If you find the text too small to read on this website, press the CTRL button and,
without taking your finger off, press the + button, which will enlarge the text.
Keep doing it until you have a comfortable reading size.
(Use the - button to reduce the size)

Today's quote:

Monday, September 7, 2020

"Your coming here would give me a new lease of life"

Noel wrote, "It's as isolated as it looks, but plenty of crows and wallabies for company"


There's a fine line between solitude and loneliness, and my best mate Noel Butler must've crossed it when he'd asked me to join him at Mount Perry, a then almost-ghost town 360 km north-west of Brisbane, 100 km west of Bundaberg, and more than a million miles from almost anywhere else.

He'd sent me these photos while I was still working in Greece and after he'd just bought himself this small prefab on a five-acre plot. It was the sort of place where you went when you had no money and life hadn't been too good to you and you needed a bit of time to lick your wounds.

Noel wrote, "Home on the hill. That's Mt. Perry in the background"

I came back to Australia in 1985 and, after an unsuccessful attempt to find my feet again in Townsville, it was my turn to lick my wounds in Sydney which prompted Noel to invite me to join him at Mount Perry.

As he wrote, "Your coming here would give me a new lease of life", which was the nearest he'd ever come to admitting that his homecoming after a lifetime in New Guinea hadn't quite worked out the way he'd hoped, and he was feeling lonely and in need of like-minded company.

While never admitting it to myself or others, I'd experienced my own bouts of loneliness, although the excitement of forever chasing work around the world had always cut them short. And there's the other thing about loneliness: it's like a bad toothache which at the time makes you think it's the end of the world. Then, when it's all over, you can't even remember the pain, which is why Noel's cri de coeur never registered.

Not until now because not only didn't we have the same 'toothache' at the same time, but Noel had also already reached retirement age while I still had twenty-five years of work ahead of me. And what work would there have been for someone like me in a dying town where the local mechanic had already left, the post office was on the verge of closing down, and the only shop was struggling to keep its creaking doors open?

Noel's home on the edge of Childers in December 1990

As so often happens, the story had a happy ending for both of us: I left Sydney for Canberra where I was able to establish my own practice, and Noel could sell his isolated plot with "plenty of crows and wallabies for company" and resettle on the edge of Childers, within walking distance of shops and pubs and medical facilities, where I revisited him in 1990 to spend our last Christmas together before he passed away in 1995.

Googlemap Riverbend