Mullum to Melbourne Orange Pill - Australian Hitchhiking Loop (Part 1)

Mandie dropped me off on the freeway outside of Mullumbimby, I was pointing south to begin my massive looping tour of Australia, Melbourne being the first stop in mind, some 1,600 kilometers away. There was a light rain that picked up as I walked, but soon a young red haired girl picked me up. She only took me a few exits down, I continued in the misty rain walking until a guy picked me up heading to Port Macquarie, a good ways down the road.

The ride was a bit dull at first, but we trucked on, stopping once for breakfast at a fast food spot. As we continued he put on an audio book novelizing the coming Apocalypse as seen by some form of Christianity, eventually dropping me off down the road.

I entertained a loosely sane person intrigued that I was a "yankee", then headed to the motorway again where a surfer picked me up, also a soil doctor as of late. He gave me a short ride down the road telling me things like 80% of Australians live within a half hour of the ocean.

My next ride was a busy seeming man freshly back from Sri Lanka who also played some audio, a talk from a guy named Ram Dass about spirituality and the like. We stopped in a small town where he said he would pause for a while and maybe grab a bite or a drink until he decided what to do for the night. I opted to walk over the bridge and try to catch another ride before the sun finished dipping below the horizon, he told me he'd pick me up again if he decided to leave and I was still around.

I got picked up instead by a guy going to Sydney who talked a lot about finance and problems with this around the world, he was originally from Detroit and had been living in Australia for a while now. It was a good long ride and he dropped me off in the middle of the city sometime after dark near a train station.

I hopped a train going all the way down the line south of Sydney to get out of the nearly un-hitchable city blocks, assuming there would be no ticket check at the bottom of the line I managed to get the $2 ticket instead of a more costly one. This worked out well, an hour or more later I was south of the city and walking down a dark road towards the motorway again.

Once at the motorway I found a place to tuck away up on an embankment for the night, crawling into my sleeping bag and getting a bit of shut eye.

Packed up and back on the road in the morning, I walked along until a woman picked me up going for a good distance. We had an easy going conversation with long pauses in between thoughts that still flowed on a steady rhythm. She told me a story of once hitting a kangaroo, she had her friend get out of the car to make sure it was dead, it wasn't, it leaned back on it's tail and kicked her in the stomach tearing her open a bit with sharp claws before bounding away. Had it not been winter which called for thicker layers of clothes, they reckon she would have been killed.

We stopped at a roadhouse where the woman bought us both an enormous breakfast, brekky as they say, and I was happy to fill up before she took me a bit further and dropped me off to wait for the next ride. That came as a short ride from a small truck and stories of some guy locked up for doing in hitchhikers, then next a longer ride from an adventurous older guy with stories of flying around Tasmania having good times.

I walked along a busy motorway where he dropped me off, getting closer to sunset. A local guy gave me a ride further out of town where I walked some more, getting a short 3 minute ride from a confused guy who didn't know the roads too well. Getting on sunset I was picked up by a big bearded man who took me another 10 or 20 kilometers, then I started walking once again watching as the sunset came to an end and darkness began to take over.

I'd spotted a place just ahead in the woods that looked out of the way, a good place to camp and started to veer for it. Just then a car came slowing into the shoulder ahead, another ride, I went for it. The guy driving was on the phone, motioning me to chuck my bag in the backseat and hop it, I did. For a five minutes or more we cruised down the road while he finished up his conversation, some sort of business call.

He finally hung up, "ah, that was weird, sorry about that", he laughed, introducing himself as Keith. I told him I was heading for Melbourne, he lived in a town a few hours north where he was heading at the moment. After some talking and swapping of travel stories he offered to let me stay at his place, saying his wife would probably have no problem and he could drop me back on the road come morning.

