Travel Tales

Notes about Bill’s voyage to Australia in 2013


As you can see in the preceding first day note, this travel log was intended to be produced along the way, during my voyage to Aus, all planned according to the general table that I’ve included for info. It all went (almost) to plan. However my writing was reduced to pencil jottings when I realized that I’d become addicted to a French keyboard, something that was not to be found east of Doha. It’s only now that I’ve managed to get these notes into accessible form for any courageous readers. And the most interesting parts you’ll find in reading between the lines…

Also, no French language version, so, my humble apologies to any francophones who cannot manage the English. Also, the text is addressed primarily to friends and family that made the voyage possible, and when I would have qualms about imposing my company there would be reference to my role as a welcome mat in Francophonia over the years, even although for me that was just pleasure. Now, this return to home base has been particularly precious, giving me a real sense of consolidating my foundations. So thanks to each and every one !

In reading over some of the notes I was surprised by the number of times that I mentioned food, reminding me of time spent in Murwillumbah’s Austral café, whose motto was (if I remember correctly) :”a pleasant place to meet and eat” – except that this time it was Australia wide !

Also I’ve chosen a minimalist style that will sometimes make reading difficult … but up and away !


First phase

8/15 Thursday. From Arras to Roissy CDC airport. Ibis hotel right in the airport. So convenient and a reasonable price.

8/16 Friday. Shuttle from hotel to Terminal 1, then long wait in queue. No possibility of upgrading because booked through agent, not directly with the airline through the Internet. Full plane, away about twenty minutes late. Neighbour a Belgo-Indian, working in aeronautics in Toulouse. Just reasonable time for connection at Doha. Both flights without problems. Leg room good in Qatar Air. Paris to Doha plane had 2+4+2 rows of seats. Second part 3+3+3, but thanks for an isle seat. No conversation and no sleep either so that the section from Doha to Kuala Lumpur seemed to be interminable.

8/17 Saturday. Met by Stefan in KL, i.e. at the big new terminal. Quite long motorway drive to his suburb. Welcome by Helen, Kiara, Jade and Robbie in their magnificent new unit on the 18th floor of a 2x180 flat apartment complex.

Retrouvailles, sleep, home cooking, relax.

8/18 Sunday. Relaxation. Warm KL weather. Mass in the huge district church : 7h00 Tamul ; 9h00 English ; 11h00 Chinese ; 13h00 Malay. Hundreds of people coming and going, with coffee and takeaway food in between each Mass ! Evening meal in popular satay restaurant.

8/19 Monday. Drive on motorway southward to Melaka, historic port town and visit to an old Portuguese tall ship. What courage to tackle the high seas in that ! On the way back to KL a violent thunder storm with torrential rain. We survived and back in time for a “steamboat” restaurant. Ultra convivial meal, sharing all that went into the double bowl of hot and mild soup in the middle of the table. Plenitude !

8/20 Tuesday. Drive with Stefan to Putrajaya, the relatively new political and administrative agglomeration within greater KL, i.e. situated between the commercial centres and the new airport to the south-east. A major urban north-south axis along a peninsula between branches of a vast lake created by a dam on the river. Rather special architecture on a massive scale, providing space for the various ministries. A monumental Prime Minister’s lodge.


Second phase

8/21 Wednesday. A 5h30 start to ensure arrival at the “low cost” airport terminal, home of the Air Asia company. Distinct air terminals, although sharing of runways. In time for much waiting in lounges. Good news was upgrading into a “flatbed” for the journey to Perth.

Arrival Perth at about 14h00. Errol there to meet me – our first encounter since leaving school in Sydney in 1948 ! Unreal ! Not long drive to Applecross neighbourhood and meeting with Leonie. A charming couple who gave news about their three sons and nine grandchildren. Problem of mislaid keys, seemingly fallen from my pocket in the “flatbed”. Much telephoning to airport and airline, but no keys to be found so locksmith solution. (affaire à suivre !)

8/22 Thursday. Book-read meeting with a group of about 10 men, friends of Errol that meet each month to discuss a chosen edition. This time it was “The Great Gatsby”. Very interesting discussion, then lunch together prepared by the host of the day.

