Pemberton is a pleasant mix of timber-town and tourist-town; the walkers and the backpackers mix well with the loggers, and the shift whistle from the sill cutting saw mill adds an authenticity to the town’s logging heritage. Cattle gave way to sheep, and farmland to forest, but the forest was smoking. There was an aerial burn to keep the underbrush low and it gave the forest a eerie feel. In the distance I could hear the snap, crackle and crash of trees felled deep within the forest. Something I did not worry about until later that night, when I found that several people in the caravan park had been held back as a tree had fallen across the road, denting the pavement roughly six inches.
The last 20 km were brutal; the wind was up and the sun strong. I had, for the first time on this trip, felt strong until the last 10 km out of town, and quite literally crawled in, stumbling into the local grocer like a madman where I destroyed two yogurts, a box of crackers, a quart of milk and a box of cookies. I found the caravan park - four km out of town – and was delighted to find that the kitchen had a TV. Even better, the Simpsons were on. Better than that were the cold beers I had while cooking up and watching the Simpsons.
Later that night, Tom and Rich found me and generously invited me to dinner once again. Once more, some good food, good wine and good company. I went to bed at eleven, the latest I have stayed up since landing in Australia.
On a more somber note, I was very sad to hear Heath Ledger died. It turned out a man cooking potatoes in the group kitchen had tutored him as a young boy. Heath was one of those actors of my generation that I was looking forward to watching as we both grew older. Such is life.