Over the last few days I've been travelling in northern NSW and over the Queensland border by train and bus.
I wanted to attend a funeral in Ballina and also visit my uncle and aunt on the Gold Coast hinterland. But I also liked the idea of travelling at a slower pace that allowed me to see more of the countryside and the towns and the people.
I appreciate the stories that you hear from people in the country. This time there were two in particular that stayed with me. One was from my AirBNB host in Lismore and the other the waitress at Curry House restaurant in Casino.
My AirBNB host welcomed me about 8:00 pm and invited me into her backyard for a BBQ sausage and a beer with her husband and her medium term boarder.
She had a large vegetable garden and complained that her neighbour's goat would sometimes get into her garden and eat the plants. When she'd mention it to him, he would nonchalently reply that the goat must have been hungry.
My host was very patient with him because he was always very kind to her and to everybody else he'd come across.
He drove a taxi, and one night picked up a woman living with mental illness who was estranged from her family. The woman said she didn't have anywhere to go, so he took her home to stay the night in his spare room. That was a year ago, and she's still there.
A few days later I found myself in Casino, which is as far as the north coast train goes, since former NSW Premier Bob Carr closed the service to Murwillumbah in 2004. I had a few hours to fill in because the train that connected with my bus from Robina was running late due to the heatwave.
It had been 46 degrees earlier, but in the cool of the evening it was a more bearable 38 degrees. I'd enjoyed the curry I'd eaten in Lismore and was pleased to find a simple Indian restaurant in the main street the town. The waitress wasn't Indian, and she was just there helping out her friend the owner, who was.
I was the only customer, and she sat down to talk with me while I waited for my beef korma (Casino calls itself the 'Beef Capital'). The heat was the main topic of conversation but she got around to telling me about the woman with a mental illness whom she'd taken in until the woman could find better permanent accommodation than the tent in the caravan park that the Salvos had provided. That was many months ago.
My waitress's mother had passed away early last year and she had a spare room, and most likely the need for companionship. The woman with the mental illness was 'no trouble'.
She would leave the house every day at 8:00 in the morning and return around 6:00, with her dog. But the dog was 15 and died of of old age some time after she moved in.
My waitress told me that her boarder was distressed and didn't know what to do. So she took the initiative and went to Bunnings to buy a pot and some potting mix in which to give the dog a dignified burial. The woman was very grateful and now the pot with the dog's remains is her most treasured possession.