Arriving Down Under ……

…. from India was a shock to the system after over 8 months in Asia.  Good public transit.  Clean streets that are lit up by night.  No honking.  Salads – yum!  No bugs to contend with (it is wintertime here).  Drinking water straight from the taps.  We westernized folks have much to be thankful for.  But it had been a bit of a transition – albeit a positive one.

Getting on the Traralgon train to Gippsland reminded me of reaching Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal where everyone knows everyone else and the conductor is trying to discreetly figure out who the odd man out was (that’s me) and what my story was.  Too funny.  Two long-time friends of my uncle – Mary Anne and Sr. Jeanette came to collect me off the train and brought me to Traralgon parish house where Uncle Jerry was ensconced with a few others including Fr Bernard who watches out for him on behalf of the Church.  Great excitement when I arrived, I just hope I live up to expectations.  

I have been in Bairnsdale since Sunday night, and am spending my days with Uncle Jerry whether we stay at the nursing home itself or whether we take off for a bit of sightseeing & lunch in the surrounding area.  Bairnsdale is a sleepy place located right on the River Mitchel, which eventually runs down to Lakes Entrance and onward to the Bass Strait which is the sea that separates Tasmania from mainland Australia.  Fresh and river fish are popular here and are very good, many great restaurants line the network of lakes & rivers in Gippsland making this area very picturesque …… with rolling green hills and cattle galore on the land.  Only for the gum trees, it could be Ireland.

I am staying at Mary Anne’s house which is located right in the River Mitchel and just beautiful in the morning and evening with the sunrise and sunsets.  The weather has been warm and their winter has been milder than usual.  In the past few days we have had some wild winds which are also unusual for Bairnsdale at this time of year but I must admit to really liking the freshness and wind in  my face.  Yes, I am a little strange when it comes to what weather I like.  The locals here think it is “bitterly cold” tonight at a temperature of 6 degrees centigrade ….. they clearly have not lived in Canada.

In preparation for my 340km Camino walk in northern Spain, I have taken to getting out walking at 6.30am and do a 5.5km circuit walk on the Mitchel Riverside walk before breakfast.  Then walk a 4.5km route to Eastwood nursing home to spend time with Uncle Jerry, then walk home at the end of the day.  Will probably have to add a second circuit of the Mitchel Riverside walk during my 6.30am morning walk to increase my mileage to about 20km a day …. which is a little under the distance Grace, Joe and I hoped to cover daily on the Camino (our plan is 25km to 30km daily).

I’ll gather some photos over the coming days and post as things of interest crop up …… whenever that might be.  

About Kate Coffey

After 25+ years in the investment management industry, I packed in my job and spent 2014 living and working in Nepal and Bangladesh, and visited some other places in between. It took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and it's people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Sanga foothills. Since 2014, I have continued my warm relationship with SIRC and worked closely with my friends there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes to date. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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