Some time in mid to late 2006…..

…. the decision was made.  Hubby had had enough of the wet weather we were experiencing in Maryborough ((Qld) making things slow with his construction work (road works, sub-divisions)) and had decided to look for work further a field.  I can’t remember where he first saw it, but the words Mt Isa were coming up quite frequently.  And I remember saying i was not going to move that far away and live in the middle of no where…

Yeah,so how did that work out for me…. We moved to Mt Isa.

The phone call came on our eldest’s 10th birthday (wed) and hubby left on the Sun morning while I was organising a birthday party.
We stayed in Mt Isa til early to mid 2011 when we made the next biggest decision and moved back to Tassie.

Six months on, I am looking through the computer and sorting things out and I come across this letter I wrote to everyone…. thought I might share it with you. (and cannot seem to find the couple of pics I wanted to show you…)

As I read it again, I cringed at some of the things I wrote, but that was where I was (emotionally/wisdom-wise) in 2006.  Over the course of 4 1/2 years I grew up a lot and can certainly say I am not the same person I was who moved there.
I would love to hear similar tales of your moving adventures.  Have you done anything like this, would you like to??

“10 Jan 2007

Dear all, (family and friends)

So, it has been a month since we arrived in Mt Isa and I’m  still getting around to looking at photos of our trip – they didn’t turn out  that well, we forgot to use the flash and Ryan was trigger happy and got heaps  of pictures that were of not much at all – and writing a letter to say hi.

Well it has been really busy and not busy at all.

In the month before we left it was a mad house – in all  ways.  Three boys had the chicken pox so they were home for two weeks, I was  organising storage and transport of furniture and boxes, deciding what to take  for the short-term is a huge task.   Packing your life into 14 boxes, 4 suitcases and numerous (6) small travel bags is not an easy thing to do.
We unpack boxes and ask, ‘where is this’ or ‘why didn’t that come’, but  we have the very bare basics so it is ok.

Two reasonably successful garage sales later and a trip to the Salvos and two trips to the tip and the house looked pretty empty.  We’re eating dinner Japanese style at the coffee table on cushions, not easy for me being the supple person I’m not.
Slowly dividing everything else into two piles of storage and early delivery  and trying to live on nothing else.  Suitcases and mattresses on the floor, no car and a washing machine that breaks down two weeks before we leave (I borrowed next doors, she has Alzheimer’s I think, so I don’t think she remembered me from one day to the  next) really made things interesting.

Booking the train was a highlight.
Sounds a bit lame I know, but coming from somewhere that doesn’t have passenger train travel as such it’s a pretty exciting thing to travel 2000+ kms on one (or 2 in my case).

This was something we had all looked forward to.  A mini adventure that even it only happens once is worth doing.  And although it would have been better with Lance there with us, it was something I’m glad I did with boys on my own. Our thing.  I’ll  miss out on other things that they do with Lance so it‘s our memory.

Once the train was booked I let the real estate know we were leaving and that was that.  It is happening, the point of no return, the place you are when you say, ‘this is it,  have I done the right thing? I can’t turn back now’.  The boys had finished school at the end of november so that last week in Maryborough I didn’t need to worry about school lunches and uniforms etc.  They did however help out heaps with tidying the yard and inside the house.  Our last week was spent with my friend from down the road.

The furniture was picked up on the Wednesday but the basic things I was using had left on the Sunday for a midweek trip to Mt Isa.

First night at friend’s house and Theo lets their bird out which subsequently disappears.  Not a good start.  I felt pretty bad but there’s not much you can do after the fact.

By the end of the week it was defiantly time to move on, 3 adults and 5 kids in one house with one car  does not make for a good combination.  So we come and then leave and the house is suddenly very quiet.  And I’m not even in the same town anymore.

D-day arrives and I’m a nervous wreck, one from excitement and the other from not knowing what to expect on the train.  Bags and car seat booked, in I looked in  wonderment at the amount of bags I had for carry-on: 1 food, 2 games, 1 for
Theo, 2 overnight with clothes, 2 for boys with blanket and car boxes, 3  pillows, my (extra-large) handbag and the stroller.  From Maryborough it was ok, I had two friends see me off, so getting on was ok, I was then worried about getting off in  Townsville and then the on/off of the second train.

