THE flat country holds little appeal for Gay Atkinson and Helen Hollole. It’s the hill country that stirs their blood, particularly if they can see the sea in the distance.
“I’m amazed when sometimes we get to a vantage point and, looking down, we can see all the roads we have travelled,” Gay says.
The two women were both farmer’s wives when they met in 1983 at Billson Street State School, where Gay worked as a teacher/librarian and Helen’s children were pupils. A firm friendship developed and has endured ever since, along with a weekly walk.
Both women do The Age cryptic crossword puzzle, solving each other’s blank spaces as they tramp the through and connecting roads of the Bass Coast Shire each Saturday, sometimes stepping lightly into surrounding shires in their quest to traverse the whole of the shire, or to see a magnificent view. Only on rare occasions have they missed their weekly walk.
One rule governing their walks is not to walk in town or on highways or main roads. “That’s suicide,” Helen says.
“Not with cars whizzing past,” Gay agrees. “It lessens our enjoyment of observing and enjoying the countryside.”
They once watched a spider spin an enormous web, “He wasn’t fooling around,” says Gay.
They began by walking for two hours, but now do just one hour because both are 84. Their friendship has adjusted with their growing age. Gay does the navigating because Helen has little sense of direction, and Helen supports Gay as she has not been 100 per cent well in the last few years. They share the task of driving to the chosen location.
They walk from the car and then back to the car at the end of their ramble. The next week they park the car at the point they reached the previous week and repeat the exercise. People ask what they are doing and there is an exchange of “Good morning”. In 30 years, they have only been brushed off once.
They have walked the old Shire of Bass twice. From Andersons Inlet along the beaches, tides permitting, to Kilcunda and then along the George Bass Walk to San Remo twice: four times if you count the return to their car. This walk took months to accomplish and at the end they rewarded themselves with an ice cream.
They have walked twice to Loch. “It’s like falling off the side of the earth, but the views are magnificent,” Helen says. Walking to Nyora at another time, they decided there was too much driving involved. Helen’s favourite walk is the scenic Bena Road.
Walking on level country on the way to Koonwarra held little of interest. “We’re so lucky here in Bass Coast to be able to see the sea, the beach, the hills and sometimes bush areas,” Gay says.
The furthest they have been is to Jam Jerrup and Peacocks Road. Experienced world travellers, they say the end of Soldiers Road and Bass Landing Road remind them of the Norfolk Broads. They have also walked to Reef Island when the tide was out, but did not find it attractive.
“What do you say to a walk here,” Gay says, pointing to a white area on a map that has many coloured-in roads. It’s a section near Bass. Turning to me, she continues, “Thank you for helping us decide where to walk this week.”
December 13, 2013
Thanks to Joan Woods for her interesting story about Gay and Helen. I don't know Helen but I do know Gay and I have to say that her story provided an interesting glimpse into the personality of an amazing woman. Thanks Joan for sharing this with us.