I thought we should take the Regatta long weekend to go north to Mum and Dad's place at Turners Beach. The last time we were there was the same weekend last year. One of these days we'll go to the Regatta, but it hasn't seduced me with its charms yet.
We took off early on Saturday. Everyone stops at the park in Campbell Town when driving up the Midland Highway, and we nearly always bump into someone we know. This time it was Mel, Rob and Olivia, who were on their way up for Festivale in Launceston. No-one knows what Festivale is for, except to cock a snook at Hobart because Launceston has no Regatta.
We got to Mum and Dad's with plenty of time to draw, kick the footy around the yard and explore. They have a great vegie garden with a very tall corn crop, excellent for hiding behind. In the late afternoon we walked along the beach. Marcus collected. Michael dug. Marcus did a page of wonderful drawings of his beach collection. He has a fine eye and might follow in the family tradition as an artist.
On Sunday we went on the Don Railway. Usually its drawn by a steam engine but due to bushfire season they are only operating diesels. It suited me fine - its not the romance of steam I love, its the ambience of the time around when I was born. I can dimly remember meeting my grandmother Ibey at the train station when she came up from Launceston.
When I looked around the interior of the carriage I thought of days when a journey like ours was commonplace, in fact dull. On rainy winter days the carriage would be full of the smell of wet wool - no polar fleece. Supporters would have gone along the coast by rail to watch their footy teams play away. And country mums would have gone home with their new babies by train from the big new Burnie or Mersey General Hospitals (now both taped-off shells with asbestos problems).
Later on Sunday we walked on the beach again. Dad is 71, has had trouble with both legs lately, but is still keen to get to the drop of the ball if you hoof a football towards him. Capering around kicking the footy with my father on a broad beach with the tide out, I felt very happy. The flies were pretty terrible and the jellyfish were many and hubcap-sized, so we didn't go in the water or hang around too long.
On this visit the boys slept together on a sofabed. The first night was a bit windy, and the sound of twigs and leaves blowing on the roof spooked them a bit. None of us got much sleep. The next night we all stayed in our own beds, slept like logs and awoke on Monday for the drive home feeling more fully human. I had enjoyed seeing Mum and Dad very much. Sometimes it is very nice to be a guest, to be fed delicious food and to be amused. Although it is not my childhood home, there is a lot there that is comfortable and familiar.
On the drive home we stopped at Campbell Town again. This time we met one of Marcus's South Hobart classmates on the swings. The boys were great all the way - they co-operated, shared and behaved remarkably well. Grandma Ruth gave Marcus a Spotto type game to play on the way home, and he took it very seriously.
Later in the afternoon, after we had picked up Hattie and arrived home, Marcus and I put together a family tree, or at least as much as we could from memory. He had asked "How many people are there in our family?" - so we wanted to show him that depending on how far you go, there can be plenty. He is asking a lot of excellent but difficult questions at the moment.
Travelnote: At Latrobe there is a Trout and Platypus Experience. So what we saw a few weeks ago at Salmon Ponds is obviously part of a wider trend.