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.
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.
Roaming free as the breeze
What’s to stop me and why?
I can live as I please
Open road, servo pie…
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“. The English version of this song became popular in 1939 after Ann Ronell adapted Strauss’s music and wrote new lyrics.
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.
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.
Here is the kookaburra call, if you haven’t heard it before:
I am usually a sentimental old fool. One who weeps during most episodes of Dr Who.
Leaving a place has been particularly poignant for me over the years.
I have usually invested something of myself in every place I have been…
But I am no good at all at doing goodbyes. Especially when I know there is no going back.
Today I drove out of Billiluna with the last of my remaining possessions in the back of the Troopy. I said goodbye to only one person. Joe. A friend who is an outsider in the community, like me. And Zeus the dog, whom I am leaving with Joe.
I searched my psyche for some sign of emotion, but there was none. No sorrow or regret. Not even joy. Nor satisfaction. I could not even pat myself on the back for a job well done. I felt no anticipation for what might be next. I was empty and devoid of feeling.
I was tired. But I really had not expected I’d be so drained as to feel nothing at all.
On the drive back to Halls Creek I thought of a few more things that I had not seen when packing up. More things that had been stolen. Most notably my UEBoom2 bluetooth speaker.