WELL friends, I'm packing it in. This will be the last story I file for CQ News, well from this desk anyway.
Mark Twain once said that "travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness", and to avoid these failings I'm giving it all up for a life on the road.
On Monday morning I'll jump in my car and start the long journey west, leaving behind a cherished amount of good memory and friends.
I've got no planned route yet, and I intend to take the long road- not all wanderers are lost, I figure.
All I know is I have to be in Perth by mid-December to make a flight to India. It's a one way ticket, and at this stage I wouldn't' have it any other way.
It all started on a wet Central Highlands night in Wright Street. It was a Saturday, and I was buzzed from a full day of activity. I'd spent the last hour of nightfall before the Sunday sun on the phone catching up with friends here and there.
"Have you heard of the Kumbh Mela?" my mate said.
"No, what is it?"
"A Hindu pilgrimage to the Ganges, it only happens every 12 years and the last time they had over 85 million people there. It's the biggest human gathering in the world. It's on again in January.
"Well we don't really have a choice do we," I said.
"Indeed," he replied.
"I'll make a plan."
It was settled, I woke up on Sunday afternoon with the seed firmly planted. I've been saying to others for a while now that if you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space. And it was high-time I took some of my own advice.
None of this is easy though. Over the past two years I have carved out a home for myself in a region I knew nothing about before my arrival.
I somehow stumbled my way through a phone interview to get here, reciting some quick facts about the Central Highlands I had picked up off the internet only moments before.
Two days later I was offered the job and I took to working out the logistics of my move to Emerald.
Out the front of the airport my luggage was brought to me on the back of a tractor, I grabbed my bag, smiled and looked up at the street light to see what appeared to be a plague of palm sized Queensland bugs.
'What have I done,' I thought.
I hopped in a taxi and told the driver to take me to town.
"Sure," she replied. "But the John Gay is down."
"Okay," I said, wondering who the hell this John Gay was, and why he was down. 'Poor fellow', I thought.
That was the first of many lessons I would come to learn during my Queensland experience. And as I type this today, there's not one I would give back.
This is one reporter that's signing off for the better. I feel privileged and proud to have shared the last two years of my life with you all, and I will forever be humbled by the experience.
In two years I've lived in five share houses, accepted my death as a 20ft wall of flames started to close in around me, poked Bob Katter in the chest, reported on one of the worst floods in the town's history, lost a grand final, won the heart of a girl, and even fallen in love.
I've interviewed smiling grannies, burly bikies and everyone in between. I've shared a table with mining power players and environmental warriors, met farmers both down and out and on top of their game. I've rubbed shoulders with federal politicians, sports stars, conspiracy theorists and unlikely heroes.
Above all though, it's the friends I'll take away that will define this phase of my life, and the great, lasting memories they helped create.
I want to thank anybody who ever shared their story with me. And those of you who helped create our own stories that we'll share for years to come.
I'd be lying if I said I haven't second guessed this decision at least once since I made it, but in the end, I figure life's just too damn short to live with regrets.
In the words of the late, great Dr Hunter S Thompson, "Buy the ticket, take the ride".
Mahalo, and good luck.
This beautiful solid home has a character all it's own and is tucked away in a very quiet little no through street just off Penlington Street. A large open dining...
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