If you ask me where I’m from, I am quick to say I’m from the Northern Territory. Born and bred in Alice Springs. Dad was a ranger. I went camping for the first time when I was 7 weeks old. I grew up surrounded by wildlife. I once climbed a hill carrying an echidna and we had a tauny frogmouth who was raised on our toilet window sill. My Territory upbringing defines so much of my identity.
However, if you dig deeper, I have to admit that I’ve lived more of my life in Queensland than I have lived in the NT. I was born in 1985 and left Alice at the end of 1997. We arrived in Queensland in January 1998 and apart from a couple of years when I back and forthed between Brisbane and Darwin, I lived in Queensland until Warwick and I left to move down to Queanbeyan in January 2016. Which means I lived about 12 and a half years in Alice, about 18 months in Darwin, and the best part of 17 years in Queensland.
Queensland. Bloody Queensland. The state I am so quick to insult. The state that breeds down-on-the-farm conservatism. The state that is responsible for Pauline Hanson and launched the One Nation party. The state that carries on way too much about the State of Origin football games. The state responsible for Cane Toads. If I cared for sport, I’d barrack for any team playing against Queensland. So many of my most painful memories occured in Queensland. I was so eager to leave and swore we’d never return.
In fact we return regularly for holidays. Twice a year on average. Because, as much as I declare my loathing for Queensland, this state is home to almost all of my dearest people.
My sister works im marketing for a Queensland tourism company. My brother-in-law is in the Queensland police force. My nephews were born and bred in central Queensland and their family, along with my mum (“Mema”) live in Bundaberg.
Warwicks parents and siblings live in south west Brisbane. Despite working all around Australia (currently contracted to Tasmania), my father-in-law flies home every weekend to Brisbane. Our little neice was born in Ipswich and will likely live there until she is an adult.
The times that I’m most reminded of the number of treasured friends we have in this state I’ve declared my hate for, is when we plan a holiday and try and book in catch ups with friends. I have to write down our plans to keep them straight and avoid double booking, and we typically squeeze three catch up dates in every day we’re in Qld. Yet still we can never see everyone we want to. For this latest trip, we were in Brisbane for five days and it just wasn’t long enough to see all of those we wanted to. We had to choose not to visit some dear friends we visited last time we were in town, just to ensure we could see some people we hadn’t seen for too long.
Although we’ve been in NSW for over three years now, we are yet to build friendships with the same depth and closeness as we have with so many wonderful friends up in Queensland. There are many special people we’ve come to know and love down in Queanbeyan and Canberra, and the Traynor relatives aren’t far away in Wollongong, but it feels like the Queensland friends are irreplaceable.
So why do I loathe the state so much? The truth is that the hard times in Queensland far outweigh the good times. Queensland was the place that hosted heartache, where my family fell apart, where I made mistakes that can’t be reversed. There were so many miserable years, battles that crushed me and events that moulded me to be someone I had never wanted to become. But hard times often cement relationships and that became very apparent as we left behind so many long term friends. These were the people who were there when life sucked, and now that life is so much brighter, we are missing them more than ever.
And so lately I’ve actually started to open my mind to the possibility to moving back one day.
Whenever we visit, Warwicks brother and his wife make such a huge effort to make time for us. Seeing Briar playing with her cousin Clara is so special. The thought of the girls growing up together is so appealing. Three of our children’s four grandparents live in Queensland and all of their uncles, aunts and cousins are Queenslanders.
Over the last few days that we’ve been in Bundaberg, watching Briar play with her cousin William has been magical. They are the same size despite Will bring a year older, and seeing them wrestle and jump around together is so gorgeous. They enjoy playing the same games with Mema and look like they could be twins.
New South Wales was a tree change we needed. Work oppurtunities for Warwick. The birth of our two precious babies. Our first home purchase. Independence and growth we needed so badly. I will never regret the move and to this day feel it was the best decision we ever made.
But the question is creeping back into my mind regularly? Do we dare to move “home” to Queensland one day?