Reclaiming Thunder Road

In January 2020, I embarked on a roadtrip with 3 friends to drive from the inner west of Sydney down to Melbourne just before I started my Tafe course.

The purpose of the trip was to travel down to watch football (soccer), with us following our team Sydney FC away to Melbourne for the annual Australia Day-ish Big Blue. Some may say we were slightly nuts for not just catching a flight down, but to those I say where’s your sense of adventure?

The journey is just as good as the location, especially when you’re four young men faced with a surprising amount of freedom to be yourself and travel. A roadtrip is a really liberating experience. A roughly 10 hour trip from Sydney to Mornington was of course filled with banter, football talk, planning and music. There was a lot of different music played – Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia by The Dandy Warhols, and probably my stand-out memory – listening to Bruce Springsteen’s seminal album Born To Run.

The way music shapes how you see things around you is truly amazing. Bruce Springsteen’s grand ballads were the soundtrack to that trip to Victoria for me. The key moment I remember is when we were 3-4 hours away from Mount Martha where we would be staying. We were going through a classic grey day but driving on a mostly empty country roads through the grass and green of rural Victoria. Out the windows was some evocative imagery of deserted old country clubs, overgrown tennis courts, old towns, and the occasional kangaroo and lake. Past Wangaratta, Lima, Euroa, Seymour, and many more – the track playing as we passed through at that point was Born To Run. The sweeping scale of the song just fit the scene so well.

Mount Martha.

The trip wasn’t just about going to the football with my mates and getting pissed either – it was partly about reclaiming memories of Mornington Peninsula. When my best mate told me we would be staying with his grandparents in Mount Martha on the peninsula I was sort of dumbstruck for a moment. My lasting memories of that area were mostly traumatic, relating to the deaths of my grandparents who lived there. The otherwise beautiful area of the peninsula became shadowed for me in my grieving and loss. All those family trips to see them, for a while after my granddad’s death in particular just felt like revisiting the hospice he passed in.

Back in those days, fittingly it was Bruce Springsteen we’d often play in our family car journey to Victoria to see my grandparents. This trip ended up me reclaiming music and memories from the clutches of despair and trauma.

The January trip was just brilliant. I remember even when we weren’t doing “fun” stuff like when we were on the (ridiculously long) train trip from Mornington into Melbourne CBD just remarking to my then-girlfriend how much I was just enjoying the whole experience. I felt really comfortable with myself and where I was. There isn’t much out there as enjoyable as travel for me.

We went around to a pub one night, all had way too much to drink, and the company was just something I thoroughly enjoyed. We met another mate of ours while we were there and it reminded me I’d been really starved of just nights out and trips with mates due to health issues and my own introverted self. I really came out of my shell I feel.

Since then, I’ve been speaking to the same people really consistently and seeing them really consistently. Before quarantine we’d do a weekly drinks thing at the local dingy bowling club and just banter for hours until closing time. We’re also talking already about another trip down next year, and or that I am unbelievably keen.

There’s something really beautiful to Bruce Springsteen’s music being so prevalent in my good and bad memories of road-trips and Mornington as a whole. These days the good thoroughly outweighs the negative. Thunder Road comes on when I have Spotify on shuffle and I just feel at ease with everything, transported back to different time, with a better perception of myself.

Jamie Dunkin
Aspiring media hack and administrator of All Sides Of The Harbour.

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