Woke early AGAIN. Watched those spiders that hang upside-down on the ceiling, which you get in England, but not where I live. 'Mares' had already gone to work when I surfaced and the other two were packing for a Womad Festival in Adelaide. Mick from York gave me an aloe vera leaf, the inside jelly of which is good for soothing sunburn. Decided not to go to Bright (no host to stay with and out of my way). Phoned my Chiltern host, a friend of Peter in Melbourne, to enquire if it was alright to come a day early, and she said she was expecting me today anyway. So, a 39 mile ride via Eldorado and Beechworth. The former is named after the goldrush of the 1850s/60s. Apparently someone found a nugget in the area worth $120,000 last month. At the general store I sampled a tub of licorice ice cream and tried not to be put off by its mottled grey hue. I don't imagine there'll be a licorice ice cream rush any time soon... Advised by my Wangaratta hosts, from here I took a road to Beechworth. They hadn't told me it would soon fizzle into a dirt track, billowing clouds of dust when a vehicle passed. Neither had they told I'd have to wade through a stream, one foot deep, with a strong current. I was worried that I was going the wrong way, but my trusty compass informed me that no, I was heading east. The sun still rises in the east here obviously and sets in the west, yet of course it traverses the northern sky, rather than our southern sky. The wind is usually from the south-west, just like ours too.
Beechworth was full of old-timers on coach tours, as it's a touristy town. That probably explains why a pint of milk costs $2.50 here. A lot of what I've seen so far reminds me of the US, especially the Mid-West. I had to go into a bloody cafe and pay bloody top dollar just to utilise their wi-fi to update this bloody blog and I hope you bloody appreciate it. I spent $7.50 on coffee and cake, then a further $3.50 when the time ran out. When it elapsed a second time I gave up. I'm a slow thinker and a slow typist. On to Chiltern, where Audra had said she would leave the door open and dinner in the oven, as she had to go out. I went to her house and knocked on the door just to make sure she wasn't in and she wasn't. The door was open and I went in. When looking at the itinerary to double-check, I realised I was at the right number, but in the wrong street. Tiptoeing out I made my getaway. Audra was just about to leave when I arrived at the correct address and I was given a quick tour. She left me alone with a chicken dinner, her three greyhounds (Miss Lucy, Charlie Girl & Zack) and an occasionally bleeping fire alarm too high up to disable. I tried Lucie's thongs. I will not be wearing them again any time soon, as the bit that goes between the toes digs in. Audra came back at nine and we had a good old chat over fruit cake, freshly ground coffee and a benedictine chaser. I volunteered to climb a ladder and take the battery out of the offending alarm, although sadly I am not equipped with the nouse for such tasks and Audra had to do it.