Sunday, January 23, 2011


I wandered wide and far today. I had intended to spend four days riding through the Riverina, Mallee and Wimmera. But much of that is now covered by an inland sea of 90km by 40km. Charles Sturt would have been pleased. And had I gone I may have been trapped in Nyah for some days.

So then I intended to ride the newly sealed road between Eildon and Jameson. But with little sleep and a bad headache, I decided against it and simply rode where-ever the whim took me for the day, covering 450km.

I began by making easterward to Healesville, but the mountains didn't match my mood. So I made north to dry country. Between Seymour and Nagambie I took Northwood Road, which parallels the Hume Freeway but is much more interesting.

From Nagambie I rode back down through Avenel where, as a 12 year old, Ned Kelly saved another boy from drowning. From there to Longwood, and down through Ruffy, Caveat, to Yea and on to Kinglake. I rode home toward dusk.

As I wound down through the Kinglake National Park road, with it's very tight bends and cliff's edge, I came upon a rider holding his bike up. Something looked wrong. It turns out he had crashed only a minute before. Coming around the tight corner, he came unstuck on a small rock and went down. He slid off the road but fortunately there was only a mild drop, and he passed between the metal signs.

His Ducati was smashed, but he was completely fine, in part due to his riding gear which was torn and scraped. We waited and chatted for a while, then he insisted on his wellbeing and, as his phone had died, I agreed to call his partner when I got in range and check that help was on its way. I spoke to him later in the evening and he got home via tow truck.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pastoria and other unknown spaces

The town of Macedon is beautiful in the wet, somewhat like an English village. Rosy and I rode through it and up and the mountain on our motorcycles.  The day was silent, cold.

Mount Macedon itself was veiled in thick fog. Riding to the memorial cross at slow speed felt like a moment in a nineteenth century gothic thriller, aboard a boat in the mist, fearfully yet bravely pushing forward into the unseen.

Rosy and the cross:

You can usually see Melbourne in the distance:

We rode to Lancefield in a rare afternoon glow: summer light breaking through fog and rain to illuminate the tree tops that swirled with cockatoos. There Rosy left for Melbourne, and I pulled out my map in search of roads I had not ridden before. I rode on a whim.

A derelict school house

A darkening day

Near the school house I stood beneath great pines and could feel (as much as hear) the wind high above. It evoked wonder and anxiety at the same time: the strangeness and mystery of the world, the oddly moving experience of feeling that strangeness. In such moments of sublime anxiety the world stands back and reveals itself: not what it is, but that it is. Its uncanniness.  I discuss this experience and its relationship with anxiety and depression in my other blog, here.

Quietly changed in mood, I rode on.

To Pastoria, a place I'd never been.

A glow returned to the Earth, and strangeness changed to a feeling of warm mystery. Sometimes motorcycling reveals the mysticism of the world as perceived in our bodies. Contact with the ocean bears a similar experience, though different, to the sound of wind in pines. As a child the sound frightened me, but in a way which was not childish fear of an object, but a deep anxiety of the sort I have just spoken. Like touching a stick, the other end of which is touching something - you feel it through the stick. Some things in the world seem transparent in their limits, and I become quietly shaken by that vague perception of the nothingness or otherness beyond the boundaries of particular things, beyond the rambling sum of objects and their relations.