I’m over the Coral Sea listening to sad rock music. The pilot is wandering through the cabin saying g’day to the passengers as if they are mates … they are. Last night I sat at a plastic table and chairs drinking SP beer in the tropics. I’ll buy dinner for a couple of the same blokes in Melbourne tomorrow night.

My world is full of riddles. I’m happy that in a few weeks we’ll park our caravan near the surf and spend half our weeks there leading up to Christmas. I’m sad because our precious daughter Heidi has lost her soul friend and is living through deep grief. (Glenn died in a plane crash at Fox Glacier in New Zealand)

As has been said, ‘life is what happens when you’re making other plans’. I can’t even remember what our plans were for 2010, they certainly didn’t involve losing myself in a project and family grief.

This last few days I’ve been back in Tabubil. Buried deep in PNG’s Western Province the jungle air is thick with moisture. I was woken last night by frighteningly torrential rain pounding the roof of my little fibro shack. “Rained a bit last night,” I said to Ian this morning. “Oh, ‘didn’t notice. ‘Rains every night.”

I’m on Ok Tedi Mining Ltd’s (OTML) Dash 8 charter to Cairns now. There are some great people who live up there, but what a peculiar existence! Comradery amidst extreme isolation. Young families; kids who know nothing other than rain and temporary buildings. Women who understand a trip to the shops as a weekend excursion to Cairns with empty suitcases.

Renagi picked me up yesterday. “So how long have you been up here?”, I asked. “Twenty years, all my working life.” I’m staggered. I’m an urban toffy. These conditions are a fascinating interlude to real life, formative experiences that remind me how big the world is. There is an other worldliness about the place. When you look up the valleys, you realise how totally unsurprising it is that scientists have just found 200 new species of animals and insects in PNG. There are surely thousands more. To not know any different than the constant mist and jungle … my mind boggles.

REM sings ‘Everybody Hurts”, Muse, Linkin Park, Blink-182, Coldplay et al remind me that the deepest emotions are at home with Heidi. And I wipe my eyes again.

“And the tears come streaming down your face,

When you lose something you can’t replace

When you love someone and it goes to waste

Could it be worse.

Lights will guide you home and ignite your bones”


Maria has put up the first post (‘Something New’) on our yurting site for this season … if you are interested, you can now subscribe to our posts via email or RSS etc. See the top right of the site, click here to go there.