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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.

Road trips & coffee shops

September 9, 2009 Leave a comment

You can’t do a road trip without sampling a few coffee shops and bakeries along the way. A small handful deserve mention for providing outstanding food and friendly service. Remember, many of these coffee shops are located in very small towns, far from the plentiful supplies of the capital cities. That they’re able to serve such good, wholesome food is truly wonderful. Well done!

Coonabarabran, NSW – Coona is a very small town of around 3000 people. Top marks go to Cardians Coffee Lounge at the river end of the town. Much to my sister’s delight the coffee shop not only had lovely fresh scones, they served chai with soy milk. Local artworks are displayed along the wall, some creative people in this small town, the walls are worth browsing.

Peak Hill, NSWCino 86, this has to be the tiny village’s best coffee shop? The coffee and teas were terrific, soy milk was an option thoroughly enjoyed by the Playwright. The toasted sandwiches were not only scrumptious (and oh so perfect for a super chilly day), they also arrived with perfect timing with the coffees. Not bad for a lone operator who was filling in for the owner before the lunchtime rush which started early! Special mention too about the village’s beautiful garden beds along the main street – the flowers were all in luscious bloom and the plants look incredibly healthy. Hearty congratulations to the town for coming up with the idea and for obviously putting much time and effort in to maintaining these very pretty gardens.

Jerilderie, NSWthe bakery. Again, soy milk was available, and the coffees were good. The teas were fine, not the best, but very welcome and tasty. Food was fresh and delightful. We bought a loaf of bread there and it saw us through some very fine toast over the next few mornings at breakfast.

Warracknabeal, Victoria – the Warrack Hot Bread Bakery & Cafe. Very plain, just looks like your average small town bakery, we didn’t expect too high a standard. Well, were we surprised! Coffees and teas were perfect, soy milk was available, and the sweet buns were lovely. Terrific tucker for an early lunch and very friendly service. And to top off the Warracknabeal experience, there’s a wonderful op-shop with a great range of second hand books. We managed to fill any empty spaces in the car’s boot with books! The town has some lovely heritage buildings, many in the art deco style.

Ouyen, Victoria – home of the Vanilla Slice apparently. We just missed the annual bake off, held in early September. Look, select any of the open eateries (and there are many, the service stations are not to be overlooked here either), choose your vanilla slices and you’ll be well satisfied. A great little town. Will be back. Not just for the vanilla slices.  One of the best motels we experienced was Ouyen’s Hilltop Motel. If you’re passing through, I cannot recommend it highly enough! A very relaxing stay in a beautiful setting. Thanks to Phil & Julie.

Stuffed Goats

September 6, 2009 Leave a comment

It’s one thing to plan a road trip, quite another to drive it – nothing ever goes to plan. 🙂  And you never end up taking as many photos as you’d like.

Packing up the house in Brisbane was hectic & time consuming. We hit the road by lunch time. Takes forever to get out of Brisbane, the suburbs and motorways seeming to stretch endlessly. Finally, an hour or so later, we finally turned down the Cunningham Highway at Ipswich and headed out in to the countryside, aiming to cross the border in to NSW by mid-afternoon.

Wanting an easy day for our first day on the road, we pulled up at Tenterfield for the evening.

It is always a delight to spend time in this small, historic NSW village that sits astride the Great Dividing Range on the New England Highway. Peter Allen country (Tenterfield Saddler, a song Allen wrote about his grandfather).

A very pretty town, it comes complete with the wonderful Mitchell’s Shoes & Accessories shop (complete with obscure objets d’art on the walls, courtesy of local taxidermist, Elizabeth Schumann), delightful coffee shops, bakeries and assorted fashionable frock shops.

We spent a lot of time in the shoe shop, Mother was finally able to source her favoured slippers made from real sheep skin, as well as noticing (and then purchasing) her favourite brand of orthotic shoes. My sister bought fluorescent pink socks and I just admired the stuffed goat heads on the wall. (Unfortunately I wasn’t able to fit one in the boot of my sister’s car.)

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.

Think I’m getting better!

Today, I felt almost human again. It’s been a long & arduous journey but finally I have turned the corner. The virus is retreating, the asthma has settled dramatically, appetite is returning. And I’m not quite so weary. Still a wee bit tired, but that’s to be expected I guess. Will be at work on Monday. I’ll drive, think I may be pushing my luck if I ride the bike.

Missed the Show. That’s a pity.

Did finally get around to completing that job application and deciding what hours I’m prepared to work. Will email that off tomorrow for I know the Administrator will check her work emails on her days off.  Rounded up a referee who wasn’t dead or nowhere to be found.

I seem to be surrounded by people planning Big Road Trips. Had a great chat tonight with a friend who is hoping to spend a few weeks driving from Alice – Melbourne – Brisbane – Sunshine Coast – Alice via the Isa. What a journey!

My sister has bought a car from a trusted friend and is opting to do her Big Road Trip from Brisbane to Adelaide via a leisurely 10 days meandering through NSW and Victoria. I have been invited to join this trip, it’s a wonderful opportunity to record extra stills and video, and reconnoitre some background planning for next year’s driving trips, all to add to a handful of artistic projects currently underway. Some fantastic ideas firing off in my head with this: chronicling recovery, exploring middle-age self-confidence and feminism & then there’s the madcap exploration of Australian genre outback/rural film, fantasies abound. Every person has a story, a journey travelled. Old but true.

Assuming I get the permanent job, I’m not sure I’ll get the time off in August for the Road Trip, but I have asked. I am willing to forgo the trip although I’d dearly love to participate. I have also requested time off work to flit off to Tasmania to see Youngest Born Daughter. My flights cover the same time period as the Administrator’s, but I am happy enough to push my trip back to October and reduce it to 3 weeks. I am not willing to cancel this one. Haven’t seen the Youngest for more than 15 months now. And I am very keen to spend some time exploring the west coast and north-west of the island, the only parts I’ve not yet seen. Tassie’s a lovely spot. Funny, my friend tonight laughed and said “listen to us, here we are, living in the desert, planning detailed trips to luxuriant green landscapes”. 🙂 Time to start thinking about leaving the desert?  <: -)  Maybe in a year or two.

Cheers,