For our last week in Melbourne – and in Australia – we moved into Jen and Peter’s comfortable home in Donvale, with the two black labradors Moosh and Marla and a couple of inquisitive chooks.
Without Westy to worry about any more – as it eventuated it was sold very quickly – attention shifted to Grandy the Jeep. With only a week to go we didn’t really want to go the private advertising route, and after a few enquiries and visits to various dealers, were offered a good price (dealer’s price, that is) by the people we’d bought it from.
But first Dave decided to put Grandy through a car wash – and the windscreen crack, formerly about 3 inches long, suddenly extended enormously! Drastic action was needed. We booked in for a windscreen replacement a long way from Donvale but not too far from the airport, took Grandy in, took a taxi to the airport and picked up a hire car, drove back to the windscreen place and picked up Grandy, then drove both cars to the Jeep dealer. After the long inspection-paperwork-coffee-handshake thing, we farewelled Grandy and drove ‘home’.
That was the Friday before we were due to leave. The plan was to fly to Brisbane, spend two nights with Nic and Mick, then fly home on the Thursday.
Returning ‘home’ we were feeling peckish so started to look for a cafe. We must have been in the wrong area as the only one we could see was in a block of furniture stores and obviously NOT very well patronised. Dave’s lunch was OK but my cream of mushroom soup tasted horrible so I only had a few spoonfuls. Which were still too many. That evening the symptoms of food poisoning became horribly apparent soon after we sat down in a restaurant with Jen and Peter. It took a while before they could get me outside. The special thank-you dinner never eventuated.
Two days later I was still feeling out of sorts but we took off for Arthur and Joan’s at Moonambel, stopping for lunch at Malmsbury (‘magnificient’ is not an exaggeration says Dave, he loved his huge pie)….
… then to call in on Bron the daughter of an old Armidale friend at Castlemaine. The country around Castlemaine is very reminscent of Armidale particularly at this time of year with all the beautiful autumn colours.
Then on to Moonambel where we stayed soon after our first arrival in Melbourne. At that time the country was in drought and the big dam was empty; it was wonderful to see everything so green and the dam more than half full. Arthur and I caught up on some more Darchy family history.
Camera-shy ‘Honey’ is about 18 and recently survived major surgery.
Beautiful gum trees were everywhere – Arthur and Joan have planted several hundred.
Back to Melbourne and frantic packing and repacking and weighing of cases …. all ready for an early start for the airport next day. I was still feeling off-colour.
Alas, the trip to the airport next morning became a trip to hospital …. poor Dave, trying to negotiate peak hour traffic in a strange city with a ill wife beside him. It’s a sort of hilarious tale in the re-telling but suffice it to say I ended up in the Short Stay Ward but all tests turning out negative, I was discharged that evening. I slept better that night than for several days and woke feeling refreshed although still not very hungry!
Two days later the early morning found us driving the same route through the usual horrendous Melbourne traffic to the airport; this time we made it without incident (you can just hear Dave’s sighs of relief). Then the plane was delayed on the tarmac for half an hour while several head counts were performed; eventually it was concluded that there was a mistake in the paperwork and not a stowaway in the toilet!
The rest of our trip home was without incident, after the usual boring wait in Brisbane. I was surprised to find that although AirNZ has a huge selection of in-flight movies, they now charge $10 to view the best of them. But there were enough subtitled ones left to make a good selection and the flight passed quickly. Quickly? It arrived an hour late, that is around 1 am Christchurch time, and we were so grateful that Dave’s sister Alison waited all the extra time then drove us to her nice warm home where we spent what remained of the night.
Next day we got the Nissan started with the help of a neighbour, shifted T5 from her position at the back of the chestnut orchard to the front where there was power, collected an ecstatic Penny from the dog sitter, and settled down for the next few days. Our home was vacated the day after we arrived but will not be officially inspected and signed off by the Agent until Monday.
I will probably not be posting too much in the coming weeks/months. We are going to be busy doing some renovations to our home after almost 4 years away.
WE ARE BACK HOME
Postscript: I wrote this after leaving Westy at the caravan dealer.
I have loved our time in Westy, exploring this great continent where I was born and catching up with so many of my old friends along the way. One part of me wants to continue, and/or to go back, particularly to outback Queensland where so many of my ancestors lived. But another part wants to return home, to our HOME in Christchurch, to live again with and enjoy our two cats and Penny the foxie before they get too old. Plus I have any number of family history books to complete, and a promised one about my life on “Cornelius”, and somewhere along the way I hope to consolidate this blog into the last one or two of a series of books.