8/23 Friday. Bus into the city for RV with Douglas at midday in front of the Anglican Cathedral. Doug was a member of the Anglican Fellowship group that I had met in 1953. Short meeting in Sydney in 1960. We spent several agreeable hours over a prolonged lunch in the courtyard of the State Library. Old times and new. He has published about 8 books, collections of documents on various themes and has lived in Sydney, Canberra, London and New York.

Then evening with my hosts in an enjoyable Italian restaurant.

8/24 Saturday. Magnificent guided tour by Errol around the Swan estuary, including the Fremantle harbours and Cottesloe beach. Wonderful weather, panoramic views. King’s Park on arrival back in Perth.

Symphony concert in the evening with some short Mozart, then a great performance of the Mahler 7th concerto !! It was part of the 40th anniversary of the Perth concert hall.

8/25 Sunday. Quiet morning. Great-nephew Paul at midday for lunch with Jemma, then Paul dropped me off at the airport. Paul, 30, now a fireman, Jemma, 26, medical student.

Jetstar from Perth to Adelaide – no hastle. Efficient arrival at Adelaide terminal with taxi to the Grosvenor/Mercure hotel. Cheap internet booking for room not up to scratch.

8/26 Monday. Dining room breakfast then book out and into the Avis car rental depot almost next door. Off and away in a rather large Toyota Aurion. Get used to automatic gears and driving on the left! A back to student days crossing the Torrens, past the Uni buildings in North Adelaide and search for the SE exit, heading across the Adelaide Hills towards Murray Bridge. In Tailem Bend, motel above one of the last reaches of the Murray before entering Lake Alexandrina. Drive out to Moorlands, but also into Murray Bridge to buy a mobile phone.

8/27 Tuesday. Breakfast then early start for drive along the Murray banks towards Morgan. Ferry crossing at Mann…

and again at Waikerie where magnificent citrus orchards. Some cliff views along the way. Morgan at the beginning of the Whyalla water pipeline. Moving scenery, but enough driving for the day at Burra, an historic mining town and also a pleasant motel.

8/28 Wednesday. Drive from Burra to Port Pirie through delightful countryside. Discovery of the town library with Internet facility enabling welcome retrieval of emails on my French letterbox.

Reasonably short drive to Port Augusta. Motels occupied, so beeline to the interesting info centre through which I managed to join the “Grey Nomads” in the caravan park with ad hoc cabins available. My neighbours were part of the contingent of baby-boomers wending their way around the homeland in often magnificent camping cars and caravans ! It’s quite impressive that along the roads the predominant traffic is 4x4 vehicles, caravans and 2-trailor road trains ! But for the moment a mini tour to discover Port Augusta.

8/29 Thursday. Courage in hand, I set out towards Lock in the centre of the Eyre Peninsula, calculating that I could always shorten the itinerary if too tiring. But no problem. Rediscovery of Whyalla, then Cowell and westward to Lock. With its 200 population this town is smaller and more discouraged than I had expected, so questions to be posed on its vocation as centerpiece for an Eyre Peninsula region. A lot necessary to make it so ! On towards Kyancutta and Kimba, then Iron Knob and back to PA. Mission accomplished with about 600 km driven during the day.

8/30 Friday. Today’s programme less demanding and more like a normal tourist agenda ! An early morning detour via the Arid Lands Botanic Garden on the NW exit of the town. An encouragement for semi desert flora and fauna on a site overlooking the northern extremity of Spencers Gulf, a site visited by Matthew Flinders. Meaningful view SE back towards the town of PA with its provocative future.

Then drive to Quorn and Hawker to arrive at the wonderful Wilpena Pound National Park topped by St Mary Peak, highest point in the Flinders Ranges. Difficult to not stay longer but back to PA mid afternoon. Some cyber contact in the local library and some necessary laundromat activity.

