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MCG – SCG Walk, Day 18

Koetong - Berringama - (Corryong)

Today started with a beautiful sunny morning. After getting ready, we drove to Koetong Hotel to start the walk. This hotel was built at the height of the gold rush in 1850s and has been well maintained and has been in business continuously ever since. However, these days, the Koetong Hotel is primarily used as a pub rather than a place to stay except in high season.

Today’s walk was going to be challenging with a few hills ahead but not as tough as yesterday. The trouble with the walk yesterday and today was not just the climb and the number of hills that we had to cross, but most part of the road had no shoulder to walk upon. That meant if there was a vehicle coming behind me at the same time as a vehicle was coming from the opposite direction, I had no where to go. I could not do anything except hope that the vehicle coming towards me would slow down and not cross the vehicle coming from behind me. This was terribly busy road with large log trucks many with 34 wheels and perhaps equal number of trailer tankers driving at high speeds. If these large trucks didn’t scare you, I don’t know what will. In between, you had the tradie, the builder, the farmer going to work along with other road users. However, we survived the walk to Berringama. In fact, we went past Berringama and kept walking to the Lucyvale turn off and called it a day. At the end of the day’s walk, we drove back to Corryong.

Today was Rahul’s last morning with me. He would be going home in the afternoon. Unlike the previous day, this morning’s walk was tiring but not exhausting. There were relatively fewer hills to climb and most of the walk was either downhill or fairly flat. After the walk, we went to Black Sheep restaurant in Corryong where we had lunch the previous day and ordered vegetarian lunch. We drove back to the caravan park, filled up the fuel, and started waiting for Satyajit and his son Rohan to arrive.

I couldn’t find appropriate words to thank Rahul for his support, not just with driving but also throughout the project planning, refinement, dealing with various authorities in Victoria and NSW. Rahul and Monica have been the “die hard supporters” of this initiative. Whenever I needed, Rahul was there whether it was 10:00 PM or 6:00 AM, I could ring him and talk about whatever the issues we were facing. In a true sense, Rahul has been the backbone of the whole project. His offer to drive the van was a huge bonus and a great blessing for me. Thank you Rahul! And thank you Monica for sending Rahul to help me!

Rahul had sent Satyajit the exact location of the caravan park. We had also parked the van at the petrol station directly visible from the hwy. Satyajit and Rohan arrived in the afternoon. After a quick photoshoot to remember the occasion, Rahul started his drive back to Melbourne in Satyajit’s car as was planned.

At the caravan park, Satyajit and Rohan walked to the town centre to get a few things from the local IGA. I was writing my blog when there was a knock on the door. When I opened the door, a young man named Stewart Spratt had come from the town to meet me. Stewart used to run this very caravan park before the park was engulfed by bush fires and everything including the toilet blocks had to be rebuilt. Then the opportunity came along, he bought a cafeteria and turned into a beautiful restaurant “Legends on Hansen” which is just two doors away from the IGA right in the middle of Corryong. Stewart wanted to meet me because he organises an annual walk to fundraise for the war veterans who face difficulties in readjusting life after serving in the armed forces. I admire his commitment and fully support Stewart’s initiative. Hats off to you my friend! Stewart, you are a legend in true sense. I am so proud to have met you on this walk. Keep up the great work!

Satyajit, Rohan and I had dinner cooked by young Rohan. This young man has lived in the UK, and travelled through Europe and Russia. He has also lived and taught in China for a considerable time. With that kind of experience, it could be said that Rohan has mastered the skills to survive anywhere in the world. While he has developed a taste for different foods, he has also become a noteworthy expert in making dishes out of whatever is there. Something out of nothing so to speak. After the yummy dinner, we rang Rahul, who was driving Satyajit’s car for the first time. We were at peace after we spoke with Rahul and he told us that he was just half an hour away from home.

Our support vehicle, often referred to as ‘the van’ has two separate beds. These beds on a short trip could be used to sleep two adults and perhaps one or two children. But for the 52-day walk, we had to pack a lot more than you would just for a weekend trip. So for our trip, the van would be suitable to sleep two people but to squeeze the third one in would be a struggle. The caravan park owner was so kind that he gave access to a separate cabin for Rohan to stay. Thanks very much for this kind gesture that we all really appreciated because we all had a comfortable sleep. Thank you so much my dear friend!

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