Settling in


So many things have happened on the journey from here to now.It all began with the car journey from Tully to Brisbane, and our bird keeping us on our toes on the way down. We stopped into see Brad and his wife Jess as well as Dan on the way down.

1601325_10202260547568020_2084079989_nWe discovered which were the most boring pieces of road, and the most exciting. Brad, Dan I worked with on ABC open during the 500 words project, and had never met in person before.

“Met Daniel Battley AbcOpen in person with his two gorgeous sons. Awesome.  We went via an interesting back road into Bundaberg with navigator Sandon, like a rollercoaster ride, stomach survived just, bird doing well on our travels, and keeping us all entertained, classic photos of this later though, lots of Simon and Garfunkel in the car, more adventures tomorrow and then into Brisbane.”



Then there was the month we spent living in West End, house sitting for friends.  I loved the sunrise from their house.11485_10202284003434402_907842044_nWe went to a street neighbourhood gathering in their area.  It was awesome and my son jammed with some musos.  They are setting up a garden and doing lots of projects like clean up Australia day etc.

1623687_10202302670941078_523970318_nWe caught up with our friend Temily who lived around the corner who we hadn’t seen for over 10 years.  She is an artist and lived in a very interesting share house, full of energy, light and colour.

1558374_10202354760803292_2035081069_nWe visited the museum and South Bank.  The children were much taken with a Hobbit house featured in an exhibition of collections.  We went to the cricket as well, which was brilliant as it looked like Australia were losing, but then a miracle, they won and we were there.

1010579_10202260631130109_1452827514_nWe had lots of adventures house hunting and I made the following discoveries about Brisbane.

”Brisbane discoveries, looking for houses requires military operation precision, and a swot team to help you out, busking licenses for South Bank require auditions in November and only happen but once a year, some suburbs people appear friendlier than others, Aldis are cool, self serve zapping in shops requires practice …”

“More things learnt about Brisbane, videos can be found in vending machines, laundromats are plentiful, and have wifi and cool websites, birds interact with the city and find the nearest tree to flock too, and adopt humans to feed them, sunrise splashes golden light on buildings, afternoon practice bands near our home have a reasonable guitarist, and average drummer and singer, your real friends have to make appointments and cannot rely on bumping into.”

Finally we made it to our new house:

“Didn’t notice it on the first view through but there is a dish washer in the kitchen … an upstairs and down stairs clothesline and laundry, a shed, and to my relief quite a bit of storage under the house so we can fit our stuff and even divest of more with more sorting if we wish (my excuse we had looked at a lot of houses and I was getting tired) , bird is settling in but was a little crazy this morning on the new verandah poor thing!

Ben to the rescue. Have now put all our present stuff in the cupboard and made air mattress couches, plus we have a kettle, and a saucepan, and esky with ice, time to have a cuppa, other news both school kids have already been put on invitation lists to events with friends and started bringing home phone numbers, and are quite excited about finding buddies who want to get to know them better, this is what makes me the happiest.”

We continue to connect with old friends from the area as our boxes were all unpacked and our home began to felt like a home.  One of our friends from Atherton came to visit us with his son, and had a chat about the universe which was cool.

And so the journey to settle in continues, with new horizons like learning how to use public transport again, and how to drive around the city.


Saying Goodbye: Leaving the North

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At the Golden Gumboot 2006

To say goodbye to the Cassowary Coast we have revisited early photographs and taken new ones in the same pictured spot.

One iconic spot in our local area is the Golden Gumboot pictured above.  It’s such a touristy thing to do, having a photo at all the big objects around Australia.
No wonder we didn’t bother to take one of these every year.

I took some more of the family in the cane, based on some early family portraits here, but will post those later as we still have so much to do.

It’s interesting what people say as we are moving things like:

‘You won’t like the city after living here’
‘Will you be driving around [to me]?’
‘You will be missed’
‘You will be remembered’
‘Thanks for how you have been in this community’ [lots of messages to David as a teacher]
‘We will come see you’
‘We probably won’t come see you but you are welcome to see us if you come back’
‘Thanks for your friendship’
‘You won’t be able to stay there, you will come back here’
‘We know this move will be good for you in the long run, and we hope in the short term too’
‘Looking forward to meeting you [from the new area]’
‘It will be a big change but you will adapt [from the new area.]’
‘We’ll see you in the cricket competitions for teams travelling north [Sandon’s coach!]

I think back to the things people said before we moved North, and have a feeling a place
city or country, is what you make of it, and the people in it and the special memory places and spaces that come into being.

