Sunday, October 14, 2012

Community socializing

After Mission Beach we rode to Cardwell, after that to Ingham and then to Bluewater. Here we stopped at a rest area. Not a well facilitated Caravan Park, as we usually do, but a place where campers, mostly caravans, can stay overnight and where there are minimal facilities like a toilet, a wash basin, an outside coldwater shower and taps that give drinking water. Because of the great distances here and the few possibilities along the road, we more or less were confined to make this choice. Among the app. 15 campers we were the only one on bikes of course and the only ones with a tent. Ooohs and Aaahs. I took a bath in the creek with our neighbor and we had an interesting conversation while sitting in the quiet water. He was a retired man, his marriage had broken up a long time ago and now, as very many retired Aussies do, he had sold his house and everything and bought a big Toyota Landcruiser and a caravan and he lived in it. He had travelled around Australia and now he went up north to go fishing, then he would visit a cousin, then his children etc. When I asked him about his social life, he said that he missed that, but on the other hand, back where he had lived everybody had also gone somewhere else. And in the various places he would tend to visit he would often meet up with the same people and they would sit together and have a couple of beers and so on, so there was more or less a social life after all. We concluded that such a thing is not easily to be compared with what we as Europeans feel and need, Australians are more mobile anyway. Indeed, it seems to us that things that Eveline and I value so much, like the rich cultural environment of the immediate presence of theatres, musea, interesting places and events, family and friends etc. are much less available here and that people here have settled to that.
As said, the rest area had minimal facilities, but it was a nicely laid out park. No shops, no houses, a closed tank station on the otherside of Bruce Highway, that was all. Since we are cyclists and cannot carry large quantities of food and drinks, let alone cold ones, we had settled to the idea of a quiet evening without our so much liked cold beer and glass of wine.
But there was a community center, a small building owned by the city government (Townsville) on the other side of the field. And it happened to be Friday night. And that's the night that the people of Bluewater, a vast region, come together to socialize. This evening a band came playing, country and western, and we saw people coming in and enjoying themselves. So why not try and join them. Some minutes later we were signed in as members of the evening and we were among the locals enjoying their company and the beer and the wine. It became a very nice evening. Many people present appeared to be singers. In turn they would appear on stage, hand out their written music to the musicians of the band and sing three songs. We heard very good amateurs and not so good amateurs, but we enjoyed it a lot. There was some dancing and we watched how a group of people who mostly live miles apart from each other on their farms and only see other people if they get in their cars to go shopping or collect their mails at the tank station make a community.   

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