My memories are a bit hazy but treading on sharp shells on low tide and being forced to wear shoes on the sand sent the red flag up instantly. Why the hell would any active 6 year old want to wear shoes on sand? Sand was meant for getting stuck between the toes and running carelessly without the iminent danger of sharp pointy poisonous shells piercing the sensitive spot under your feet. I remember the mud flats at low tide and wondered where the heck the water was? And why weren’t there any waves? Team that with a less than perfect camping ground and it would be another 39 years before i would eventually visit Hervey Bay again!
There were two main reasons why we’d decided to venture off the Bruce Highway for a week at Hervey Bay.
1) to road test our new 2nd hand caravan;
Exhibit a – our trusty Nissan pulling the spinifex
2) to take the kids whale watching – which (I’ve been told) is the original and best location to see the humpback whales in their natural environment. – so I’ve been told (I said that twice for good reason)
( notice no photo of whale watching – because it didn’t happen)
3) catch some winter whiting.
Exhibit b – snapper not whiting! Yeeeewwww
But while we didn’t manage the correct timing for whale watching (too early in the season apparently), we did manage to strike up quite a few lengthy conversations with some elderly residents and grey nomads at the 4pm gathering of the “2 Can Club”. The men would meet every day at the Hervey Bay Caravan Park camp kitchen for their daily banter over two ales. The best part – wives (albeit “handbrakes”) weren’t permitted. I could only assume that this arrangement was welcomed by the significant other as a time of peace and quiet – need I say more.
I’d always associated Hervey Bay as the retiree mecca so felt that it wasn’t the best choice as a holiday destination in my twenties or thirties. But I could now see why this sleepy little city now boasts the largest growth rates in Australia.
The fishing is good, the place is quiet, the weather is excellent, and the area around the bay is flat and accessible. There’s loads of children’s playgrounds, some really great cafes/restaurants and enough bike paths along the esplanade to tire any tourist or resident into a restful night’s sleep.
Life in Hervey Bay is not at all complicated. What you see is what you get and considering the medium age of residents is 45, it’s no wonder I felt right at home.
At 45, I now seem to connect with a wide spectrum of people! I find the oldies interesting and love hearing their travelling stories and witnessing their simplistic life of choice. I have my own kids so love feeling the vibe of kids on school holidays or seeing our own kids make friends as they scooter around caravan parks! I get what a lot of people are about. In some ways I’ve already “been there done that” but in other ways I’m still learning from everyone (and everything) around me. Everyone has a story to tell and there’s something about Hervey Bay that reflects all the many and varied stories of the past, present and future.
Simplicity v’s Complication
Simplicity – the quality or condition of being plain or uncomplicated in form or design;
Complication – a circumstance that makes something difficult;
Exhibit c – a resident of Hervey Bay Caravan Park sitting contentedly in the sun writing in her calendar.
Now, don’t think for a second that I want to spend my retirement only being able to afford a small permanent caravan at a local caravan park but, when you venture inside the lives of the elderly, there seems such simplicity in the choices that they make and the company that they choose to keep. Some are happily married, some are a little grumpy, some are sticky beaks and some are the friendliest and most interesting people you will ever meet.
I took the above photo on my last morning wilst walking the dogs through the park. She seemed happy and content soaking up the morning sun and writing in a calendar which I could only assume served as a visual reminder for future appointments and events in her life. But one thing stood out – life seemed simple for her. She was happy for me to take a photo of her that morning and made reference to her home which showed a certain level of pride and fulfilment. I only wish that I could have chatted with her more that morning. I wonder if life turned out the way she planned? if she still has things she desires? and weather or not she’s lonely or mysteriously content in her own company? Life for her certainly doesn’t appear complicated.
But what separates that space between simplicity and complication?
I think life only becomes complicated when we prioritise our wants over our needs and when we serve vanity rather than humanity. I attempt to listen to the quiet voice inside me rather than the loud voices (noises) that shout demands of me and others around me. Its these external (pressures) that eventually make way for complication. That simply isn’t me and visiting Hervey Bay affirmed all the quiet yet affirming voices inside me. I definitely prefer simple and felt very much at home in Hervey Bay.
Everywhere I turned I was reminded that grey nomads and retirees rule! But realised that the inclusion of wide roads, large blocks of affordable waterfront land and spacious foreshore picnic grounds provided the residents and tourists alike with services that cater for simplicity, not complication. I couldn’t think of a more perfect place to retire. Who knows, maybe in twenty years time I may call Hervey Bay my home (alongside Guy Sebastian and Adam Brand). Let’s hope it’s one of those waterfront havens that feature modestly along the 14km of esplanade. Time will tell.
My next blog;
“10 telltale signs you’re in Hervey Bay”