Our Curious Life: Week 4

 

 

 

Ok… so I am slowly getting the hang of this weekly blogging thing… I am still a little behind in terms of publishing, but so far I am really enjoying it.  So how did week four pan out… well let me tell you.

Week four started with some goodbyes… our NZ fam headed back across the ditch.  It has been so nice being able to catch up with them over the last couple of weeks.  They remind me why family is family, we can go years without seeing each other, with just phone calls, emails and of course good old facebook, but when we do catch up it is easy and lovely… it’s the way it should be.  It’s been really nice to watch them with Isaac… the beginning of the next generation of George… and it has shown me that there is a heck of a lot of George in him…seriously… just check out these four…

On Tuesday Dave went back to work and I got to re-try being at home with out him… and I am pretty proud of how we managed… yep it has only been three days because Friday was a public holiday… but it feels very different from the end of term four last year.  There have been no phone calls in tears wanting him to come home, Isaac has been feed and changed and I have pumped, showered and eaten successfully all three days which feels like a win to me.  Of course it also helps that he is a little more interactive this time, and I had 6 weeks over summer with an extra pair of hands to help me get used to it and build up some confidence.  But I am not as terrified about this coming week as I was this time last week.

We got spoilt on Thursday with the worlds cutest vans, delicious bakery treats, flowers and cuddles and good chats with our friend Pheebs… she is a winner and a half.

And on Friday I didn’t struggle with Australia day as much as I usually do… I still feel the same about it and we should definitely change the date… but I think the fact that I didn’t have the day ‘off” as a holiday, it didn’t feel any different from other days, so I could let my self relax as I wasn’t ‘celebrating’.  We did use the day to swim in the pool at dad’s again… and this time I remembered to take a photo, so I was able to officially cross it off the list!

Oh and this week I also added Isaac’s hand and foot prints to my necklace… no. 72 on the list.

So there you go, week 4 over and out.

Calling me home

This weekend Dave and I have been lucky enough to stay at ‘Somerset Cottage’ in Daylesford.  A refurbished and restored miners cottage that is just 100% perfect.  Even as I am typing this I have had to check that we weren’t just living in a home beautiful or country living magazine photoshoot, but that this beautiful little place is real.  It is cozy and picturesque and exactly what we needed, so thank you to the wonderful friends that made this happen.

But this blog isn’t about the cottage, or the lovely people in my life, but actually about a feeling I had as Dave and I drove up the western hwy on our way to our little escape.

For a really long time I considered myself a ‘city’ girl, the thought of being out in the country without the shops, the lights and the hustle and bustle was something that did not appeal to me at all.  That was until I moved to Castlemaine in 2009, where I discovered deep down I love the country.  It turns out I can live without the lights, the 24hour shops and the pressure that comes with everyone being ‘on and available’ all the time.  I love the relaxed pace, the friendliness of the people and the beautiful, beautiful scenery… in fact I really just love it all.  This transition probably actually started on that fateful uni placement to Bourke and was just confirmed in Castlemaine, but either way, it is something that has never changed back since moving back to Melbourne.  In fact my love for all things country has just become stronger since leaving… particularly my obsession with country music.

This change of attitude towards country living is something that I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about.  I do often think back to my time in Castlemaine fondly, and will talk to anyone about how much I love it if I get just a hint of them being interested… but it’s not as though I have been desperate to return, or to pack up my life here and move straight back.  I think I have just fallen right back into my city default mode and have my country life as a little memory that I love to take a minute to reflect on, but not something that soaks up my time anymore.  Yet as we drove towards Daylesford something strange happened.  The closer we got, the bigger the farms were, the taller the trees, the lighter I felt.  I don’t often take much notice of things like this, I mean, sure I notice if I am happy or sad, but I don’t often notice the process of this happening.  But on Friday night as we drove… I got happier, the stress of the week (although it hadn’t been any more stressful than normal), the business of life seemed to disappear and it was replaced with a nostalgic feeling of hope, safety and goodness.  This ‘longing’ for home was also noted by my phone, which highlighted the area as ‘home’ on the map, using an old addressed still saved in the depths of my data.