8/31 Saturday. An early morning exit from the cabin at the caravan park. A drive through the chic suburbs of PA, near the Rotary Park lookout. Then direction Wilmington and Peterborough. Petrol and food, Internet at the local library. Beeline to the Paratoo site for urban fiction, difficult to identify along the way, so from Yunta back to the Paratoo Creek bridge with the nearby high hills and return to Yunta. Arrival much earlier than expected. At the hotel where I’d booked a room, a dear old man, originally from Newcastle says that I’d be much advised to continue to Broken Hill. “One hour”, but it took me two, following the Indian-Pacific railway line through dry-climate vegetation. Kangaroo warnings, but only a few dead ones to be seen along the roadside.

Arrival at Broken Hill mid afternoon. Find the railway station – not too difficult – and then a “just right” motel almost opposite the train station. Ouf !

9/1 Sunday. Drive to Menindee and back. Surprising no view of the lakes unless driving on gravel roads which I refused because of hire car insurance and risk of fine,penetrating dust ! (Oh the Darwin experience of 2009 !) The brown Darling is flowing, as is the transfer canal that crosses the main road. A small town of which the most part has always resisted floods. The planning grid forever, throughout Australia, until, it would seem, around the time of Canberra satellite cities ! And always the individual house, although in the country areas the eaves are wider, giving better wall protection from the sun !

Back to BH along monotonous road with minimum rest points. Back to what proved to be an extremely restful motel “Comfort Inn”. Sleep, whisky, excellent Asian food at the motel restaurant. The lady is Philippino and insists on calling me “darling”.

9/2 Monday. Hire car back to Avis for midday at the airport. The local agent drove me back to town. A second generation BH man with PhD son married to a German girl who will accompany the 13yr old grandson this year to Germany and France. Sleep, sorting, Internet again at the local library, some good food (fresh Greek salad with a glass of Riesling, then Mongolian lamb with a drop of Margaret River Shiraz. Oh the back blocks ! Everywhere the wonder of the work of past generations.!

Sleep, the motel paid for, so all set to begin the next phase of the journey on the “Country Link” train to Orange. (Do you remember stories about the “Silver City Comet”?) I’ve succumbed to a mobile phone, so am reassured that cousin Colina and Bernie will be at the station to meet me tomorrow afternoon. Z z z z z z…


Third phase

9/3 Tuesday. By train via Menindee with good view of the big lake, then Ivanhoe, Euabalong, Condobelin, Parkes and Molong to Orange. The English lady who was my travelling companion used the expression : “end up in” a given place, just as we were arriving in Ivanhoe. It seemed appropriate, but then we all end up somewhere, don’t we !

In Orange, Colina and Bernie at the station to meet me as planned !

9/4 Wednesday. Rediscovery of Orange, Canobolas, visit to the original hospital/art gallery, then Rotary Park and new suburbs. And an introduction to some wine of the local vinyards…

9/5 Thursday. To Canowindra in the morning to visit the Museum of the Fishes. Fossils of 400 million years ! Geoffrey Wooldridge joins us for lunch at restaurant. Goodbye to Colina and Bernie, then with Geoffrey by car to Cowra. Some drives of discovery around Cowra and then company of all of these kangaroos on the hill !

9/6 Friday. Visit to the high school where Geoffrey had been headmaster for many years.

9/7 Saturday. Geoff drives me to Blayney. A deserted railway station ! Then one more passenger for the Dubbo XPT towards Sydney. I leave the train at Katoomba where met by cousin Janet and Philip. Walk with Philip to the edge of the plateau and bushfire stories !

9/8 Sunday. Visit to the Leura Library and Art Gallery where delightful expo of work using local materials. And dog Maxim still sings to Janet’s Bach only accompaniment !

9/9 Monday. Drive to Penrith with Janet and Philip for meeting with Ron and Des and joined by Jim and Liz. Retrouvailles ! Then to the Penrith Panthers Club for an excellent meal. Farewells then by car with Jim and Liz to Lane Cove via the new motorway north of Parramatta. Reintegration of keys and passport from Perth, for which I’ll be eternally grateful to Errol and Leonie, even if profoundly embarrassed by the trouble caused !

