It’s been really interesting and enjoyable to arrive in regional towns and cities by the back roads. When in a car, even when you leave the highway and drive into town , your whole perception of the town is shaped by its relationship with the highway. The highway is dominant, the road off it is taking you away from the highway, the locations of the main street, the shops, the petrol station are defined by where they are in relationship to the highway
In contrast, when you arrive by back roads you gently meander into town. Past the edge of the houses, past the local school, cross over the railway line, turn right at the station, pass a church or two and the aquatic centre before you discover the main street. You’ve had a chance to see people in their gardens, meet locals walking and riding bikes, You realise implicitly that the town has an identity of its own, it stands as an entity separate from the highway. Arriving by bike reinforces the sense that you are entering a community.
The bike route into Shepparton from Mooroopna, through the redgum forest of the Goulbourn River flats is very picturesque. It was the final five kilometres of our day, and we rode through in sunshine in mid afternoon, and the forest was sparkling, washed clean in the day’s rain showers. It was purely coincidental that we had pulled over and were under cover, waiting for a journalist when the thunderstorm hit. Massive rolls of thunder, lightning, and hail was a dramatic welcome to Shepparton. By the time the interview was completed, and we rode the remaining 10 minutes into town the sun was out again, and we cruised up High St, finding the Afghani Restaurant where we met Nasim, President of the local Hazara community.
As we chatted with Nasim more thunder and lightning and torrential rain played dramatically outside. We ate freshly baked bread, salad, the meat eaters ate kebabs, and drank tea. More tea. This ride has been fuelled by tea. Then off we pedalled to find our home for the next two nights.
I’ve just come in out of the drizzle to the Ballarat Library. It’s 5pm. We’ve decided not to go back to where we are staying before Politics in the Pub; it’s 3km out of town and mid winter cycling in Ballarat can be challenging. If I was wearing my cycling gear it would have been fine, but I’ve had an ‘activities day’ today, attending the launch of Refugee Week and speaking to staff and students at Ballarat Grammar school, so was in my ‘nice clothes’ looking Senatorial – fine for bike riding, but not for getting wet!
For all the details of the ride, to sign up, and to find out about the farewell party on 13 June and farewell breakfast on 15 June visit visit http://victoria.greens.org.au/journey_to_canberra
The ride starts in Footscray on 15 June, where my political journey began. The 16-day trip will stop in Bacchus Marsh, Ballarat, Castlemaine, Bendigo, Rushworth, Shepparton, Benalla, Wangaratta, and Wodonga. We will then catch the train from Wodonga to Yass, then get back on our bikes for the final day’s ride into Canberra.
The trip will be a listening tour, holding dinners and meeting people along the way in towns and regional centres and taking their stories to Canberra
My bike is my main form of transport so I want to arrive in Canberra on one. Riding to Canberra will give me the opportunity to travel the breadth of Victoria meeting constituents at a pace where I can appreciate the countryside and the people.