Wednesday, January 5, 2011

To the "big smoke" of Melbourne, for the day

It was with a degree of reluctance that yesterday I entered "the city gates" and partook of life in Melbourne for the day. Even though I was born and raised there, I prefer living in the country.

On the outskirts, a mushroom of pollution hung over the city; a haze of petrochemicals that left me with a bad headache. I'm used to the fresh air of the island where the wind blows clean off the ocean. However, I have to accept that there are times when I need the services and expertise found only in areas of high population -- especially medical services.

It takes two and a half hours to drive from our home on the island to Melbourne, with most of the distance being via freeways. Nevertheless, it's not an easy drive. The rate at which Melbourne is sprawling in most directions is astounding, with many country towns now considered suburbs of Melbourne. East of the city, housing estates are mushrooming on prime vegetable growing land, where deep fertile soils, along with abundant and reliable rainfall once produced high-quality vegetables. To allow housing estates to be built on this land, and then import vegetables from Asia, doesn't make sense -- at least to me!

On arriving home at about 10 o'clock in the evening, I stepped out of the car and breathed in the salty tang of air fresh off the ocean -- with just a hint of seaweed. Overhead, mutton birds circled the house, chuckling and cooing as they swooped and glided, playing in the wind before landing in the rookery to take their turn at sitting on the egg. Inside the gate, two very excited German shepherds greeted us, then inside the house, Katie yowled that distinctive Siamese call that voiced her disapproval of being left alone for the day. But soon she was in my arms and purring happily. A day spent in the city always leaves me feeling grateful that we live in the wide open spaces of Phillip Island and outback Queensland.

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