008. How spa therapy saved my life

For three sad and lonely months the Springs Park became my second home. As the days became colder I found within the park a source of great comfort: the Spa Complex.

Located within the park itself, right on the bank of Spring Creek, the original Bath House was designed in the mid-1800s by a Swiss Architect for the gold miners drawn to the area during the Gold Rush.
The new modern complex had only recently been rebuilt and was attracting visitors up from Melbourne for the weekend, and overseas tourists, to take the therapeutic mineral water baths and perhaps enjoy a relaxing body massage afterwards.
Here I learned my first essential rule of survival: nothing over two dollars.
Several times a week at around four in the afternoon I'd stroll down the track to the Spa Complex and, for just two dollars on my new pension card, enjoy a pleasant hour or more in the public pool of heated mineral water having my aching body pummelled by the spa jets.
For the first time I began to realise what bad shape I was in physically.
And so, with the onset of winter in the hills, I found that my regular self-healing ritual became a rejuvenating self-warming ritual as well.
Usually I'd find myself amidst a hardy band of spa enthusiasts, swearing by the therapeutic properties of the waters, all of us sitting in a row on the step beneath the bubbling water in front of the jets at one end of the pool.
This became my new social event of the day.
Invariably I would enter into conversation with whoever happened to be sitting beside me in the pool. Sometimes it was a local, other times a traveller from Europe where they seem to know all about these things.
Then with wrinkled fingertips I'd climb the hill back to my little flat through the damp descending mist of late afternoon, ready for my simple evening meal which I'd cook on the portable benchtop electric stove in the corner.
At this point I had no idea where this was leading or where I'd go when my flat was needed for holidaymakers over the fast approaching long weekend. What would happen to me then I had no idea.
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.