Ahhh Omeo… The stuff of BNT dreams. Sure, in its early days it might have had a reputation as one of Australia’s roughest and wildest gold towns. But being sandwiched between two rather long and arduous stretches of the BNT, it sure is a sight for sore eyes.
With its shady, grassy banks on the Livingstone creek and first actual supermarket for miles around, I imagine Omeo would have played a wonderful host to a score of northbound travellers, stumbling in delirious and footsore after slogging it out from Healesville, looking much the worse for wear. Where the novelty of having mobile coverage would compete with the urge to make a beeline for the shower, closely followed by ticking off the ever- satisfying jobs of ordering horse feed, hot chips and beer. For the pleasures of town are all the more sweeter when they have been removed for a while.
Having come from the other direction, we hadn’t had it quite so hard. But I knew what we were going into- the notorious BNT book 12 and not a hint of civilisation for pretty much the rest of the trail. All the more reason to procrastinate and stay a little longer in lovely Omeo.
Sandy and Lou, who ran the caravan park, couldn’t have been more welcoming to us and our equine entourage. We decided to move the bubs up to the rodeo grounds after a few days though, as Fly, decided that the grass in, under, and around everyone’s tent was much yummier than his allocated patch down the back. He has become rather adept at negotiating guy ropes and tent pegs with great agility and has turned into such a smoocher at camp. Even in a big paddock, he will rarely stray far from our tent and his ‘human herd’.
But I have learned that it can be dangerous to have too many rest days in a row while on the trail. A daily shower soon becomes taken for granted rather than a happy novelty, and the idea of going back to juggling tiny blackened pots over a campfire seems ludicrous when a luscious oven is on hand. And somewhere along the line, amongst days of renewed domestic bliss in the camp kitchen, concocting such unBNT- like delights as apple pie, kale pizza, garlic roasted vegetables and spinach and ricotta pie, I think I lost my nerve.
Maybe I just ran out of puff. It tends to happen to me in the final stages of something important and is more than likely a twisted form of self- sabatage. If I ever ran a marathon, I reckon I’d be the one to pull out at the 40km mark, or morbidly stuff up just at the final question in a gruelling job interview. Indeed, in my teaching days, As soon as November rolled around and the finish line ( holidays, in this case! ) came into sight, my energy would flop and I would collapse in a heap of nervous incompetency, utterly unable to finish reports or to channel back the dynamite teacher I was six months earlier.
So I was horrified that this pattern had reared it’s ugly head, this time on the trail. 500km from the end, and I was ready to quit. Now I don’t want to come across as whingy or ungrateful. The trail has completely and utterly been a magical experience, and I am well aware of how blessed I am to have the tools to complete it. Time. Money. Health. A healthy dose of recklessness. Awesomely competent animals. A willing and adventurous child. But it can be a hard life out here, and the longer I stayed in Omeo, the more reasons I came up with to pull the pin. The trails were covered with fallen timber, the weather was getting hot, maybe we should be home for Christmas, Basil’s pack saddle hadn’t been 100 percent lately, swimming lessons were starting soon, and Bruce Springsteen was playing in Perth.
Zaydee was ready to head home too. But as soon as we started looking up numbers for horse transport, both of us knew that it didn’t feel right. We had to finish. So after six lovely but rather angst-ridden days in Omeo, we hit the trail once more- bound either for Healesville, or for doom.