I am not really sure what this means because I love my Melbourne life… and I don’t get the same feeling on my way to a weekend away down at Inverloch, which I love just as much… but it just felt so good… it felt like home and freedom all packaged beautifully.  Maybe it was the country… or more specifically the goldfields region calling me home.  Maybe I was just under more stress than I realised and my mind was just excited about a weekend away from obligation… who knows, but l liked it and I need some more country living in my life.

P.S… this is out little Cottage and some pictures from our time away where I also got to cross no. 26 off the list

Australia Day Makes Me Feel Uncomfortable

I have umm and ahh’d about writing this blog all morning… but I can’t seem to stop thinking about it, so I have decided to stop and put my thoughts down on virtual paper…  Over the last 5 years my thoughts on Australia Day have started to shift and as I sit here and write this, I am feeling really uncomfortable with what today, Australia Day, represents.

5 years ago I wrote a blog called ‘3 Reasons I love this Sunburnt Country‘ and reading it back today has made me cringe… In the blog the only thing that upset me about Australia Day was the assumption that copious amounts of alcohol had to be consumed in order to truly celebrate.   Today, there are lots of things that upset be about the day… and ironically, I hadn’t even thought about the alcohol that will be consumed until I read the blog back.  I still love this Sunburnt Country and the reasons I gave in the blog still ring true, I just feel like they are now much less important.

My love for my country is also something I have had to wrestle with, and it is something that I have continued to write about, particularly over the past 12 months.  I have longed for our history to be different, to be able to start again and I have learned just a fraction of how truly unique and wonderful our long heritage is and that it should be savoured and treasured.   I want to be able to celebrate all things Australian, but I no longer feel like I can just blindly buy into the celebrations of the day without the darkness it also represents being felt.

Today my social media and news feeds are flooded with 2 things… both about the same issue… but not at all the same.  Half are what I would call ‘traditional’ Australia day posts… pictures of BBQs, flags, hottest 100 votes and general celebration of what it means to be Australian in 2017.  There were even some fairy bread lamingtons… what’s more Australian than that?  But the other half are calls to change the date of Australia Day, acknowledgements of the dreadful events of January 26 in years gone by and attempts to respectfully acknowledge the pain and suffering many Indigenous people feel on this day, which many of them consider a day of mourning.

So how do I as a ‘privileged white Australian’ work through this… I love a good public holiday and I would hate to see this one disappear, but I think we do need to seriously stop and consider celebrating being Australian on another day of the year.  I have watched a number of videos suggesting all kinds of dates and I have been surprised to learn how little history the date, the 26th of January, as a nationally recognised and celebrated holiday has.  I am not a miserable person who should crawl under a rock as some of our politicians might think, I am just one Australian who doesn’t think it is too much to ask, to have a national day that truly unites us, rather than one that continues to divide us and hurt so many.  I am not just trying to be politically correct, I am just trying to be human, compassionate, understanding and hopeful of reconciliation for all.  I don’t think this push to change the date should just go away, as I am beginning to think that many people would want.  It is not something we shouldn’t expect any one to just ‘get over’ and while it is certainly not a part of our history that we should forget, it is also not a day of national celebration.  I think it is time to stop and consider it.  If we can start a new public holiday for a football parade which benefits no one but the economy, surely we can alter one to bring people together.

Today I am uncomfortable, because I still want things to be different.  I want to be able to celebrate all of Australia, I want to be ok with being a white Australian, because I can live in harmony with all of those who also call this great land their own.  I also want to be able celebrate on a day where the Bunurong peoples who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which I live can also celebrate because they are not reminded of the pain and suffering that has been brought to their people over the last 200 years.  I want to be able to feel comfortable and confident in the fact that we are moving forward together.  I want unity, harmony and peace… and if changing a date, shifting some celebration is what needs to happen to do that, then I support it.