We got to his house and I was surprised how easy going his wife was about it all. She was just finishing dinner and upon my coming in and Keith's explanation she was setting the table for the three of us almost as if I was an expected guest. Keith handed me a beer and we feasted on ham telling stories, one toddler in a highchair next to me a young baby rocking back and forth in his seat on the floor.

It was a peaceful night, I got a shower in that watched some television with the two of them after they put the kids to bed, then made my way to the loft room above where a mattress and blankets were setup.

In the morning Keith showed me the backyard where they kept chickens, then we had some toast quickly before heading out the door, back towards the motorway where he dropped me off.

A covered pickup truck towing a caravan rolled into the shoulder stopping for me, a guy looking in his late 30's behind the wheel. He told me he was on his way to Melbourne, but needed to make a stop in town that could take a little while. I hopped in saying I was just trying to get there at some point in the day and other than that, no real hurry.

Gary was the guys name, he'd been living out of his car and caravan cruising around Australia, mostly the east coast it seemed. He mentioned some sort of inheritance he'd be receiving eventually for whatever reason, in the meantime he was living on some sort of disability money.

We stopped in a park where he used the public shower, I stayed in the caravan watching a movie with a beer he pulled from the fridge and had a smoke from the crumbly end of his bag of pot. Flipping through his DVDs I'd noticed some pornos and as we began talking some more I could tell he was a pretty sexually driven dude, making a point of mentioning his bisexuality. Seeing that he was subtly angling and asking if I had any interest, I made clear that I didn't and all seemed good.

We drove to a different spot where he got out to take care of his business in town, buying weed as I found out. I relaxed with another beer in the caravan drawing pictures until he came back, unsuccessful. He talked to one other person elsewhere, then we were back on the road.

We cruised along, eventually stopping at a grocery store where he got the supplies to make hamburgers and a box of wine. I filled up an empty beer bottle with wine and we kept down the road, he said he'd wait until we we were stopped to have any drink himself. As we went along we had good conversation about travel and swapped stories about pot in California versus Australia. He said he made the trip down south to stock up from time to time, also growing some in different places once in a while. He said when he didn't have pot he had some pills he would take to relax him.

He also used to be a porn star of sorts, appearing in movies and on covers of magazines. He told me that he'd gone away for a while and someone with his same name died in the meantime. Loads of his friends and people in the industry assumed it was him, all turning up to the funeral and with much fanfare. No one put it together, family or otherwise, all sharing stories and carrying on as if they were talking about the same person. Years later he turned up and surprised many of them still being alive, but they'd written him off already and things were never really the same.

We rolled into a big field in a big park, cruising around until we found a good spot to stop and have dinner. It seemed he was somewhat keen to take the trip slow and perhaps wait overnight until going to Melbourne. I was looking to get there that night though, knowing that a couchsurfing host was expecting me and having no way to contact them otherwise. I told him I could catch another ride if need be, but he said it was no bother and we'd just push through after dinner.

He got to cooking up the burgers and I relaxed on the couch. He passed me a small orange pill, the one he'd mentioned earlier, I swallowed it down with a swig of wine, then he gave me another when the burgers were about ready. The burger had beetroot and lettuce and the like on it, really good. I remember starting to eat it, but my memory goes black somewhere before finishing it.

The next thing I remember was hours later, coming to in the caravan from a sleep. I popped up quickly, confused and sensing it was late, somewhere passed midnight. All at once I was on my feet, looking for my bag and trying to make sense of what had happened, assuming I'd been drugged and wanting nothing more then to get out.

Gary woke up across the caravan angry, "What are you doing?".

"What the hell happened?", I snapped, getting my shoes on and looking for my phone, "I was supposed to get to Melbourne. What was that orange pill?", I looked at him and scanned the room for my phone and racking my brain for anything else that I may have had loose not in my backpack, on edge and wanting to get out of there.

"Why are you tearing around?", he shouted at me, groggy from just waking up, "You wake up in the middle of the night, the caravan is trashed", he looked up towards the skylight, I couldn't see what he was looking at particularly.

