As always departing from people that I meet and befriend continues to be difficult. My latest host Carola even prepared me a chunky ham salad sandwich. And Stephen stocked me up with fruit and energy bars. Somehow on the way out of Goulburn I took a wrong turn and didn't discover it until two kilometres later. I was just about to turn around when an English couple called Bob and Roz pulled up. They have been living here for over forty years. He is a retired IT businessman and she a retired nurse. Soon I was sipping sweetened green tea and talking about my walk and the state of the world. Bob is pretty cynical about Mr. Facebook knowing what everyone in the world is doing. I told him that I was more worried about the 'mass surveillance' technology as developed by a UK company and perfected by its Danish offshoot. Neither knows what the other is doing and the end product is sold to oppressive countries to control their people. Why aren't the gay,green,liberal, vegan, open borders amnesty mob championing issues like this, not to mention women's rights or the lack of it around the world.
So it was time to move on again, more sandwiches and fruit were offered for the road but this I refused as I have too much food, certainly a first world problem. Instead I took a bottle of sweet juice for it was a hot day, 31C.
Then by 11:30 am I eventually found my way out of town. Beyond where a part of the highway which merged two busy roads I turned left onto Murray Road. I was planning to walk on a quieter road, towards Toerang. I hadn't gone far when I noticed a closed road sign. What to do? There was a farm, so I went in to ask if it was gated further on down. There was nobody about, so I pulled up an armchair under a shady veranda to a workshop and had my lunch. I received a text about a bushfire in the area. It was from New South Wales Rural Fire Service. What a great way to inform people of the danger. I remembered my comments to Bob earlier on but here was a useful use, for the telecommunications companies know who is in the area from the mobile phone locations. Just as I was going a forklift driver came along and told me that the road was indeed closed due to bushfires close to Merulan where I was headed that night.
So, I walked the 300 metres back onto route M31 and crossed the highway into a strong headwind. I always walk on the right side. towards traffic. West-bound was heavier than Sydney bound. I though that strange as it was the reverse a couple of hours earlier. Then I noticed that the traffic on the left side, Sydney bound had obviously been stopped. What to do, I didn't see any smoke and just kept walking on with the road to myself. Suddenly an escort vehicle with yellow flashing lights led the previously stoop traffic from behind me. It got so intense that eventually it stopped and for a while I was moving faster. People offered me water. I wanted to cross the highway to the right side again but I couldn't as every time I came to a u-turn gap for me to cross with Karma, my cart, the traffic was too busy.
My friend Phil Essam who had been watching developments live on Abc news texted me to say that the situation was unclear. So I just kept walking. I wondered if the cops would pull me off the road. One patrol car passed me in the two metre shoulder but didn't stop. I was more concerned about finding sign markings for my return, and I even wondered if they would be burned out! Well lit up I walked on in the dark for another two hours until almost 8 pm. I had walked 29 kms, excluding the extra four when I got lost. The woman in the Merulan Hungry Jack restaurant where I stopped said the fire was just five minutes away. They even got a standby evacuation notice. I camped outside the restaurant with a hint of rain in the air.