TURNING BACK TIME AND CLOSING A DOOR
This winter I went on a road trip to Victoria. I love getting in a car and getting out of Sydney for a long drive. I often wish I had my own car when I’m on holidays overseas, so this time I did just that…took my car on my Australian holiday. We mapped out our journey with regular stops. My friend recommended going through Wagga on the way to Victoria as there is a lovely brewery there and the town is pretty too. Subconsciously I think I jumped at this because it was an excuse to go past Gundagai on the way.
It has been a long time since I was in Gundagai, 29 years almost and I can’t say I remember any of it. I have had the curiosity to go back there one day and see where my crash actually happened. It was back in 1989 that we crashed just 500 metres before the famous Dog on the Tuckerbox. I was asleep in the car when it happened and my body has blocked out anything for the 24 hours following the crash. I was curious but also a little nervous that it might trigger some flashbacks but I knew it was something that I needed to do to finally close the door on this event.
We had a yummy homestyle lunch at the local pub in Gunning (because we missed the last exit to Goulburn due to chatting away!). I loved Gunning - a typical Aussie town with two elderly gentleman sitting in front of the pub veranda, one sporting an Akubra hat, enjoying a cold beer in the sun on a winter’s day and the other so thoughtful to direct me to the most accessible entrance. After lunch we got back on the road towards Gundagai.
The road has changed since the 1980s, possibly due to my crash and the many that used to happen in that area back then. A new road has been built alongside the original one to separate oncoming traffic and avoid what happened to us - a head on collision due to fatigue from the other driver.
After just over an hour we took the exit to the Tuckerbox on the Hume Highway. We stopped for a little while to take some photos and give me a chance to reconstruct the imagery that I had been told about but never before seen. I wasn’t triggered but my thoughts did go back to the moments when my family, who were travelling in front of the car I was in, witnessed a trauma that no-one could ever predict. I often feel I got off lightly because I don’t remember any of the visuals, the smells or the sounds that my family experienced. They have carried them for many years and still do.
It’s amazing how going there has just put something at peace in my being. I have seen it, acknowledged it and found that I’m still me and all is right with the world the way it's supposed to be. A chapter has been completed and I can put that part of my life to bed on that level. I knew I needed to do this otherwise I would keep wondering. I’m glad it didn’t trigger flashbacks, I like that I don’t remember and it allows me to talk about it to help others. I believe this is the purpose for why things happened the way they did.
The next day we left early in the morning and drove towards Culcairn where we stopped for breakfast at a funky little cafe. I always feel proud to see how well Australia does public toilets in regional towns. You would never see this so consistently in Italy that’s for sure! There might be nothing much of anything in a town but there will be a public toilet block and they were all very clean, much more so than I had expected!
Our day continued on through Albury/Wodonga, Yea and then through the Yarra Valley to get to the Mornington Peninsula. Yea had the most artistic toilet block I’ve ever seen! We only stopped for that but it was refreshing to experience a bit of art whilst taking care of normal daily functions! Ironically that is what dictates my day, spinal cord injury means this part of daily functions must be managed differently and not knowing where the next toilet is can be stressful.
Yarra Valley is definitely a place I want to revisit at leisure. The Victorian farmlands are gorgeous, lush and green. We were on a time schedule to get to the Peninsula by 4pm so we only quickly stopped at Balgownie Estate for me to do a wine tasting…my man was driving today, lucky for me! Amazing how much I could shop in 20 minutes too!
One thing I did notice on our way down was just how much better Victoria is able to maintain their roads. The smaller state allows for better roads. The scenery too changes as you head south. From brown, dry fields in NSW to lush, green pastures in Victoria. The climate is very different and changes from one state to another in Australia.
It was a powerful first two days of my 12 day trip. A dream completed and my next blog will highlight the beauties of the Mornington Peninsula - a place to come back to.