I am proud to be an Australian, I am proud of where we have come from and mostly who we are becoming… (we still have a lot of things to work on) and I want to be able to celebrate with everyone… not just the selected few… who also happen to be the powerful majority.  It’s time to stand together and celebrate who we are…

Here’s to a less uncomfortable Australia Day in the future.

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Listing in the Outback

UluruSo apart from finding my inner Aussie again while we were in Uluru I also had a lot of fun.  When I wrote my list for 2016 there were lots of things I included knowing we were going to do/I really wanted to do in Europe, but I also snuck a view central Australia goodies in as well, knowing that we were also planning on coming here with Dave’s family.  The good news is all of these got crossed off… The better news is I also got to cross off some surprise ones… And I really love an impromptu list crossing!

Just entering the Northern Territory crossed off no. 44 as it was the first time I had ever traveled there, which is a pretty impressive start to a trip.  While we were up there Dave and I went on a 3 day camping trip with Dave’s sister Ness and her partner Hugh, where we spent our days getting up before sunrise to watch it rise in spectacular style and then go bush walking (no. 30) around Uluru, through Kata Tjuta and up and over the Kings Canyon rim, covering about 25km all up in 30+ degrees.  At night we watched the sunset beautifully and then slept under the stars in our own swags (no. 25), and let me tell you there is nothing like the central Australian stars, they are truly mind blowing.  At the top of Kings Canyon I also found my first geocache (no. 13) signed in and left behind my own gift and hid it again for the next geocacher (no. 14).  This was not planned, I had no idea it was up there, but our tour guide asked if anyone wanted to see one and I was in.

While we were out in the bush, I also got to see my first wild dingo.. And a few of its mates, and as we traveled between sites, I saw an emu at Curtain Springs Station (no. 66) and took a little selfie with Nibbles the camel at Kings Creek Station (no. 81).

I love being out in the bush, but I have also really loved the time I have had to hang out with our family, dinners, swims, walks… Sharing, talking and experiencing this together.  On our first night we went and experienced the ‘field of light’ an art installation only opened that week that has 50,000+ lights placed at the foot of Uluru, which was pretty incredible and last night, as our last night together, we enjoyed the sounds of silence, a four course meal out in the open watching the sunset over Uluru and Kata Tjuta and then being guided through the central Australian stars.  It was the perfect way to finish a wonderful week.  Great food, laughter and a perfect location… I sat with empty shoes off, feet covered in red sand and soaked it all in… I am so blessed to have had this week, in fact this incredible year but even more, to have wonderful family to share it with… And I’m already dreaming of when I can return to experience the outback again.

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From the Back of Bourke to Uluru via the world

This time 8 years ago I was in Bourke, I was young, naive, and a long way from home.  I was out there for a final year uni placement after expressing some interest in indigenous Australian health and closing the gap that exists between indigenous communities and non-indigenous ones.  At the time I had no idea how life changing this trip to the outback would be.  How much it would shape my life, ideas and opinions.  How much I would appreciate the experience and insight I gained while I was there.  Or how much the red dirt would get in my heart, and the hole that it would leave forever after that.

Fast forward to now, and as sad as it is to admit when I came home from Europe I was a little underwhelmed about being Australian, I was ashamed of my history and feeling a little lost, but this week, I have had my feet back in the red dirt and it feels like home.

Last week Dave and I spent our time exploring Uluru on a family holiday with Dave’s family, a trip unlike any we have been on before and my first trip to the Northern Territory.  But this trip to heart of Australia has refreshed my soul. There is still a lot of my identity as a white Australian I am uncomfortable with, but I have been reminded of so much that we can be proud of.

The outback is magical and majestic and I have never experienced anything like it.  The vastness of the desert, the size and scale of Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon, the simple beauty of our beautiful country and the incredible ability for life and culture to last even in the toughest and most extreme circumstances.  I have found a new appreciation for our Aboriginal forefathers, and renewed my passion for bridging the gap between Australia’s two currently separated communities.

