Things were a lot busier at Sydney Airport than when I last travelled at the start of the year.
First, there was the security queue. For some odd reason, the business class security queue was much lengthier than the economy class security queue. “Do I join here?”, I asked the security guard. When it became obvious people were joining another queue, the economy queue, I swapped lines and was through security much faster than the others. Win.
On entering the Qantas Club, I also noticed there were many more people. Still, you had to wait to be served food and beverages, and the choice was still pretty limited. Potato Salad, and Rice Salad for me, and a couple of glasses of wine. Sadly, the in-lounge entertainment was Sky News, though it’s a lot less scary in the daytime than it is at night.
I stayed a little too long in the lounge and had to run to catch my Jetstar flight to Ballina. I was asked to do the second security test going through security and arrived just in time for the check-in. “Don’t worry, you’re not the last”, the flight attendant told me.
It’s good to be home again. Things have changed a bit since Christmas time. There’s a newly born baby in the family. Another family member has moved into a nursing home. Lismore never changes that much to the eyes of my family, though I see things maybe they don’t, though they’re consciously aware of nearby development.
While I’m here, I’m doing a little bit of work. There are a couple of emails I need to send (though they won’t take much time), and I’m also attending part of a national media conference which just happens to be happening only a few hundred metres from home. “Don’t worry, you won’t have to worry about accommodation or travel expenses”, I told my boss, adding that I wouldn’t even need a cab voucher to attend.
I’m attending a small amount of the First Nations Media Conference. The conference is being held in Lismore to coincide with the thirtieth-anniversary celebrations of the newspaper, “The Koori Mail” which, for many years, was based just around the corner from my family’s place in South Lismore. Lismore also has a high percentage of Indigenous people, with around 6% of the population being from that heritage.
I’m pleased to see that Miriam Corowa is also attending. Miriam is a presenter on the ABC News channel. She grew up in Lismore, attended Lismore High School and did her Year 11 work experience at the ABC in Lismore. Another person attending is Rhoda Roberts. Rhoda has been an important leader in the arts community for many years. She was a few years older than me and attended the same high school I did, Richmond River High School. There are heaps of other people from Lismore who have gone on to fame and success. Lismore seems to punch above its weight in this regard.
There are a few other people I know who will be attending the conference next week, and so I wrote them some notes.
WEATHER: It will be a bit chilly at night, with temperatures down to about 13 degrees. I know this doesn’t sound cold, but it is actually chilly at night. Most days it will get to about 20. The ten-day forecast looks like it’s going to be sunny most days.
WOOLWORTHS CLOSEBY TO THE CONFERENCE VENUE: There’s Woolworths only a few hundred metres from the conference venue. There’s also quite a big shopping centre called Lismore Square, which is probably about 15-20 minutes from the conference venue. It’s got everything!
THE NEARBY LISMORE GALLERY IS EXCELLENT https://lismoregallery.org/ – a great collection of local art in particular. No awful watercolours. Good quality art and Margaret Olley is celebrated there because she grew up in Lismore. And this is happening while you’re there https://www.lismorefloodstories.net/
GOOD COFFEE: The coffee at all the city cafes is good. No worries there. A couple of friends and I had breakfast on Saturday at Flock, with excellent food and coffee, and quite a buzzy feel.
If you go for a walk “around the block”, keep an eye out for the back laneways which have some awesome public art, and keep an eye out for the 1974 flood signs.
Go for a walk along the levy bank – it’s quite remarkable.
There’s a cinema.
Widjibal is the local community for Lismore, as part of the broader Bundjalung nation. Interesting statistic – 6.1% of Lismore’s population is Aboriginal.
Famous people from Lismore include Peter Allen (yes, I know he’s well known for Tenterfield, but he spent most of his youth in Lismore); ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, WA Premier Mark Macgowan is from Casino; Julian Assange (the father of my friend Amanda who I’m seeing on Monday) taught him at Goolmangar; soccer player Craig Foster and cricket player Adam Gilchrist (who went to school with ABC North Coast’s Jo Shoebridge), Rhoda Roberts (Indigenous arts), James Strong (former Qantas CEO), Margaret Olley (artist) and many many others.
I’m really enjoying being home. At Christmas time there’s always a bit of anxiety with all of the associated activities. Right now, it’s just me, Pat and Jack at home. They’ve reached the age where they’re happy to relax, chat, watch a bit of TV, and enjoy some afternoon naps. The naps allow me a bit of time to go for a wander, catch up with friends, and update this blog.