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MCG - SCG Yatra, Day 39

Tirrannaville - Goulburn - Towrang

After a shave and shower at the caravan park in Goulburn, we drove back to Tirrannaville to start the walk for the day. Tirrannaville is an open and flat area with hardly any protection from high winds. It was a windy day with high grass pollen and my nose was running like a tap. I was sneezing, coughing and blowing my nose every couple of minutes. It was going to be a tough day. However, I was determined to continue and I am glad that I did. We had planned that we would have our breakfast back in Goulburn. When I walked into Goulburn from the South, I walked past Formula One racing track where Australia’s very first F1 Race was held in 1927. I had no idea and many of you probably won’t know that it was Goulburn where the country first hosted such a high-profile race.

After walking to the Goulburn, we first went to the information centre and asked about a good quality café around the town centre. The guy at the office told us about a café near the cathedral which is a landmark in its own right. The town centre has a number of classic buildings such as the old Police Station, the Court House,and the Post Office that also operated as the Telegraph Office. Roses was indeed a high-class café certainly worth a visit. While we had our breakfast, Shekhar and I pondered over the idea of visiting the Babe Ke Guredwara and the Shri Hari Temple. Both of these religious places were about 15-20 minute drive from Goulburn. I asked Shekhar to look for the phone number(s) to contact someone before going there. Unfortunately, the Gurudwara website provided no contact number. The Temple website indicated that it was temporarily closed. However, there was a mobile number provided. When I rang, no one answered. Shortly after, a woman rang back from the temple and invited us to visit the temple.

Shekhar and I were happy to go there. We drove through Towrang and approximately one kilometre after, there was a big sign on the left hand side identifying the entry to the Shri Hari temple. We had already advised them of our location when we left the M31. They had opened the gate for us. When we pulled up, a dog started barking. But the male owner was saying, “Don’t worry about it. She won’t bite. She just wants to play.” Mrs Lajja Bali and her husband Rajeev Bali had recently moved from Sydney to live at this 80 acre farm cum Shri Hari Temple. Previously, they along with 4-5 other families from Sydney used to come every month to celebrate different festivals. But then they decided to move to this lonely property in the middle of nowhere.

After we had some Indian tea, Shekhar and I went to have a Darshan. Six – seven steps to reach the level of the temple, a completely separate building, which is totally detached from the house. Having Darshan was an amazing experience. Together we did some kirtan singing the Lord’s glory and chanting His name. The Balis turned out to be a very friendly couple who love India like most of the Indian diaspora living anywhere in the world. They have been devotees of their guru for many years. They saw the banners on the van and wanted to know what this was all about. They were very supportive of the walk and we took photos with the decorated van.

After lunch, they asked us if we would like to stay over. I checked with Shekhar, he looked happy. However, there was one problem. I still had two-three hours walk to do that afternoon. They said, that would be no problem. It would suit them because they had to visit someone in Canberra the same afternoon. I asked if we could use their wash machine? After washing, we hung clothes to dry and drove back to Goulburn.

We parked the van in the town centre and wanted to have a coffee before starting the second leg of the walk from Goulburn towards Sydney. Another reason to have the coffee and delay the walk was because it was fairly hot and I wanted to wait for the temperature to cool down a bit. I pointed to a café on Auburn Street which is the main street in Goulburn. Shekhar saw another café opposite the park and wanted to try that one. In accordance with Shekhar’s suggestion, we went to Café 5911 and ordered Iced Coffee with whipped cream on top. It was great. I wanted to talk to the owner to compliment him but also about our walk and its mission. This young entrepreneur turned out to be from India who had named the café after his favourite tractor. He was also well known to the Bali Family as he was a frequent visitor to the Shri Hari Temple. Shekhar brought the van closer to the Café 5911 and we took photos with Vishal who must be proud of his achievements in this small town

We started the walk on the footpath on the left side of the Auburn Street that later becomes Sydney Road. When there was no more footpath, I switched sides and began walking on the right hand side of the road to face the oncoming traffic. I walked up a few kilometres and before the Sydney Road joins the M31, we were supposed to take a right turn to reach our intended destination for the day; namely, the Franklin Real Estate. Shekhar reached there before me and when I walked up, we both the saw the sign, “Private Property” “ Do Not Enter”. There was not even a proper road. This was another one of our planning mistakes or unexplained google blunder. We thought through and drove to Towrang Road exit. I got off at the exit and walked to Towrang town and then continued to walk to the temple. As we pulled up near the entrance gate, the Balis came right behind us. What a perfect timing it was.

At remote places like the Shri Hari Temple, there is no piped water or piped gas supply. Keeping in mind the scarcity of fresh water, I decided to skip the evening shower. We had a typical north Indian dinner with daal, vegies and saag (spinach) along with papadam, rice and rotis. This was followed by fresh mangoes that were yummy - sweet and juicy. The level of their hospitality was incredible. Thanks very much to the Bali Family. You guys are just amazing. Hats off to your generosity. A big thank you!

Lajja and Rajeev also wanted Shekhar and I to sleep in the bedroom rather than spend another night in the van. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea because I usually slept on the floor and not in the bed. But I didn’t want to play the villain, so we slept in one of their bedrooms. Luckily, it was a firm bed which I liked. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to get any sleep in a soft bed. The other advantage of spending the night in the bedroom was that the bathroom was right next to it. So it was very handy. Once again, thank you so much to the Bali Family for everything they have done to make our stay so comfortable. Thanks very much.

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