Dear Bendigo: Words pack a punch

“Have a Buchan good time!” read the text from our mates, as we headed down, down, down and around, around, around the Great Alpine Road, and one of us relieved himself of his breakfast in the back.

Ahhh, the great Australian summer holiday road trip... it’s not complete without a touch of car sickness. 

Or getting lost.

I’d taken the new gadget with us in case of emergency, then proceeded to drain the iPad battery away on frivolous pastimes... googling the property sales of all the pretty places we passed through. As you do.

We gave up on its built-in GPS after getting a bum steer somewhere between Omeo and Buchan. 

“It’s giving me three options!” I frantically said as we neared a possible turnoff. “I don’t know which one to take!”

“Just pick one,” he said, tensions not exactly frayed, but there were definitely sneaky threads hanging.

And so I did just that. Picked number one of the three options. 

We weren’t deterred when the road turned to dust. 

We weren’t concerned about shooing black angus beasts off the track... it wasn’t until we started opening and closing farm gates that the cow bells started ringing.

I blamed the little lady inside the gadget. And then I turned her off. 

Much better to follow the brown tourist signs than attempt an iPad-induced “short cut” cross country.

Is there any place funnier than Buchan Caves? 

Sure, Queensland may have Burpengary, NSW boasts the lovely Watanobbi and in WA you’ll find Innaloo, but there’s no greater opportunity for innocent gutter talk than on the way to Buchan.

It started when we began passing the signs to amenities like the Buchan shooting range and the Buchan Creek.

“Look at all the Buchan cows!”

“Geez, this is Buchan long road.”

You get the picture. I’m sure everyone does it. I’m sure it’s a lot funnier when you’re there, too.

I can’t say I wasn’t Buchan scared down in those caves, sandwiched underground between stalagmites and stalactites, claustrophobic tendencies rising.

Let’s just say it was a great relief to merge out into the clear blue January afternoon, and I felt as though I’d completed a right of passage for all self-respecting Victorians... I’d finally seen the Buchan Caves. And I’d bought the post card.

But back in the picnic ground, something awful happened.

One of the men who had taken the tour with us exploded. He was yelling at his wife and kids and his words were sledgehammers. 

He was sweating and violent, and it will be my lasting impression of what is supposed to be a peaceful place. People moved away from him, trying to shelter their children from his angry words. 

But there was no escaping them, as loud and gut-wrenching as they were. 

I’ll spare you the spelling, but it was a machine gunning of effing this and effing that.

It was a confronting, frightening display of verbal abuse towards a woman and her children. 

We didn’t make any more Buchan jokes on the way back out.

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