IT’S school holidays so there’s no fear of buses as I follow the road warning signs. Past Sheepways I turn right while trying to fix the route in my head. Should I start putting up the posters in Bass or Coronet Bay? I've got enough posters and pins but no sticky tape. Why isn’t there a supermarket in Grantville?
To my left the steep valley flattens out toward Western Port. I can see a hawk hovering below me. There must be a rodent down there between the friesians. Small dams sparkle across the paddocks.
The car knows the way along this narrow road. I just have to slow down at the moss patch after the landslip. And savour my all too casual glimpses of these rolling hills.
The bends become more urgent. Left, right, left. One eye on the speedo, one eye on the jagged edge of the bitumen. Left, right, hold the curve. Hold it. The front tyres are clutching at that edge as the rears just, just follow them around. I can sense the subtle lift as the weight shifts. Right. The car wants to fly. Slow down.
And then there's a cyclist. Standing there waving. I hit the skids. The dirty windscreen’s now opaque thanks to the angle of the sunlight. Is there a peloton up ahead?
Oh, that’s a sandwich being pointed at me. I ask if help is needed. Nope – just enjoying the view. “Hey, is this the ‘goat track’?” It sure is!
I drive on and leave her to her own adventure. Closer to the Woodleigh road Lew Potter is herding lawn mower calves across the road. I toot the horn. He waves.
The doors are open at the Kernot hall and I drop in to say “Hi” to the person sanding the floor. There’s an AGM tomorrow and I don't like his chances of timely completion but he says he’ll work through the night if he has to.
I drive past the general store, the history board and then alongside Candowie Reservoir. The level’s down a bit and old tree stumps are emerging from the water. Further down the hill farms give way to quarries and then housing estates where the 80km/h restriction starts.
Moments later the car's cooling down outside the Grantville Pantry. I can smell the brakes as I stroll to a scheduled meeting. I’m on time, for once.
I feast on the best burger this side of Melbourne as I talk to a fellow writer about massacres and libraries. By mid-afternoon I’ve postered my way to Coronet Bay. And I didn't need sticky tape. Bliss!
After a long day in Pakenham I’m driving home under a dark and threatening sky. Up the hill from Loch the downpour hits. It’s hard and heavy. The wipers can’t keep the windscreen clear. Only Gippsland clouds can dump like this. There’s a road out there somewhere.
More bends, uphill, downhill, then the long flat bit. Downhill around that slow left hander, a little straight bit then the gentle right hander. I caress the steering wheel.
The car slides past a post into the greenery. Branches slap the side of the car. I dodge a stump as a sign shatters the rear view. All I can see is trees. This is going to hurt. The front wheels find a rut that points them back across the bitumen. Around another post. Toward a drop off.
Now I can see the frickin’ black ice. There’s a car coming down the hill toward me. It slows in time, my ABS cuts in and I drive meekly away. At the Bena turn off I park on solid gravel to survey the damage. Somehow, it’s just a lot of mud and one smashed rear view mirror.
The dashboard clock is fading though the minutes still race the mileage markers. These days I take the bends slower and often hit the brakes for no good reason. I worry about what’s around the next bend, but that’s a good thing.
In unguarded moments I relive a version of the accident that includes the side of the car being stove in and one headlight smashed by a tree. This didn’t happen yet it seems so real.
The new rear view mirror’s on order. I look at the gaffer tape that holds the old one together. It whistles in the wind as I drive back up the hill after trip to a Wonthaggi market.
The distance between these rural towns gives me time to reflect on yet another public yelling match. Not sure why the fellow pissed me off quite so much but he thought that he could out-shout me and I had to prove otherwise. I wasn’t this fkn angry in autumn.
Somewhere north of Korrinne the road rises into a series of gentle bends. Left, then right and just tap the brakes for luck, eh?