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MCG – SCG Yatra, Day 28

Cooma West - Billilingra

After spending the night at the Cooma Bowling Club, we got ready and left for Cooma West. We arrived at the Shell Service Station just after it opened at 6:00 AM. We went inside to have a cuppa before we start. Unfortunately, the Indian operator tried in vain for 10-15 minutes but could not get the coffee machine working. I paid my respect to Mother Earth and started the walk from the service station. From Cooma West, it was just over an hour’s walk to Cooma.

We parked the van in the town centre and went to Murphy’s Café. I wanted a cappuccino and Shekhar ordered breakfast with Latte. The young man serving at the counter punched in the prices for the items ordered. Before he hit the return button totalling up the amount, the café owner Mark called out to this young man and said, No charge, make it zero charge.” The owner had heard my interview on the ABC Radio and was aware of the walk to support the McGrath Foundation. When he realised that I was that walker supported by Shekhar, he felt so honoured. He said, “Please order whatever you want and take a seat and we will bring it to you.” I was simply stunned and didn’t know what to say apart from thanking him for his support for the walk. Thank you so much Mark, you are a champion indeed. A big thank you!

While we had the morning coffee at Murphy’s Cafe, seated next to us were two businessmen from Lismore in northern NSW. They were traveling to Jindabyne to have a break. Mick Boyd and Dean Marsh also turned out to be great supporters of the walk for the McGrath Foundation. We took photos with Mark as well as with Mick and Dean with the banners on the van in the background.

We resumed the walk in the heart of Cooma. The weather was fine with a light tail wind that was helpful with the walk. After a couple of hours, we had our first break. I had cornflakes with hot milk for breakfast. I had to have a quick power nap to recharge my batteries. We continued to walk looking for a town named Billilingra but couldn’t find it. When we came to the turn off Billilingra Road, we stopped for the day.

We drove back to Cooma town centre and went to the Information centre. When the ladies at the counter found out who we were and what we were doing, they became very excited. I believe in the notion that “Nothing happens without a reason” and this is exactly what happened. Within a minute after we introduced ourselves to the women in the office, a well-dressed gentleman came in. Both women called out to him saying, “Perfect timing Steve, you have got to meet these very special visitors. Have a look at the video.” Steve Cuff was the Managing Editor of the Snowy Mountains Magazine based in Jindabyne. Once he came to know about us, he wanted to take some photos in a particular way. Shekhar brought the van around and Steve took the shots the way he wanted. I also invited the staff from the Information centre to the photo shoot. We all enjoyed the photos. The information centre closed at 3:00 PM. We lost the opportunity to communicate with the staff afterwards.

We drove back to the Cooma Bowling Club, had a shower and returned to the town centre. Varinder Singh, the owner of the Cooma Indian Restaurant was very kind and had invited us for dinner. Varinder’s wife Aman was the chef in the kitchen. We enjoyed the freshly cooked Indian food. I had daal makhani and Shekhar had butter chicken. Both items were delicious. Thanks very much Varinder Ji and Aman Ji. A big Thank You!

Subsequently, we drove back to the Bowling Club and went to sleep.

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