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Australia’s a great place to live

November 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Just typing off the cuff here. Had planned to do a photo shoot today but not feeling so good today. Instead I’ll chat about retirement. Where to live in retirement, specifically.

My partner’s almost ready to retire.  About 3 or 4 years to go we reckon (global financial crises & their impact on superannuation allowing).  So the question has arisen – where?

We’ve both travelled extensively in Australia and lived in multiple states and territories.  We’ve both done urban, rural and remote areas.  He’s been financially savvy enough in his younger years to have bought & nearly paid off a few houses in Adelaide and Brisbane.  So, worst comes to worst, we could opt for either the South Australian or Queensland capitals, basing our retired lives in the inner urban areas.

Pushed to choose between those two cities, I’d opt for Adelaide. It’s smaller, quieter and has a gorgeous Meditteranean like climate.  With occasional heatwaves.  🙂

More importantly, for me, Adelaide is an arts city. Lots of festivals, great theatre, wondrous music. 2010 sees the biennial Festival of Arts, the Fringe Festival and Womadelaide. That’s just in February-March!

Brisbane is a nice enough city. I particularly like where we own a house. It’s close to the city, close to the river, close to riverside suburbs such as New Farm. But I don’t like the traffic, the growing crowds on the trains and buses, or the noise. As more land is cleared for housing, the more noise from the Gateway Motorway penetrates the older suburbs.

I prefer Adelaide’s shopping. It’s cheaper and where we would live has very easy access to street shopping with a distinctly multicultural flavour. It’s hard to pass by the Italian bakery or the German bakery. Brisbane’s shops are more expensive and there’s no way to avoid the big shopping centres if you want cheap produce. Adelaide’s cost of living is much lower than Brisbane.

Brisbane’s humid. In winter it’s lovely but in summer? Ugh!

No beaches in Brissy. One has to head up or down the coast to the Gold or Sunshine Coasts. With their crowds and traffic chaos. It used to be lovely. Not so anymore.

Adelaide has quaint beaches, reminiscent of English beaches but a lot warmer. And there’s this terrific bike/walking path stretching all along the suburban coastline of the city. That’s a winner.

I wouldn’t be unhappy living in Brisbane if my partner decided that’s where he would love to live. But personally I’m hoping he’ll opt for the city of serial killers and other strange crimes.

But …

I’m not really an urban girl. I prefer the peace and quiet of rural Australia. I don’t want to retire to a remote locality. I’ve spent way too many years living in deserts and other remote areas.

I don’t miss the beach (too much) when away from it so I don’t need a sea change. After all, that would be costly real estate indeed.

I like mountains. There are so many towns in or near the mountains to choose from: Jindabyne, Tumut, Khancoban, Corryong, Richmond (Tasmania), Bright, Mount Beauty, Beechworth.

I’m incredibly taken with Deniliquin, sitting on a small river, with its beautiful, historical buildings. Then there’s Portland (Victoria) on a busy seaport. Or Albany in WA. Esperance. And Strahan, sitting quietly on magnificent Macquarie Harbour in the World Heritage Area.

Tenterfield (NSW) still grabs me with its beauty and friendliness.  Robe, on South Australia’s Limestone Coast is simply gorgeous. Laura (SA), Jamestown (SA) or Melrose (SA). The list of towns goes on.

How does one choose?

Ideally, wherever we choose to live, we would have the income in retirement to constantly travel to all those towns and cities mentioned above.

I suppose, in the end, I shall have to be practical. My (I hesitate to write the word ‘failing’) health will more than likely determine our choice. I will need to have easy access to a hospital and a GP. So be it.

And whilst my partner will be retired and drawing a nice, fat allocated pension (or whatever it’s called nowadays), I will need to work.  Well into my 70s.  As per the government’s dictates.  So I need a reasonable sized town where job prospects are also reasonable.  Or I need to carve myself a new career in the arts.

It does amaze me, the incredibly long list of towns and areas of Australia I can come up with as possible retirement contenders. Shows me just what a truly wonderful country I live in. I am so glad I did return to live here.

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Deniliquin – home of the Ute Muster

September 15, 2009 6 comments

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Probably the most unexpected highlight of my recent road trip between Brisbane and Adelaide, was the small town of Deniliquin, NSW. Deniliquin sits on the Edward River, not far from the Murray River & the state border.

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We’d driven down via the Long Paddock route from Jerilderie, crossing kilometres of flat plains, denuded of trees for farming. As we drew in close to Deni (as the locals refer to the town), we spotted river gums and paper bark trees, signifying the presence of water.

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It was a cold, grey, overcast Saturday afternoon. Rain fell sporadically, drizzle drizzled often. Fragments of mist occasionally swirled through the trees as we neared the river and Island Sanctuary. This small island sits in the middle of town. A lovely park, full of tall gums and other native flora. Very evocative scenery, perfect setting for a moody, scary movie!

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We opted to stay right on the river, within walking distance of town and the Sanctuary. Island Sanctuary is reached via a pedestrian bridge that swings and sways in the wind. I imagine in the summer this place would be a marvellous spot for a bbq at the end of a hot day.

We spent an hour meandering the island, enjoying the atmosphere, gazing at the houseboats and the cabins across the water, watching, listening to the birds.

Back at the motel we couldn’t help but notice the number of utes in the carpark. Deniliquin is the home of the annual Ute Muster (to be held this year on the 2 & 3 October). Nine vehicles, seven of which were utes, one was a 4WD and then there was our little Audi sedan.

The other thing about Deni? Trackie dacks. Sitting at the fish & chip shop, waiting for our dinner to be cooked, we were treated to a run of people, all wearing sagging, fleecy track pants. Warmth and comfort I guess. There was one man with spurs. He wasn’t wearing track pants, he wore tight black jeans. With the size of his spurs, there was no sneaking up on him.

We all thoroughly enjoyed our brief sojourn in Deniliquin. So much so that we plan to revisit the town, hopefully next autumn or winter. We’d like to book in to one of those self-contained cabins on the river for a week, soak up the atmosphere of Island Sanctuary and write. And take photos. And videos. Should be fun.

The Long Paddock

September 6, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m back! The problem with incorporating a house move (my mother and sister were relocating) with a road trip is that the trip isn’t really a proper holiday. The needs to arrive at the new home, supervise the removalists’ unloading worldly goods, and get settled into “home making” all subtly apply pressure. An unseen clock ticks in the back of your mind as the kilometres unfold beneath your wheels. However, we did enjoy ourselves and we discovered places where we will return sometime in the future for a holiday.

One of those places is The Long Paddock. We only drove the section between Deniliquinin NSW and Echuca, Victoria. I’d driven down this section of road a few years back and seen the interpretive signs at various spots. I swore one day I’d drive this way again and stop for a look. I swore that again on this trip.

The Long Paddock is the traditional open stock route, free for anyone to graze or drive their cattle. As you drive along the route, you’ll notice the fences are often set well back from the road, leaving wide verges of grass for the cattle to graze as they make their slow trek south. Modern truck transport & farming methods mean that the use of the long paddock has declined but it is a fascinating part of Australian rural history.

Apart from the interpretive panels at various roadside bays along the Cobb Highway’s Long Paddock route, there are also some wonderful sculptures.

The combination of (recent) social history and public art is a terrific way to keep the mind active and alert on what can be a lonely stretch of road in a very flat landscape.

It’s a good and quiet road, well worth exploring and I look forward to exploring the northern sections to Hay and beyond next year.