As the days slip by we're catching up with neighbours and friends who we haven't seen since last April. As far as names are concerned, I have a brain map for Mitchell and another for Phillip Island.
In Mitchell, people feel secure enough to leave their cars and houses unlocked, and don't worry about what people may or may not see of their private life. After all, everyone knows everything about everyone -- and what they don't know, they'll make up, so you may as well tell them in the first place!
Perhaps this openness and trust is due to the wide open spaces of outback Queensland.
When we moved to Phillip Island, 15 years ago, people were relaxed about security and privacy. Times have changed. We are the only house in our street without a sophisticated security system. On the other hand though, we do have two excellent German shepherds.
On one side of us, the two-storey mansion has a security fence through which you cannot pass unless you speak into an intercom system, are photographed and then given entry via a series of complex deadlocks. The message is clear: this is not a neighbour who welcomes visitors.
Trust, open friendliness and a willingness to help neighbours is a feature of life in the small outback town of Mitchell. Where population pressure squeezes people more and more tightly together trust disappears; people retreat behind locked doors and heavy curtains and blinds.
The high pitched beeping of an alarm system that's been triggered, is a common sound in our neighbourhood here on Phillip Island. But nobody seems to take any notice! Often the security system has been triggered by a moth or a rabbit. It's a very unpleasant shrill sound.
Playing my guitar is a daily pleasure and my fingers are gradually remembering where to place themselves on the strings -- to make music. I love the sound of a guitar, especially when playing notes rather than strumming. I haven't learnt to play chords yet, preferring the use single notes.