It was a cold, wet return to Australia, which reflected my mood. I was dreaming of northern Australia’s winter warmth.
I spent the first week after Granny’s funeral staying at my brother and sister-in-law’s new house in Shepparton, Victoria.
Leaving Shep 20 years ago to live in Queensland was a decision I’ve never regretted and that decision was reaffirmed after just a couple of days back on my old stomping ground.
Needing a few days to recover from jet lag and a big night on the Jacks with my brothers and sisters, it was about the third day when I ventured out into the giant abyss to discover that the city had travelled back in time. Most of the old buildings that gave Shepparton some character were gone, and the newer buildings that lined the main street looked tired and crap. The small amount of people I encountered seemed off with the fairies, talking to themselves or their imaginary friends.
The mall in the middle of town was almost deserted, with 17 people the maximum I encountered at any one time during my several trips there.
When pressed by the only happy staff I met (Flight Centre) on how to improve Shep, they seemed a little taken aback when I told them it needed bulldozing into the Goulbourn River and returning to grazing land.
The only thing that draws me back is my family and good friends from the early days here. I think driving six-inch nails into my eyes with a sponge hammer would rate higher on my bucket list than visiting Shepparton.
As with most trips here my eagerness to get away after a few days meant I didn’t get to visit some aunties and uncles and cousins so I must apologise for this. But with airline tickets in my hand and a car waiting to take me off to Melbourne, I was off at the speed of a thousand camels.
My last four days in Victoria consisted of sitting inside, out of the wind and rain but also a very nice evening at my cousin’s place, eating and drinking the night away. Thank you Kerrie and Bob.
The two-hour flight from Melbourne to Brisbane couldn’t have made me happier. After landing and getting my bags I sat outside the terminal in the 25 plus Celsius degree day and lapped up every ray of sun I could.
I spent a few days in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast to sort out paperwork that accumulated while the Journo and I were in Cambodia, and it wasn’t long enough.
The weather was great – almost cloudless skies and beautiful sunny days without much wind, which left me wanting another week there to slow down and catch up with friends.
But alas, my sister’s 50th birthday was fast approaching and I only had one day to get to Darwin in the Northern Territory.
I think the time in Queensland was a nice pre-tune to the weather the NT is famous for. The people in this part of Australia are, I think, the most laid-back you will ever meet. Most seem happy to say hallo when walking in town, and more so out in the sticks.
We’re staying at a place called Humpty Doo, around thirty kilometres from Darwin, on the way to Kakadu National Park. The Humpty Doo Hotel is known for being a place where drinking and playing hard is a way of life, so I decided to shed my tea-totaller ways to embrace this culture (only temporarily) to become less conspicuous.
Out this way, outdoor living seems to be the go and my sister and her hubby’s place is a reflection on the above-mentioned. I love the fact the swimming pool is in use as I write and it’s almost winter in the southern states.
There’s a barbecue happening nearly every second night and barely a sign of clouds during the day, although we have had an overnight shower twice.
Some of the places we’ve been have just had large sheds, open on one side, with an area for cooking and another for sleeping. I’m not sure this would suit the Journo but I’m up for it.
After 12 months in Cambodia and a couple of illnesses I had lost around six to eight kilograms but after about a week in Humpty Doo, eating leftovers from my sister’s party, I’ve managed to regain some of that. Not that it makes the Journo happy but that’s okay, it’s not all about her so anything that makes me happy should also make her happy.
Just got to say a couple of thank yous to the Journo’s cousin Nina and her husband Barry for letting me stay at their place in Brisvegas.
And another thank you to Leigh and Sharon on the Sunny Coast for the hospitality as well. A couple of days at their place while I sorted out insurance was just the tonic I needed.
All I need to do now is get my shoulder working again properly (maybe an operation – but I hope not) and get back into some hunting and fishing and a whole lot of sight-seeing in the very near future – and perhaps a beer or two. And I’ll definitely make the most of the swimming pool and Darwin’s winter warmth.