It is humbling to walk around the rim of Uluru and parts of Kata Tjuta, their overwhelming presence a reminder of how small man really is.  It is incredible to think of the time they have stood and endured, almost as long as Australia has been Australia, these amazing structures have been here.   As we walked through and along the rim of Kings Canyon it is impossible not to be impressed, where else in the desert can you find ferns and permanent waterhole? Or frogs and tadpoles who have waited for rain just for this chance to survive on the top of a desert rock.  I was reminded that while Australia may not have the ‘white’ history of Europe, with buildings and statues from a long heritage that is familiar and , Australia’s history is rich in a completely different way.  It has been around for a lot longer, as has its people.

So while there is still a lot to be done to reconcile all that is Australian, I am proud of this land, it’s people and to be Australian.

Uluru Sunrise

Kings Canyon Sunrise

Kata Tjuta

Kings Canyon

Uluru Sunset

Kata Tjuta Sunset

It’s more than a Game

Despite the fact that two of my last three blogs have been about other Cities in Australia, there are some moments that make me realise why I love Melbourne.

Yesterday was grand final day for the AFL, a day which I really think should be a public holiday for Melbournians.  But this whole week, grand final week has been packed full of everything I love about Melbourne.  On Monday night, while in Sydney Dave and I met up with my brother to watch the Brownlow together, a grand final week must.  Then on Friday for the first time in my life I went to the grand final parade, and even though I was surrounded by Freo supporters I loved being there cheering on my Hawks and wearing my colours proud.

Despite the fact that Hawthorn has been in a few grand finals during my lifetime, Friday was the first time I had been to  the parade… I found out that the grand final parade was somewhat of a tradition for Dave who used to go in every year and then headed to the Melbourne show with his Dad and sister.  But this was the first time for me and I loved it.  There is something really exciting about the grand final week in Melbourne, the atmosphere, the sound, the unity.  Simply wearing my hawthorn jumper into the city started conversations with random strangers… it was actually a bizarre feeling.

20131007-115233.jpgLike Dave’s family tradition we also headed to the show, which brings out the best and worst in everything – but I still love that it’s all there in one place.  We have some incredible talent in Victoria and some really strange things as well, but it is incredible to be able to experience all of this at once, whether you are ready for it or not.

And then there is grand final day… which, is an experience all of its own… with its own songs, own excitement and own standard dishes – after all what’s grand final day with out a pie?

The city has this magic way of coming alive during things like the show and the grand final, it oozes character and fun and it’s just a great place to be.  There is excitement and anticipation in the air and i just really really love it!

Oh and as much as I love Melbourne I also just wanted an opportunity to brag about the fact that the Hawks won – which makes me very very happy… but it did remind me just why I love Melbourne and the AFL… bring on season 2014 and go Hawks!

Wired to Hate Sydney

For as long as I have been alive I have been taught that Melbourne is better than Sydney… and so I have become part of another generation who has been taught to dislike our rival city…  If you asked me why I hate Sydney, I probably couldn’t give you an answer other than that Melboure is just better… It’s something that because I live in Melbourne I never question… I just believe it to be true.

This weekend on our road trip I have been forced to consider this question once again… and even though I know I have been wired to hate Sydney… I have discovered it’s not that bad… In fact I think the reason there is a rivalry is that it’s actually hard to split them… Here is a little pros and cons list I came up with on our road trip

Transport
Well it doesn’t take a genius to notice that Melbourne has much better roads, clearer signs and more space… In fact when it comes to Sydney, well the roads are just a bit nuts… even my GPS was getting confused… they just go every where, but only one lane of 6 goes where you need… but the sign doesn’t tell you until… well it’s almost too late…  Melbourne wins this one hands down.