The people who are going to remain friends, stay friends wherever you move, and you connect again, whilst others
are there for a part of the journey and that is okay too.

It is comforting visiting friends who will have some of their children living a few suburbs away from where we are moving.
Seems there is a Tully contingent in Brisbane. However, I also think warmly of my Tasmanian childhood and friends.

Time to explore, time to dream, time to search for new opportunities and new stories. Perhaps though also a time to dream of the good things of the past.

At the Golden Gumboot 2013

Travelling Light – The day of the great book cull…



We are selecting what to take to Brisbane.  We want to learn to travel lighter.  So although we love books, we are taking only our favourite and most useful books, and our most beautiful ones.

It is the day of the great book cull.

When I was growing up I owned about ten books, and the rest were borrowed from the library.   I borrowed about ten a week. I wonder what made me start collecting so many to keep physically.

There are books from university courses, favourite subjects, library throw out sales, kids books galore, and then the series books the children worked their way through and bought when on special.  So much accumulation.

Books mark anniversaries, birthdays, special occassions, prize givings and more.  

Some are ancient, out of date text books, like my Abnormal Psychology book from University days.

Other books going out are the learn to read books of the children and some of their early picture books, we want only small selections of to keeps of most precious ones they still read and reread.

It is not always difficult to select the throw aways as mould, the damp and wasps have attacked some of the books, and they are no longer pleasant to read.  Other books we know we can easily access on line, and there’s just no need to have them.

As my son says. ‘you don’t need to own  a book to have it in your head or easily find it to read’ and this is very true.  I carry the memory of so many books in my head and heart – and now it’s just time to let go, give away and surrender.

Returning North


This story  first appeared at ABC Open’s, New In Town.  Head over there to read more stories on this theme.

So many times my hubby and I were new and then gone.

We always seemed to be just settling in when it was suddenly time to go again.

This follow, or be blown, by the wind life style, which came about initially through being students and looking for work, courses and scholarships, had its down side.

We missed the people, especially extended family, left behind and often wished they could come in our suitcases.

The upside was that we always found something tantalising in the new, like when we first moved to North Queensland, to live in Townsville; that time over twenty years ago comes back to me in a huge memory wave – the long, long drive from New South Wales, the intense heat, the finding a hotel on the first night and the thankfulness for air conditioning. It was so different from my Tasmanian childhood upbringing.

I can still hear fruit bats in the trees, taste mango, and remember swimming for the first time in ocean that was like a warm bath. I remember days and days without rain. Townsville is dry tropics.

New places are vivid for the writer who thrives on a changing environment, so all these new experiences came into my life and my writing and enriched them.

During that time someone said to us, ‘once you’ve been North, you will never really leave.’ We didn’t know what they meant until we did leave when our eldest son was just one, only to return seven years later, as if by some invisible magnetic pull, but also disenchanted with the downside of life in cities.

It was a drive, further than before, past Townsville, past the cane, and heading into Tully, a town we had never heard of before – a town with a big gumboot.  Now we were in the wet tropics.

We had a tiny plastic turtle whose head wobbled up and down perched in the car, it was just one of many things to amuse our now three children in the back of the car. We named it Tully Turtle.

Looking at the photographs of when we first arrived here I see how small my children were back then, all three were under ten. Two are now teenagers, and one is heading to eleven.

We have lived the longest of anywhere our entire married life, eight years in the Cassowary Coast. Previous to that our average was about three years.

Now we know what it is to move beyond being new to being settled.

The lessons are that you learn to overlook the short comings of the area, like distance from health facilities, no public transport system, and people initially being suspicious of you and waiting to see if you will actually stay before even wanting to be your friend.

We’ve learnt what it like to live in the wet season, be flooded in, and long for days without rain.

We’ve learnt the joys and pressures of tiny communities and small schools.

We’ve learnt that there is something special your children attending school with mates they were at in kindy or year one with.

We’ve learnt what a community does to pull together in tough times like after Cyclone Yasi.  They become family.

When my friend Paulien visited from Holland – she took pleasure in all that was new – and kept telling my youngest two children how special their home was.

Surrounded by it all the time they take the Licuala palms, the cassowaries, the beach – all of it for granted, all of it home, none of it new now. Her wonder, made them curious about her home and why she should be so amazed – it made them want to travel.

They don’t remember what it’s like to be new to a whole area and how long it takes to make close friends. They are just at the beginning of life and they long for adventure.  They long for the tantalizing things that travel will bring.

(c) June Perkins