The end of this road trip, Early December 2010
(Day 16: 180klm / 112mi)
And now we have reached the end of our adventure. We have one last visit to make, and then it is freeway and major roads all the way to home. No more sightseeing. There are a dozen people we could stop and visit but we have had enough. We have travelled more than 3000 kilometres (about 1900 miles). We have travelled roads we have never been down before, we have been on the flat and in the mountains, and we have seen all manner of wildlife – although unfortunately a lot of it was road kill. We have slept in eleven different beds in fifteen nights, and we have had more conversations that we can possibly remember.
We seek out my Aunty Myra at her nursing home nearby. Aunty Myra is 96 years old and has lost her memory, but is still pleased to see us, even if she is a little confused about who we are.
She may be confused, but she has never lost her sweet personality, nor her love of nature. We assist her outside, and settle her in a comfortable chair. She points out to me how pretty are the white puffy clouds, how blue is the sky. It is another day of good clear weather.
We spend a half hour with her there, and then worry that maybe we will be staying a lot longer – – – – – – as we can’t find our way out. We go around in a circle four times before a nurse rescues us and lets us out a locked door.
A couple of days later we catch up with the regional news. The forecasted rains came a few days after our trip and the rain did not stop. The dams became full for the first time in a decade and the spill ways had to be opened. All the country towns that we had just come through are now under 8 – 10 metres of water at the river banks (about 25 – 30 feet). The cherries at Young were split open, and friends who had travelled there for the festival only just managed to get in and out, only just managed a couple of hours of picking before the crop was spoilt.
In all the western country towns, the wheat that was not harvested has been downgraded to stockfeed. Every time we see the television footage of Dubbo, the tourist information office is covered in water up to its window sills. Last week, we were standing at the counter seeking tourism advice.
Funny old country Australia – I’m still showing signs of sunburn and the place is sinking under mud.
My Aunty Myra died, peacefully, just a couple of months after this visit. We were sad, obviously, but also glad that we had taken the chance to catch up with her not so long before. I was able to be one of the speakers at her funeral service, and it was an honour to be able to share my memories of this wonderful person.