“Time flies when you’re having fun” is a really worn cliché, I admit. There’s this to be said about clichés, though: They usually ring true. They’re a kind of shortcut to mutual understanding. What I want you to understand by quoting this one is how much we’ve loved our time in Australia, as if we just got here. But Garuda Air just sent an alert. “Time for your online check in.” Airplanes don’t wait (although we often wait for them!) Tomorrow we leave our Richmond home at 5:00 AM  bound for Makassar, Indonesia via Jakarta. We’re looking forward to seeing John and Juli Liles’ family, but it won’t be easy to leave our Aussie family behind.

We’ll miss Milly, too. She comes in once a week to help Candy, who like Michael works full-time at Praemium, with the housekeeping–a task which has been tougher of late because of the interlopers camping here. Milly and her husband are Ugandan refugees. In their home country they were professional journalists; in Australia he is currently unemployed and Milly is a housekeeper. It’s a subsistence income, but they are free and out of harm’s way. Melbourne and Richmond abound in signs welcoming refugees and immigrants, signs we haven’t seen lately in America. Milly’s a delight, a devoted Christian minister who cleans houses to pay expenses.

Milly Katende Nansamba, our new Ugandan friend.

We travel light, as you know: one suitcase, one carry-on, and one personal item apiece. Not light enough, it turns out. Because of my worthless back, Joy too often has had to contend with the luggage, including her heavy suitcase. She packs fewer clothes than most would be capable of, but her big bag is still too heavy, sometimes causing grief when we weigh in. The culprit is the load of art supplies she’s been lugging around. A sore shoulder and wrist have forced her to downsize yet again. She’s shipping her art paraphernalia on ahead and, as I write this, is shopping for a manageable smaller suitcase like mine. Her body will be happier. So will the nice check-in people at the airports. Until we’re Stateside again, Joy will concentrate on her photography. 

We both boast overhauled computers. She’d been nursing hers for months; in Florida it finally collapsed. Solution: a new internal hard drive. This was after replacing the touch pad in Copenhagen and several other parts in various IT hospitals along the way. Of course, thought I. She bought a used MacBook Air and its age is showing. (It’s like the tradeoff between paying for depreciation or repairs on your new or used car. Either way it costs you!) I didn’t worry; mine is only two years old. But pride goeth before a fall. A couple of days ago I retrieved my Air from a Melbourne repair shop where it spent almost two weeks because of the holidays. It also has a new internal hard drive. The poor thing had caught a virus. Vagabonds like us conduct our business online: bill paying, correspondence, banking, bookkeeping,  Skyping, blogging, airline reservations, etc. Your computer may be laid up, but that doesn’t stop the incoming work!

This blog post is being brought to you on my now-once-again-trusty computer.

Then there’s the challenge of keeping your bank happy. Credit cards are frozen because “suspicious activity has been detected.” Pass codes suddenly don’t work anymore. You do everything the programmed template requires–and it’s not good enough. (Case in point: Wells Fargo demanded a nine-digit routing number. I provided it, only to be told again I needed to type in 9 digits. I typed them in again. To be rejected again. Of course you can’t connect with a person who can help you. So you go to a different bank. My favorite is Citizens Bank of Elizabethton, TN. It’s small enough that when I phone in a real person answers. Then she transfers me to another real person who works with me until she resolves the problem. In this “high tech” age, it’s still a business virtue to be “high touch.”

Just 78 miles northwest of Melbourne is Daylesford, Victoria, famous in these parts for its vineyards and mineral waters. Only three miles from Daylesford is Hepburn Springs, where we retreated for our final leisurely weekend in the country. That is, this is what Candy and Michael told us we were doing. Then they pulled up in front of an old folks home. We tried not to panic. Had the whole weekend thing been a ruse to get us to go peacefully into this new residence where “aged care” is promised? Had they detected signs of Alzheimer’s? I mean, we do forget things from time to time, but have we come so far? Have we become unmanageable? Do the kids think we’ve become too big a burden for them to handle, so they’re arranging professional care? Well, as it turned out,  Michael had just stopped to get his bearings. His GPS was leading him astray. He needed to regroup. Our children weren’t dumping us, after all. After only an hour or so we began breathing normally again.

“You’ll like it here,” we thought we heard them saying.

