A fresh start


“It’s nice to be away, but it’s just as nice to be back.” A mind-numbing platitude, the type that parents come out with and cause their children to tear their eyes out. If I didn’t actually say it on Wednesday, when we got back from a two-week jaunt, then I certainly thought it. Of course, those banal platitudes become statements of fact after a certain number of years. Now that I’ve officially achieved my dotage, sayings like “As long as you’ve got your health” are self-evident truths against which no argument can be brooked.

This time last week I was knee-deep in the Little Snowy River at Mitta Mitta, Victoria.


The water was crystal clear, and thankfully it wasn’t knee-deep everywhere as the colts from North Melbourne and Fitzroy VFL teams were camped on the banking. Take two competing footie teams, add youth, testosterone, alcohol, a beating sun and a rope swing above a swimming hole with submerged rocks and, hey presto!, you’ve got summer in Australia.


The other waterway I happened upon was the Yarra.


Concrete banks or not, they really know how to incorporate a river into a community down there. Is there anything comparable in NSW? Perhaps the Parramatta River at Parramatta, which has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years.

After we collected Jambo from the boarding kennelg the two of us went down the creek to see what we’d missed.

Not much, as it turned out.


And yet it was still quite lovely to be down there. The rubbish was different and yet the same: a stroller thrown off the Chatham Road bridge, a busted brolly.


The Mother of All Baubles. This one was so big that I put a Coke can next to it so that you’d have some idea of the scale. It was huge, industrial in scale. It can only have come from somewhere like Waratah Village.


Actually, looking at it in picture form doesn’t quite fill me with the same sense of awe. Maybe you had to be there.

I came across this blue bag, “For a better environment”. It must be somehow greener than a green bag. I wonder how. I won’t make any comment about this particular blue bag not being at all good for the environment as once I commented similarly on a discarded coffee cup, an “eco cup”. I pretty quickly got an email from the manufacturers pointing out that the cup itself was ├╝ber-eco in its environmental credentials, but they could not be held responsible for the donkey that discarded it. Same same.

I don’t think there’s anything eco about Nokia phones. In fact, aren’t our phones and iPads and laptops filled to the brim with Rare Earth and precious metals and other things mined at great cost and danger in faraway countries? (For the record, the back, battery and SIM card were gone.)


So it really was the usual old stuff, just a bit different and moved around a bit, yet it was still lovely. Jambo chased the cormorants off the litter boom by the TAFE, had a swim in the beck and finished off by chasing a few rabbits around the gasworks.


In a couple of days’ time these walks will be part of the routine, but this first one of the new year had a freshness to it that was an absolute pleasure. It was nice to have been away, but it really is nice to be back.