History
Sydney has some massive and very impressive historic icons – The Bridge, The Opera House and Bondi just to name a few, Melbourne just doesn’t have anything like this, we have some cool stuff, even some very beautiful stuff but as much as I hate to admit it…. its just not the same… Well played Sydney.

Shopping
This one is a tough choice… I love the way Melbourne is set out… it makes it easy to shop… but Sydney has some better shops… some shops that Melbourne doesn’t have… does that make it better…  I don’t know? Maybe it’s just different…

Wow Factor
I am also not sure on this one… I am not sure that Melbourne makes you go wow the way the view from circular quay does… but Sydney doesn’t have the cool little ally ways and hidden gems that Melbourne does…  maybe that’s Melbourne’s wow factor… maybe not… maybe in some small way Sydney does have a little more… although that hurts to admit.

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So there you go… maybe you think differently, but I think the truth is they both have a lot to offer… I wouldn’t want to live in Sydney… but I don’t mind visiting it, and maybe it’s not as bad as I thought… there is nothing quite like the view from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge after climbing to the top and… after all, they still have Sizzler… how bad could it be?

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5 Reasons Canberra is Underrated

This past week end Dave and I went on a little road trip.  I am a big fan of the road trip, I like the fact that it takes time, I like the security of having your own car and I like that you can pick an choose destinations and stops on a whim… Originally we were heading up to Sydney for the whole weekend, but for something different we decided to have a day and night in Canberra too.

ACT Fun

For most of my life I had I had been lead to believe that Canberra was important but not that important.  It was important because it is the capital, but as far as a holiday destination goes… there were better places I could visit.  I am not really sure how I came to have this opinion, I am not sure if that’s what I was told, or if I just never heard anything about Canberra so it just flew under the radar, either way, until now, it was never somewhere I had thought about visiting.  What I have discovered though is quite the opposite… in fact I am pretty sure Canberra is the most underrated city in Australia and here is 5 reasons why:

1.   It’s really pretty.
I know that sounds kind of vain, but it is… there are lakes, mountains, beautiful national parks and some pretty awesome buildings… even the ramp leading up to Parliament House is breath taking at night.  And while the roundabouts and poor road signage are annoying… it means that you get to see some really beautiful parts of our country.  My favorite “pretty” feature though is the fact that the war memorial, the road and Parliament House all line up perfectly…  not to mention that both of those building are pretty awesome in their own right.

2. It was custom made.
There aren’t too many cities that I can think of in the world that were hand picked for a very specific purpose and then custom planned and designed.  There was a competition and everything… and while we all know that Melbourne should have been the capital, I have to say that I am pretty happy with Canberra.

3. It’s quiet.
For some people this might be a bad thing, but Dave and I loved it… no traffic, no lines, no waiting… wonderful…

4. It has great car parking.
Seriously… let me explain… we only paid $2 for parking for the whole time we were there… most of it was free and there were lots of parks… to do the same activities in Melbourne would have cost easily $50 maybe even more… so to the man who complained about the 4hr free parking limit… you have no idea!

5. It is the holder of some amazing things.
Being the capital of a country has a few perks it would appear not only is it the engine room of Australia in that all the major decisions of past, present and future are made there, it also holds all our history and future at the same time.  There is lots of looking back at places like the Australian War Memorial, the old Parliament House building, and numerous other museums and galleries, but there is just as many places looking forward like the Australian Institute of Sport, the CSRIO and Parliament House.  It’s all there… waiting… with no lines and lots of car parks because of number 3 and 4.

Canberra

I think I have been mislead… I actually love Canberra and which we had have had more time there.  It is something special about standing in parliament house reflecting on times gone by and things to come.  There is something special about the detail and the extravagance with which the building has been made and designed.  There is something special about standing on the gardened roof and looking straight down to the past that is held so sacred within the Australian War Memorial.  There is something moving about walking through rooms and rooms of history and sacrifice at the war memorial, there is something very moving about walls of poppies and there is something moving about looking from sacrifice for freedom to democracy and power.

Canberra is definitely underrated…