9/10 Tuesday. Into the city by train in the morning. From Town Hall station to St Mary’s by foot, then visit to the nearby map office. How will the new Asian migrants ever get to know the Australian territory ? Do they realize where they are ? By rail back to Town Hall then bus from York street. Anguish when face to face with the bus service.

9/11 Wednesday. By direct train from St Leonards to Tuggerah where met by nephew Phil. Visit to niece Pamela. Arrival at Phil’s home to meet Mary, then joined by nephew Kenrick, Anne and many members of both families for a real live monster bbq on the terrace.

9/12 Thursday. Early morning start to conform with the work obligations of all ! Then back to Hornsby and St Leonards where met by Liz. Evening meal with my musician nephew John at French resto in Lane Cove. News of his interesting work with Musica Viva.

9/13 Friday. Avis car at 11h00 then drive to Burradoo with stopover for lunch at the impressive Information Centre and Catholic Club in Campbelltown. Meeting with Finn and Di during the afternoon. Spectacular visit conducted by Finn around the district, including Gibralter Peak at dusk. View right to the towers of the Sydney CBD…

9/14 Saturday. On the road towards Canberra in time for lunch with cousin Dale and Dianna. During the afternoon, drive via Captains Flat to Majors Creek for a glimpse of the new home of cousin Margie and Randall, during their absence on a voyage to Italy. Wonderful drive through forests on the Great Divide. Back to Canberra through mist and light rain of early evening.

9/15 Sunday. To Mass at the Pro-Cathedral presided by the outgoing and incoming bishops. National day for Chile so representatives from Santiago. BBQ on Dale and Dianna’s sunny terrace, joined by cousin Warwick and Elfreda.

Evening meal with pharmacy friend Robin at resto in the city. Robin drives a becoming vintage, stylish Subaru ute, on which interested buyers leave proposal notes attached to the windscreen ! For her it is a practical way to get access to her 250 acre piece of mountainside, part of the surprising Canberra way of life…

9/16 Monday. Morning visit with Dale to the Geoscience HQ for purchase of some inevitable maps. Wet day so tourism limited to pilgrimage to the commemorative plaque for architecture school friend Chris, in the entrance to the High Court building that he designed. Then long visit to the Aboriginal art collection at the nearby National Art Gallery. Detour via the National Library for some info about the centenary of the Canberra design completion. Passage along the Lake shore via Canberra’s “ point G”, i.e. the crossing of the land and water axes ! Dianna’s refusal to come to a resto for the evening meal was compensated by her superb cooking…

9/17 Tuesday. Departure from Canberra via the northern satellite town of Gunghalan. Some fast food at the Big Sheep at Goulburn before arrival at the Finn and Di residence at Burradoo. Much sharing of stories between rare survivors of our architectural school year.

9/18 Wednesday. Leisurely drive towards Sydney as I had decided to keep the Avis car for the remaining five days in the region. I remained on the motorways until Parramatta. Discovery of the growing Parramatta CBD then via Epping Road to West Pymble where a sentimental sandwich lunch in the car outside the Wooldridge home. From there to the North Shore crematorium as support for thoughts about family members Ada, Frank, Patricia and Mary Anne. Drive on to Lane Cove with pause in front of Watkins home at 10 Matthews Avenue.

Jim had some work to do so insisted that I accompany Liz to the subscription concert at the Opera House . Some most impressive music of Chopin and Wagner performed by a more than 100 piece orchestra.

9/19 Thursday. Another sentimental journey to pause in front of old haunts, notably both Rocklands Road, Woolstonecraft and Upper Pitt Street, Kirribilli where I had lived during some decisive years, not to mention the Longueville sailing club. Then the company of architecture school friends Bill and Terry invited for lunch by Jim and Liz.

In the evening we were joined by Sally, the daughter of Jim and Liz. Sons Ben and Alex could not be with us for the occasion. Has everyone tried kangaroo à la française ? Quite an experience.

