I wake up and we’re somewhere over the center of Australia. The flight map on my screen throws up all kinds of odd but familiar names: Watungurra, Engawala, Titjikala. I wonder why these particular locations have been placed on this representation of the island. Is there a special reason, or is it simply because these strange names are the ones most likely to amuse new tourists flying in?
Not a moment too soon, and I’m waiting for my luggage, smiling faces mill around. Everyone seems eager to tell me all about their vacations. “So, where are you from?” someone asks. They look surprised to find I’m one of their own. Lines run deep on permanently tanned features. Men stand with their skinny legs poking out beneath tight-as-a-drum beer bellies. I often feel these bellies could be as distinctly Australian as the Koalas we all know and love.
I sleep a heavy, dreamless sleep to be woken by a Kookaburra’s piercing call and the sun streaming in the window, despite the early hour.
I’m home. Back to where I came from, to the wild and wonderful part of the world that will forever own my heart. It’s started to feel a little strange when I first return. The familiarity that never diminishes jostles with the awareness that I’m also a visitor – it’s so many years since I lived here – in this state called Tasmania.
Within the hour the dogs start barking and I hear the sharp whistle of the kettle, followed by the clatter of teaspoons as they’re hurtled into mugs. That’s Dad making the tea. It’s time to get up.
Another hour or so later I’m out in the sunshine. Mum’s garden is so big these days that there’s hardly any lawn left. She’s even planted flowers in the orchard that flanks one side of the house. The deep blue sky, lush paddocks and bright blooms form a natural kaleidoscope of colors and along with the scent of the farm, send my senses into overdrive.
I head towards the river that creates a natural boundary to one part of the 100 plus acres of pasture that make up the property. It’s become my own little tradition to take a walk the first day of my return. I have a favorite spot where I can look back at our lovely old weatherboard home and catch a glimpse of the mountain in the background. Memories run around in my head, and I’m enjoying the way they make me feel.
It’s always an odd, yet comforting sensation to be ‘home.’ I love how my life in London is in stark contrast to the rural life I knew growing up. I love the city, but I have this deep connection to the land, to my country, which feels like a precious gift. It’s part of my identity and something that will always reside at the core of who I am.
And in a time when it feels like the world is continually shifting and moving, to the point when you could almost believe that it may just fall apart, I find it comforting to know there’s still this little place that barely changes at all. I linger, hold my breath and listen to the river as the water rushes away. Finally, I exhale and let my worries rush away too.