Struan Flat Rd (km2878) – Merriview private hut, Merrivale (km2904)
It was a mixed-bag today, both in terms of the weather and the walking. It started out with spitting rain and a cold wind, but then cleared. It was another cold morning where I started with 3 layers on top and wearing my tights under my skirt. Winter is coming.
We started on a gravel road and were aided by a farmer in an atv…he was eager to give us a ride for 1km, even though we weren’t looking for one. It’s always nice to chat with the local farmers when the opportunity arises. Then there was a fenceline walk through a eucalyptus forest, a farm track, a paddock, a walk up a steep grassy mountain, a forestry road through a pine plantation, a native forest trail, a dirt road through farmland, about 6 kms along a remote gravel road, another forestry road, some more forest trail, and finally 2 kms on a busy paved road. Talk about variety. Along the last forestry road, it began to rain more frequently and I was thankful that the Merriview hut was coming up. I hadn’t planned to stop so early but the weather was not nice. Mostly I didn’t want to deal with setting up my tent in the strong, cold wind.
The hut is a private building situated on a farm. The owners built it just for TA walkers, since there are few accomodation options along this whole stretch. It’s a small hut with only 5 bunks, but has just about everything one could need for only $10 a night. Especially important, they had a few food items for sale. I got some ramen noodles, tuna, chips, and fresh eggs. The biggest selling point for me was that the hut overlooked the field with all their chickens, turkeys, pet lambs, and a horse. The chickens were really keen, running up to fence to see if I had brought something for them. Lucky for them, there was a high fence separating them from me. Otherwise, I would have had lots of pettings. At least the horse came over for a scratch behind the ears. The only way to keep them safe from me is a fence.
Later, the farm lady (so sorry I didn’t get her name) came over to chat. The lambs followed and it was so cute seeing how much they wanted her attention. Pet me!
We talked about all the animals for a while and it was clear that she shared a deep fondness for them. We even had similar stories about a hen turned rooster. In her case, it was a little silkie that she had picked to add some variety to her henhouse and instead it grew up into a rooster. Now she has too many roosters. The little white silkie sure stood out from the crowd, strutting around like he was special. But he was overshadowed by the large, proud black rooster who definitely ruled the roost. At the hut, were Catherine and Justin, a sweet British couple from the UK. I passed them on the paved road just before the hut. There were also Phil, Kate, and Ruslan. Ruslan arrived last, so he stayed on the floor. There was plenty of room. This would end up being my last hut on the trail and it sure was a good one.