Adjusting

Technically I am on annual leave until 8 May, my final day of employment at the Shire of Halls Creek. But I have already handed in my credit card and completed my last return. I have performed my last duties. I will not be returning to work. In real terms I am a retired person. When I awake in the mornings my only obligations are to matters I have decided to attend to. I am still adjusting to this concept. The freedom of being on holiday always had a time limit until now. A future that depends entirely on what I choose to do is difficult to contemplate. It also has some uncertainties. Where will I live? How will I manage my health and mobility issues? What unexpected snags and costs might affect my plans, when I get around to making them?

So far I have mapped out my next steps in the most general terms; take a week or two to show Dave around my part of the Kimberley, triage my stuff and pack what I can take with me, and head for Kate’s place in Queensland. From there the plans are still flexible. But they include visiting 91 year old Mary in NZ as soon as possible, shipping my car and contents over, finding a place to live. I may be returning to Oz to do that after a quick visit home, in which case a Queensland vacation may be in order.

I must sort out my future medical and medication needs.

I also have to access my superannuation and get myself onto the old age pension, or whatever pc term is used to describe it these days.

And I must keep my fingers crossed that I will not need another job in order to eke out a living. The things I want to get on with do not involve paid employment.

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Exit.

I just completed my exit interview form. The penultimate question asked why I resigned and whether there was anything the Shire could have done to prevent my leaving.

My reply was:

I am old father William
And it has been said
If I continue to work
They should examine my head.

– with no apology to Lewis Carroll.

 

There are some wonderful sights here.  One appreciates them a little more once one knows one is leaving them behind.

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The sky over Red Hills, Halls Creek, by Patrick Karena.
China Wall
China Wall, Halls Creek.

Road Trip.

One way I know I have made a sensible decision in choosing to retire is that my sleep has improved enormously.  Peaceful unbroken rest and no more anxious dreams.

An unexpected and delightful surprise is that my best and oldest friend of 53 years offered to fly over from NZ and join me on the last leg of my circumnavigation of Australia.  I accepted with alacrity.  I believe David is the only person I have never argued with except as an intellectual exercise.  We never had a falling out.

We rode together from Katanning to Karijini, across to Exmouth and back down back in 2013.  Best road trip ever, to date.

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David and our two bikes.

I shall pick him up from Kununurra airport on Anzac Day.

In the following week or so, I shall show David around the Kimberley.  All the places I have come to know and love.  Secret spring, Sawpit Gorge, Lake Stretch, the back road to Mulan, Wolfe Creek Crater, Komaterpillar.  Then when we head off at last I think we might go via the Duncan road. I have not been on it past Marella Gorge.  That will complete my Kimberley experience.

Then we shall be on a road trip all the way to the home of another old friend in Queensland. Though this next trip won’t be on bikes as my back and legs are no longer bike-friendly, it may just be even better.  We can converse and share the driving.

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Technically, at least, at the end of this road trip I will have (almost) travelled all the way round Australia.  I have travelled before between Sydney and Newcastle, and driven between Ballina and Kate’s home where we are heading on this trip. The only gap not covered is the 600 km stretch between Ballina and Newcastle, but I have flown into Coffs Harbour, which is pretty much in the middle between them.  I count that as close enough.  I have visited all the state capitals bar one.  I have not yet set foot in Tasmania, a deficiency I do plan to rectify some time.

Two thirds of my trip around Oz has been by motorcycle.  I rode from Sydney to Perth in 2012. and apart from the 2013 ride I mentioned above, I also rode from Katanning to Halls Creek in November 2014. 

Doing the last leg in my Toyota Land Cruiser with David is just the best ending I can think of.

My cruiser, Taistealaí , is going in for her 290,000 km service on Monday.  She still goes like a dream.  She looks a little used and at present is certainly dirty but she has been well looked after by her three owners.  I am the third.   She proved herself worthy when we did the Gibson expedition to Kiwirrkurra.  

 

I shall take her with me to New Zealand.

A little more detail on the (proposed) route:

jasper route

Gypsy

Roaming free as the breeze
What’s to stop me and why?
I can live as I please
Open road, servo pie…

With apologies.

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My history has made me train wild animals but I’m more famed
Because I’ve really trained myself to be as spry as any elf
The circus life taught me a lot, now the circus is finished – but I’m not.
For I’m not afraid to potter round the dark
I’ll breakfast on tomorrow’s question mark
Adventure is in my blood why any lion could smell it well
But I always hold the whip and I’ll never let it slip
Whatever comes I’ll take the good and send the rest to hell

Roaming free as the breeze
What’s to stop me and why?
I can live as I please
Open road, open sky!

My lion taming acting was enough to create quite a buzz
From Timbuctu to Samarkand I wowed them in the hinterland
I was king of the king of the beasts on the stage
Why, the public wouldn’t let me out of my cage
They loved it when the lions licked my paws
And I got the lion’s share of their applause
I follow with the bold and the brave when the bold are gone
Whatever I wish I’ll be when the wish appeals to me
For there’s a thing worth more than gold
My creed! I must go!

English words by Anne Ronell (1939)

The music for “Open Road Open Sky” was originally composed by Johann Strauss for his 1885 light opera “Der Zigeunerbaron Wikipedia16“. The English version of this song became popular in 1939 after Ann Ronell adapted Strauss’s music and wrote new lyrics.

Alea Iacta Est

Today I gave notice to my employers.  In just a few weeks I shall continue East and complete my circuit of Australia. I would have liked to do it on a bike but frankly I think I will enjoy it more in my Landcruiser.

I shall head for Queensland to visit an old friend.  After that, to New Zealand.  The good news is that I have a lot of accumulated leave, and I have just earned 70% of three months long service leave in addition, having completed seven years service in local government in Western Australia. With my accumulated leave That is worth almost a half year’s pay.  Plus I have my super.   I came here with nothing and in the last seven years I have put away a reasonable nest egg; far better than I could have achieved in New Zealand.  Far better in fact than I had managed in the fifteen years prior.  But I was paying a mortgage then and raising youngsters.   In any case I sincerely hope it is sufficient, and with the pension, I hope I never need to work again.  I have really had enough.

Looking forward to what comes next.

Apropos of nothing at all here is the wonderful Jacques Brel singing his song that Edith Piaf so famously covered.   A powerful moving performance.

Alarm

At 5 this morning in the early lightening dawn, the raucous call of kookaburras sidetracked me from sleep.  I awoke with a headache and very sore back and hips.

I have heard kookaburras several times here, in Halls Creek but I’ve only seen one once before.  Despite my aches and pains I grabbed the camera and came out for a look.  There were several calling, but only one was in view.  The light was poor and I had to wait for it to brighten a little before there was sufficient for the camera at last to focus.  I do not trust my own eyesight to focus manually with any accuracy any more.  Technology usually does a much better job.  The first shots were blurry as the camera vainly tried to distinguish the bird and the tree from the dim background of the sky.

Fortunately the bird seemed to be in no hurry to move on and sat surveying the scene around it long enough for the camera to finally grasp it, and outline it in yellow in my viewfinder.   Isn’t technology wonderful these days?

I then discovered I could transfer the photos from the camera to my MacBook via wifi.  More technological wonder.  What a time to be alive.

I made coffee, took my pills and retired for another hour or so sleep.  I awoke at 11:30 still aching and figured I had better phone in sick.

Despite the circumstances, capturing this noisy little bugger cheered me up.

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Here is the kookaburra call, if you haven’t heard it before: