Brief Update

Such a lot has happened. A brief summary, to be expanded later:

The trip across Oz with Dave was interrupted by news that one of my old Mentors, Mary Stewart had died in New Zealand. She was 91. I had been planning to fly over to visit her from Queensland, but now we had to hasten the journey in order to get to Brisbane in time to attend the funeral. We got to Brisbane just in time to get tickets on China Airline to fly out on the Friday in time for the funeral the next day.

In that time I came to the sudden conclusion that I wanted to pursue my earlier dream of being a grey nomad around Australia. I had considered doing the same in NZ but in the end I decided to return to Oz where my car was still waiting, buy a caravan and stay here a while longer. But this time as a free man (ie. unencumbered by employment).

I found a caravan I could afford and had its solar powered lighting upgraded to accommodate my CPAP machine, and the car rigged to connect to it for power and brakes. I set up at Kate’s place, the Parrots Hilton, for my shakedown cruise. Here I sorted once more through my stuff and either packed it into the caravan, or once more gave it away. Kate is looking after some of my art and artefacts.

Meantime I have sorted out the paperwork for my pension, and for collecting my Super. Just waiting for the money to appear in my bank account.

That’s the story so far.

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Island Girl

 

With a wave of her hand and her sparkling eye
My island girl bid me good-bye
For another dream in another time
For another life under another sky
But don’t just cut off your heart, keep it open and sure
Keep it free from hurt and keep an open door
And let the spirit of love that united our soul
Be a gentle dove and guide you to your goal
And I’ll go to that stream and I’ll sing my own prayer
That my island girl shall be safe everywhere
Sing away while you can and before very long
The coming tide brings the chosen one
And there is a hope and there is a peace
In that ancient land where my angel sleeps
And when your river runs high, let it flow, let it flow
It’s your time with life to let your garden grow
And when your burden gets rough, let it go, let it go
Let your strength return on every breeze that blows
Through that ancient land, through eternity
Oh my island girl, remember me
For your life has its course and you never can say
Who you’ll meet and marry along your way
But be sure from the start that the cities behind
Love the land’s living heart and breath eternal time
And when your river runs dry and your halo is torn
Drink the living stream in the calm of the dawn
And may you travel in peace and may your children be blessed
And your mind released and your soul caressed
In that faraway land where my spirit flies
To my island girl under those ancient skies
And with a wave of her hand and her sparkling eye
My island girl bid me good-bye
For another dream in another time
For another life under another sky

 
Island Girl lyrics © O/B/O Apra Amcos

On My Way

The road trip has begun. We have left HC. Dave is flying in a helicopter over the bungle bungles and I have been talking to motorcyclists. The car is heavily laden with the detritus of my life. She is carrying her burden bravely. Tyre pressures @ 40 & 42. Onward Japanese Juggernaut!

Tomorrow I finally get to see lake Argyle by boat and on Thursday the long drive begins with no firm itinerary.

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.