To the collective “???” of nearly everyone I know, I went to Bendigo on Tuesday. I felt like getting out of town, and thought a two-hour train ride each way would actually make me get some reading done. I was correct about the reading, managing to plow through Fowler’s Language in the News. Hurrah
I definitely wore the wrong shoes, though. My flip flops are worn almost completely through, and I regretted my decision to wear them almost immediately. And certainly after starting a 7k walk, which yielded two fun, new calluses on the balls of my feet.
That’s not the terror, though.
I walked up to White Hills Cemetery, which dates from the time of the gold fields (1850s). It’s famous for having one of the oldest Chinese cemeteries in Australia, etc, etc.
Now, I’m confusing because I love cemeteries almost as much as I hate dead bodies. Or, should I say, I love well-kept cemeteries.
The first gravesite I approached had a low structure built on top of it. Sort of a curb built around the grave, filled in with gravel. Except that the gravel looked as though someone had been digging it out - or, more horrifically, pushing it out as they escaped from their tomb.
Unsettled, I moved along, being careful not to stop for too long due to the multitudes of incredibly large and (it being Australia and all) probably poisonous ants. They were using one of the mounded graves in the Chinese section as their hill. It was unpleasant.
I’d say one out of every five graves I passed was in a state of serious, vaguely terrifying disrepair.
And I don’t mean the gravestones were bleached - I’m talking about the ground caving in, spider-filled holes looking directly into graves, mounds that have still not settled despite the 150 years since their digging, twisted wrought iron fencing (undoubtedly wrenched apart by the zombie army my overactive imagination increasingly expected to find behind the next headstone).
The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and I was scared out of my tiny mind. But I kept moving, willing the part of me that is still somewhat afraid of Skeletor to bravery.
And then I heard a man’s voice near me say, ‘Heeeelllloooo.’ I turned around 360 degrees and there was no one in this godforsaken cemetery.
I nearly wet myself.
Turns out, it was a motorcycle revving in the distance. But I spent the 20 seconds before it revved again wheeling like a terrified pony.
I can honestly say it’s probably the most scared I’ve been since I talked my aunt into letting me watch Ghostbusters the first time it was shown on TV, maybe 1987. (She learned her lesson when I woke up crying at 2am and had to be retrieved by my mother.) That, or that time I made Jessica sleep over after I watched The Ring.
I hightailed it to the edges of the cemetery, where I found some rather attractive broken headstones. They were, no doubt, shattered as the zombie army marched on its nightly raid, but they were far less terrifying.
And then I got to walk back to town on my painful, forming calluses. I had a glass of wine at the first pub I found and read some Fowler.
My will to sightsee was a bit shot at that point (and hurty), but I dragged myself around Bendigo’s other tourist attractions - Golden Dragon museum (check), lookout tower in the park (check), corner with the four churches (check), Shamrock Hotel (and another glass of wine, check).
All done in time to make the 6:40 train back to Melbourne. I read more Fowler and tried not to watch a man picking his nose for what seemed an audacious length of time.
All in all - a great trip!
Update: I put my Bendigo pics up on Flickr. Waiting for the new Gallery feature on WP 2.5 before I upload them here.
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