Topic: local news
Welcome to nowhere .... a 10 km trudge to my connection and then another 3 hours rail run to Warrnambool. It’s dry and chilly. Incredulously the gritty security guard (at Avalon Airport, which serves as Melbourne’s 2nd), says I can’t exit by foot on Federal Airport land to get started. I have to catch a bus or taxi there. “You’ve flummoxed me now” I plead “This is an Australian democracy and I’m in a public car park” I bang on. All those clever travel plans based on Google Earth, ancient frequent flyer points and a busted budget gone to waste on our hyper security conscious culture.
He looks at me again, a man of a certain age who might have served in the Forces. He leans in and speaks quietly, “Look, I won’t stop ya” and there you have it - the living spirit of democracy you can't put in rules. I’m off like an excited rabbit in spring, despite the backpack, heading for the main road .
Very few signs. They certainly don’t encourage a walk on the wind swept open roads past the horse paddocks, the Lara Speedway, the Barwon Prison Farm, two scary dogs, Olive Growers Coop and the wheat silo. And always the somehow menacing traffic barrelling along the dual Melbourne Geelong highway over yonder. The friendly Lara hills rising off the plain in the other.
The outskirts go on .... and on .... and then finally commerce where I am fed, watered and relieved. It’s a nice place. Chirpy kids out of school bustling around, healthy parents. And always the squat mute pine trees about 15 metres high in long sombre lines around the tennis courts and sports ground, and main streets. It’s an Avenue of Honour.
The memorial stone reads “no greater love hath man …… planted in 1948 …..". WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam. ….. Collins #1, Collins #2. Duggins. Tipping” and so on. And one shocking surname …..Cashmore #1, Cashmore #2, Cashmore #3, Cashmore #4.
There is no doubting they thought about Lara in their last minutes and hours, and vice versa this place about them. This was the place they desperately wanted to see, to keep safe and be kept, to lovingly embrace.
The green sentinels thrust out of the soil like a consumation of desire and anguish respectively, of those who went and those who waited, to hover now over the social, sporting and business life of Lara. A caring silent declaration of love, sacrifice, death and in the end vigorous green life. In my reverie the thought strikes home that this obscure little town would always know itself ... quietly and seriously .... probably in a subliminal way, because of these very trees and memorial ..... just as another Avenue of Honour underpinned my own childhood/country town 3 hours away. I was glad I walked that 10 km.
May they rest in peace.