Dogs on the road – part VII

The gang conquers Victoria! Enjoy Dogs on the road – part VII.

…well, Melbourne was a treat…

The gorgeous Artback NT mob had thoughtfully programmed a few rest days here which book-ended my birthday, so we all took in family, friends, fine food and sleeeeeeeep. I got to hook up with some lovely mates from days of yore – squeezing in two birthday dinners and two birthday lunches – and feeling thoroughly spoilt indeed [as well as feeling a couple of dress sizes larger. But hey; that’s what birthdays are for.] It was gorgeous to catch up with so many friends, and when the Highway team re-grouped to shift across to our Williamstown accommodation on the Thursday evening things continued to improve; Damien and Aimee surprising me with two very special bottles of bubbly [one from Aimee and one from Artback NT!] and Damo’s dual gifts of two silver champagne goblets engraved with ‘Highway of Lost Hearts National Tour – 2014′, in a velvet case n’ all, plus an original retro Scrabble game he picked up in Geelong. The two sweeties then also gave me the best room in the house for the next three days – directly on the water, overlooking Hobson’s Bay and taking in views of Melbourne across the bay, sailboats, the rustic old wooden pier and – in the morning – black swans gliding past. Spoilt, or what? It was GORGEOUS, all of it and I felt [and remain feeling] very very happy and lucky!

Family dinner

Family dinner with Mary Anne’s nieces, Katie and Sarah-Anne

The view

The view from our accommodation in Williamstown

The Williamstown show was a delight – in a gorgeous theatre with a pressed metal ceiling and a really attuned audience, many of them friends and family of all three of us – so mums, dads, siblings and friends from old drama school days finally got to see the show, which they both laughed and cried in and then stayed for a good hour afterwards: chatting, buying scripts, reconnecting and talking about the show. It was utterly awesome, and we finally staggered back to our apartment to watch some of Damo’s ‘True Detective‘ series, unwinding into the wee hours.

Williamstown dog

Dogs of Williamstown

From Williamstown to Albury for a night at the Hothouse ‘Month in the Country’ cottage – a delightful old homestead a few k’s outside Albury with cows and rabbits and ducks and galahs and lots of paddocks surrounding the home. There are several rooms and a massive living area where artists stay for residencies, or just when passing through, as we were. Aimee took off to see family while Damo and I sat in the declining sun, indulging in aperitifs and receiving fleeting visits from Kookaburras and bunny rabbits, all very cute. Aimee returned to a toasty warm house and roast chook, followed by… yes; chocolate and more True Detective. We’re all hooked.

Monday morning – what could we do but check out the Albury op-shops where I scored an old hand-held ice crushing machine and a small travel sized version of Squatter from days of yore, complete with those tiny little sheeps’ heads and original old money. Lovin’ these smaller towns and their op-shop gold.

…and thence to Canberra for five shows in a row at The Street Theatre, and as we approach the ACT the clouds gather, the temperature plummets and those stories of minus 5 degree Canberra nights ring true. Bring on the duck down coats, I say… And – as it turns out – the local Lemongrass Thai, where we sample pork belly with chilli jam and duck with tamarind sauce, more op shops, and more retro Tupperware purchases in between shows, workshops and the odd session on the gym exercise bike to work off the pork belly.

Canberra's cherry blossoms

Canberra’s cherry blossoms

Canberra is also where we say goodbye to Damien, as he heads off to Singapore to be best man at a wedding. Brad Fawcett will replace him for the last three weeks – and even as I write this I can’t believe the term ‘last three weeks’. This has all gone way too quickly, and every day has been a joy. We will be incredibly sorry to leave Damo, he’s been totally awesome. But we will be happy to welcome Brad, and induct him gently into the op-shopping, True Detective, chocolate-eating and tail-wagging ways of this most amazing road journey.

Shady characters

Farewell Damo!

…change, huh? It’s an odd little beast…