Back Home Again

Normally, I can get a return flight between Sydney and Ballina for less than a hundred dollars. As I have a fair bit of clothing kept in the wardrobe at home here in Lismore, I usually only have to worry about carry-on luggage. It’s usually technical equipment like computers that weighs the most.

About the only time of the year when it gets really expensive is around Christmas, when every man and his dog wants to visit family, or spend a few days at Byron Bay, or the New Year’s Celebration, Tropical Fruits.

The other time of the year, I’ve discovered, is in the lead up to the long weekend in June, where I paid almost $250 for a one way flight. It didn’t help that it was a last minute booking, and there were only a handful of seats remaining.

The views flying to Ballina were pretty spectacular.

Though the reason for this quickly organised flight home is sad – a death in the family, which I’ll write about separately – it’s been wonderful being home.

As well as the quality time with family, I’ve also been out and about wandering around and learning more about the modern face of the town in which I grew up.

There’s a wonderful walkway down by the banks of the river which I’d really recommend to visitors to Lismore. With its history of floods, Lismore has a “difficult relationship” with the river. This is a spot not far from the Ballina Street Bridge where, as a child, I remember going fishing with “Nanny Bobbin”.

“They really should re-develop the river”, my cousin Matthew commented the other day as we had a couple of beers. Lismore needs a levy bank, we both agreed, but Matthew thought more could be done with the riverbank. We both remembered many years ago there was a “floating restaurant” that travelled up and down the river.

Ballina Street Bridge, Lismore
The river, as viewed from the Ballina Street Bridge. Though it’s called “The Wilson River” these days, I remember it being known as “The Richmond River” when I was a child.

It became the Wilsons River in 1974 and before that it was the North Richmond River. The river is tidal right up to Boatharbour, which meant the timber schooners, the smaller ships, would get up there.

Last weekend was the Queen’s Birthday Weekend in a number of states, and in Lismore, the Queen’s Birthday Party was held at the Lismore Showground.

Going to the Lismore Show (for a while called the North Coast National Exhibition) was a childhood highlight. Every year, you would get a “new outfit” to wear to the show.

But the Queen’s Birthday Party is most definitely not in the style of an old-time country show. It’s an annual event organised by Tropical Fruits, the LGBTQIA+ organisation based in Lismore. Every year they hold a HUGE New Year’s Eve Party which attracts thousands of people from all over Australia. The actor, Alan Cumming came one year. As the Queen’s Birthday Event is held in June, when the weather is much colder, it’s a much smaller event.

There’s just one pavillion, and a dance party with maybe only a few hundred people. With a bunch of open fires which people could stand around, I got chatting to some newly arrived locals, as well as people who’ve moved away from Lismore, but have sinced moved back. I even ran into a colleague from my days in Perth, who was travelling up and down the East Coast with a good mate. And I had a bit of dance!
Treaty, yeah!

“You know you can stay here for as long as you want. You can stay forever, if you like”, my sister Pat, has said to me on a couple of occasions since I’ve been home. As tempting as it is, I’m not quite there yet. I will be staying here for a little bit longer, though. It’s nice being home.

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