Have you met Murwillumbah? I met her a while back, as a journeyed the long road to Highschool in the late 90’s. She was the hotter, more humid neighbour of the beachside town I grew up in, often making sweat drip down your legs while sitting in class. Often zapping all of your energy while you were meant to be playing hockey on the sports field. Raining cane ash on your white uniform. The walk between the two busses I used to catch often took me past the sweet aromas wafting out from The Austral Café, and the air-conditioned sanctuary of KFC, where for $30c you could enjoy a little ice-cream if you could eat it before it melted right off the cone.
When I left school, life took me to many other places. The Gold Coast, New Zealand, and for a long stint in Tweed Heads and Coolangatta. She always seemed to call me home though, Murwillumbah. At a visit to the local Famers Market with my kids, I loved to sit in the sun and take in the absence of silence as the cane quietly swished in the background. I loved her verdant green clothing, wrapped in blue sky and the odd white fluffy cloud. I loved the people, who had time to say hello and weren’t afraid to make eye contact and share a good laugh.
It was wonderful to move back here in July of 2015, and know this was now going to be our home. Murwillumbah…an unassuming beauty, not calling attention to herself, but humbly drawing you close as you get to know her. Her beauty is deeper than her looks. Some would even say she is a rough diamond. I thought I was returning to a comfortable friend moving back here…until the flood came…and then I really got to know her.
Weeks have passed since the flood. I have seen Murwillumbah in a whole new way. I can tell you that when she needed to, she pulled up her sleeves and worked hard, the epitome of a typical Aussie Battler. A couple of days in, muddy, weary and emotionally drained, still she found the energy to dig in and find another level of humble tenacity and do what was required of her. When the chips were down and the initial energy and enthusiasm of the job wore off, she shifted gears and pulled out endurance and reached out to embrace and high five whoever needed it.
Murwillumbah has gone above and beyond in her serving heart and community spirit. She has delivered so much hope and compassion, hard-work and determination. She provided the backdrop for us to form strong bonds that will keep her true and right and loyal for a long time to come.
Murwillumbah is our town.
Today, I can tell you that I love living here even more than a month ago. It is worth the 45-minute drive to work and back everyday. We have been loved on non-stop since this flood. Since the floods, we have been blessed with food (I mean, YUMMY SCRUMMY food), sometimes delivered to our door! Between the flood and our quick departure to NZ for a family funeral, there was always lunch and dinner, vegetarian if we wanted it. Sometimes from friends, and sometimes from complete strangers! It was great to go out and chat with the neighbours over our shared meals as well. I’m so glad we have come to know them all a lot better. Don’t ever underestimate the value of a meal for someone who needs it. For us it was truly wonderful to not have to think about cooking, and that is saying a lot because we both like to cook!
We had fantastic friends offer to take our kids and let them have some ‘normal fun’ while we did the bulk of the messy clean up, glass removal and mud washouts. We had a bundle of handcrafted soaps, lip balms and bath bombs delivered, we had a family drive by and offer us bottled water, offers of help from complete strangers, and then also a lot of help from willing, beautiful friends. You each know who you are, and there were so many more offers too, thank you all for your love and support! We arrived home one evening after taking a drive into town to a big bag of Science Diet dry cat food on our stairs, (our cats do not usually eat science diet- its like SUPER PREMIUM!) and the next day someone from True Local dropped in a $30 Coles card as well. On hearing that we were returning to no hot water after an overseas funeral, an electrician organised a plumber to install a new system for us in the hopes that we might come home to a nice hot shower (which we did, in a couple more days!) On Easter weekend, someone knocked on the door with a basket of eggs and toys for our boys to choose something from and made their night. It has been wonderful being the recipient of so much care and thoughtfulness.
Murwillumbah is our town. She may not be perfect and she may not be glamorous, but when the flood silt finally disappears, she will regain her green valleys, blue skies and happy go lucky personality. We may be tired and wondering when will we ever feel normal again, but isn’t that the point? We probably won’t. I hope our new normal- post flood- will be a better, even more friendly town of familiar faces who keep right on helping each other out in the everyday stuff. Thumbs up Murb’s, you little ripper!
PS BIG thanks to the extra talented Kirri Hardy (@kirrigirl36) for sharing her beautiful photo on the blog (featured image)