to cover Victoria, but... they are the books used by the CFA and DSE and Emergency Services, and they do show everything, with an index that details even forestry tracks. The old boys at the CFA reckon that the older versions are better because they even list the names of the owners of individual properties. I reckon though that the updated versions (I've got July 2009) make up for this. Check it out.
I just wish that other states had such excellent mapping services as Victoria. Even a 250,000:1 VicRoads mapbook version of NSW would be a boon, let alone the 100,000:1 and 50,000:1 maps of VicMaps.
We sort of headed back home after that, but diverging to see if the Locksley Pub was still there. Mechanical problems meant we had to spend a little time till things sorted themselves out. Which they did .
The Ferals do not have caste-iron agendas for where the fuck you stay, but just make it up as you go. We had noted a camp site on the south side of the Nagambie Lakes, but on arriving the multiple sites were chockas from early easter arrivals. Nah! Bogans, 4WD's, Rottweilers, and screaming kids were not our scene. We searched elsewhere, and noted a Punt Road. Could only mean one thing, and it did. A campsite right on the river.
About an hour after setting up camp, a 4WD arrived with the local vigneron, who told us that the decrepid sign that was absent had said there was to be no camping, and that he would inform the Gestapo and have us deported. We chatted and soothed the savaged breast, and he told us he might not report us to the Federalies. We chatted some more, and he realised we were human, and left, if not happy, then at least molified. In the morning he came back as we were de-camping and wished us well. The Power of Grey Diplomacy!
The next morning we really headed home, with few diversions. Having lunch and beer breaks on the road.
Easter traffic was increasing, and after 5 days, we were ready for home.
Nothing out of the ordinary happened, no-one broke down, no dramas. It was a beautifully relaxed drive through some of Victoria's nicest country. What more could you ask for?
The montage below is the view from Mount Samaria, go there!