Melbourne. This is where the love affair began almost thirty years ago. Not my love affair with my husband which was already burning bright when I arrived. I’m talking about my love affair with Australia.
My early weeks were spent looking for work, hopping off and on the noisy trams. I puzzled over train routes and adapted to the volatile climate. The squat brick houses with their terracotta roofs and fenced front yards soon became part of my psyche. So did the deliciously ornate buildings constructed during the gold rush years that started in 1851. By the 1880’s Melbourne was the richest city in the world which is reflected in the fabulous architecture from that period.
Knowing how way leads on to way, (thank you, Robert Frost) I realize I may not see these sites again. So this week, when my husband and I walked the neighbourhood where we bought our first home together, I absorbed as many details as I could. Sniffing the faint scent of eucalyptus on the air, I listened to the call of the wattlebirds and touched the rough case of the gum nuts from the tree on the nature strip outside our old fence. I hope I caught enough of the texture of this city to last a lifetime.
Soon we will set off into the desert to explore new places and retrace old steps. My novel, Outback Promise which will be released in November, is set on that sprawling landscape. I will walk in Rosalyn Balfour’s shoes again and refresh my memories of her troubled journey.
My love affair with Australia may have started in Melbourne but it soon spread to every corner of the continent. Even in the harshest part of the Outback there is great beauty and renewal, which is one of the themes of my novel.
Is there one place you’ve said good-bye to that you’d like to see again? Where is it and what would you hope to take away as your final impression?
Photo of Flinders Street Station, Melbourne by Alan Bolitho, LM (leading man)>