Maryborough West Train Station. Not the best pic, ,but oh well...

The train was quite long when it arrived, (coming from Brisbane, and school holidays) goods and luggage at the front, then staff and several sleepers, food cars and then 6 or more sitting cars.  About 20 or more cars in total, we were on the wrong side of the middle.

First impression of the train was that it was so squishy, slightly less aisle room than on an aircraft and not a lot of room for moving around.  Two seats on each side, kind of like a bus.  Once the bags were stowed and seats arranged I felt happier and ready to get moving.  I must say that is doesn’t take long to get blasé about things, even if they are exciting to start with.   An hour into the trip, we had done our exploring, found the toilets, the food and entertainment carriages and then it was just sit down and either try to read or play games.  Train ride normal from then on.

Theo was a bit fidgety and wouldn’t keep still – and the booking office asked if I was going to nurse him all the way! Being under 3 he would have been free.  Not likely!

Six pm was the start of dinner period and it was like a proper little café, good service and a lovely meal. The coffee wasn’t crash hot but better than nothing. A nice end to a hectic few months

Sleeping was not good that first night, the train was full  and we had to curl up in a single seat that didn’t recline very much.  Theo was wriggling too much and I was worried about sleeping too much in case he fell off.  (2011 input – he threw up mid way through the night… let’s just say, it was awkward).
No chance of that. The lights didn’t go out til 9pm, so the boys were cranky, and we stopped every hour or so for either a station or goods trains.  Passenger trains must give way to goods up here.

We were all up and dressed by 6.30 for breakfast.  That was the best egg and bacon roll
yet.  More basic coffee and back to our car to pack ready for arrival in Townsville at 8 o’clock. Note to all. If you are travelling by train overnight anywhere, pay the extra for a sleeper.  It was going to double the price I paid if we did, but it would have been so worth it!

All boys helped with bags and we alighted easily.  Got a photo of us at the station, then fight the hordes for a locker to stuff bags into.
When I saw them, I thought there’s no way our things will fit in, but they were bigger than they looked and with a bit of squishing it all went in save for stroller and nappy bag.  Caught a taxi into town ($10) and wandered around the market that was on, grabbed a
drink or two, bought some post cards – sounds a bit like a tourist, then walked  (2 or 3 kms) back to the station.  Got a coffee from the vending machine, which  was better than what they had on the train and waited.  Noticed plenty of people from the first train were waiting for the next leg and heading inland like us.

After two phone calls and speaking with the ticket office I had organised for us to get off at Cloncurry, 1 ½ hrs by car or 4 by train, east of Mt Isa.  Phone service wasn’t very good, as I sent Lance several messages telling him it was done – before 12.30pm – and he didn’t get them til he got up at 3am to come and pick me up.  So he didn’t know if I was coming or  not for sure til then.  It didn’t get better either, but the phone is another story altogether.

Train for Mt Isa leg arrived on time and after some bumping of people and apologising all the way we found our seats, about 4 rows from the back.  This train was much smaller, 1 or
2 luggage/goods, 1 food /TV car, staff car, 2 sleepers and only one sitting car.  About 10 cars in all.  And we were the last carriage on the train. Literally.  Looking out the back window and all you see is the track.  An English guy seated behind us commented that you’d expect to see an Indian ride up on his horse.  He was funny and good company.  A well-travelled man who was full of interesting facts.  The kind of person you want to meet when travelling.  Once we had put our luggage in the racks I took a look around.  I
didn’t like what I saw.  The train was older, the tables on the seats stiff or broken and the majority of the full cabin (40 odd people) were Aboriginal.
I’m not talking brown, but really black.  Now I’m not racist, but having had not much to do with them, and hearing the ones from this region are a lot tougher than down south plus travelling on your own, 21 hrs worth…..I don’t need to say how intimidated I felt.   Ten minutes after leaving town I relaxed and started to feel much better about the
impending trip. You didn’t see or hear them.  They were no different to any of the other travellers there.