9/20 Friday. An historic visit to my old school, Shore, during the morning. RV with Ric of the Old Boys Club for what I had imagined would be a quarter hour encounter. It lasted in fact more than an hour and although some of the buildings are recognizable, the boarders are now lodged in renovated buildings and the theatre, library, gym and swimming pool installations are top quality. A chance for young people at a formative time of their lives.

Cards on table, I made it clear that I had not made a fortune, so could not contribute to funding, however, if ever there are groups of boys visiting the battlefields of northern France then they could make use of our 80 beds here in Arras ! Apart from two recent Old Boy’s luncheons in London, this was my first tangible contact with the school since leaving in 1948 and I must admit that I did enjoy the episode.

9/21 Saturday. A morning visit to dear friends Robin and Rod who are both coping with health problems. The presence of daughter Sarah and her two children helped to maintain a cheery atmosphere and it’s oh so good to maintain contact over time and space !

During the afternoon it was time to visit the new home of nephew David and Julie in Wahroonga. We were then joined by nephew Graham and Marie who had recently returned from a mammoth tour around Australia, making for some very interesting stories about encounters throughout the Top End.

9/22 Sunday. The next morning David drove me to see my sister Marj’s school friend Pam who had invited two of her family members, enabling us to reminisce about their visits to Arras a few years ago.

Then back home where we were joined by nephew Rowan and family : Dee, Jenna and Charlie for a massive BBQ. A siesta was obligatory and then Rowan whizzed off to pilot his Jetstar plane to Perth and back during the night.

Back with Jim and Liz it was just time to welcome UNSW drama club friends Anne and Don. We had performed in “The Giaconda Smile” and together learned to dance for the Uni Revue…Oh dear!


Fourth phase

9/23 Monday. Avis car to the airport with margin for the 11h00 drop-off time. Wait around the departure lounge for 13h00 flight to Coolangatta. Welcome by sister Marj and John at the airport and I was HOME ! Nothing like one’s home town. People plus urban and rural landscapes are loaded with early memories…

9/24-25 Tuesday-Wednesday. Joyful encounters with my nieces Jenni, Marion and Anne, all of whom have settled back on the Tweed, following interesting detours.

9/26 Thursday. The next day, Jenni drove me to Club Banora for a traditional weekly lunch with her father Lyndsay. We then went around the corner to meet up with my dear sister Pam, whose bright personality shines through her 89 years of age ! Back to Marj and John in the afternoon.

9/27 Friday. Marj had organized a lunch time reunion with childhood friend Mary with her husband Robert. This took place at the reserved end table on the balcony of the Tweed Regional Art Gallery. It is moving to have the occasion to retrace our steps over the years, helping each other to understand how we’ve assumed the so varied events of our lives. The backdrop was the fertile Tweed plain with the clear limit of the volcanic rim and the majestic peak of Mount Warning making its presence felt.

9/28 Saturday. Time with Marj and John. It’s wonderful just being able to BE.

9/29 Sunday. This was an occasion for me to accompany Marj and John to the Anglican Church morning Eucharist. Such an oecumenical gesture comes naturally and I was welcomed by the local community.

Lunch was with Anne and John Webb before being driven by them to the Varsity Lakes station from which I took the train to Brisbane. Change of train in Beenleigh to enable destination of Yeerongpilly where pharmacy college friend Milton was expecting me to make an apparition. It all worked and with Gwen we were a threesome for supper together.

9/30 Monday. With Milton we did some sightseeing around Brisbane the next day, including a drive past the new Royal International Convention Centre in the grounds of the old Ekka /Exhibition complex. My solicitor nephew John joined us for the evening meal which featured tender steak prepared on the barbecue out on the terrace. John had lots of interesting stories to tell.


Fifth phase : the four day international planning congress

10/1,2,3 and 4. Tuesday to Friday. Early morning taxi with suitcase to leave at the reserved hotel near the convention centre. At last contact with Gaby and others of the organizing group for the annual Congress of the International Society of City and Regional Planners. It was this event that had prompted my decision to make this voyage. They had asked me to be Master of Ceremonies for the opening session and I badly needed adequate information about the people to be introduced. In fact it had all been well prepared, so from then on it became quite fun.

