Part 1 Only distant birdcall and the tick-tick of cooling exhaust metal. No other sound. The leaves are still and the air is heavy. Hot enough that I have to take my gear off after a while. I’ve been here for ten minutes and for ten minutes I’ve been straining my ears for the sound of bikes coming up the Bonang but there is nothing. I’m about 60km in – half way more or less, and this really is close to nowhere. The last half an hour have been one of the best of my life. This road is legend with good reason but the rush is ebbing away as the worry starts to rise. The lead group should be here too, this is the obvious regroup point. But they are not. How far ahead have they gone? Where the f*** are the tail enders? ARE there there any tail enders? Or did I miscount and am I sitting here in the middle of the bush for no reason? Eventually it gets too much for me and I gear up and head back the way I came, taking care in case they are flying toward me around the next corner. 20 agonising km back and it’s now decision time. The fuel strategy is at breaking point. I can’t go back any further and still rejoin the group I don’t know who is still out here and they don’t know where I am. Go back and risk losing the group, or head onward and hope they are all there? FFS. I choose the latter. Bad decision as it turns out. After turning north again, it’s not until 110km from Orbost before I find the group waiting by the side of the road at Delegate River. Bad news, there are two missing. This is a f*** up. But at least there is coverage, a cryptic text about a tow truck, but nothing mentioned about an ambulance. A spray is dished out, pebbles kicked, hard words exchanged, some withdrawn… this isn’t Nowhere but you can see it from here. It’s a bit cool on the front veranda of the Delegate Hotel but the crew doesn’t notice it. Too busy listening. “I’m a Sydney girl, basically. We came to take up land a few years ago, ended up working for DSE and living in town. Who’d have thought I’d have ended up here in Buttf**k?” “Nah, It’s not that bad, it’s not Buttf**k, but it’s ….” “…between Buttf**k and Nowhere!”, a half a dozen voices finish the sentence, laughing. She laughs too and says goodnight. The sweeper arrived about a half hour ago, much to everyone’s relief. We didn’t need another injured member of the group, left alone out on the Bonang at night. A jug and a parma eases his nerves, but not our guilt. He had delivered the injured rider to a doctor, then motel, arranged pickup for the remains of the bike, and got in here before the kitchen closed. Damned good effort. We (I) should have been there to help. The plan was there. The execution was a disgrace. Delegate Hotel , in the cold light of day.