Home for Mark Earle was a large wood-built five bedroomed affair in Schutt Street, Newport, half a block from the Newport Station. His wife Katrina and mum-in-law Cheryl (nee Hickey or married to Hickey, I’m not sure which) made me most welcome and their two kids, Kiara (4) and Tom (18 months) – yeah, another Tom Earle – were a delight. She was a pleasant chatterbox; Tom the quiet, silent type, gently snottering while his sister swiped at his face with tissues.
My bro’ Richard and I had bedded down in a loft room. He dashed off for an appointment while I went with Katrina to drop the kids off at their day-care place. Mark had been a property auctioneer at Jas. H. Stevens for ten years at this point and doing well. He took off some time to take Rickard and me to lunch on the South Bank of the Yarra River near Flinders Street Station, a great old Victorian building.
After that we went to the weird disjointed Federation Square and drifted round in the Art Gallery. I know it is an exclusively Australian gallery, so am probably totally off track, but there seemed to be an over abundance of Aboriginal art, to my mind as a sort of grovelling apology for sidelining them for so long. Not to my taste, I’m afraid; and nor was the modern art section even though my own attempts have tended towards symbolic stuff. However, there was a section with some stunning traditional Australian colonial period oils that took my breath away.
My internal clock being still screwed up, I awoke next morning at 03h00, made coffee and quietly perused tour brochures until the family surfaced. Richard took the bulk of my luggage with him when he left for firstly a protest march at an abortion clinic, and then home, his farm 4 hours drive away near the coastal village of Marlo. Needless to say, Richard is an earnest pro-lifer.
Mark being at work, I went along with Katrina and Cheryl to the town of Geelong an hour away along the western side of the bay. After Katrina had settled some business, we took the kids to the beach, then lunch. I had, for the first time ever, a Japanese meal of chicken, salad and wasabi sauce. Good tucker, mate.
After Cheryl had treated the kids to a ride on Thomas the Tank Engine there, we headed home again. Another first was supper of take-away Thai dishes Mark and I walked down the road to fetch. My twelve years in Botswana had left me internationally gastronomically deprived! More good tucker!