This post describes the second day of my walk on the Great Southern Rail Trail. For Day 1, please click here.
Feb 24, 2019: Foster to Meeniyan via Fish Creek (30.7km)
I checked out of the motel at 8am and was happy to be greeted by the moon and a clear blue sky.
The cool morning breeze made the walk so much pleasant. With triple the distance to cover, I had a big day ahead and my plan was to reach Fish Creek before noon. I passed by a few cyclists and walkers along the way but it was fair to say, I saw more farm animals and wildlife than humans on the trail.
Remnants of the old railway track
Grey butcherbird (I think)
Here is an interesting fact about blue wrens. The males change their colour from brown to blue during breeding seasons. Whenever they appeared on the trail, there will be a group of similar looking brown birds nearby. These are the females, non-breeding males and young wrens. But with more than one fairy-wren species, it can be a challenge to identify which fairy-wren it is.
These look like crimson berries but I’m not sure.
I arrived Fish Creek slightly before 11am and stopped by to explore the town. The town took its name for the abundant black fish and mountain trout found locally. Today Fish Creek boasts a strong arts community and is home to boutique cafes, shops and galleries.
There is a gallery/bookshop dedicated to the works of Alison Lester who is an award-winning author of children’s books such as Noni the Pony. She was born not far away from Fish Creek, some of the locations in the region became the inspiration for her books.
A card designed by local artist, Janie Frith and a matching colour feather I found on the trail.
I resumed my walk on the trail around noon, by which time it was warm like the day before. The flying insects seemed particularly active this time of day. From Fish Creek, I had another 18.3km to go before I reached Meeniyan. I didn’t take many photos for the rest of this section as I kept my head low to keep cool. It was a hot day and the trail was mostly exposed, my legs were also getting tired. I kept a look out for signs that would indicate how far I’ve walked and how much further there was to go but they were sparse (this stretch being the longest section of the rail trail). This would have been a great opportunity for self-reflection, think about what I’m going to do and how do I pull myself out of the state of cognitive dissonance. What insight can I draw from this place that I love and does it have an answer for me. But there were bigger questions in my mind. All I could think of was the selection of cold drinks that awaits me in the supermarket’s fridge – should I go for the soda or juice, lemonade or cola? How much further was there to go? Can I reach there in an hour? So much for reflective thinking! As I lifted my foot, something caught my attention.
A cylindrical body with scaly skin, a pair of eyes, the head of a reptile, and my foot was about to land on it, I instinctively leapt forward to avoid it. Whoa, what is it… a snake?!! It happened all too quickly, I didn’t get a closer look. I turned back and saw that it was short, more like a lizard – how long does a snake have to be in order to be called a snake? Is there a Guinness World Record for the shortest snake?
Upon closer look, I saw the short legs, confirming it was a lizard. Later, when I showed the picture to a local, I was told that it’s a blue tongue lizard. I heard they will stick out their blue tongues when threatened. The one I saw was motionless so I guessed it didn’t see me as a threat. Apparently, they are not very agile and slow moving creatures. But what if it was a snake? Probably not a wise thing to leap. I read there are snakes on the trail especially in the summer months. I kept off the grass after the incident and for a while, my thoughts were of snakes that might be lurking in the grass but it didn’t take long for my thoughts to wander back to the ice cold drinks in the store.
Eventually, I reached Meeniyan around 3:30pm, after more than 7 hours of continuous walking. There used to be an oak tree behind the signage but it split apart recently and was removed. Here is a before and after image.
Meeniyan is aboriginal for moon behind the trees over the water. According to a local brochure printed in 1988, this likely stems from the flood plains of the nearby Tarwin river to the town’s west where the aboriginals probably camped and fished. Meeniyan was a thriving township with general stores, butchers, baker, blacksmiths and saddlers.
Historic images of Meeniyan (from http://www.meeniyan.org.au/)
“Today, Meeniyan is a buzzing country town bursting with community pride and family-friendly spaces. Take your time exploring the main street with its range of unique shops, homely cafes and restaurants, and wander through the gallery; boasting the talents of artists near and far.”
It seemed every town is home to unique cafes, shops and galleries. I thought it was a shame that I didn’t spend enough time to soak in the local atmosphere and dine in their cafes. That sounded like a great plan for the next day, especially after a long day of walk. As I sat down at a bench outside the local grocer, gulping down a cold bottle of cream soda, I tried to convince myself that I should take it easy the next day, take time to explore the unique shops and homely cafes and wander through the gallery. Today’s experience has already proven that I can’t think well under the sun but if I sat down in a corner of a country café, sipped a cup of freshly brewed coffee or tea, I might actually be able to get my thinking straight. I saw a neat homely looking café but it was already closed, it looked like a great place for reflective thinking and I thought that’s probably what I should do the next day. Maybe. We’ll see.
At the motel, I met one of the guests staying there. He is a retiree travelling with his wife. The akubra hat he was wearing, and his belt and pants were all made by Australian brand, R.M. Williams, which he was very proud of, he would have made a great ambassador to the company. As we were chatting, he suddenly apologised for forgetting to take off his sunglasses because a gentleman will always take his sunglasses off when talking to a lady so that she can see where his eyes were looking, and a gentleman should always walk on the outside of the pavement to protect the lady from splashing water. A very kind and friendly gentleman! I also said hi to the motel’s adorable rescued cats.
End of Day 2. Thanks for reading.
Please click here for Day 3.