Writer on the Road: Riding the Great Ocean Road

I have no doubt getting out and about clears the stale ideas and makes way for new ones.  Travel is such a tonic, don’t you think?  Particularly for writers.  It’s not only about different places, it’s about different rhythms.  My days are not going to plan.  Things happen that cure me of excessive planning.  Not only do I not get my cup of coffee at ten o’clock as I am accustomed, I have not managed this once since my journey began.  Not once, and while this would throw me into a rage at home, I’m not much bothered.  Strangely, it doesn’t stop me in my attempts for the ten o’clock coffee.  I now look upon it as an unattainable desire, up there with immortality.  All that is left is the remnant of a habit, I am thinking.  If one was to give up a habit like smoking or being a cripplingly annoying non-smoker, I would suggest doing this when traveling.  Nothing is normal on the road.

Anyway, all this talk of travel is because I’m on a motorcycle trip along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia.  After three days traveling from Melbourne to Warrnambool along a coastline which made me think of winter storms and isolation, we hopped over the South Australian border for one night in Mount Gambier.  Now we are heading from Dunkeld beneath the Grampian Range to Ballarat for a couple of new tyres because we have worn the others out.  We are planning to spend two days there because it would be nice to dress like normal people for a while and walk on two legs.image

Mostly though, sitting on the back of the bike, I am not so much watching life pass me by, as being launched into it.  Three emus surprised us yesterday as we were coming around a tight bend outside Hall’s Gap and for a split second we all looked at each other with metaphorical hands on metaphorical hips and said, “Well really!”

imageThe outside world is full of stories, small and large, isn’t it?  There are the countless stories of the shipwrecks along the Great Ocean Road, all those people who died within sight of land after so many months at sea.  The giant ceramic peacock which survived the shipwreck of the Loc Ard when so many of its other passengers didn’t.  It was on its way from New York, I think, as an exhibit at the opening of the Melborne Exhibition Hall.

imageWe saw the devastation of the recent bushfires along the Great Ocean Road around Wye River which burned right down to the sea.  In some cases, the damage looked to surround the small seaside villages and I couldn’t help but wonder what that might have been like for the residents.  We also saw more fire devastation throughout the MacKenzie Falls section of the Grampians, this time from another fire caused from a lightning storm in 2014.  We saw the new growth shooting from the trunks of blackened gums and I thought of hope and then I thought how quickly nature and we humans attempt to cover our own devastation.

As we travel through the land, I am traveling internally as well.  This happens inevitably, but seems accidental.  I don’t set my mind to anything of consequence, but find myself addressing these things, nonetheless.  I wonder why some people thrive and others don’t.  I get stuck for a time on where boredom comes from, not the simple kind, but the existential variety where meaning can’t be found and I wonder what a novel about that would have to say.