I awoke early this morning to the sound of kookaburras laughing, and then cockatoos having a screaming match, so much better than an alarm clock! I love the bush!! Enjoyed a beautiful sunrise through the gum trees as I packed up camp and had a muesli breakfast. The family I’d met, the two little fellows were up bright and early like me, so we enjoyed breakfast together before I headed back down the gravel track to the highway. Lovely people!

I stopped alongside the highway at the Djab Wurrung Embassy, a protest camp against the cutting down of sacred, 800-year-old birthing trees. The camp is on the Western Highway on the incoming side to Ararat’s township, but I didn’t have the time to do much more than take a photo, wave and encourage them not to give up until they received the respect they deserve; I had to move on, with over 110 kilometres to cover today.

On this ride today I really started to feel the cumulative fatigue of the past few days. My quadriceps are burning and my right hand, particularly the ring and pinkie fingers, has gone completely numb and I’ve lost a large amount of my strength in that hand. It is difficult to write this entry, and to use the hand in general.

The scenery as I ride past the Grampians is beautifully picturesque, even if the weather is rather dreary. As I came into Great Western, I stopped at the Grampians Estate Winery for a toilet break and to hopefully grab some wine for tonight, but alas! I could only carry a very small bottle or can and they only had the regular sizes; my plan to have a little tipple of wine with dinner: foiled. I settled on a tiny jar of spiced pear paste instead. I also garnered some donations from some kind fellow travellers as well.

I also stopped at the Giant Drop Bear Koala in Dadswells Bridge, a funny tourist spot in the vein of “Big” things like the Big Marino, the Big Pineapple, etc. This one is a huge concrete koala with a shop underneath. I bought some little souvenirs that could fit in my pack and kept moving. I try to buy something at these places as most people pull over, snap photo, and drive off, and local businesses like this are important to these little towns.

I stopped for lunch in Stawell. Now, to be fair to Stawell, I was in a slight hurry, but I’ve never really enjoyed the town very much and I opted to simply stop at the information and rest area and cook some noodles on my Furno stove than a local eatery, having seen nothing particularly appealing on the way in.

I am still finding the truck drivers to be incredibly courteous and considerate towards my presence on the road — most of them, and whenever they could; it wasn’t always possible for them to give as much room, but many tried to give me as much as they could manage. The ‘grey nomads’, on the other hand…

By the time I arrived in Horsham it was rather late to be out scouting campsites, so I booked into a very budget motel, the Darlot Motor Inn. It was pretty basic, the kind of place Norman Bates would adore, with gaps in the ceiling solved by the complimentary bug spray on the bench. The shower however was magnificently high-pressure and it was a warm and dry roof. I crossed the road to the Toy’s Garden Restaurant, the kind of Chinese restaurant that most Aussies grew up with, and the food was pretty good, the service excellent. Then off to bed for a good night’s well-deserved rest.

How I’d rate today’s journey:

A monument to Major Mitchell, near Horsham
The Grampians
The Giant Koala at Dadswells Bridge
Making lunch at Stawell
Having noodles for lunch at Stawell
The Djab Wurrung Embassy near Ararat, Victoria
Parked outside the Djab Wurrung Embassy

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