Beyond to Belmont

As we were going to bed last night we received notification that the Hume Highway was closed between Coolac and Tumbarumba. We were cut off. The only traffic were fire engines and police, red and white lights flashing through the clouds of dust and smoke swept up by the gusty winds.

Needless to say, it was difficult to sleep. Our bags were packed in the car should we need to evacuate, but how would we know?

I check the emergency app. A couple of hours later the highway is open again and the fire warning reduced. I begin drifting off to sleep. But Kita stirs and decides he is thirsty. Click, click, click as he licks at his bowl. Then back around the room. Then click, click, click again.

Does he want to go out to do a pee now? I attach his leash and walk him out into the dark night air. It smells of rain. Kita sniffs and sniffs, but it is a long while before he releases. I drag him back.

Some sleep again. I’m dreaming, when Alex awakes for his trip to the bathroom. Now Kita is awake again. Slurp, click, slurp. Not again! I am on edge, not wanting him to mess the motel room.

I drift off, get disturbed, drift off again. It’s a bit after 5.30 when B turns on the light for Alex and I am woken up again. Oh no, now I have to take Kita out again. I am so tired!

Kita takes his sweet time and I am losing patience. As I drag him inside again I forget to remove the key and somehow it gets stuck between in the screen door. We are locked in.

It’s an hour before we can call the motel management to get us out. B is in a hurry to leave. I fight with Kita to put his harness on to enable us to buckle him into the car. He growls and snaps at me and I lose my temper. There is no way I should be driving down to Geelong today.

B takes the steering wheel. He fill up with petrol and give the windows a wipe down. The car is filthy with rain smeared dust. Breakfast is simply some flavoured milk.

The road is quiet and stays that way all the way to the border. Alex and Kita sleep in the back.

We pass through Albury and into Victoria, but soon Alex needs to use the facilities and it’s about time that Kita did too. We stop at the Chiltern rest area, which has clean facilities and a covered parking area. There is also a walk up the hill into the National Park.

Kita frustratingly takes his time to do a pee.

Soon enough again we are getting hungry. First we stop at a McDonald’s, but there are limited places to eat and look after a dog, so we drive off. I didn’t feel like a burger anyway.

I suggest a bakery. A bit further down the road is Glenrowan, the location of Ned Kelly’s final battle. We’ve been here before.

The pastie is pretty ordinary, but their sweet selection looks so good! I can’t go past that Victorian speciality, the jelly slice. A thin layer of raspberry jelly over lemon cheesecake and a biscuit base.

From there we continue straight on to a destination of Belmont in Victoria’s second largest city of Geelong, past the largest city, Melbourne. The motorways are wide and busy, but we make good time, arriving earlier than predicted.

The house we are renting is clean and well equipped. There’s a big garden out the back for Kita, though the soil is cracked with the dry. We head over to the Waurn Ponds shopping centre to pick up ingredients for dinner and additional bedding linen for Alex. We thought he’d be in a single bed, not a queen to himself.

Exhausted, we just have a dinner in, watch Australia play in the ATP Cup tennis. I suspect that there’s a Big Bash cricket match in Geelong tonight too, judging from the crowds outside the local stadium.

It’s a relief to have escaped the fires and the smoke for now, though we must return and there’s the lingering feeling that nowhere is really safe now.