I walked uphill into downtown Drummoyne.
Unfortunately, it was a more grim version of Gladesville – which did little for my disappointed mood from the Gladesville Bridge.
As well, what felt like a big blister was forming on the upper sole of my right foot.
Finally, as I made it to the top of the hill I saw that another big hill lay ahead.
I kept walking.
10-15 minutes later, as I went down the eastern side of the second hill, I decided to (a) take another break shortly and (b) treat myself. So, I crossed Victoria Road and went to a service station.
Fortunately, they had a deal where you could buy a large Coke-brand drink and a chilled Mars bar for only $5.
Unfortunately, a few minutes later down the road, I saw that instead of grabbing a regular Diet Coke I had mistakenly gotten a Vanilla Diet Coke.
But I decided to grit my teeth and drink it.
I crossed back over Victoria Road and shortly after came to a halt.
Just before another bridge, the Iron Cove Bridge.
There was nowhere to sit, so I leaned against a wall and began eating my Mars bar and drinking my Vanilla Diet Coke.
It was now 5pm, and since the Gladesville Bridge I had only been walking for about 30 minutes – but with what had happened since then, it had felt like I had been walking for much longer.
As I took my break, I regarded the nearby Iron Cove Bridge and thought about the rest of my walk.
Unlike the Gladesville Bridge, the Iron Cove Bridge wasn’t worrying me – it was horizontal and low above the water.
But as for the walk beyond…not only was there the feeling of a blister on my right sole, and the continuing ache in my legs since Gladesville, but there was also the time factor.
From here, I considered that Forest Lodge was perhaps another two or even three hours away.
If so, I wouldn’t complete my planned walk until 7pm-8pm.
By then, I would most likely be ravenously hungry, and even more in pain.
And home would be another 30-45 minutes away from there.
I weighed up all of those factors, and as I prepared to move out again I decided that today I wouldn’t reach Forest Lodge after all.
Instead, I would press on for another hour or so until the light-rail station at Rozelle Bay, from where I could travel right into the CBD to once again enjoy the pleasant post-walk experience I’d discovered after last week’s walk – a margarita pizza and a jug of diet cola at Star Bar.
Just behind me, there was a bus stop around the corner back on Victoria Road – but I decided to walk for one last hour instead, partly because I’m not a huge fan of bus-travel and partly because I wanted to give my walk a pleasant ending.
At 5:15pm, I set off again.
I crossed the Iron Cove Bridge without any issues.
Once again Victoria Road rose upwards in a long slope, this time to downtown Rozelle – which, unfortunately, reminded me very much of downtown Drummoyne.
What was also sad was walking past the derelict site of the original Balmain Leagues Club. For decades, it had been one of Sydney’s most iconic club venues. One night there in 2001, I had participated in an enormous trivia-night event with hundreds of other players. In 2010, the club had closed to make way for a controversial extension of the light-rail that was eventually scrapped.
Today, across Victoria Road, the graffiti-covered hollowed-out remains of the club sat there looking very grim.
I passed through downtown Rozelle and down the hill along the last stretch of Victoria Road that leads to the Anzac Bridge. Years before I had walked along this section of the road several times, and it was still as unlikeable as I remembered it being. It’s not that it’s dangerous for walking, and it’s no more ugly than the rest of Victoria Road since downtown Drummoyne…but to me this last section of the road feels badly-planned and over-contorted, twisting this way and that with an unevenness that I find jarring.
I reached the end of Victoria Road, crossed the busy City West Link road and headed a few hundred metres back along it towards the Rozelle Bay light-rail station.
As I glanced up at the small hilltop where the station is located, I saw nearby what I thought was construction or track-repair equipment nearby. This prompted the worrying thought that perhaps this section of the light-rail was still out as it had been for several weeks earlier in the year…
…but a few minutes later as I drew closer to the station I saw a CBD-bound light-rail service depart, and I relaxed.
I gingerly climbed the steep flights of steps that lead up to the station from Burawan Park, and at 5:53pm I stopped at a seat on the platform, set down my hat and backpack and officially declared my walk over.
About 10 minutes later, the next CBD-bound light-rail service arrived.
Shortly after 6:30pm, I walked into Star Bar to enjoy dinner and relax for the next few hours.
Despite that incident at the Gladesville Bridge and not making it all of the way to Forest Lodge, my third big Sydney walk for 2014 was another success – especially when I later discovered that I had walked about 20 kilometres, my longest distance so far.
When I got home that night I was stunned to see just how big was the blister on my right sole. The next day, after a painful hour or two trying to walk barefoot at home, I carefully drained the blister.
In the days that followed, I wondered – and hoped – that my right foot would recover in time for next weekend.
And if so, where would I walk then?
But that’s a story for another series.
Until next time, stay well and take care 🙂