Lismore. Thursday, 7.05am
What a night. I slept like a baby – without wetting myself of course. And a pretty woman didn’t walk in to cuddle me when I called out during my dream. (More like a futuristic nightmare, I dreamt I had finished the very last bottle of filtered air left in the whole North Coast Gasfield.)
Apart from that – like a baby.
The sun has poked its head above the roof of the neighbour’s house and is fingering yellow light through the bangalow palms and onto the lawn where I stand. Its warmth is making me steam in the chilled air. Or perhaps it’s the hot tea I’m sipping.
Yep, slept like a baby, despite being away from my shack under the cliffs, staying overnight at my friend’s place in suburban Lismore. Yep, I’m getting about.
I slept on my brand-new camping mat: a high-tech, portable solution to sleeping away from home. And, in a concession to contemporary life, I bought it online. It’s like I’m a modern bloke. Sure, there was a mix-up in delivery, but now it’s finally arrived (from Sydney via Singapore).
The camping mat is a blow-up job providing four inches of insulated comfort and packing down into a wee 600-gram bundle that takes bugger-all room in my travel kit.
Last night, snuggled in my sleeping bag, suspended on my camping mat and sedated by a bottle of organic shiraz, I was so comfortable I am now ready to give up my regular bed, my shack and my job to go explore this gas-filled land. I want to be an itinerant poet, noting with eloquence the decline of civilisation, eating from nature’s dwindling bounty, and sleeping tranquilly on my camping mat wherever my meandering muse takes me.
I would be like an old Zen monk: paunch, constant smile and all that I own tied in a bundle to the end of a pole. (Carrying a bag of sweets for the kiddies is probably no longer appropriate.)
I could write a book (and call it, say, On the Road), struggle with my latent homosexuality, and trash my liver with too much sherry. Yes, liberated by my camping mat, I can now lead a most romantic and nomadic life.
Two kookaburras swoop past me to perch in a giant callistemon overhanging the fence. They call out. And then fly off to a nearby hoop pine as a flock of parrots, always on the lookout for a party, approaches, checking out the callistemon for fermented nectar.
The travel bug is biting. I have my sleeping bag, camping mat and my compact hiker’s tent – all of which fit neatly into my travelling bag. Yep, I’m ready to go. But where? And how? The roads are crowded, my body doesn’t fit comfortably into airline seats, and the wine on trains is not organic.
Something catches my eye. A bubble has popped out of one of the old gas vents that dot Lismore town! What? I thought these remnants of an underground piped domestic gas supply were long abandoned. Have Metgasco and the government created an innovative way of delivering gas to China?
No, of course not. I see a basket hanging beneath it. It’s a balloon, with people. In Lismore! (Wow. Lismore has tourists. Or has it blown off course from Byron?)
What a way to travel. No roadside drug swabs, no airport security checks, no domestics in the dining car queue – just wind, wine and whimsy.
When I buy my balloon (online, of course), I’ll load it with my sleeping bag, my camping mat, bottles of South Australian red, a wheel of Tasmanian brie, and see where the wind blows.