Travelogue: 2020 version 2.0 (and recollections of an expensive mistake)

On Tuesday afternoon, I’ll be in Darwin. For fourteen days I’ll be confined to my room at the Quest Apartments in Parap to ensure I don’t bring Coronavirus into the Territory. After that, I’ll be bussed to Katherine, three hours south, where I’ll start my job as a Social Science and PE teacher for Year 8 students at Katherine High School.

We’ve all been learning about plans – how they change, how they fail, how they mutate into things unforeseen! My plans for this year, COVID aside, didn’t involve moving to the Northern Territory to teach geography… But here I am, packed and ready for the removalists to take my stuff and my car up north.

I’ve been soaking up the seawater and enjoying the bush near here in acknowledgement that I’m about to inhabit a very different kind of landscape. I made a pilgrimage along several big chunks of The Great North Walk, covering about 60km, and I borrowed a friend’s surfboard (thanks Stu!). The evenings have been fresh enough to justify indulging my fire-building habit at least a few times a week.

Berowra Creek campsite along The Great North Walk to Mt Kuring-Gai.

The other day I walked / ran the section from Berowra station to Cowan station, via Berowra Waters. Just past the Berowra Waters trackhead there’s a little path that leads into a tunnel created by the thick forest growing on the banks of the river. I’ve walked that track four times in my life: once on my wedding day during our photo shoot, once on my first wedding anniversary*, once in 2017 with a group of Year 10 students completing their Silver Duke of Ed award, once last week when I’d just been advised of the details for my flight to Darwin.

An especially photogenic fire.

This blog will live on. The Travelogues will continue. Only difference is the adventures I’d planned to have are being replaced by another kind. The essence of an adventure year, really. As for The Thank You Series, there’ll be updates on that to follow.

*I’d booked us a table at the Berowra Waters Inn for dinner on our first wedding anniversary. It’s a beautiful, three-hatted restaurant just around the corner from where we had our wedding reception, so seemed like a fitting location for the occasion. We were picked up by a little boat and ferried to the other side of the water, away from where we’d left the car. Having been ushered to a candlelit table by big windows and a roaring fire we surveyed the menu – a seasonal tasting degustation. Lovely, but a bit trop for our stage of life. At least one of us (perhaps both; I can’t remember) was a uni student, ergo the budget was tighter than the corset on the dress I’d worn on that day a year earlier… I asked to see the à la carte menu. Turns out there isn’t one and I should’ve read the website properly. ‘Chef’s seasonal tasting menu only, madame.’ We were caught unawares in a restaurant accessible only by pre-booked private ferry, already being served sparkling mineral water and house-baked bread, staring down the barrel of nine courses and an astronomical bill. (In fact, as I write this I recall that the only reason we decided to go ahead with the fancy dinner was because I’d found a voucher in the Entertainment Book for $50 off, and had brought a leftover bottle of our wedding wine to save money on drinks.) So there we were, caught in a luxurious trap. Long story short, we panicked for a split second and thought about leaving (maybe I could suddenly become very, very ill?), then we looked at each other and said something along the lines of YOLO, before ordering two coupes of champagne for a toast to accompany the amuse-bouche. Oh and we both had matching wines with the nine-course degustation. It was phenomenal. That was in April 2015 and, if memory serves, I think we were still paying it off in instalments on our credit card in July.

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