Of Wet Alpacas and Other Things

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 . . .

Griffiths Lookout, Dorrigo, March 2014

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.

35 thoughts on “Of Wet Alpacas and Other Things

  1. Pingback: The Gold Coast, Queensland | The Reluctant Retiree

  2. School reunions are so much fun. Takes away the weight of all the years in between and brings lightness and laughter all around. Yes, social media platforms like Facebook has been a big boon in that respect. It is so much more easier to keep in touch on a regular basis , at least virtually and so much more easier to co-ordinate get- togethers and so on. Have been part of many such gatherings in recent times.

    And that’s quite an interesting take-off from Romeo and Juliet.


    • Dear Nadira, I owe you a thousand apologies. When this comment came through I set it aside for a thoughtful reply, and here I am two months later, and meantime overwhelmed, yet again, by the day-to-day tasks that overtake my best intentions. The school reunion was definitely an “interesting experience”, one which I am still processing. It was good, it was fun – but maybe I “perform” better in a one-on-one situation. Then, as it happens, August will bring two more luncheons of smaller spin-off groups. I’ve said yes to both. Fingers crossed xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We’re not all dust and desserts are we? Must admit I haven’t been inland as much as I would have wished, the WO doesn’t like going bush, okay along the coast but anywhere inland is a no no with her.
    I must admit I like it up around Coffs, trying to get the energy to go up and stay with Emma and the girls, she keeps asking me to come up, Don’t know if they’d let me fly with a wonky ticker/valve whatever

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill thought about taking the train to Coffs. There’s two or three a day from memory. So you can snooze, walk around, etc. And you can go for free if you have some pensioner vouchers. We settled on him flying when we realised that for all my Virgin Velocity points + $1.70, he could fly up. It was so quick they barely got to level out before entering the descent.


    • It’s the main commercial centre close to where I grew up (Old Guildford). It’s grown so much it’s a city in its own right now. Once upon a time the Governor of the Colony of New South Wales made in the “capital” instead of Sydney. The old government house still stands. I rarely have cause to go there now, but I used to frequent it for jobs and social life.


  4. Fantastic falls with stately eucalyptus . . . growing in the appropriate environment.

    Is it me or have High School reunions increased in occurrence? I suppose the Internet has made it easier to track down people than in the old days!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it is the internet. There were a group of enthusiastic sleuths who pounded the airwaves looking for people. Like a labryinth. One person had stayed in contact with another, and so on – or else they just plain “stalked” on Facebook.
      I thought you’d like that eucalyptus. Have a few more shots to come, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Internet sleuths are amazingly tenacious aren’t they? Someone found my ex-husband for a 50 school reunion too and he hasn’t kept in touch with anybody and isn’t on Facebook. He couldn’t work out how they’d done it!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I always have a giggle when civil libertarians get worked up over privacy issues. There really is no such thing any more. And men are much easier to track than women. It may have been through LinkedIn, any work-place article, even a line in a newspaper column if he’d been involved in some local good works. And then, of course, there is still the good old White Pages.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, that’s an interesting comment about finding the men more easily. Also so many women still change their name on marriage which adds another layer possibilities. I am looking forward to the day when changing one’s name to a man’s surname is considered baffling and ridiculous. Not holding my breath on that one though. 🙄

            Liked by 1 person

          • I did look up the historical reason for a woman taking the man’s name, only recently, but have forgotten the details. It has something to do with ancient English rules of inheritance. It doesn’t happen in many other cultures. No doubt it will fade away within the next fifty years or so.

            Liked by 1 person

          • We live in hope, but it is pretty entrenched here and younger women are perplexed when I’ve asked how they felt/feel about giving up such an intrinsic part of their identity.

            Liked by 1 person

    • I attended 3 high schools and recently got in touch with the organizer of the annual reunions for my first high school. I attended two 60ths that year, and a 62nd reunion in 2018. Nice to see these people, even the ones I didn’t like at the time.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. There are some who say you never change anything in Shakespeare and others who say that his plays are the foundation for a lot of modern literature and drama.
    I say do with it what you like. It is solid enough to take anything and often fantastic things flow from iy.

    Liked by 1 person

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