Service on this train was bad, really bad.  When dinner was served, it was worse than
aeroplane food, and that’s saying something.
Don’t even ask what the coffee what like.  Bit by bit we meandered out west and stopped
at most stations along the way.

I had thought that Charters Towers was like Townsville, tropical and looking like a postcard but the station was really ratty and old-looking.  Not many people must go there  by train, because the brochures have the whole oasis thing going on, flash hotels etc.  It’s definitely bigger than what the view is from the train.  Hughenden – of Thorn Birds fame – and pronounced “Hugh-‘n’-dn” is a lot bigger than I thought, even though it was dark and all I saw were lights.
Julia Creek though, one of the hottest places in Australia, looked quite small at 2.30 am.  The train had emptied enough by bedtime that the boys got to stretch out for sleep – no middle arm rest to impede the process – and got a much better sleep. Me on the other hand, even though by this time I was pretty exhausted, nursing Theo and not wanting
to sleep past our stop – at 5 am – didn’t get much more than 10 or 15 minutes
at a time.

the scenery in north west Qld.....

Four forty comes and the conductor lets us know we’re about twenty out of Cloncurry.  I start to get the boys ready, not easy when they are sleeping really heavily, and once again piled them up with bags.  This time was harder as more people were getting off and my bags seemed to have multiplied.  Conductor had trouble finding our suitcases as they were still labelled for Mt Isa so I had to help him.  We are lucky I didn’t get any more things onto the train because it only just fit into the car. The boot was chockers, the back seat and under my feet also.

An hour or so drive to Mt Isa and the first thing you see coming over the hill is  the smoke stacks of the mine and then the guts of it.  Pretty impressive when you’ve never seen anything like it, especially when it is in the middle of town. Mt Isa literally revolves around the mine. The town itself is reasonably pretty and green with lots of trees. Quite the oasis in the middle of the desert, and in a crater shaped area.  Hills all around and then flat from 2 kms max out-of-town. You wouldn’t think that something as ugly as a mine could look pretty.  But once dark arrives and the lights come on, it is really something else to look at.  Come Christmas and they put up a huge display of lights in the shape of  a tree with a star on top.  And on the backdrop of the mining lights it’s pretty impressive and huge.

Evening shot of the mine & town (2010/11)

Where were we, oh yes, just arrived in town.  We pretty well went straight to Maccas and got breakfast.  Decent coffee at last!! They have McCafe here so I knew it would be  good.  The boys ate, played and annoyed dad in all various combinations for an hour or so.  Good for me, I all but ignored them and they me, and good for them to get rid of some pent-up energy.  I forgot to say.  For three very active boys – as you all know they are – they were really well-behaved on the train and did me proud.  All I had to tell them off for was to quieten the volume a few times.  Any way, by the time the train was to arrive at the station, 9.30 am, we had had breakfast, done a tour, emptied the car, organised to look at several units the next day and were back the house – Lance’s uncle’s – vegging.

Even though it would have been nice to catch the train all the way to the end, and actually disembark at my destination, it was nice to get off early and do everything before it arrived.

Plus, Lance said it was so close he couldn’t go 4 more hours  without us. I agree.

Lance went back to work on the Wednesday (8th Dec)  and I was left, with my car! to find my way round town, look for places to live  and swim in the splash pool/spa. Oh, what a life!

On the Friday we moved from Uncle’s  house to the caravan park where we stayed in a cabin.  This consisted of: lounge dining and kitchen, door to triple bunks, robe and mini bathroom, then door to main bedroom with robes.  For one or two nights, these things are not too small but after a week they can get a bit on the cramped side. Especially when there are 4 suitcases and numerous other things in the way.

As most of you know we spent a lot of time at the pool and playground provided.
The boys now have a tan, with Theo and Kyle browning just by looking at the sun and Ryan burning first and looking like a lobster.  Along with swimming we were in town most days looking for places to live.

