This last week I travelled to a farm in northern NSW to visit my relations up there whom I rarely see. A trip? Interstate? Four flights? A week? Was I mad? I asked myself these questions in a frenzied state the week before we left but it turns out this was the ideal holiday for a snoozie susie… Why?
- My Dad was with me (it’s his sister who lives up north) and he’d thoroughly briefed the family on my tendency to leave a room abruptly and seek solace in sleep so there was no awkwardness about me disappearing for an hour or so.
- I was staying in the farmhouse that has the BEST verandah ever with flyscreen walls, chairs a plenty to relax in, a table for grazing, a day bed for lounging and cats that drift in and out and are only too happy to be cuddled.
- They have these awesome genius chairs that have extender legs that are designed for the perfect snooze. They’re called squatters chairs and I spent most of the week in one.
- My aunt’s garden is stunning, and the best place for a gentle stroll.
- The property is so big that no one walks anywhere anyway, it’s all travelled over by car or motorbike so that ruled out too much exercise for me – tick.
- We spent hours looking at old family photos, swapping stories of family properties and scandals – hardly too taxing.
- There was lots of laughing when my cousin and I dressed up in our eccentric great aunt’s collection of furs, and they say laughter is the best medicine (is it ok yet to wear fur if it’s vintage? We didn’t get it made… A mink stole and a leopard hat!)
- A visit from their southern relations is so rare that the whole family descended on the farm and I didn’t even have to move from the house to see three cousins, three cousins’ partners, one aunt, one uncle and two little kids who I suppose might one day be my future children’s second cousins, and were they cute little kids!
I read and slept and talked and slept and snacked and slept and patted cats and slept. It was great. (Except for the queasy flight on the 36-seater Dash-8 plane to Moree that seemed to drop from the sky every second second and leave my stomach a few metres above.)
There was one crash for the week, me not the plane, but it wasn’t too bad. On the second last day a cousin and I headed off on the motorbikes and I was aware I was pushing it, but I so wanted to be out and about. Who knows how far we went but I counted several cattle grids as we rumbled over them on the four wheelers, feeling the bugs hit my face as I edged the bike up faster (this one has a speedo unlike the one at home so I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t going fast…). I had a pig dog balanced behind me, her tail thwacking me with every wag and her nose very busy as she looked for her favourite quarry – thank god she didn’t find any piggies or we might not have seen her again! We buzzed through crops and past coloured cattle and explored the favourite spots where grass trees grew (no longer called black boys), their huge spires pointing up and up.
It was only after we lost the track and wobbled over some very rocky ground that I noticed fatigue was knocking. Oi, oi! Too far! Too long! Too hard! Susan! Bugger. I shrugged it off and explored the spring and old collapsed well, loving being outside in the sun. SUSAN!!!!!! Fatigue screamed. Shit. I looked for a patch of smooth rock but they were all ragged and angular, the floods having carved out the farm’s very own giant’s causeway.
I mumbled about fatigue and went to sit on the dirt. My cousin pointed out the ants detouring around my boots. Crap. I’d walked in the fatigue haze for too long, I didn’t have much logic left. The back of the four-wheeler was suggested. Yes! With a last surge of energy I walked up the hill and stepped up on to the bike, resting my head on the back that is reserved for bales of hay and dead animals or alive and excited dogs. I curled my legs up on the padded seat and I was out to it. Relief. It only took me ten minutes, and I woke up feeling well rested and well sunned and was capable of life again. All good, I called to my cousin, I’m back. We both decided an afternoon nap was in order after our adventure and I was bed ridden for the afternoon, but I think it was worth it.
It was a big trek back home to southern Victoria and we left the farm at 7am, drove an hour and a half (with some interesting road-side visitors as the road is along the stock route and cattle are allowed to graze there) to the town of Moree.
We tried to fill up our hire car but the Hyundai i20’s fuel tank button is far too hard to find early in the morning so we dropped it off empty at the airport. Then it was a flight to Sydney in the too-small plane (I get motion sickness from a swing, so it’s no surprise I don’t love flying). Then two hours in transit where I curled up on a bench seat in an airport pub and went to sleep. Then it was a flight to Melbourne, on which I curled up in a ball in the seat, not enjoying being forced into the same posture all day) then an hour’s drive home to the farm, arriving at 4.30pm. Phew.
And while I say farm, perhaps I shouldn’t, because compared to the relatives in NSW we are not on a farm, we’re on a place the size of their home paddock, but it’s a pretty nice paddock to come back to.