It’s Boxing Day and I’m in Lismore, Northern NSW. I’m not sure of the current temperature, except to say that it’s not as hot as yesterday or the day before when the temperature reached the late 30s.
What a whirlwind couple of days it’s been since I last wrote. Before coming up to Lismore I spent a few days just hanging out in Sydney. One of the highlights was going out to dinner with Colin at RQ Restaurant in Surry Hills on Tuesday night. We’d intended to go to the newly renovated Dolphin, but that was incredibly busy, and then we tried Billy Kwongs, but that was half an hour wait. So it was RQ once again and of course it didn’t disappoint.
I flew up to Lismore (my hometown) on Wednesday. Lismore is located about two hours drive south of Brisbane and is similar in many ways to Muriel’s hometown in “Muriel’s Wedding”. Or at least it was when I grew up here. In the last few years, however, the town has undergone a transformation due to the massive influx of people from Brisbane and Sydney. Nearby, towns such as Byron Bay and Nimbin have gained an international reputation. It’s one of the most sought after places to live in Australia these days.
Hey, we even have a gay pub. And on New Years Eve, there’s a gay dance party called Tropical Fruits that attracts thousands from all over NSW and Queensland. It’s being held in the Lismore Showgrounds that I remember best for fairy floss and ferris wheels. The day after the Lismore Baths will be taken over for a Gay Pool Party. Not bad for a town of 47,000.
But some things have changed for the worse. The showground, for example, is in dire financial straits, with the local newspaper laying the blame of years of poor financial mismanagement. One of big local employers of my youth, Norco, manufacturers of cheese, milk and ice-cream, now has just a skeleton staff at the South Lismore factory, with most of the manufacturing done in Queensland. I also noticed the other day there’s now covers on the railway crossing lights, indicating the railway line no longer comes through town.
Whatever has happened to Lismore, to me, it’s just still home. It’s still the small town that I left all those years ago. And on Boxing Day just after lunch, it’s warm and humid.