Day 19 : Let the Children Play

Sunday 15 June 2014

BMQ : around 98%. Pretty standard for the Sunshine Coast, apparently.

I’m not sure what I’ve achieved in my time in Australia, but to be fair I think I’m being overly negative about it based purely upon my early experiences. With hindsight I reckon I’d have been better off popping through Vanuatu rather than Perth (it was a question I asked myself a few times when I was planning), and yeh maybe I’d have been better served going somewhere different. But it’s done, and I don’t ‘regret’ anything, since everything is binary; what I don’t do with one hand, I do something else with the other, and who’s to say I wouldn’t have got along with Vanuatu and now be typing that I wished I’d have come to Australia sooner.

Coming to the Sunshine Coast a week earlier than planned though has been good for me, even if it hasn’t been so good for my travel blogging. I do feel a bit more secure in myself again, a bit more comfortable. Having said which, I do seem to get these ‘wobbles’ every 21 days or so; I had one in Minsk, had one in Perth – on this basis I should be having one at the end of the week, when I’m in Dili. (Yesterday’s ‘mini-wobble’ doesn’t really count!).
It’s partly a help that I’m around friends here, partly that I’m not pending as much money, but mainly it’s a reinforcement of the feeling that it doesn’t really matter what I ‘do’, so long as I’m happy doing it. It’s my trip, after all, and I should be doing what comes naturally to me at the time, rather than getting angsty about what I’m not doing and/or what I should be doing.

Last night ended pretty well, with lots of pizza. I also ended up playing board games with Lisa and her 10-year-old niece Latika. While you might think it’s not like me to play children’s games, I have to tell you know it definitely is. We need to access our child mentality more.
This I how ended up on the swings this afternoon. Lisa drove me towards nearby Image Flat, where there is a large lake caused by a new dam (Wappa Dam), and around it is a kind of national park/forest reserve, quite reminiscent of parts of Scotland. Apart from the bright sun in the way. In the heart of the forest (accessible down a dirt track that school buses travel down – remote communities are something I’ve really only passed through on my way across the country), by the dam, is Jack Harrison park, with picnic benches, a large mural designed by schoolchildren designed to represent themselves and how we all fit into the natural world, a zip-line (broken) and some swings (which we tested and they work fine). Was very calming.

And this also represents the way I travel. Okay, so it’s only a little thing that’s probably just one instance of something that exists worldwide, but equally it’s somewhere ‘local’ that the vast majority of tourists would never go to, never see. Yes I see less museums and galleries than the average tourist, yes I spend less time at the ‘touristy’ sights, but for me I’d rather see a country the way the locals see it. And if that means spending time in small towns with no apparent unique selling point, then so be it. Everywhere is interesting, if you have the mindset to see it.
Lisa could never imagine living anywhere else. So by definition it must have some appeal.

Earlier in the day we passed by the centre of Nambour and through a small park, again with murals (these depicting the history of the area in about seven panels, mostly however either relating to Aboriginals or sugar cane), and children’s games (including ‘crocscotch’ – hopscotch on a grid that looks like a crocodile). I mean, you wouldn’t go out of your way to see these things as a tourist, but if you’re already in a town it makes sense to pop along and that way learn more about the history and culture of a place.
The town of Nambour (named after the Aboriginal name for the ‘red flowered tea tree’) is about 30 years older than my house, and seems to have existed for logging and sugar cane harvesting, although now most of both industries are pretty much dead, and the tourists would obviously tend more towards the coast. It seems like a bustling market town though (we avoided the overpriced ‘Nambour Agricultural Show’ that was on this weekend), and an hour from Brisbane makes it prime commuter territory, so it’s not quite an insignificant backwater.

And soon I shall be leaving. I suppose I ought to start arranging some of that…

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