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Is it time to move south from Sub Tropical Brisbane to Ballarat or Bendigo?

I live in Brisbane...and it's not the first time I've lived in Brisbane.

I lived in Brisbane -- during another existence -- October 1972 to January 23rd, 1974. I lerft as the 1974 drowned the city.

After that stint, I returned to Melbourne. and more of less stayed there until 1982 when I moved on:  to Newcastle (1982), to Sydney (1983), back to Melbourne(1984)...and then to Brisbane (1985 - today).

And now, because of the confluence of economic, familial, psychological,  social and physiological forces I have the option -- albeit a schematic idea in our heads -- to move back south.

But since a shift into Melbourne urban real estate is expensive -- and Helen  is keen on a regional  existence anyway --  the preferred option is to move south to the Ballarart or Bendigo region in Central Victoria. some 1800 kilometres away from where we are now..

So I'm doing my virtual homework exploring Bendigo and mapping the properties of  Ballarat. -- locus of the Victorian Gold Fields of the 19th century and the site of the Eureka Rebellion.
So we must fly a rebel flag,
As others did before us,
And we must sing a rebel song
And join in rebel chorus.
We'll make the tyrants feel the sting
O' those that they would throttle;
They needn't say the fault is ours
If blood should stain the wattle!
--Henry Lawson.
I gotta say that I like what I see.

Of course the two cities are great competitors -- see: Bendigo is so totally cooler than Ballarat  -- and   it is a hard call, especially from memory (as I have spent time in the district) and by dint of online research.

That we do have a choice is delightfully prescient  in the way we can project our lifestyle preference onto one location. But the challenge is to carefully weigh up what we think is important and what we want from a place to live.

What is important?
Well there's the rub: how do you rate one place against another?

Here are some criteria I've been working from. Not quite in order of significance but factors nonetheless:
  • Direct fast rail service to Melbourne with a generous timetable.
  • Easy access cross / intra city  transport options -- walk, bike or bus/tram.
  • Lower house prices than Brisbane
  • Rich local cultural and political  (eg:option of a SA branch) life
  • A local  boxing gym ( eg: Lynden Hosking , six time Australian boxing champion, three times Oceanic champion and 1996 Commonwealth champion runs a boxing gym in Bendigo)
  • Generous domestic heating options.
  • On the lee side of the bushfire threat (ie:  south, east or south east of an urban centre at some distance from combustible bush or grasslands.)
  • A local university campus.
  • A population under 100,000 residents.
  • Access to an exciting hinterland: (eg: the Grampions, the Great Dividing Range, lakes and rivers to fish, etc)
  • A good local general hospital/health services
After the sub tropics, cold is a factor to consider. Winter  can be a tad coolish down south and my first winters on returning there in 1974 after being in Brisbane were  very hard to adapt to.

While I'm a city boy (Melbourne bayside) , my forbears come from the North East of Victoria -- that's north of Ballarat and Bendigo around Yackandanadah and Corryong.  So I'm not going ancestrally home. But then a distant relative of mine, a leader of the  Cornish Association of Victoria,   represented the Labor Party for Ballarat  in the Vic parliament , 1980-1990 -- John Mildren.

I still have cousins in the district and my father's family -- not North Easters but  Irish working class (originally from transported convicts) -- always staid at Daylesford guesthouses through the 1930s, partaking of the mineral waters. That was my first introduction to the region as before that, a 'holiday' was staying on relatives' dairy farms in Yackandandah or Lang Lang.

Sop I'm casting my thoughts southward..

These lines from  Judith wright's poem, South of My Days. have popped out of my head:
Oh, they slide and they vanish
as he shuffles the years like a pack of conjuror's cards.
True or not, it's all the same; and the frost on the roof
cracks like a whip, and the back-log break into ash.
Wake, old man. this is winter, and the yarns are over.
No-one is listening
South of my days' circle.
I know it dark against the stars, the high lean country
full of old stories that still go walking in my sleep.
Next step: I come visit and will be in Victoria this year during the coldest month of July..


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