Travelling is all about the stopping.
Sure, the destination gives any adventure a compass. A gravitational pull. A bracket to signify completion.
And the journey itself is the the delicate practice of paying attention in motion. Paying attention to motion.
But the stopping is where the magic happens. When properly travelling you should be stopping more than is reasonably necessary.
Take for example the small town of Dartmoor in western Victoria. Population 236. A tiny place that is easy to pass completely through whilst looking for a turn off to somewhere else.
We would have taken the turn without further thought ourselves if it was not for a free campsite that came recommended. It was a place that demanded further lingering.
With a whole day of stopping, we could wander around a bit. Poke about. Amble. Investigate.
Up the long sloping road past the iron horse trough that is fed by a natural spring. Past the wood sculptures crafted from a stand of Atlantic Cedars planted in 1918 to honour World War I servicemen and nurses, and across to a brief scattering of buildings, some old and sandstone proud… others a little worse for wear.
Checking out the old Anglican Church that has been converted into a second hand op-shop that smells like naphthalene and creaking history and had heaps of second hand books. Popular fiction titles and obtuse local histories for a dollar a piece.
Crossing the road and hearing a ruckus, and discovering the local lawn bowls team in animated competition hidden behind the town hall.
Eavesdropping on a small group of elderly locals sitting on the veranda of the town museum. A lady with an immaculate blue rinse atop a sun leathered face and hinged back sat next to a slightly older man with a heavy European accent, and next to her another lady who was probably in charge of the museum and was definitely doing most of the talking. All were settled in for the morning on three white plastic lawn chairs.
They were discussing their respective allergic reactions to bee stings. Topping each other with stories of urticaria and collapses and who travelled the furthest in the local ambulance. And who flirted more successfully with the driver.
Before them was a long trestle table complete with cotton checkered table cloths and a spread of home made cakes and scones and slices. Each set of treats was on its individual paper plate slid into a small plastic bag. Each had a tiny sticker on it indicating the price. You would have seen the exact same scene yourself in any number of fundraising stalls I’ll wager.
Kelly and I picked out some particularly wicked cherry ripe slices, and turned back towards Ripley to boil the kettle as an accompaniment.