After over twenty-five years living on the Darling ranges in the midst of the Jarrah forest our one and only daughter announced in our regular Sunday Skype talkfest that she was moving to Tasmania. ‘Tasmania’ we exclaimed but that is about as far from your home as it is possible to be. Why Tasmania? We asked… Long story short the seed of an idea of a move to Tasmania was sown. Two years later our much loved family home was sold with a mere twenty odd days to settlement.
It had been a lifelong wish to one day travel the on the longest train across the longest straight railway line on the planet. But it wasn’t to be. Our family pet is Lucio, Lucio is white face cockatiel and a wonderful little friend but trains and cockatiels don’t mix. The Indian Pacific Railway Company much to my incredulity will not allow pets on the train.
Cockatiels are very sensitive little creatures and like many species they bond with humans if hand reared. Often to the point where they become well… theres no easy way to say this er, part human. If they are removed from their human family they sulk, or at the other end of the scale they shriek, and shriek perpetually. Lucio can be a shrieker.
I had thought of driving to Melbourne but Lucio perched on top of boxes in a car was thought to be also, perhaps a bit too stressful for both Lucio and his human relatives alike. This was becoming a crisis. Then one day in mid November we paid a visit to our local bird shop in Midland to grocery shop for the things that well loved birds need. In the course of conversation we asked the shop owner how do you transport birds long distances. We fly them she said. Here is a travel box $25… So it was, the journey to Tasmania would be by plane to Adelaide for Lucio and his human family. A stuffed full to bursting VW Polo took the train and then it was all together by Polo to Melbourne.
Once in Adelaide travel plans were foiled. I received a call, ‘only room left on the Sprit of Tasmania is for one small car and its driver and one bird describe as Nymphicus hollandicus which answers to the name of Lucio who would have to remain caged in the car’ – One human short I noted, next day I phoned Spirit of Tasmania from Stawell in Victoria. Can’t make any promises but leave it till the day before sailing day, reservations change all the time!
We drove to Melbourne the next day. On the morning of the sailing day nothing happened by mid morning still no news. “I’m not staying in Melbourne” said the Mrs who then picked up the almost out of quota phone and called Jetstar 2 seats left on the afternoon flight “I’ll take one’ said the nearest and dearest yanking out the credit card…. Three quarters of an hour later the phone rang “Spirit of Tasmania here we have a place for the Mrs” Damn too late mutters I “the Mrs just booked a flight” Oh she’l be there before you and Nymphicus hollandicus what is that anyway? it is a cockatiel I replied “well that’l keep you company tad-dagh” So two hours later the penultimate leg of the journey began.
The nearest and dearest was driven to Tullamarine airport and I drove on to the port of Melbourne and Station pier with Lucio the cockatiel carefully avoiding City Links tollways. After an uneventful journey I found my way to Station pier and a single parking space just out side an ice cream parlour where a wedding party was just getting into high gear with bottles of bubbly in almost every hand.
The Spirit of Tasmania was a three and a half hours away from docking and I was tired, oh so very tired, alone with Lucio who kept asking ‘What cha doin’ for the first time in a very long time I didn’t know, I was running on empty and reflecting how I arrived at this point.
For the previous month I had fetched carried, threw out, sold, bartered, gave away, lifted, moved or traded then packed just about every item I had owned, made or touched in the previous forty years since leaving my native Lancashire. Gum Tree and eBay had become my main sources of communication with the outside world. Dozens of text messages with pick up times, prices or directions had become the only abbreviated communication with other human beings. The tension between two human beings that had spent most of their lives together was rising.
Every aspect of my relatively civilised and creative existence had been cast a side; a packed container had to be ready for departure by the fifth The fifth had become a mantra ‘its got to be ready by the fifth repeated the nearest and dearest…
By some miracle within fourteen exceedingly long a driven days a container was packed by the fifth. Then its nearly six tonnes had to be dragged creaking and squeaking metal to metal onto the flat bed truck. It was ready by the fifth and duly was transported to Kewdale to be loaded on to a train and shipped off via Melbourne to Devonport.
The house now almost empty had to stripped of the remaining ‘stuff’ and cleaned up for the new owners. On the settlement day we exchanged a words I showed them around the detailed minutia of the property and at the final exchanging of keys and I wished them well.
I shed a few tears at leaving that five acres of forest, garden and home. That place had been stunted by kangaroos gorging themselves on the fruit trees that we had struggled to keep alive through several years of water shortage. I designed and had built that home. I knew every tech screw and nail. Buildings become a part of their maker and leaving them is like saying a last goodbye to a good friend. In Tasmania I would have to begin again…
Sitting by Port Phillip bay waiting for a ferry with all of these thoughts rolling round in the can that my emotional brained seemed to be everything seemed odd and I felt strange. The phone didn’t ring the text alarm didn’t tinkle, there was just Lucio asking even more insistently ‘What cha doin’.
Finally I decided to get out of the stuffed Polo and buy a gelato, ‘Ger won’t a banana’ Lucio said a few times and then proceeded to preen and make sure every feather was still in its rightful place.