Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Grace's Great Voyage Down Under, Week 5: beach days, the move to Burleigh and the last, long-awaited arrival.

In case you missed my posts so far in this series, I'll reiterate the key point made in it: I am not a travel blogger. 

However, I really want to share some things about my recent travels. 

I’ve decided to write posts in the future about my trips to various Other Places – but not necessarily the way a seasoned traveller and blogger might. I’m going to write about specific things, moments; some will exist in a big compilation post while others may stand alone. For instance, if I had an especially magical dinner date, or discovered a secret spot nobody had told me about, or even just had a conversation with a native (of which I have already had many, in Australia!), then that might exist in its own post.


Sand sparkling where it cakes my feet, which were wet underneath when I walked up from the edge of the waves. Salt sticking, stiffening my hair into clumps and coating my sunglasses. I lick my lips and taste it. I was sad this morning. I came to this beach and looked out at the sea, felt the sun on my shoulders, and it was all wrong. The bright, light landscape didn't work with what was inside my brain. 
I had to sit for an hour, maybe two, and read quietly. I became immersed in a story, and in doing so, I pulled myself out of my own reality. Soon, I surfaced. And I walked down to the water and I stepped into it. After a while, it got warm. 


A rather magical vegan lunch treat after the long drive into Ballina, then back to Byron. (Cardamom Pod)

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Apparently, my 'thing' is giggling. You know that HIMYM episode, in series 3 I think, when every member of the gang is made to face their 'spoilers'? The glass shattering moments inside their heads when they're told 'you chew loudly', or 'you sing sentences'...it's quite brilliant. And everyone has at least one of these 'things'. Mum's is taking dramatic sips from a wine glass or water bottle whenever she makes a point in conversation. Dad sometimes uses outrageously OTT adjectives when describing basic thing - 'the breakfasts there are magnificent!' - and Nana starts most of her sentences with 'Look...'
Well, according to little sis (whose thing is ironically using the youths' current colloquialisms, e.g. 'sick' and 'lit' almost constantly for weeks at a time) I giggle a crazy amount.
It's so funny that she said this, really, because not long before that I'd told Mama and Nana that I was not laughing all that much, these days. 

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There is a pure and beautiful joy in simply walking an old lady of a chihuahua around the village, just for a few minutes once a day; seeing her little legs kicking out excitedly mid-air as she trots along, following her nose mostly as her eyes are quite weak now, then when she opens her mouth in a wide, panting smile because she knows we're approaching the house - and that means food. 

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Hearing 'Man's Not Hot' on the radio for the first time ever, as we drive home from Byron Bay, and crying laughing. 

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Lying on the beach, feeling the sun scorch my skin, praying the red, sore bits turn brown and stop hurting - then opening my eyes and seeing nothing but deep, beautiful blue. 


The best second hand bookshops have outhouses with blackboard doors.

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There's a couple on the beach, both fairly pale and dripping wet, walking up from the waves. They collapse onto their towels, and she reaches into their huge shared tote bag for their caps. Hers is pink and plain, his navy with an emblem of some kind stuck above the peak. He grabs hers as soon as she puts it on, and she swipes at him. They lie on their fronts and laugh. And I think 'maybe, someday'...

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The second to last episode of OITNB series 4 is even more devastating watching it with someone who's seeing it for the first time - and you know what's going to happen. 

'Be careful - the papery bark is flaky, but don't pull it off. We used to do that. But it hurts the trees.' 

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As we walk through the little patch of rainforest that comes just after the tea tree maze - in which there are clearings shaped like stars - we can hear the creatures chirping and shouting around us. That one bird that actually whoops, so distinctively, is my favourite.

Then suddenly, the ground moves up ahead. A lizard the size of a small dog jumps up from the dust, amongst the leaves, and skitters away - so quickly, its legs kicking out to the sides, it scurries into the trees.

'SHIT A BRICK AND FART A PEBBLE!!' Mama yells. 

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I am completely mesmerised for a few seconds, watching a lean, silver-haired man - he must be over sixty - cruising down James Street on a skateboard. He makes it look so easy; he's nifty and quick, and even manages to make eye contact with some younger guys as he flies by them at the traffic lights. I see their heads turn and eyes follow him as he slips away, past the beach. 

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Beach fun with Nana. 
(I was under grey fog when this was taken; it dissipated not long after, but I must be honest and remember this in future. It's so easy to forget.)

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"So...we're here for 3 weeks?!" I am a cat with cream. Or maybe catnip, as cats shouldn't really consume cream (it leads to stinky farts all around the house, and wet shits in the litter tray).
"Yep!"
Wow. This place, Burleigh, for 3 whole weeks. I properly grin then, and look down the street towards the sea - then back up to the hills, and trees that at night are full of chattering rainbow lorikeets. We're on holiday now. 

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We're watching the screens adjacent to the set of automatic doors in Arrivals, straining our eyes no doubt as they're irritatingly quite a way away, looking for two tall people in a pink light jumper and a checked shirt, respectively. Cousin Ryan is holding a Golden Gaytime ice cream, sitting in a glass cup, wrapped in a tea towel. He had to jump out of the car en route and grab one from the supermarket, after Mama and I realised you couldn't buy them in the airport - and then he apparently held it up to the air con vent in the dashboard all the remainder of the way here, to keep it cool and ready for Papa to eat after we all hugged and welcomed him and little sis. It's a joke, but also a loving gesture; it's Dad's favourite ice cream out here, and he hasn't had one in over 4 years. 

When we finally see their heads appear against the yellow walls on the right hand screen, we all yell 'it's them!' and then when they finally appear, we - Mama, me, Nana, Auntie M and Cousin Ryan - all throw our arms in the air, whoop and cheer. Quite spontaneously. 

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You can read about my first 4 weeks Down Under, on this tag
It's definitely feeling more like a holiday now.

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