Here I am trying to grab a moment to carry on from my “Getting Back in the Saddle” post of a month ago. I could tell you all about what happened at my high-school year reunion held at the Bellingen Valley Lodge. It lasted for three days and three nights, so there was plenty happening. But! You all know the tried and true saying . . . “what happens on tour, stays on tour“.
Oddly enough, given that most of eastern Australia is in the grip of severe drought, it rained for a good deal of the weekend. Not that I am complaining, mind. But as my room was tucked in a corner walkway and the gutters were overflowing from two directions, the sound of splashing rain haunted my dreams. Our lodge accommodation came complete with alpacas, and partway through the first night, I sat bolt upright – albeit still asleep – thinking, “oh no, the alpacas have been left out in the rain“. Then I fell back on the pillows and went on with another dream. So much for ploughing the depths of my caring nature.
A group of us went off on a short drive on the Sunday morning, calling firstly at Griffiths Lookout, which I wrote about five years ago. It was shrouded in mist and light rain when we arrived, and I told my companions I could give them a photo showing how it might have looked, supposing we had been able to see anything. So for any fellow students who are actually reading this post, here it is . . . the great reveal . . .
Then we moved on to the Dangar Falls, to see what the rainfall had done to them. The photo on the left is March 2019, and on the right, March 2014. A similar amount of water to my eye, and whichever way you look at it – not enough.
Here are some random photos of eucalyptus which caught my eye while on a nearby short walk in the drizzle. There are more than 800 varieties in Australia. Broadly speaking they can be differentiated by whether they are in the “smooth” bark or “rough” bark category, but that is a massive generalisation. Within each of those categories there are numerous variations on how they go about shedding their bark, and the colours and patterns made in the process. The first three photos are all the same smooth-barked eucalypt. It was a tall, straight beauty, which you can appreciate if you think of the snapshots placed one on top of the other. The fourth photo is the base of a nearby rough-barked eucalypt.
The reunion broke up after breakfast on the Monday, leaving just a few of us stragglers behind. One of them was flying out to Sydney on the late afternoon flight from Coffs Harbour, the nearest main town with an airport. Bill was flying in on the same flight, ready to join me for a road trip further north. That’s no huge co-incidence. There’s only a few flights each day.
So this former class-mate, Derek, another couple, and me, hung out together on Monday. It gave us some quiet time for further reflection and interaction. Derek and I reminded ourselves of our school “achievement” – being part of a writing group expanding on a script for Romeo & Juliet. The fledgling drama society had its hands on a version that was not long enough for our needs. In this version, the Montagues and Capulets were fighting because one supported Rugby League (played in NSW & Qld) and the other supported Aussie Rules (played in the rest of Australia). We needed to expand the script by about half an hour. Clearly, we were writing comedy – just thought I should clarify that in case anyone imagines we were plagiarising the bard. Derek is better at remembering what we came up with than I am. He offers these endearing and enduring lines –
“I have come for you in my shoes of vinyl to take you to see the grand final”
“Another thing has come to thwart our love I fear, which will no doubt your heart shatter. You see, my dear – I support Parramatta.”
Both of which lines, I think, were spoken by Romeo. In another twist on the original, Romeo’s mother (played by moi) also committed suicide, or somehow ended up dead along with the young lovers. Much to the delight of her husband.
On with what happened after Bill turned up in Coffs Harbour. After a rapturous matrimonial reunion (Oh! Sorry! Was I still in fantasy script land?) . . . hahaha . . . no, seriously, we were happy to see each other – I just couldn’t let a great line like that go past – we spent the night in the best and cheapest motel of our subsequent trip. We only paid $72.70 (that’s around US50 or GBP40 for my international followers) for a clean, spacious-enough, comfortable and quiet room with off-street parking. Everything we needed for a restful night to start off our road trip.
The next day we headed to Grafton, which at that time had not hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons – but more about that in a future post.