Time flies when you’re having fun. Or when you’re busy. Or when you’re both. A bit over a month ago, Manyoni and I headed off to Aus – this time, to my humble, adopted ‘hood of Geraldton in Western Australia.
I only have positive memories of Geraldton, but a lot has changed since I was last there 1.5 years ago. Furthermore, given that this would be Manyoni’s first glimpse of where (I hoped) he would be spending a substantial portion of his life, I was quite anxious about whether Gero would live up to the reputation I had created. Just in case, I did throw in a few negatives to remove any overly heightened expectations: “There are no trees!”
It turns out that Geraldton has trees. A lot of them. Plus they’re beautiful. In fact, this re-entry to Geraldton as a tourist guide highlighted one thing – Geraldton is amazing!
Of course, a big chunk of its magnificence can be attributed to the awesome people that live there. After so many years away, I still managed to fill every lunch and dinner slot with catch-ups with a different group of people. I had to do it in groups, because if I tried to do it individually, I would have to eat 10 catch-up meals a day. That’s a lot of awesome people for one little city.
Aside from eating and talking too much, Manyoni and I were able to get hold of a couple of dusty bikes and make our way around town. I know it’s all relative, but I was gobsmacked at being able to cycle everywhere we wanted to go on a weaving, endless network of purposely built bicycle lanes and paths that had no potholes, very little rubbish or rubble, that didn’t end suddenly in random spots, and that didn’t have cars trying to drive along them. Having worked for so long advocating for bike paths in Geraldton, I had trouble remembering if it was always like this (which made me wonder why I was advocating so hard), or whether this is a result of years of advocacy work (go me!……and everyone else). Geraldton is pure freedom!
With so many lunch and dinner dates, we were also able to get the full sample of Geraldton’s culinary delights. It started off with freshly killed mutton sausages and home-grown organic, free-range duck at Johnno’s. Then we moved on to fresh bulbs of organic garlic, sourdough bread, goat cheese and fruit from the markets. We slurped coffee at the new coffee nook, and vegan smoothies at the new paleo / health café. Then we scoffed down home-cooked delights, from stir-fries, to pumpkin curries, vegan pasta, and copious amounts of hummus. Geraldton is super satisfying!
In between the eating, I also managed to fit in a bit of physical activity. While a lack of wind (and a lack of muscle memory) prevented me from attaching myself to a kite and board, I did pick up where I left off in terms of ballroom dancing. However, as I was watching videos of my mate’s latest trapeze act that he developed with the local circus troupe and performed at a recent, highly-acclaimed, week-long G-Fest event, it made me acutely aware of how much is on offer for such a small city. There are festivals, markets, art exhibitions, classes on pretty much everything, and they’re just the organised activities. When you look at the bush, the beaches, and the public open space, the mind boggles how anyone could actually be bored. Geraldton is full of opportunities!
We were also fortunate to be loaned a gigantic Toyota Landcruiser (with lift kit!), so that we could get the full country Australia feel. We took advantage of this to go and check out the pink lakes at Port Gregory, and the coastal cliffs and inland gorges of Kalbarri National Park. Having been here so many times before, I wasn’t overly excited about the trip, but wanted to play the good tourist guide. In the end, I was the one was taking a million photos, and being rendered speechless by the blue of the ocean, the whiteness of the sand, and the vivacity of the wildflowers. The Midwest is stunning!
To finish off our WA experience, Manyoni and I spent a couple of days in Perth. The main purpose / excuse for this particular trip to Aus was to partake in the wedding of the most gorgeous ranga, banana-bender, one could ever hope to meet. Jodes’ wedding to Johnny was beautifully down-to-earth and chilled, and it was an absolute pleasure to be a part of it. Congratulations dudes!
From there, we took on baby-sitting duties in two forms:
1) The first was spending some quality time catching up with a mate who I knew from Swaziland, and her new little munchkin, John. John has blonde curls & a penchant for jazzy tunes. Need I say any more?
2) The second babysitting opportunity was for four, three-week-old puppies. After the mother didn’t bond, my friends took over the parenting duties just a few hours after birth, and what a roller-coaster that seems to have been. Manyoni and I had a go at bottle-feeding the tiny wittle wascals and, boy, was that a delightfully squirmy and messy experience. I can only imagine doing that several times a day and night.
So, after one and half weeks in the Western state, I no longer cared about whether Manyoni could live in Geraldton – all I knew is that I wanted to live there again. However, that will just have to wait, for now.