Crossing the Continent: The Fourth and Final Day

We leave early as we can, cross the final border. Victoria is recognisable. The street signs alter slightly, the road safety messages shift focus from speeding to driving tired. Each state seems to have its own feel and appearance. To me, Victoria seems grayer, more roughly textured than other states. There’s a sharp feel to it, a fundamental, clear cool that never entirely gives way to the heat of summer.

The weather has set in now. There are no patches of rain, there’s just rain. A low fog. Melbourne weather. We drive to get there, counting off the final towns, eyes forward.

The final hundred Ks are like the last hour of a shift in a job you don’t like. The numbers on the distance signs are shaved off in small increments like a watched clock. When we finally reach the city limits, it is rush hour. The traffic moves thick and slow around the ring roads and exits. We are quickly absorbed.

They drop me off just outside the Coburg train station and we say our muted goodbyes, try to stay out of the drizzle. I take my duffle bag and buy a ticket, look at my watch. On the train, water clings to the window like an extra screen and through it I can see all the places I know, remember all the things I did in them. I see my first hipster kid, his skinny jeans, his thick-framed glasses. I keep scanning the crowds for faces I recognise. I recognise the crowds but no individuals. The feeling of Melbourne slowly comes back to me and I try to adjust to it. I could slip right back in here. There would barely be a ripple.

Later, I call a friend in Perth. A tram clatters noisily by and I have to stop speaking for a moment.
“Listen, a tram,” I say to him after it’s gone. “See. I am in Melbourne.”

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