I’m sitting outside under our verandah, listening to the frogs vocally wake up as we get our first day of real rain for the season. In fact, yesterday was the first day that it rained since we moved into our house in Mission Beach. Of course, it rained for nearly the full the two weeks that we spent in the tent when we first arrived to Mission and were house and job hunting, but the moment that we moved into a residence with a solid roof and walls that don’t leak when you touch them, it stopped raining. That was on the 14 August. It is now the 13 December.
It is impossible to believe that we have been living in Mission Beach for 4 months. That is two whole months longer than we have lasted in one spot since we started on this big journey. That is how magical this town is. That being said, we have both changed jobs since arriving and life today is very different that the life that we were leading in the first month here.
Monique was working as a barista in a cafe 6 days a week, with early morning starts and a necessary early bed time. Now she is working for Skydive Australia editing videos of people jumping out of planes, working reception and handling admin and works only 3-4 days a week.
Anai was originally working at a cafe as chef, and the pizza place as a pizza maker. She moved to the local bar at a chef and is now piking up bar tending shifts. She has dropped from two jobs to just one and is really establishing her place in the bar she’s working in (mainly as everyone’s life-advisor, which is nothing new for her!)
The weather has certainly changed too (from warm/hot to steamy/hot) and all water-based activities have moved from the ocean to the pool as the warmer weather brings with it the threat of stingers and crocodiles in the ocean. This has also forced us to explore new territory inland in search of swimmable waterholes and waterfalls. With this rain today I’d say that the stingers will be well and truly flushed out into the ocean now and that even the die-hards who were still swimming yesterday, will be out of the ocean tomorrow. The rain is a blessing though. The colours up here after a good rain are something you have to see to believe. The vivid greens, the flowers that bloom, the red and blue of the berries on the trees… just magical.
All of this has helped to keep us interested in life here. I think that we just might make it through the whole 6 months we planned on staying! *shock*!
We are also well accustomed to the pace of daily life in the tropics and the quirks that comes along with living in the rainforest. We have slowed down immensely. Actually, we were a little thrown when we took a short trip to Melbourne recently and the frantic nature of the city caught up off-guard at first (after 24 hours we were well in to the swing of the city and loving it). Interestingly, after being in Mission Beach for 4 months, well actually, after being in Queensland for the better part of 18 months, Melbourne did not feel like Australia anymore. Melbourne felt like Europe. Sophisticated, stylish and unique. It was wonderful to see people smoking cigarettes and enjoying a wine in the al fresco dining section of bars and restaurants. We ate food with a variety of tastes and textures. We saw men with full faces of make-up, strutting along-side their fixie bikes in heels that I would not dare try to walk in. Anai caught the attention of a indigenous transexual who winked at her as we passed her posse on Lygon Street one night. We enjoyed the company of good friends, great conversation in places that fit us like a glove. We loved every moment of being immersed in a place where everyone is uniquely themselves, and nobody looks twice at the tattooed skinhead dancing down Smith Street in a tutu on a Wednesday night.
It was bliss.
Then we hopped on the plane, flew for 3.5 hours to Cairns, drove 2.5 hours from Cairns to Mission Beach and were ecstatic to be back.
Is it possible to have two places that feel like home?
Two places that you equally love, but for very, very different reasons. In the short time we have been here Mission Beach has stolen our hearts. She is a beautiful place. Not one that we see ourselves settling into forever, but one that has accepted us fully, and us her. Melbourne is where our people are. Not just our friends and families (real and adopted), but people like us. People who think like us. People who inspire us. People who bring out the best in us.
Melbourne is what it is because of the moody, broody weather. However that is also sadly what keeps us away. Those long winters…. that icy wind… eek. No thanks! But that environment allows for long conversations over a bottle or red wine, in a cosy bar with the fire roaring. All that inspiration and conversation, galleries and theatres are good places to be in winter as they are warm and full of people. Art keeps you sane through the cold, and gives you something to focus on when you’re broke and your house is colder than the walk-in freezer at the job that you hate, but have to keep to pay the bills. It is a city that comes alive after the sun sets. A city of socially aware citizens. A city where competing protests can take place, in the same street, on the same day, and nobody ends up in hospital.
Mission Beach is not the place for drinking red wine, or for suggestion a trip to the theatre. It’s charm is it’s small town vibe, the luscious rainforest surroundings and the picturesque palm tree lined beaches the stretch further than the eye can see. It is a place for hammocks, learning to crack open coconuts, and going to bed early. Nowhere in town is open after midnight and most nights the town is deserted by 7pm. The people here are all drifters and travellers, seasonal workers who just want to live in paradise. Some stay for a while, some stay for life, but most do a year or so and then move on. Or they plan to anyway…. the most common phrase in town must be, “Well, I came here for a week’s holiday in (insert year here) and just never left”. Everyone has the same story. Some moved here when they had small kids to enjoy the relaxed environment while their kids were young and planned to move back to Brisbane/Melbourne/Townsville when the kids started school, but it’s been over 10 years and they’re still here. Some literally drove their van into town as part of an Aussie road trip and just never left. It’s just that sort of place.
It’s so tempting to dream about a place that has the culture and people of Melbourne in the location of Mission Beach. But it just would not work. You can’t be Melbourne-fabulous in this heat. Summer fashion does not fit with the gallery hopping crowd of the south. They’re just incompatible…. yet somehow, I feel like the two towns fit us perfectly. Maybe they are the two parts of us? I think that we need both elements for us to remain sane. The efficient and the snail-paced lifestyles. The sunshine and the fireplace conversations. The black leather jackets and the summer dresses.
As we head into our final chapter in Mission Beach; the summer storms, we know that we will be back here. That when we say goodbye in a couple of months, it will be a ‘see you next time’… because we now know what this balanced lifestyle feels like, and we enjoy it too much to let it go forever.