We just wanted to survive, that was the abiding wish. Life became tough at times, the seas not always calm. The road to the caravan park was unmade and corrugated so badly it was tearing the underside of the car apart. We had to buy bottled gas as there was no way we could cook or heat without it. Our mobile phone was the only communication we had as there were not enough lines to the park. So it got rather expensive to keep in touch with family. Money was still short, and I think my husband was probably feeling pretty lost, without meaningful work, but soon his talents were needed; he was offered some freelance reporting on the local paper. He became the sport and events reporter. It paid a pittance, but helped a little.
I was now gaining clients and working a few days a week doing home care for locals and a few clients in town. Country people were open and trusting, their pet dogs and noisy cockatoo my only companions as I did my cleaning. I was obviously considered to be no risk. They gave me garden produce. I would go home with a cabbage and some duck eggs, or a bag of potatoes. The kettle was always on and we drank tea together. They were like family. The dead rats and mice and the odd snake or blue tongued lizard caused me some anxious moments, but I coped.
Our boys came to visit with their children, and our daughter came from the UK, it was great to share the area, run on the beach and explore the bush with them. They may have had some misgivings about their parents living in a mobile home, but they accepted our strange choice of life.
The next year was busier, as we took on a school cleaning job, it was just a small primary school. Originally we did it to help some friends, we took over later, as they became disenchanted with the job. Little did we know our ‘fill in’ job would last eleven years.
With some work on a petitions and media coverage we won two major victories; we persuaded council to seal the road to the park, and had another success when phone lines were added. We were so happy about that. We had fresh fish when the men went out in the bay, and gifts of fruit from locals. A nectarine tree dropped fruit by our door, life was good.
Then like a bolt from the blue my husband was asked if he would like to be president of Lions? So we had more work and more meetings and dinners to attend. Family problems dogged us, and we often had our grandson to stay. We tried to support our family, and still do, but some things you can’t change, you just endure them. We became their respite too.
My husband was becoming active in the community, perhaps his campaign for the road and the telephone was noticed? as next he was invited to try for council!!. So by the end of the year he had been elected a Shire councilor. This was exciting, and challenging, it also brought the usual mix of those who hate you for doing it and those who applaud. I fielded many phone calls, and when my husband was away was left to deal with some abusive ones. You develop a tough hide in the end. There were also some wonderful happy moments when we felt we were appreciated, and people were kind.
I decided to give up my home care job. I painted more and sold some folk art items, then started writing and actually won a short story prize.It was another time of change, when I learned about computers and did research on the family tree, I had always said I hated computers…then I found I could use them. Amazing how indispensable they become isn’t it?
We did short ‘Grey Nomad’ trips up the coast, staying in cabins or tents, and went to Broken Hill, and Bundaberg, We flew over Fraser Island and loved all we saw and explored. We still wanted to see more and even now we have wanderlust- but no cash.
In 2002 another blow for us, the park was sold and new owners took over. At first nothing changed, but later that year they came to see us.”There’s no hurry, but in a year or so we might need your unit for our daughter..” our hearts sunk to our knees. We knew we would have to make a decision and look for another home. Just as life had settled we were on the move again.
NEXT. Another move, another life.