I find myself in a place I've been before. Somewhere that isn't new to me, somewhere that's familiar. A little blast from the great times of my past. I'm in Swan Hill, in Victoria (only 4 hours north of Melbourne), where I worked in 2006, for nearly 3 months, when I first came to Australia. It's where I had my first job in Oz and where I worked with Jason. Swan Hill was always the nearest town to the hotel, where we all lived. We would come here every week for shopping, it was like our base and Nyah West is where the hotel was and also where we worked, which is 25 km down the road.
We got here yesterday after a week of full-on driving and are staying with a mate who used to live at the hotel too, but now lives in Swan Hill, a guy called John. We rocked up at his place yesterday afternoon, without any warning.. A little risky, but he was delighted to see us and couldn't believe that I was there.. He thought he was never gonna see me again, just like I thought I never would see him again either.
Such a great time we've had, catching up. And so surreal aswell. The whole set-up and situation right now is so strange.. I was sitting on a sofa last night in a living room (which has been something I haven't done in nearly 2 months, so even that felt odd), with Jason and John, in Swan Hill, 2,5 years after leaving here.. I'm back in a place I had some magic moments and a place that holds some of my dearest memories from backpacking. I'm almost a different person, with a different state of mind, on a different journey and with so many different things going on in my life.. Things that I could never have imagined that could happen to me, have happened or have the potential of happening. It's the strangest feeling.
This morning we went to Nyah West, and that totally blew my mind. Seeing the hotel where we stayed, the phonebox where I used to ring home, the pathway I used to jog along in 40 degree heat, the deli where I used to email from, and the pub where I used to spend so much of my hard-earned cash on a beer after a day of tieing trees with Jason in the paddock. It was so crazy. Not much has changed. I even seen some familiar faces, everybody still doing their daily thing.. I had forgotten how backwards that tiny little town was. It's still like a place out of the 1960's.. the buildings, the roads, the "shops", everything. But it felt great to be there. Especially seeing as though it was there that I met Jason, and now I was back but after having traveled thousands of miles with him; It's all so surreal..
Before getting to Swan Hill, we came down from Childers (up on the east coast of Queensland). Along the way we've been visiting some other cool people. We left Childers last Friday morning, and headed down towards Brisbane. We were going to visit Trish and Ed, back in Caboolture. It was again the strangest thing really, because in a way it was like coming full-circle. I had left there, 6 weeks earlier, when I got on the plane to fly to Adelaide and suddenly I was back to where my journey in Australia had started out. But with so much than I set off with. So many great memories, that Jason and I are already thriving on. We got there on Friday afternoon, had some drinks and lots of chat out on the porch. We stayed in their house on Friday night, after having a great lamb curry, which gets mentioned everytime we see sheep or lamb in the fields as we're driving along (thanks again Trish!). It was all such luxury. Staying in a house, with heat for one, was glorious. The nights have been getting so much colder the past 2 weeks.. so a proper roof over our heads was soooo nice and warm.
Saturday we went on a search for a mate of ours, Lewis, who we stayed in the pub with in Nyah West years ago. We had his home address in Brisbane and after getting lost in the suburbs for a while, we finally made it to his house.. Totally unannounced we knocked on his front door, not even knowing if he still lived there or not.. When the door opened, it wasn't him though.. Our bubble burst so quickly, after the excitement took over both of us for a few minutes, once we were told that he moved out a while ago and that the new owner had no idea of his whereabouts. What a shame. We had no way of contacting him.. But at least we gave it a try. Deflated we left and got lost some more around the suburbs of Brisbane, until dinnertime and then just desperately wanted to get out of there.. We had nowhere to camp in the city so we had to hit the highway.. and freeze our socks off once again, as we found a restarea on the highway.
The next day, Sunday, we went to visit a mate, Craig, in Stanthorpe (south of Brisbane), who we also worked with in Nyah West. I was so excited to see him, we always got along so well. I never ever thought I'd see him again, just like John, but there you have it.. (my new motto should become: never say never) We got to his house (announced I might add, which makes a nice change..haha), hung out with him for the afternoon, had some beers and hit the highway again, in search of restarea where we could light a campfire. And it worked!! Halleluja, we had heat! A raging fire at night, and in the morning once again. You might be wondering just how cold it gets, at night. Well, I'm afraid back home, it might not be considered cold at all.. My Irish blood hasn't been serving me well at all, since I got so used to the warmer climate up in North Queensland.. It's only around 5 degrees at night, and 15 in the day.. So it's not freezing cold, but fairly chilly when you don't have heat in the van at night. Anyhow, enough about the weather..
From Monday onwards we were doing some good driving.. When I say good, I mean, "putting in a lot of km's". We had to put in the hours and needed to push ourselves to get on the road, good and proper again, that's if we wanted to move ourselves in space, not only in time. And they were very monotonous days I can tell you, and playing eye-spy doesn't really work when there's nothing around. Talking..and talking and talking alot of "bla bla bla" is all we can do. Which can't really be considered as talking. So then we go for just plain silence which can be nice, but then we both get too caught up in our thoughts and are like 2 zombi's and Jason then gets fatigued and agitated by rattling sounds in the van and I feel useless because I can't do anything to help or can't drive.. Hummm.. I reckon thousands of km's will do anybody's head in. So the camping at night was all we had to look forward to. On Monday night we were in the forest with a fire, Tuesday night we stopped in a truckstop.. and last night we were in Johns nice warm house here in Swan Hill..
So at the moment, we're only 600 km's away from Adelaide. This is probably our final port of call, before coming full-circle good and proper. John wants us to stay for a few days. We aren't too sure just yet how long.. Maybe until tomorrow or Saturday.. It depends. I don't know what it depends on really. But just on us I suppose. So much of the trip is now behind us, and I'm noticing that both of us have been pretty tired over the past days.. so many impressions, so many sights, so many kilometers.. It has been taking us more and more out of us, to keep the energy going. But being here, and feeling the way I'm feeling right now, it's all going effortlessly again. Which is great. We'll more than likely be back in Adelaide at the beginning of next week. That's an estimate. We'll see what happens. Until then, we're enjoying being in a house for a few days, in a warm bed and with great company.. I always said that Nyah West came close to being the best.. xxxx