Saturday, January 24, 2015

Nyah, Christmas 2014

We make pictures in our minds, fantasies of future rides, and then we mount our machine and reality comes to resemble the picture. Of course it is a resemblance only, and only in the barest outline; the lived details differ from the initial image, but nonetheless it is the idea which brings the ride into being. I needed to go north. After a series of bad events at the end of 2014 - trauma and loss - I needed to be washed in silence and heat. The inexplicable and debilitating migraines I experienced just prior to Christmas were diagnosed as the result of heavy grinding of my teeth in my sleep - a new experience for me - such was the stress! So I spent Christmas Eve and Boxing Day on a motorcycle, riding my Kawasaki W650 through the burnt paddocks of the gold fields of central Victoria and then into the Wimmera, and finally the Mallee where I stayed at Nyah by the cool, silent waters of the Murray River.

I stretched the days out, choosing back roads and small towns. I purchased books in, and explored the buildings of, Dunolly.

Further along I discovered that the books had fallen out of my torn saddle bags. I retraced my steps but to no avail. Hopefully somebody has rescued a battered copy of Peter Carey's excellent True History of the Kelly Gang, which was purchased for a dear friend.

I stopped often.

This view reminded my, somehow, of Andrew Wyeth's painting, Christina's World.

On Christmas day I wandered about Nyah paying attention to old shop windows.

And sat on the river. In the afternoon that day I received news that a close friend had died. And so I spent some time here. There is a healing element in the slow heavy water of the Murray, which has seen so much and which brings life to these arid places.

On Boxing Day the W650 turned over 80,000km. I purchased it at 20,000km. It has been a wonderfully reliable bike, and I would gladly purchase another. As it stands I intend to keep this one for the long haul, rebuilding the engine when necessary. From all indications that 'necessity' may be in the distant rather than near future.

I stopped in Quambatook and peered through dusty windows into abandoned shops and garages, with their dust and pigeon shit and tales of other times.

At Korong Vale I composed this text to a friend:

There are no sounds in Korong Vale, save the wind blowing dust over rusty roofs, and crows in the distance. There's no milk bar, no general store or petrol station. Aside from a passing farm-ute every half hour, Korong Vale appears to have a population of 3, and they're not particularly talkative. Cricket on a TV is heard from behind a screen-door in the empty main street, which has buildings - mostly empty - on one side only, the other side being a paddock and disused railway. Which all together makes it incongruous that I am sitting in a Thai restaurant - the only customer - waiting for my prawn noodles.

Further south I stopped at the Melville caves,

and at the site where was found the biggest gold nugget ever, near Moliagul.

I continued ever southwards through warm weather, arriving toward evening back home in Melbourne. I would have to return to work for two weeks, but with the knowledge that a fortnight of motorcycling awaited me ahead in Tasmania. Motorcycling can be deeply therapeutic, when it is not simply joyful and exciting. My pleasure in it never seems to abate.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry for your loss, Matt. Sometimes it is just best to walk out for a while to get your mind off things. I've been there, too and as weird as it might sound to non-riders, motorcycling is very therapeutic. Looks like it helped you a bit.