A different trip up the coast

Bryan J. Rollins
Dec 16, 2019 · 6 min read

Two years ago, I drove up the East Coast of New South Wales and into Queensland.

Over the first nine days of December, I repeated parts of that trip, for four distinct reasons:

  1. I wanted to think about where my “home” in Australia could be.
  2. I wanted to visit three good friends of mine.
  3. I was running a leadership offsite for a company I have been advising.
  4. I wanted a contrast to my trip from 2017. While I returned in 2017, telling myself “it was an amazing trip,” that was only half the story. Looking back, I realised that my disassociation had accelerated during that period of time and led fully into my mental health crisis in the last three months of 2017.

On your mark, get set, get crook

The week before my trip I didn’t eat enough and my immune system crashed, and I woke up just three days before my trip feeling crap. I had to skip Yanksgiving, which tore me apart, and climbed into my car on Sunday morning feeling half-alive.

Apparently an infection can also cause severe overpacking for a 9 day trip.

A burned country

Past Forrester but before Port Macquarie, there’s a section of the Pacific Highway where the recent forest fires crossed over the highway. The tree trunks are burned, some highways signs are pitch black and completely burned.

We’ve seen the smoke in Sydney. I hadn’t see the damage.

It’s difficult to see that and not get angry — the negligence of the Australian Federal government is frustrating, and I haven’t even experienced the loss of homes or the threat of bodily harm from the increasing fire danger year-after-year in Australia.

They’ve said “Now is not the time to talk about Climate Change.” I seriously feel like we should be erecting a physical memorial, and putting the names of the people who are criminally negligent — kind of an anti-memorial. So they see their names going down on something that will last hundreds of years, to remind all future generations who it was, that showed incredible ignorance in a time where they could have led Australia to a world leading position in renewable energy and climate solutions.

Instead, our own Larry, Mo, and Curly of Scott, Angus, and Matt (Canavan) are stooges on the biggest stage in Oz, and yet no one is laughing.

This section of the road where everything is burnt goes on and on and on.

Yamba

I’ve had a soft spot for Yamba and thought that might eventually be a home for me, and maybe it still will be some day. I’ve been to Yamba on four separate occasions and every one has been great. This time I stopped off for two days, to get in a swim, enjoy the quiet, and try and recover a bit from being sick.

The day after a light rain gave us beautiful skies.

The time with my friend Colin, the feel of the ocean, and the peace of Yamba did not disappoint.

By the next afternoon, the smell of smoke was strong and the sun struggled to pierce the clouds. The fires in Yamba reached the closest ridge in this photo in weeks past, and the fireys responded with a 737 filled with retardant to prevent it from burning the homes in Angourie.

The Gold Coast

The Macademia Castle. I think this is King Macademia, or at least one of his knights. BJR is actual size.

My stop in the Gold Coast served it’s purpose for a 2-day offsite for WORK180, the only job site for women that pre-screens employers to see how well they support women’s careers. They have an incredibly valuable source of data, things like employee engagement scores, and which employers offer paid parental leave, pay equity, flexible working arrangements — all the other things jobs boards don’t usually talk about.

I’d spent time with Gemma and Val, the two founder/CEOs of WORK180, but had the chance to spend two days with the management team and the broader team. While I was still fighting the infection, and wasn’t 100%, the two days highlighted how much I miss working with teams, and planted the seed that helped me realise that I want to focus on leadership teams in 2020.

Yes, golf courses can be beautiful, too. It’s just their inhabitants that are an issue.

I knew that the time away from Sydney would give me some space to work through some of the changes that I wanted to make in my life, but I didn’t expect to have such a clear-cut conclusion. But I’m not going to over-analyse such a clear and present insight. There’s plenty of time to over-analyse things later.

Noosa

Sunshine Beach in Noosa. I wish those people next to us would not crowd us.

By the time I arrived in Noosa, I was feeling better, and within a couple of hours I was in the ocean. The water was perfect. Not bath water, but no wetsuit required, incredibly clear, and it washed the frustration of man-flu out of my mind. I could get used to this life.

Jackson and I having some mid-day noodles.

My pulse must drop 10 beats-per-minute when I arrive in Yamba, and it drops another 10 when I first see the Noosa coastline. There is something about being warmer that just slows life down. And I could get used to this life.

I did get one partial workout session with Coach RMK. I stand behind my use of the pink kettlebell.

The main reason to visit Noosa was a good friend who I’d worked with in Sydney. Back at Roy’s home, I partnered up with one of his clients for a swim + kettlebell workout. I could get used to this life.

Baxter, the dog of the house, and I had a lot of great moments. Mostly fetching things.

The entire two days were great. BBQing in the yard, breakfast on the beach, playing endless games of fetch with Baxter, constantly losing fights in the pool with Frankie, swimming in the ocean, and enjoying being outside of a crowded city where people don’t stop to breathe. I could get used to this life.

The walk from Main Beach around the coast is spectacular. Ah, Australia.

Noosa is in Queensland, which means it’s filled with sunshine, and also filled with mostly white people, but that’s changing, too. In small communities, I often wonder if I can find / recruit / assemble a collection of people who will want to talk about how we can test if life is real or if we’re living in a simulation. And then go for a swim. If I could find those people here, then I could get used to this life.

A neighbourhood holiday party complete with Santa on the riding motor. Note that Santa’s pants were actually a bit too tight. Not sure he can accurately judge who is naughty or nice after four G&Ts.

Ballina

My overnight stop on the way back to Sydney was in Ballina, with Andy & Kayte, who I’ve known since I first moved to Manly, and have always looked after me. I must really come across as pathetic to have so many families throughout my life take such good care of me. (I kid, I kid — I know how absolutely wonderful I am and that everyone on the planet wishes that I could be in their lives.) Another great evening, and the perfect people to spend it with before I had to re-enter the confines of Sydney.

The next day, I left early and snuck back into Sydney before the afternoon rush hour traffic had hit.

The Balance of Patience and Motivation

Some things in life are worth waiting for. Mostly it’s nice not to be in a rush to solve all of life’s questions right now. I know that there are changes ahead for me in the next year, and maybe it’s the influence of meditation or the new scrambled tofu recipe I’m using (hint: way too much cumin), but I know I will answer those questions at the right time. Sometimes I wonder what happened to the impatient BJR of just two years ago. 🧐

Mostly, I’m still filled with gratitude. The last 18 months have been one of the best stretches of my life, and what I’ve experienced, who I’ve met, and how it’s changed me, makes me excited for what’s next.

In fact, on Wednesday, my nephew Jon and I are off to Tassie to hike the Overland track. I’m sure there will be a blog…

Happy Holidays!

Bryan J. Rollins

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