002. My new home in the Australian bush

Sheltered under tall eucalypts and towering pines my home was a friend's old caravan lazing outside the gate of their home in a small country town in the Australian bush. It's condition was a metaphor for how things had worked out for me. The water pump was broken. The gas stove didn't fire. The roof leaked and was covered by a huge blue tarpaulin. The tyres were both flat. Its usefulness had surely passed.

The scents of nature - pine mixed with eucalypt and, on cooler days, the smoke of wood fires - drifted through on the gentle autumn breezes as if there were no walls. The birds were my neighbours, squawking galahs, screeching white cockatoos, cawing black crows, gossipping magpies, chirping rosellas and the occasional laughing kookaburra.

See where this picture was taken. [?]
See where this picture was taken. [?] (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I could hear the endless rushing of water from the creek which had cut a deep gully in the valley where my caravan was precariously parked. It was here in Doctor's Gully some 150 years ago that Swiss-Italian migrants to the Australian Gold Rush had first struck gold. Not so for me though.

I'd stand on the footbridge outside my door and be mesmerised by the small waterfall and wonder how in hell I got here. As for the familiar world I knew, well, I had no choice but to leave it all behind me. I found myself in another world, a stranger, where I didn't seem to belong. Or so I thought.

I was still haunted by the memory of a year ago standing, stunned, on a city street in Melbourne in the fading autumn light.
Looking across Hobsons Bay towards the Melbour...
Looking across Hobsons Bay towards the Melbourne central business district (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Following a three hour grilling on the ninth floor of the building behind me, me and my freelance business of ten years had just been declared bankrupt. My personal documents, passport, business files, banking records and cheque books, credit cards, pretty much everything that stood for who I was, and who I might have been, I'd just surrendered to the Official Receiver.

In that moment I had ceased to exist. I had been stripped of my identity and I was nobody. It was an emptiness I could never forget.

I just stood there, in shock, watching people rushing off to their homes and families at the end of their day. I really thought, in that moment, my life was over.

"The adventure may begin as a mere blunder ... " [JOSEPH CAMPBELL]

Today Neil Smith is an author and blogger working from home in a quiet fishing village across the bay from Melbourne, Australia. He has authored 3 non-fiction books including 'The Mystery of Granny's Ghost'. Visit his book website at neilwjsmith.com and his 'Work From Home' blog at neilwjsmith.info.
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