“I like this city man. Yeah, it’s overcrowded, there are people everywhere, and some of them are shit… I get it. But… I like the energy. The trick is to tap into it. That’s how you survive here. You gotta harness that energy”.
“Well that’s a bit of a profound thought. I guess it’s no different to the bush, or being remote”.
“Exactly! You just have to learn to use your environment…
Was good to see you man. I can’t believe it’s been this long already! Take care of yourself, and keep loving what you do”
“Likewise. I’m happy to see you happy. Look out for yourself. I’ll see you when I see you”
We hugged like we had at the airport, two and a half years ago when he left Auckland for Sydney. Then he turned on his heel and disappeared into the crowd of people in the Fish Market carpark, dodging delivery trucks being guided by angry men in hi-vis vests, and purposeful pedestrians… until he became one of them.
Yesterday, I was in Canberra, the home of the federal government. I went on guided and unguided tours of Parliament House in the morning. I’d argue it qualifies as a divine experience to visit the physical location where a country’s modus operandi is decided from. Representatives of inhabitants from this immense swathe of land and sea, (more or less) come to agreement in this place, reflect on successes and failures of the past, make sound calls and costly mistakes, but nonetheless work hard to plot the best course for the future.
I’ve come across people that might disagree strongly with that last statement, and I don’t care what political alignments one might hold… but there’s no denying the fact that a seat of power exists, that it is real, that it is inspiring and humbling to be allowed to physically walk through, to appreciate and admire it. To walk in the soul of this country. This act wouldn’t even be imaginable for the majority of history, so I felt privileged being here.
I then spent the rest of the day at the War Memorial, where those sentiments held their momentum. At the museum, each artefact has a story. Each story changed a life. I was there the day before too, arriving only in time for an enthusiastically guided tour, and the closing ceremony.
The researchers here spend their lives poring over minute details, following a diligent scientific method to make sure stories are told without the truth missing. Despite being free, it’s important to donate at such places: that money is an investment. These things matter.
Five hours and almost all exhibits later, I wasn’t absorbing what I was reading anymore. I took to admiring paintings. I was completely “museum’ed out”, and realised I had done what I wanted to do in Canberra. I was mentally enlightened and physically refreshed enough. I donned my gear in the carpark, and jumped on my bike.
Canberra is a wonderfully organised city. Like most planned capitals worldwide, it’s designed by a formidable architect armed with a topographic map. Walter Burley Griffin hadn’t even set foot in the place when he put pen to paper, so sweaty men could put stone and tar to earth as per his vision. A short 3 km ride up Mt Ainsley presents a beautiful vantage point of this vision.
Then I rode on. Sydney bound.
I bumped into a Vietnam vet riding around his area in Goulburn. He was also in the alpine ranges the days before, and we agreed the heat down here was infuriating. The rain commenced an hour later. I hope he was just as relieved by it. It might have been heavy, but he’s been through worse: he was infantry.
Of course there had to be another storm, apparently with hail stones bigger than golf balls, the news said. I didn’t get pelted by them.
About 50 kms out from Sydney, I pulled up next to another KLR rider, and his mate on a V-Strom. The three of us shared an ankle deep puddle on the road.
“Hey nice bike!”
He laughed, “Haha, you too!”
I pointed to the tinsel wrapping his crash bars, “You guys off to a Santa ride or something?”
“Yeah, in Parramatta!”
“Alright, I’m gonna follow you guys then”
“Yeah, too easy!”
His mate and I had a broken conversation about our trips at every traffic light, shouting at each other over our respective engine noises, our ears muffled by plugs.
Those ankle deep puddles kept growing in depth and width. We came around a bend in the outer suburbs and saw an emergency services vehicle, lights flashing, warning of the flooded road ahead.
“RIVER CROSSING!” I yelled, and the 3 of us fanged through it, and another one just like it not long after.
We arrived at the Parramatta Shell station. 400 odd bikes of all shapes and sizes, with riders in Santa outfits. A charity ride. I got a sticker on my bike in exchange for some coins.
See the blazing yule before us
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Strike the harp and join the chorus
Follow me in merry measure
Fa la la la la, la la la la…
And follow the organiser in merry measure we did. For the next 2 hours that night, we decked the halls of Sydney with the sound of two-wheeled horsepower. I giggled like a child being tickled, riding over the Anzac bridge, and under the Harbour Bridge.
Welcome to Sydney, Lincoln!
The hooners came out too. Some fuckwit busted his engine from redlining too much, spilling oil on the roads.
I retired to an atrocious hostel that night, more weary from the ride through the city than to it. And I left the soonest I could this morning.
I’ve been given a tour of Google’s Sydney office today. Hell of an experience if you work there, or know someone who does. I’m still processing the merits of a workplace that offers what it does. I guess there’s a reason for the high retention rate and constant innovation: no one goes home!
I’m back at the Fish Market now, sat on the pavement in the busy carpark, writing this. For some reason I’m finding the impersonal nature of the people here therapeutic. I’m waiting for Ben, who I befriended in Cairns. He’s moved back here. I’m looking forward to this last familiar face in Sydney, before commencing the journey towards Brisbane… where more familiar faces wait.