Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Monday 24 April – Narrogin, my funny little spiritual homeland

Current location: Albany
11.11am, At The Gap. It was such cool scenery, and then we walked up to Sandpatch to see the wind farm. I love WA! Today was an epic one – we woke up at Mel's and had brekky with her family and Brodes. I love my Narrogin girls and am so proud of them.
Then we headed to The Gap and Sandpatch, before heading back to Perth via the scenic route. I wanted to show Andy Narrogin (more on this shortly) and so we went via the Stirling Ranges, which was epic. I love the WA countryside so much. There is just so many space in this beautiful, sunburnt country.
I was the navigator and accidentally forgot to navigate, so we ended up going the very scenic route – oops – but made it to Wagin before too long.  Wagin's big claim to fame is its giant ram, and I think Andy was pretty impressed. Then onwards, to Narrogin.

Some background: When I was 10, my family moved to Narrogin, which is in WA's wheatbelt region, for a year. My parents did a teacher exchange, and we lived in a couple's house, Mum and Dad swapped jobs with them, and we went to school. I went to East Narrogin Primary School, where I became Head Girl, and it was one of the happiest times of my whole life. I loved Narrogin, I loved my school, I loved Australia. I felt like this was my spiritual homeland, the place I belonged, and when we returned home in 1997, I saved up every pound I could, to come back and visit, which I did every few years until Andy and I moved here in 2013. Since then, this is the second time we've been back to WA, and I really wanted to show Andy the place that I feel really helped define my personality and my love for this country. My mum reckons that year in Aus was 'the making of me', which might be a bit much as I was only 11, but I really feel it helped shape my character and, to some extent, my life – seeing as I ended marrying an Aussie and spending many years very happy here.

Anyway, onwards we drove to Narrogin. First stop was the town, where we met my friend Danni and her family, for coffee. These girls (Danni, Brodie, Mel, Lauren and Carly, who sadly I didn't see this trip) have been faithful, loyal, beautiful friends to me ever since I met them around 20 years ago. They are individually some of the most impressive people I have ever met, with big plans, amazing families, gorgeous homes and huge hearts. We had a fab time with Danni, her husband Rowan, and kids Lincoln and Isla, and then I whisked Andy off to my old primary school.

I had such happy memories of this school. I'd been in touch with my old deputy principal, Mr Harrison, to ask if there were any teachers I'd know still there, and he offered to come over and meet me (he is now Principal at another primary school). It was amazing to see him again after so long, and he remembered so much about my year at the school. We dug out some old photos, and had a wander around, and it was honestly like I'd never been away. I met Sarah Dyson, who was the woman we did the exchange with all those years ago – I'd never met her so it was so cool to be in touch after all this time! Going back to the school was so special.

After a rad time at ENPS, we drove to my old house, 85 Herald St. We drove past it the first time, as it looked so different I didn't recognise it! The house hasn't changed a whole lot but there was a big fence around it, it was a different colour, and it just looked...sadder. Less loved! I loved that house, for all its faults, and it made me feel a bit sad seeing it so many years later.

The whole visit to Narrogin actually left me feeling pretty emotional. I haven't been back to the town since I was 18, and haven't been back to the school or house since I left aged 11. Twenty years ago. I kept thinking about the picture of the 10-year-old girl in the school photo I'd just seen, thinking: 'Wow, that girl had no idea on the profound effect this town would have on her in just a year!' I feel so lucky to have people from that time still in my life now. Such big feelings about this place, and that time, that I can't really explain, it just left me feeling pretty overwhelmed but in quite a magical way. Like I say, can't really explain it.

Anyway, off we drove to Perth... Probably the best person I could have seen then was Lauren Webb (now Napier), my best friend from those Ngn days, who I speak to lots, see lots, and laugh with lots. She totally understood my funny feelings about Narrogin, and we had a lovely evening with her and her husband Corey, and our gorgeous friend Skippy, at Clancy's Fish Pub. It was the perfect evening really, and then we went back to Lauren and Corey's, where Loz and I listened to Mr Harrison's album and then her brother's album, and talked about motivational quotes, and just hung out, being 11 years old again.

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