I type my final note, shut down my laptop and walk to the kitchen. My clothes are hanging, spread out amongst the room on any piece of furniture possible. My colleagues refer to it as my ‘chinese laundry’. I gather up my belongings, change, wave good night and head to the shed. As I turn the key and open the door, I see my bike, glistening in the old, dark space. It’s perfect. It stores my commuter bike safely, away from prying eyes.
I pull it out and jump on board for my short ride home along the stunning Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail. A trail created along the disused rail line that spans forty kilometres in the gorgeous Yarra Valley, roughly sixty kilometres east of Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria.
I roll down the drive-way beyond the Rail Museum and find myself rolling along the gravel trail. Initially my thoughts are of work as I allow myself time to reflect and debrief on my day. Within minutes, my only thoughts are the trees and nature. Peace… I also feel relief, as it is no longer magpie season and ‘George’ as I (not so) fondly call him, is no longer trying to mug me. I’m becoming more and more zen… Finally!
I safely cross the only traffic light of the commute and find myself weaving through paddocks, waving to the horses, marveling at the mountains in the background. I notice I have made good time, the sun is so close to setting. This means I am in for a treat shortly up the trail.
Ready for some adventure?
I meander my way across small wooden bridges, calling ‘on your right’ to the very few pedestrians I see. A small smile and ‘good evening!’ and we continue on our way. I hear the calling of the farmed deer and wonder if they are communicating with the wild deer I so often see along the trail in the dark. Hmmmm, I ponder whether they feel trapped, or whether they enjoy their life in the green pastures. I also see ‘Gary’ the goat and a few alpacas which seem to be the lawn mower of choice in the Yarra Valley.
Soon enough I come to the section that is always rather adventurous. The section where I often find mischievous lambs, sheep and cows who have come to see whether the grass is any greener on the other side! It’s always quite a hoot. I often laugh and have once had a cow run alongside me, almost as if he or she were trying to race me for commuter cup! Unfortunately the cow ran out of steam quite quickly, he needed to work on his endurance more!
See the light!
It is this same section where the trees on either side arch inwards, almost enclosing the trail. In Summer it keeps me cool but in Winter it is so dark and is often where I find the wild deer or the odd wombat. I do not wish to run into either! I never know whether to ride slowly to improve my reaction speed if an animal were to run out here or to ride quickly and get to the other side sooner so I can breathe a sigh of relief. Whichever way, by this point, I am definitely no longer thinking about any stressors at my work. There is no better way to heighten your senses than to ride along a rural rail trail in the dark.
However today is what I know as the golden day. The sun is yet to set but is oh so close. I pass the darker section and round the corner. Ahhh, there it is. The section where I often think ‘the light on the other side of the tunnel’. It is so difficult to explain, it really needs to be seen to be perfectly understood. But you come around the corner and you can see this opening of light and the closer you get, the larger the light is. The paddocks in the field beyond are lit up in the most gorgeous golden colour. This is easily the most beautiful, peaceful and metaphorical part of my commute.
It’s slightly down hill from here as I whizz past more paddocks of sheep, cows and the odd bull. Finally I spot cars and remember that I’m back to civilization. I turn left on the path and make my way back through the estate to my house. The best bit? Often my partner Roey is home before me as he begins work early, and he stands out the front to hug me and asks me how my day was. To that I say ‘it’s even better now’.