… or two and a bit days in a car. Unlike the protagonist in the wonderful Paul Kelly song, we were heading the other way. We still can’t pinpoint the moment we decided to do it, but it had been talked about, daydreamed, longed for and hoped for a long while. Sunday June 29th we hit the road. It all started with a tearful driveway farewell, two families waving into our rear view mirror, eyes were damp all the way to Macarthur Square.
We had a splendid and barely believing breakfast at the Common Ground cult cafe at Picton, before hitting the Hume, destination Canberra. In what was splendid acclimatizing, it was zero degrees, and our hosts had the footy on. The Crows won the showdown, and we knocked off some fantastic pizza.
A frigid morning and snow-capped mountain ranges escorted us out of the capital, a stop off under grey skies at Gundagai for supplies, obligatory bakery item and a look at the historic bridges, paint-peeling stores, hardware-hiding historic display and tired op-shop. On the road again, the rain set in, the temperature dropped. Crossed the border, a new state and a new life. We stopped at Wangaratta, a proper promenading regional centre, it had a Target Country.
Deciding we’d most like to arrive at our new city in daylight, we stayed the night in a pub at Seymour. Seymour? nah, just the pub. The Melbourne city skyline looming up on the horizon was thrilling, the daft epic freeway loop that Google Maps sent us on to reach our place was less so. Hook turn panic gripped, but the disbelief at how close our street actually was to the main thronging main street of North Melbourne, and how it could be reached by only left turns, was extraordinary, we had to go around and do another lap of the block just to make sure it was the right place. It was, we got a park on Errol Street, which was about eight metres from our house! Exciting.
Found the hidden key and threw open the door to our new address. It was big, spacious, neat and nice, “the best place either of us will probably ever live in!” Amy exclaimed. There were towels folded as swans awaiting us on the bed, with champagne and chocolates.
After unpacking the car we did a preliminary reconnaissance wander of the streets of 3051. Everything we need, not much we don’t, instantly comfortable and a splendid locale to call our own. We went for a beer at our new local, the Town Hall, a cracking pub with all manner of great nick naks, and adornments on its walls and ceilings, not so much designer cool vintage, just stuff that was probably put up new when it first opened and has aged gracefully since. A first dinner of phenomenal local Pho and we were palpably excited at our new situation. Home to meet our new housemate who took us on an informative tour and opened up the rooftop deck. Melbourne laid out twinkling before us, Amy got scared and headed down, while I took in the city, the industrial sprawl and the naff ferris wheel The Star, glowing in coloured lights, the imposing spire of the North Melbourne town hall seemingly within touching distance, and ensuring we’d never need a watch again.
We went to bed, in about seven layers of clothes, giddy with excitement, our future wide open with opportunity and untrod streets.