For two magnificent weeks last month your author was able to escape the northern hemisphere icebox where he’s presently domiciled and return to this sunburnt country. This time it was minus the droughts and back, first thankfully, then cruelly, to flooding rains. So in the perhaps belated holiday spirit, an effort will be made to spare the reader of any unsolicited opinion on politics and current affairs for a month in pursuit of some lighthearted reflections on an expat’s brief trip home.
Firstly, what a horrid start to the year thanks to our cricketers; a 3-1 defeat in the Ashes, losing the Urn on Australian soil for the first time in twenty-four years. It’s difficult to point to what’s harder to swallow: losing thanks to bad fortune and laziness, or being comprehensively defeated by a better skilled and drilled, far superior English team. While the former offers room for excuses and claims of Pommy luck, the latter (which is the clear reality) provides no such luxury.
While the Australian cricket team has some long-term rebuilding to do, hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders have far more serious concerns in their immediate future as they pick up the pieces from devastating floods. In a nation with such serious water issues, one hopes that along with better rebuilding communities, some real prospects for retaining and redirecting future deluges may arise from this disaster.
Further south, many farmers welcomed with open arms the first meaningful crop in a decade, only for their hopes of the great bumper to be dampened when the rain wouldn’t relent and damaged much of the grain before it could be harvested. The lesson in all of this seems to be that while climate change may indeed be happening, what’s becoming clear is that it’s a little more complicated than never-ending drought and ever-rising temperatures.
Undoubtedly, the most enjoyable aspect of returning home, with the obvious exception of being around friends and family, is the ocean. The Beast’s circulation area contains many inhabitants who happily forgo more salubrious confines just to be close to the water. It’s a lifestyle choice that attracts people from around this city, the country and, to our constant delight and distress, the world.
This writer, for one, never ceases to be amazed at the immaculate condition of the water in this beautiful pocket of the world. Bondi – when taking into account the number of patrons it receives each year – must have some of the cleanest water of all the beaches in the world (unfortunately litter on the sand itself remains a problem). It’s something to be immensely proud and intensely protective of.
So after settling into the seat that would become my home for the next twenty or so hours of travel, I was already looking forward to returning again, one day for good. Because nothing quite beats the feeling of diving under the waves when you’ve been away so long. And I made sure that was the last thing I did before leaving for the airport.