Home for a Holiday

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 scarey 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 a nearby development.

There’s a proposal to turn the corner shop and caravan salesyard next door to home into a service station/supermarket development.

While I’m here, I’m doing a little bit of work. There’s 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 co-incide 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’s 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’s 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.

The legendary pie cart has moved around a couple of times since I was a child, but it’s still around.
I’m proud to say that my home town was one of the first (maybe the first) regional town to have a rainbow crossing.
Fruity Fridays at The Civic
Live Music
I popped in for a bit of Friday Night Karaoke at The Gollan, the hotel where the Queen & Prince Philip stayed when they visited Lismore in 1954.
Shoppe 117 remembers Prince Philip with a Royal Doulton Display.

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.

Flood Record 1974 in Lismore
Flood Record 1974 in Lismore

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.

So far, the only bit of excitement we’ve had to deal with has been an encounter with a carpet python on the back verandah last night.

Author: James O'Brien

Born / Currently : Lismore / Widjabul Wia-Bal - Bundjalung Live : Sydney / Gadigal - Eora Also : Brisbane, Bourke, Renmark, Wagga, Perth Pronouns : He/him/his.

6 thoughts

  1. It seems Lismore kicks above its weight with famous people. Is the levy high enough to protect the town now?

  2. Hello James, Enjoy Lismore. Must be nice to be home, even if only for a short stay. I really enjoy seeing Miriam Corowa on the telly on ABC 24. Craig Foster, now there’s an attractive man. Am I permitted to say that here? And I love the work he is doing now with refugees and asylum seekers. Margaret Olley too. I’m a big fan of her work. What a marvelous artist she was and a great character too. Andrew is correct in pointing out that Lismore has turned out a lot of famous people….and of course, there’s you too James.
    As for me, Canberra was great and the exhibition at the National Gallery is excellent. Now spending 2 nights in Merimbula, then another 2 in Lakes Entrance before getting back home to Geelong on Thursday night.
    PS. Don’t fancy that bloody Python. That’s too much excitment for me.
    Cheers.

    1. Enjoy your trip back Rod. That area around the Far South Coast is beautiful. My ancestors were mostly from that area, before moving up the coast over 100 years ago, so I’ve spent a bit of time there doing family history research.

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