These small towns are in the heart of the state of Victoria’s largest concentration of mineral springs, a natural magnet for city dwellers seeking respite from urban pressures. Some even move here for a healthier lifestyle. In the 1850s and 1860s, though, it was gold that drew people to Hepburn, though by the end of the ’60s the rush was over. That’s when the mineral springs became the chief attraction. The locals didn’t regret the demise of mining; in fact, they forced it. The settlers, esteeming water of greater worth than gold (a remarkably sane but rare opinion), petitioned the government to shut down the mines to restore the water supply. The miners were eventually paid to go away. The healing waters returned.

This lily symbolizes the beauty of Hepburn Springs.

This is a hilly but not a mountainous region, an ideal location for the many  boutique vineyards here. Small farmers grow grapes and crush them into wine as a labor of love. They don’t aspire to be major players in the industry. We saw none of the huge spreads so common to Napa Valley and other American and European vineyards. The vintners we met here love to share their enthusiasm for their chosen craft.

Though these vineyards are small, they still employ mechanized equipment.
The finished product on display at the same vineyard above.

Returning to Melbourne made it possible reconnect with the O’s family and friends such as  Michael and Cobein Watts and Trevor and Jillian Keetley, and CMF missionary Abby Weller, among others. As I’ve reported before, we enjoy exploring new places, but the abiding joy in our travels comes from the people we get to hang out with. We will return one day. We want to see them again.

The Hat and Jillian Keetley, our neighbor on the 7th floor, posing for a photo as requested by Tim Foot, our mutual Aussie friend now living in Longmont, Colorado.


Unsurprisingly, Joy found some rusty stuff in the tall grass.
Vineyard garden art. Note the wine barrel slat fence.


12 thoughts on “ON LEAVING AUSTRALIA”

  1. Roy, you likely don’t remember my experience at the bank years ago when going through the drive through and the cashier said, “Can you take Jess’s wallet back to him? He left it here when he came in earlier?” Love it!

    1. I had forgotten this incident, but it certainly rings true. This and similar experiences are what I so loved about living in East Tennessee.

  2. We empathize with your IT/banking problems–and the difficulty in reaching a human being to help sort them out. And we can appreciate your fear as you suspected the “kids” were about to surprise you with a new residence at Hepburn House for the aged. (Gracie notes, “They’d have to catch you first!”) May your journeys to Indonesia go smoothly!

  3. Roy, You probably will not remember me, but my wife and I attended Central when there was only the Mesa campus, and you were still the senior pastor. We really enjoyed hearing your sermons, as well as listening to the choir. Those are the 2 things I miss most at Central. We both still attend the Saturday service. Your blogs have been very entertaining. I still remember you fondly, but maybe not much longer, as my Alzheimer’s is getting worse. I still love the Lord with all my heart, and I am praying that as my mind leaves me, that I will not forget Jesus and all that He has meant to me. God bless you both as you “stay on the loose” Jim Butler

    1. Yes, I certain do remember you and Joanne. Thanks for writing and for your kind words. It is distressing to learn of your battle with Alzheimer’s. There’s so much of it in both Joy’s and my family that we are always on the alert, expecting our own to set in any day now! I appreciate your openness about it and your obvious faith as you face it. I’m also grateful Joanne is beside you every step of the way. You are doing the right thing in “hanging in there” in worship and in fellowship with those who know and love you. It’s a fundamental teaching of our faith that though you may forget, you will not be forgotten!

  4. What an incredible adventure you two are still enjoying… but the real gift is how you lovingly and willingly share it with us all. I can see, feel and hear things when I read your words. Thank you. We miss you and can’t wait to see you again. Ps. I’ll let Rich know he needs to commute 8nternationally to fix the computers for you guys. Lol

    1. Good idea, Patti. By the time we see you in Cody, both Joy and I will undoubtedly have need of his expertise! Looking forward to our being together with and and the rest of the family then. Love, DO

    2. Good idea, Patti. By the time we see you and Rich in Cody, I’m pretty sure both Joy and I will be ready to call on Rich’s expertise again. There we can plot our itinerary together so Rich (accompanied by his bride, of course) will meet us at the critical junctures and get us up and running again!

  5. Another great read and experience though you and Joy!!! I still don’t have my replacement glasses so reading and seeing is difficult. Hopefully they come this week as my older pair are just too blurry. I do so wish I could get you guys and my sister, Marty and brother-in-law, Elliott together ….. your all are so much alike and share so many of the same experiences.I was struck by the photo of you and your 7th floor neighbor …… I thought I was looking at Candy. It may be too long since I’ve seen her. Thanks again for “taking us along on your journey.”

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