I’ll not repeat the programme which is all on the Internet. ( 2013). As I’d taken no responsibility of preparing a technical paper for one of the workshops the overall procedure was relaxed and I enjoyed the multiple meetings. Due to the distance of travel there were far less Europeans present that usual, but that was compensated by the presence of many young Asian professionals. There were about thirty participants in the group of Young Planners. (In 1968 I was the only one!). Social highlights were the welcome dinner at the venue, the Lord Mayor’s reception at the Brisbane Town Hall and then the Gala Dinner at the St Lucia Golf Club on the Thursday evening.

Milton drove through major traffic jams in order to collect me at the exit platform fairly late on Friday afternoon. Dinner at home with Gwen.


Sixth phase

10/5 and 6 Saturday and Sunday. Mainly relaxation with Gwen and Milton. On Saturday it was a traditional seafood lunch at “The Fishmonger’s Wife”, then on Sunday Gwen came with us to the Norman Hotel, a vast eating complex on the southern side of the city.

During the afternoon we set out to find the new abode of architecture school friend Juris and Lois who have just downscaled their dwelling. We did find it, so a pleasant couple of hours together, although they were complaining about an overwhelming number of boxes still needing unpacking, before Juris delivered me back to my temporary home base. We promised to meet again on the Tweed before my return to Europe.

10/7 Monday. Milton insisted on driving me to the airport on the north-eastern side of the city so that I’d be in time for my plane to Cairns. It all went well in spite of peak hour traffic. Helen was at the Cairns airport to meet me and then a very short drive to meet environmental engineer nephew David in their home at Edgehill. Much to talk about, including news of their two sons Michael and Ben shuffling between Cairns and Sydney. Around Raintree Place the families seem to all know each other, so that we were invited at the end of the day for drinks. Had to push aside the brush turkey and calm the neighbor’s dog as we crossed the street. Through tropical vegetation, a magnificent view out across Cairns.

10/8 and 9 Tuesday and Wednesday, David had programmed a “get to know the outback” two day excursion to a marble-mining town by the name of Chillagoe, beyond the tableland, several hours drive from Cairns. On the way we called in to visit a colleague Sylvia in her house in the rainforest near Kuranda. Quite an atmosphere, with local tea and also the video of a two metre long python trying to come in through the front door !

We drove past the village church where the funeral service of cousin Rex had been held a couple of years ago. He had been a helicopter pilot serving for a record period during the Vietnam war and had settled in the region following that experience.

Chillagoe is built on an ancient coral reef geological structure and features some rare limestone caves and also some marble quarries.

We had booked into a group of cabins providing good clean, air-conditioned accommodation on the main street of the small town. We spent the afternoon and next morning exploring some of the interesting sites. On the second afternoon we joined a group of tourists on a visit to a major cave complex and then shared table with them for the evening meal. They were making a pause on a tourist train journey from Cairns to Forsayth.

10/10 Thursday. Breakfast with the group of tourists and farewell as they went further west and we headed back towards Cairns. Pause at the Australian Coffee Centre, with panorama across a vast valley to the north. Then a relaxing swim in the pool and supper with David and Helen on the balcony of their home.

10/11 Friday. Another swim in the pool before proceeding to the airport with Helen in time for the 14h20 flight to the Gold Coast. Met by Anne, then to Club Banora for the traditional weekly family dinner with Lyndsay.

10/12-31 Saturday 12 to Thursday 31 October. Life with Anne and Johnnie at Tumbulgum : some highlights…

My permanent abode was the “granny- flat” at ground level on the cane farm side of the house, Some evenings on Anne’s computer plus sporadic Internet connections at the Municipal library near the swimming pool.

13 Church with Marj and John on the 13th. They were not with me on the 20th because of their concert during the afternoon. Encounter with cousin Wally and Dorothy. Alone to Sacre Coeur on the 27th.

15 Mini swim at Rainbow Bay then, armed with fish and chips, lunch with Pam. Even the right to have a siesta. Weekly visit by Lyndsay to his sister-in-law. They were actually born on the same day.