"You gave me that pill and I don't remember a damn thing, I don't know what's been going on. Where's my phone?", he grabbed it from a counter or somewhere and handed it over. The bottom of my pants were soaking, an extra layer of confusion.

"My caravan's busted, you're tearing around in the middle of the night, this is ridiculous", he said, I was just about out the door.

"I gotta get to Melbourne, I wouldn't have stayed, I don't know what you're talking about, busted caravan, what was that pill?"

"I took the same pill, it's fine. You made me go to McDonalds and the skylight busted, you were pretty far out there", he told me and we were silent for a second. "Nothing happened", he said, answering the unspoken question of 'did I just get taken advantage of, you sexual deviant?'

"I gotta go, thanks for the lift and all, I gotta figure this out, I gotta get to Melbourne", with that I was out the door and walking down a dark unknown road in an unknown direction in a misty rain fall. A car approached, I stuck out my thumb, they drove by. I tried to wrap my head around the whole thing, I hadn't drank enough to blackout, yet there was a huge gap in the night. It had to be the pill of course, and my initial thought when I came to was I'd been drugged for sexual pleasure by some maniac. That didn't add up either, he seemed genuine, the McDonalds story made sense also only in that I could see myself having asked to go there in order to get on the internet to alert my couchsurfing host that I wouldn't be there that night.

Perhaps the pill was something legitimate, not a deliberate knockout drug, but it just didn't click with me and spaced me out into some wild night that had somehow busted his caravan and soaked only a portion of my pants, perhaps a big puddle was involved at some point.

Just as I was spinning through these thoughts, Gary appeared across the street in the parking lot pulling over and getting out coming towards me through the rain. "Just come to sleep, mate, it's rainy and late".

It was rainy, dark, late and I also had no clue where I was. If I'd even managed to figure that out it would be a trip to get to Melbourne and worthless to show up at an odd hour. Maybe Gary was a lunatic, maybe I was, maybe neither, but I was dead tired, exhausted from everything - the unknown night, the waking confusion and the marching down the unknown street - I went into the caravan and passed out on the couch, waking up again hours later.

We drove towards Melbourne in daylight, the nights going ons never became fully clear and I stopped caring, still hazy with a hungover feeling. We got to a train station on the outskirts of the city, Gary used his unknown disability to get a discount, giving me a ticket and a five dollar note, along with his phone number saying to give him a ring when I was going to head towards Adelaide, my next destination.

We parted ways there and I headed into the city center, feeling more peaceful moving on. I went to the library downtown and sat in front of my computer nodding out for an hour or more, sending a message to the couchsurfing host saying I'd head their way and hoped they hadn't missed me the night before.

Still groggy and tired, I wandered the streets of Melbourne, enjoying the sound of musicians busking and the sight of people darting around in all directions in the busy streets. Eventually, after much walking and relaxing breaks in several parks, I marched over the bridge into Footscray and to the house of my couchsurfing host, Christian.

He was a tech geek, computer nerd programmer, my kinda person. We talked for a while, then I headed to the grocery store, returning with pasta and 'kanga bangas', kangaroo sausage. I cooked up a much needed meal and chowed down. Afterwards we went to a sheesha spot, his usual hangout, smoking and drinking cappuccinos for more than an hour, meeting one of his friends as well. The place was full of various Africans, typical of the surrounding neighborhoods, a group played cards at a table loudly behind us.

The next day was easy going, getting laundry done and going out for cappuccinos again at a sidewalk cafe for a good while, back home relaxing talking tech, then later that night I went back to the sheesha place where Christian was now working, his first shift. I talked with his friend and smoked a good while sipping more cappuccino.

Simple as that and I was ready to get on the move again. The next morning I'd be thumbing on the road again, pushing on along the south coast, the next leg in my adventure to loop around half the giant country in order to be back in Mandie's neck of the woods in time for GLO dance.