When I was growing up, holidays usually meant packing up a tent and driving somewhere in the UK. We kept returning to the same areas over and over again, so while I love York and Cambridge, I never saw Wales; the furthest West I got in the UK was Exeter and that was to drop Aged M off for a weekend conference, I didn’t really look round the town in any depth. When I was older, holidays meant time off to hurtle across the country to catch up with friends or family, again returning to places I’d been to before.
Now I’ve emigrated Down Under, holidays mean Hubs showing me things he’s loved and wants me to see and the pair of us seeing new places on this wondrous continent. So far in the two and a half years I’ve been here I’ve visited: Hobart, Brisbane, Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef, various bits of rural Victoria – like Hanging Rock, Sovereign Hill and Mansfield. We’ve driven to Canberra, and this drive up to Buderim is our longest drive and also longest break yet in 4 years. On the way up we went through Dubbo and Goondiwindi, on our way home we’ll go through Sydney to watch Carlton play at the Sydney Cricket Ground, or Gabba. The irony is not lost on me that for my first visit to the Gabba, it’s to watch a football match.
Over the Christmas and New Year break we’re hoping to return to Tasmania, both to catch the end of the Sydney to Hobart boat race, but also to take a peep at the Northern end of the island. Of course, by then we’ll have Peanut with us and working out what we can and can’t do with him will be interesting. While they’re tiny, they are eminently portable, it’s when they start walking they cause havoc, we’ll also have to work on our packing skills!
The outlaws have retired to a gorgeous house with two guest bedrooms, and we know that we will be welcome here any time we want to travel up. Choosing between flying and driving is hard work wherever we go, but sometimes with the distances we have no option but to fly. Cairns car rental offices have notices reminding people that no, you canNOT drive to Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane and back again in two weeks.
However, as we continue to explore this gorgeous land, we are conscious that while we would quite happily return time and again to Queensland and this area in particular, returning here time and again will leave great swathes of the country that Peanut won’t see. As for a trip to the UK, neither of us is in a hurry to go back. Our friends want to come out here to visit us, and I know we will have to take Peanut back to the old country at some point, while there is any prospect of getting caught up in the Olympics chaos or a Conservative government in power cutting services while ignoring tax dodgers, frankly; I don’t want to go back. The country I know from my childhood holiday travels, is no longer there, leaving a shell of a place that is breaking under immense strain. I also know you can’t recreate memories; you can’t ever taste that meal again that you so enjoyed, you can’t capture in a bottle that fine sunny afternoon that lingers on as perfect, but watching the news, and speaking to family and friends, the UK I knew, is gone.
I’ve never wavered in my decision to leave, I’ve only had a few waves of homesickness, but they were for people, not for the country. The more red dirt I see, the more I love this place. I just wish I could pick up an Australian twang, so I don’t sound so bloody English and touristy.