18 Resto with Jen and hebergement while A and J in Brisbane for the day.

21 Afternoon tea with Shirley and Bill on the 21st.

22 Visit to Maryblane, Margot and John at Kingscliff

23 Lunch with Colin and Helen the 23rd.

24 Lunch at the Southport yacht club with Milton. Return to M’bah via Numinbah.

25 Lunch with Lyndsay and two of his grandsons, John and Philip on short visit from Sydney.

26 To the Pinnacle with Anne and Johnnie, with daughter Rebecca.

Fantastic panorama of the caldera with the Wollumbin centre piece. The cherry on the cake !

27th Fabulous Pacific swim with Jenni at Rainbow Bay then to lunch with sister Pam. Drive to Brunswick Heads via the motorway, then return via the Tweed Valley Way across the Burringbar Range.

28 Lunch with Juris and Lois on the 28th, following rv at Tumbulgum, not Tyalgum

29 Train to Brisbane for lunch with cousin Anne and daughter Diane. Visit to “teen-age” friend David in the evening on the return trail.

30th Lunch with niece Margaret and Richard at their home on the beach at Bilinga. But 100 dollar parking ticket earlier in the day at parking station in Murwillumbah !!! Afternoon and evening with John and Marj, with niece Alison, just arrived from Sydney for a few days with her parents.

31s Morning coffee with cousin Jennifer and Anne at Tumbulgum. Lunch with Lyndsay, Marion and Anne, followed by visit to Pam with Marion . Then visit by Margaret.

And a grand finale : family “farewell” dinner at M’bah Golf Club attended by Marj and John with Alison, Anne and Johnnie, Jenni and Marion.


Seventh phase

11/1 Friday. A 7h00 departure by car to Coolangatta Airport with Marion. Air Asia announce that I’ve been upgraded to a “flatbed” for the flight to Kuala Lumpur. Comfort and some sleep. Met by Stefan at the low cost air terminal. Family meal in Chinese resto.

11/2 Sat. Stefan and Robbie for swim in the pool at the foot of their apartment building.

Evening meal in the new downstairs Indian resto.

11/3 Sunday. This time English language Mass at the same big church not far from their home unit.

11/4 Monday. With Stefan and Robbie for visit to the commercial centre at the base of the twin towers in the new financial district.

Taxi to the main airport for 21h10 Qatar Air flight to Paris. Help ! We got off the ground at 01h00 on Tuesday morning…

11/5 Tuesday. Inevitably missed the connection in Doha, so three more hours wait for next plane to Paris where arrival was a total of seven hours late ! A kind steward did give me access to the first class lounge so that I could survive the tribulation and I did appreciate that.

Train ticket caduque and too late for direct train to Arras, so RER to the Gare du Nord and another hour and a half wait until the next train to Arras. Traffic jam in Arras, so Thérèse could not get to the station in time to meet me. However, we did manage to get some food together at the Carnot across the road.

Time for bed… Apart from a few winks of sleep during the first leg of the day’s flight, I calculated that I had hardly slept for 35 hours. One used to do this sort of thing to finish a project during architectural studies, but now I’ve sworn never to do it again !



Throughout this journey appeared my hidden agenda of “Regions for Australia”. It’s stronger than me: I just cannot stop myself. I sometimes think that it’s my Mother coming out in me – over all those years of study in planning when I would almost hear her saying “Decentralisation” – a call for some alternative to galloping concentration of activities in the major cities, to which the next generation was being drawn in order to have access to further education, or to find work. Present technology might help to get some of it off my chest. We’ll see !

Since my return to Arras in early November – and in spite of declarations about never traveling again - I’ve just spent more than a week in Munich and Strasbourg, prompted by the possibility of joining a group to visit the European Parliament where its more than 800 members were in session. It was well worth the effort.

So that’s it, folk !

Now Christmas is upon us – an extra impetus to finish my meandering. I’ll be hoping that there will be adequate opportunities to meet again somewhere in time and space. In the meantime we can try to keep communication channels open !

Love to all


PS. A great thankyou to Stefan for enabling me to get this on line…