In many small ways, living here can swiftly change a person for the better.
Well, that didn’t take long.
I’ve only been here a few months now but I’m pretty sure I’ve been Clarence Valley-ified already.
This transformation revealed itself to just last weekend. With a RDO up my sleeve we headed up to our old family home on the Gold Coast. Daughter was up from Melbourne, son came down from Brissy and we spent a ripper few days hoofing into tasty treats, playing scrabble and chilling on couches and day beds.
And at night, from our perch on Burleigh Hill, the lights leading up to Surfers Paradise sparkled like some kind of fairlyland. Ahh, the Goldy: it was home for a few decades, so it’ll always have a place in my heart.
But come Sunday arvo, when I finally had to pull myself off the couch and run some errands, something happened that told me I was no longer the same Gold Coast bloke anymore. And that it was time to get back home to the Clarence.
...it was time to get back home to the Clarence
It was just a moment. A gesture. I was driving up our street after a mission to the shops. Our street is a narrow two-way affair on the side of Burleigh hill. You’ve got to go slow and be careful. A bit of wheelie-bin dodging required on collection days. Not a lot of through traffic.
Anyway, as I trundled along close to home, a car came towards me from the other direction. Instinctively I smiled and waved a friendly greeting. The driver of the other car just frowned and stared back at me with a mix of fear, concern and pity – as if I might be a little unstable, dangerous, or not the full quid. Like: I don’t know you, so what the hell are you smiling and waving at me for? Are you insane?
I realised that this reflex action – waving to passing cars in your street – wasn’t something you did on the Goldy. It was actually a Clarence Valley habit I’d picked up. It’s just what everyone does in our street here.
A few short months of living and working in the Clarence has changed my behaviour and attitude towards other people.
I’ve become – gasp – friendlier!
Fresh eyes - Gra Murdoch