Another week in the cabin and we were going nutty and getting slightly stressed. Christmas was looming and it wasn’t a happy thought to spend it in a cabin.  Besides we only had the cabin til New Years so we had to find somewhere, and soon! We were getting knocked back on the places we were applying for, and the supply of property didn’t come anywhere near the demand. We finally find a really nice place and I was told to let them know if I like it and the application will be finalised.  You guessed it.  We lost out.
This time I asked why and was told ‘it was a health and safety issue, it was overcrowding’ putting 3 kids in a two bedroom place.  We knew it would be crowded but were willing
to put up with it, the price of a 3 bed house was bordering on the ridiculous for the quality.

So it goes I went to another Real Estate, and those who heard, in 5 hours I had looked at a house, signed up the papers and we’d been approved.

I had asked for 3 beds and under the $300/wk mark.
We looked at one and it was huge. Carport, so the car doesn’t get wet, big yard, huge bedrooms & laundry (half the size of Mostyn Brae, or at least twice a modern laundry size) and workable kitchen-dining-lounge.  I told her we’d take it and Lance would be in later that day to do his forms.  The bonus is that it’s across the road from the school oval and  from house to lollipop crossing only 3-400 metres. 500m at most.  Plus the quality of the houses here for the money you pay, you wouldn’t put your dog in half of them, but because of demand – people moving for mining – and the fact the mine brings in so much money, people can ask what ever they like and get it. So we got it right. Picked up some second and beds and dining suite that weekend and by Christmas Eve were settled.

Part of Lake Moondarra (2008-11)

Not much else has been happening, since then.  Christmas day we went to ‘the dam’ kind of like Risdon, with picnic areas and a playground. They also have huge fishing comps and lots of water sports as well.  They love their rednecked sports up her: fishin’, huntin’, rugby, and of course lots of drinking.  Plus every second vehicle is a 4WD, and that’s probably 1 of 2.  Public transport here is non-existent except for taxis; given most people have at least one vehicle, even the blacks.

The shopping here is not too bad if you have  the money, a few of the basics, like Best and Less and Kmart, plus the usual businesses you’d find anywhere. Coffee is expensive, $4-$5 a cup. Now I don’t know about Tassie or Sydney, but with not much choice for where to go I’m sticking to Maccas. I’m used to about $3.50.
Service at registers is a bit on the slack side as though they have better things to do, but not rude.  The people are generally very friendly otherwise.
Garbage is twice a week due to the heat and smell factor, which is cool by me (pun unintended) as the bin doesn’t get a chance to get full and yucky.  Except for when you just move into a house and have Chrissie all at once that is.  The weather is something else again.
Well, no it’s not.  When I left Maryborough it had already begun to heat up, and down there, when it gets hot it is blooming humid.  Now I hate the humidity, you can’t get away from it, unless you sit right in front of and underneath an aircon and fan.  So it’s  sticky and yuck, you sweat all the time and feel uncomfortable.  Up here even though it is 40C there is little humidity and the heat is kind of like Tassie. More of a dry heat.  To get away you get in the shade.  But lately the temp has dropped (only by 2 or 3) and humidity has risen, the wet season is coming. But that is an on again-off again thing. For about six to eight weeks it will rain, but not constantly.  So there will be some reprieve from it at least. Roll on winter, and it’s chilly 28C.

A wet day... (2011)

And no you wont be catching me wearing jeans and woolly jumpers, not in the daytime at least.  Apparently it gets very cold here at night in winter. I say Bring It On!

Wow, six pages. I hope you haven’t gotten bored or fallen asleep. Just thought I’d write a short note.
Ha, short, get real.  Maybe the next one, in 6 months time.

Hope this finds everyone in good health, happy spirits and  looking forward to a fortuitous new year.
Our love to everyone, we miss you all heaps, hope the photo arrived in  one piece.
Jen xxx”

I hope you enjoyed my little story there.  Now I’ve been down memory lane I might re-visit sometime.  I have found heaps of pictures and lots of stories… (All pictures except the first are ‘new’ pictures)

Keep smiling, til next time 🙂

Ciao, Jennifer

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