Monday, February 06, 2017

Following the scent

For 20 years I've lived in Darwin NT. I came there by accident, needed a change of scene from life in Melbourne and decided it was as good a place as any to make a space for living.
One thing led to another, l set down roots, took on social responsibilities, studied, fell in love, got married, had a couple of beautiful children, and before I knew it I had become a long term resident. I have a very strong feeling for the Top End, the environment and the people, particularly those I've met and worked with in Arnhem Land... But something keeps calling me 'Home'. 

What is Home? Well like they say it's '...where the Heart is.' My home is with my family, my wife and kids. But I still have a strong connection to the place of my birth and, where I grew up. My extended family, the Landscape, places I spent my youth, these memories keep calling me back. The places.  The narrow stretch of land, remnant bushland between housing developments which follows the course of the Plenty River, the smell of dry grass in summer, the potent oily resin of eucalyptus, magpies, the coast, Port Philip Bay. 

Whenever I come back to this place I like to find connection with the land, as I get older I am searching for those friends who managed to survive our youth and lost years in between. I see my family, siblings, nieces, nephews and my parents. I try to help them with the manual stuff around the house which they are finding too difficult to manage on their own.

The ticket says 'REAR STANDING' But with the Bos on stage it was UpFront Dancing!
I made this trip with one specific thing in mind. To see the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert! Due to lack of finances in 1985 I missed out on the concert, which I believe 'Went Off!'. I have been a devoted listener to Springsteen's music ever since that time so when I found out he was coming to Australia this year I made the snap decision (with approval from my wife) to get down to Melbourne and see him. This could very well be the last chance. He is 67 years old! 
(No offense to my religious friends but for me this was a 'spiritual experience')


So now that I'm here in between catching up with family and helping my parents around the house, I'm trying to squeeze in as many adventures as I can before I return to Darwin.

So far I have been blessed to spend half a day with my nephews on the day the eldest started his first day of school. I rode my bike along a section of the Maribyrnong River and visited Ceres without falling off my bike and breaking my neck (again)!
Overlooking the Maribyrnong River valley after a hard climb

Fixing bikes with George and some handy kids at Ceres
 I wove my way through the inner urban heartland of Melbourne, enjoying the strange fusion of old neighborhoods transformed by inflated property prices and wealthy investors, yuppies and those odd looking marvels of cultural appropriation... pseudo-craft flogging Hipsters!
St George's Rd bike path... (They were in the process of cutting down trees)

Blackberries (Not cultivated but left to grow)

A pear, too woody to eat but there were plenty of other fruits hanging from trees

Somewhere among mess of people and groovy new development I found a few remaining thresholds of first generation European immigrant Australians (mostly Italian and Greek I reckon) who still maintained their beautiful front yard  veggie gardens and bountiful fruit trees which in some places, hang over the fence into the street.
Had dinner with my little brother and spent some quiet time with mum and dad... (occasional rants at the TV news aside)  

Front yard food
Sat in my favorite spot on the Plenty river, where time stands still and the spirit of my youth and ghost of a lost friend reside.
I felt he was speaking to me.... "You Shall Not Pass!

My new secondhand travel rig. Love this bike!

A glimpse of my special place
Unfortunately attended the funeral of a member of our extended family who was taken far too soon, then went and visited my aunt at Indented Heads, cherishing the lives of those still with us. I sat a while at Port Pier contemplating time and purpose on this earth and how to best honor it.

Fish'n off the pier at Port

When my ship comes in

Visited a couple of lifelong friends in Ballarat, it was so great to re-connect after so many years. One of them, my cuz has cancer, it has caused her a lot of suffering over the past couple of years. I was so grateful for the brief reunion that I was oblivious to the fact that they'd just sat down to watch the first televised game of Women's football! Woops!

The following day I caught the train back to Geelong and cycled the Bellarine rail trail from Geelong to Queenscliff
Bike on a path (bracken and hay behind)

Bike beside rails

Cruised across the bay on a ferry

Big boat that opens up and cars drive in! (only $11 to cross with a bicycle)

Toured the bay side of the Mornington Peninsula from Sorento to Rosebud and yesterday spent a day with my oldest mate and his family in Rosebud before cycling on to Frankston station just in time to beat the flooding rain! 

Laughing Kookaburra in an enormous ancient coastal Banksia tree @ Rosebud foreshore
Bike in the foreground Swans to the rear

Regatta - Safety Beach, Mount Martha

Dudes jumping in the sea
So far it's been great except for one major detail, I have left my family at home in Darwin and I miss them.

Graphic wall art Bundoora Concord

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