3rd April 2007 - The Travelling Tao Part 3 - Bendigo
Our final day in Adelaide, the day after the wedding, started with the usual groggy feeling, indicating that the excesses of the previous evening were keen to make themselves felt. We had a lunch meeting with Eileen, a long term friend of my mother. She has lived in Adelaide for 50 odd years and seems all the better for it, as you can see by the photo's that we took (in the gallery). After a very pleasant couple of hours with her, it was time to get back into the Beast and "blow this joint"
We managed to complete the journey from Adelaide to Bendigo in, double quick time. The drive, the last part of which provided a beautiful sunset in my rear view mirror, was very romantic had it not been for the need to cover the ground at such haste. Fortunately this requirement allowed me to indulge in all my Mad Max fantasies, except the one involving Angry Anderson, the midget, it should be said.
About an hour out from Bendigo or "the 'Go" as I have heard it called, Kate happened to ring Tash. As we were arriving in a day earlier than planned, she was surprised and just a little excited to hear how close we were. The converation ended quickly by Kate standards, backed up by another call 20 minutes later, equally as brief. The time between, from what I have pieced together involved Kate, Nigel her husband, and anyone and everyone who was awake and at their post in every Motel in Bendigo for When she rung us back we had a room on hold in a lovely motel where the receptionist knew who we were, and why we were in town.
Beautiful work by Kate and you should note all this was orchestrated from her maternity ward hospital bed.
We parked up the car, wheels still smoking, in the hospital car park and attempted to negotiate our entrance into the Bendigo General Hospital. It was approaching half past nine on a Sunday night at this point, coming from a 24 hour city like London we are always forgetful that the rest of the world likes to have a better live /work balance than us poor cosmopolitan fools. Everyone had gone home, so we had to start at the Accident and Emergency entrance, the only department open. The journey up to the third floor, Maternity ward and ultimately Kate, seemed more like a game of Donkey Kong. After negotiating the tricky entrance door we scored the first golden banana by convincing the A&E registrar that our intentions we honest and were released through the security door into the hospital proper. After dodging several metaphorical flying barrels in the form of some bad signage before completing that level by finding the lift. Level two, the bonus round, was easier only requiring a slightly more rabbit warren like negotiation than the ground floor, before we turned the corner and found the nurses station.
"I am here to see Kate Kyeur" "Kate Fraser" "Kathryn Fraser" Tash wheeled off Kate's various aliases in quick succession looking for which one would stick and trigger the "oh yes her" response necessary for Tash to complete the game. One stuck and we received our reward, they knew who we were also. We were shown into the first room past the nurses station and there she was. I was rather disappointed at this point that Kate didn't jump up and down in a pixalated manner, whilst emitting a likeable, but quickly annoying simplistic melody. I had to remind myself that Kate had given birth only three days before and that this was reality, and not Nintendo.
The girls chatted, well more accurately the girls said words that seemed to drift up and disappear into the ether whilst they just regarded each other trying to take stock of the amount of time and experience that has passed between them since they were last in each others company at our wedding. I recognise this as I have a lot of friends that I see irregularly, it usually takes 3 or 4 beers before you overcome the distance and remember where you were with each other, the girls in this instance wouldn't be drinking, we are in a hospital remember so I watched as they worked their way through the three years that has seen Kate get engaged, married, pregnant and now was a mother, whilst Tash has had many ups and downs, a whole liver full of cancer and the Chemotherapy cycles that kept us from attending her wedding.
We left after an hour or so, I had given my all in selflessly driving all the way there, so was falling asleep and checked into out motel, into a Spa room as it turned out, not bad for a town on Level 4 water restrictions Tash commented.
The following day, the Monday, Kate was allowed home, we amused ourselves in town for a bit and then made our way over to the ranch. Kate had her parents staying to help out, the always pleasant "Mares and Stevie K" - Australian's and their nicknames, no one ever thinks how difficult it is for a boyfriend or husband to deal with these crazy names, do I say "Hello Mr Kyneur", too formal, as I have met him before, "Heyyyyy Stevie K, hows it hanging!", umm, isn't probally an option, just plain old "Steve" then and that without having to deal with the naming trauma of "Mares" (she is a Mary by the way). I figure that this is why all of Tash's Australian girlfriends still greet each others parents in the formal, "Hello Mr Hayes".
By this time the girls had orientated and so we then spent a very pleasant couple of days, just "chillin in the Go". Kate managed to get out into town for lunch six days after Abbey was born, a miracle according to everyone we have mentioned it to and both of them seemed to get the hang of the parenting thing, though from what we saw of Mr and Mrs Kyneur in action, they had good role models. I took a moment to get some pictures, one of Nigel as the sensitive dad, asleep next to his child and one more, in keeping with those of us that know Kate, the matriarch with her kingdom (well Nige) laid out before her (again in the gallery).
One afternoon Nigel and I took the Beast out for a run with the intention of giving the girls some time to discuss "girl stuff". Nigel being the local, had the task of directing us to some roads that, shall we say, were quite enough not to attract any undue attention from the local police. The road he chose ran out to Bendigo's water reservoir, Lake Eppalock. This level 4 water restriction I mentioned earlier means that no fresh water can be used outside of the house, as an example, nearly all the houses on Kate's estate are devoid of grass, having coloured bark laid out in the front yards, mostly in grass green but some brave soles had used purple. Everybody in Australia now seems to be looking to install rain water collection systems (that is a large open topped tank in the back garden to you and me) in their houses, the rain is falling I was frequently told, just not in the collection areas. As anyone who has played SimCity can attest, the sustainability of any city is based not on the building programs that it has, but on it's ability to supply services to it's population. Australia it seems has not paid attention to this simple fact and is in a bit of a pickle.
The once picturesque Bendigo reservoir is now down to 1% volume, I appreciate that this sounds hard to imagine, but I have seen it. After an abortive attempt at a wheel spin, I just couldn't be that much of a hooligan, Nige directed me into the car park. He commented that in better days there were several sailing clubs here and the lifesavers office and picnic tables we were driving passed seemed to confirm it's popularity. However the lifesavers office, a sturdy 3 story number looked like it had been placed in completely the wrong position, looking out over bush and scrub and not water, only the small low height wooden railing just down from the picnic tables and of course the total lack of trees past that point suggested that something was up. We took the car past this point and drove along a dusty track out into the scrub.... and drove.... and drove.... and drove.
After maybe 800 meters the ground dipped and ahead I could see a dry flood plain with no more than a small creek running through it.
This is Bendigo's main water supply. 10 years ago, Nigel confirmed, the lifesavers building was actually in a good spot and three years ago where we had stopped we would have been underwater. Fearing that you wouldn't believe me, I took some pictures.
On our final night we left Abbey in the capable hands of the grandparents and went out to eat (baby + 6 days), oh my, a super mum.
We dropped the Beast off at Melboune airport and took an internal flight up to Sydney, noting that unlike international flights, you can still pack your life into a suitcase and get it on a flight, the gentleman in front of us in the queue had done just that;
Dean's packing 2 - Axis of luggage evil 0