Today was my first full day in the rural town of Boort, and it started with a 20 minute roll-around in my cosy electric-blanketed double bed.
Once I persuaded myself to get up, I had a lazy breakfast before John and I walked round the corner in the fog-soaked morning to Boort District Health. We were assigned to Boort for our three-week rural placement, and I arrived knowing nothing about the town except that it was far, sounded funny, had a population of 700, and was good for a spot of bird-watching.
In the short time I’ve been here, I have been warmly welcomed, fed, fed again, offered many cups of tea, and generally asked loads of questions about where I live and what I do and wow isn’t it great you’re going to be a doctor? (*insert much undeserved admiration and applause*)
Only one day in I can already feel that powerful sense of community that people from the country always talk about. It’s warm and fuzzy as a big hug. It’s wonderful.
We had lunch at the hostel-on-the-hill, where we sat around a giant table with a bunch of elderly folk and ate homemade scalloped potatoes, beef patties, sausage, coleslaw, onions, salad and buttered bread. We met a 95 year old lady who lives independently, walks around town, exercises weekly and only gave up her driving license last year. I only hope to be like her when I’m 95. At the end they brought out vanilla ice cream in cones and it was quite a sight seeing rows of white-haired ladies licking enthusiastically at their ice creams!
Another lady talked about going down into Melbourne and how ridiculously busy it was. She said, “It’s so busy down there, everyone must feel like a loner. There must be a lot of lonely people in Melbourne.”
I’m starting to love the way people in rural Victoria talk. You don’t need fluff and nonsense to say something. Often simplicity conveys the most truth and power.
In the afternoon we went to a nearby place called Barraport, which was a town a long time ago but has now dissolved. We visited the property of John Piccoli, a retired farmer and artist who now makes amazing metal-welded sculptures out of antique spanners. He and his wife Sonya also share their home with countless animals including exotic birds and ducks, deer, alpacas and dogs.
An old man today asked me where I was from and whether I grew up in Australia, but he was so apologetic and nervous about it that I couldn’t help but reassure him I wasn’t offended…:-P
My experience of country Victoria has been great so far. I still can’t shake the image of zooming down a straight road between dark, grassy flatlands, with the night sky spread out overhead, driving straight ahead into the Belt of Orion. I felt like the Millenium Falcon about to make the jump to hyperspace :-P