I am what I guess I would refer to as a hybrid.
I’m part country hick who loves to wander around bare foot and part latte sipping city slicker who lives to go out to breakfast with my friends on the weekend.
27 years ago my parents packed up their lives in Melbourne, and their one-year-old son (me) and headed bush, when I say bush, I mean really bush.
The Bega Valley is situated eight hours north of Melbourne and six hours south of Sydney.
Oh the middle of nowhere you say, yep, now head an hour north of Bega up the highway, turn left and travel an hour up a rough dirt track. There, an hour from the nearest seeled road and two hours from the nearest town you would find us.
We lived with the six others who all owned shares in our hundred acre block, surrounded by national park.
Mothers with toddlers in cloth nappies washed in the creek, the only source of water, growing all our own fruit and vegies (eating what wasn’t stolen by wallabies or possums). Dad’s building huts out of mud bricks and fallen trees; we lived an existence without the need to go into town. Some times we would go three weeks without seeing anyone who didn’t live on the property.
You can understand then that, when, a year later, mum had a two year old and a new born, living in a tent with no power, she packed up and got the hell out of there. From that day forward, for the next 18 years, the four of us lived in a little town near Bega called Tathra.
Home for me, from the time of my first memory onwards, was a house on a half-acre block 100 metres from the ocean. Mum made sure that she was nice and close to everything she needed, shops, the beach, work; No more of this being completely removed from society shit.
Childhood memories for me were all about billy-karts down dirt hills in the bush behind the house, BMX’s, running around on the beach, surfing and camping.
And then reality hits, what the hell do we all do once we finish school. Suddenly those of us who have aspirations to further our education don’t have any choice but to leave town.
Even in the 12 months after I finished school where I decided to have a gap-year the region turned into a crèche come retirement village. Everyone aged between 18 and 35 just leaves town.
The trend seems to be leave town, get an education, meet someone, settle down then bring them back to the region because it’s a great place to bring up kids. Anyone aged between 35 and 45 have young kids around and so don’t have a great social life, so suddenly you feel like your surrounded by people who wear nappies.
My aspirations to work in radio brought me to Melbourne. Wow was I out of place. A different state, different sizes and kinds of beer, I had no idea what the difference between a latte and a flat white was and I think I’d had Maccas once as a 12 year old.
Anyone who has moved to a new life they don’t understand will no doubt know that the transition takes some time. I got busted for J walking across Flinders lane (I didn’t even know what J walking was). A couple of weeks after I arrived I got done for fare evasion, how cool I thought, trams are free.
The other part of it was of course I hated having to wear shoes everywhere I went, I could smell and feel the smog in the air and I got sick three times in the first winter, I honestly think it was a reaction to fumes.
St Kilda, to me was the worst kind of torture that existed, I could smell the salt air, I could hear the Sea Gulls, I could see the water and the sand but there was no way in hell that I was taking my shoes off down there, getting in the water? No way. I’d heard all the worst stories, friends of friends had trodden on needles, mates had seen poo floating in the water, it was all kinds of wrong.
I moved into my first share house, uni started, I got into a routine, now I look up and we’re seven years down the track (do they even use that turn of phrase in the city?)
I don’t think I would really even notice the change in me if I didn’t go back to Tathra a couple of times a year to visit family. The last time I went back, Christmas, I got so frustrated with the driver in front of me that I nearly got into a fight. Country drivers will literally sit at an intersection until there are no cars as far as the eye can see before they pull out. I know for a fact that I use to do that too. (I caused major congestion at the end of my street the first time I drove a car in Melbourne)
Nobody in Tathra knows how to make a good coffee (no one in Melbourne knows how to make decent Fish and Chips for those playing at home). On a weeknight all the local watering holes will close by 10pm. On the weekend after a night out, when the venues are all done by 1am, the town is dead. There are no convenience stores at all and if you were thinking kebab or felafel, you better change that to thinking Peanut butter or Vegemite on toast, at home.
So who the hell am I, I go mental if I spend more than 6 months without walking in the bush or jumping in the ocean, I still say things all the time that my friends don’t understand because I’m a country kid. On the other hand, When I do go home to Tathra, I’ve been known after 2 weeks in town to make the 2 hour trek north to try and find decent coffee and I get laughed at at least once every trip for suggesting a late night sev elev mission.
I’m a hybrid, are you?