Trent Dal­ton

Qantas - - CONTENTS - Il­lus­tra­tion by CHANTEL DE LATOUR

For­give me. I take it all back. That time I said I would leave you. I said I would pack up and move to New­found­land and get a job with a lo­cal pa­per writ­ing the ship­ping news, like the guy in that great book… what’s it called again?

I was stupid to say such flip­pant things. Just young, I guess. Not like you, hey. You’re 96 mil­lion years old. I to­tally get why Antarc­tica is still upset about the break-up. I’d be crushed to lose you, too. But you had to tear away from her, strike out on your own, take your long ex­hale and loosen your hips and give the world an end­less sandy coast­line to dream about.

You are in my dreams. Truth is, I will never leave you. I can’t. You are in my bones. You are in my blood. Every elu­sive scene in my head, you are there. Al­most every mem­ory I have is of you. Your suburbs. The ones you gave us in the 1980s. Re­mem­ber that sum­mer in the outer north­ern suburbs of Bris­bane in 1987? I know they were all pretty darn good – ’89, ’92, ’96 were spec­tac­u­lar – but, man, that 1987 sum­mer was some­thing else. But­tered pop­corn at the Sandgate swim­ming pool. Glug­ging the pop­si­cle run-off in the bot­tom of a lemon Calippo. Dad’s al­ways on the mower be­cause your wild af­ter­noon storms are bring­ing the drink for our lit­tle back­yard in our lit­tle Hous­ing Com­mis­sion clus­ter in your finest sub­urb of all, Bracken Ridge, the one every­body by­passes on their way up the Bruce to your glo­ri­ous Sun­shine Coast and be­yond.

Your wa­ter­falls. Your forests. Your red rocks. Your sausages on bread with tomato sauce. Your tuck­shop mums. Your Gray-Ni­colls Scoop cricket bats. Your Kylie Minogue. Your Wally Lewis. Your coral un­der­wa­ter that gave me imag­i­na­tion. You gave that to me. You handed me creativ­ity through your colours. Your reds and yel­lows, your hun­dred shades of green and your thou­sand shades of blue. Your story. You are all I ever write about and there might be a mil­lion words to de­scribe you if there wasn’t only one. Il­lu­mi­na­tion.

I wanted to tell you I re­ceived your gift. I don’t know why you did what you did. I don’t de­serve such things. I think this one is your mas­ter­piece. This one par­tic­u­lar Aus­tralian you made. You and your glo­ri­ous town of In­n­is­fail, your dear Cas­sowary Coast, Far North Queens­land, where she ar­rived in 1971.

She’s got brown hair and green eyes the colour of your Dain­tree ferns and two gen­tle hands that I get to hold for the rest of my life. She walked into a Bris­bane café – I re­mem­ber the day, 10 Jan­uary 2000 – and she just sat smack-bang in the spare seat be­side me. I thought it was luck. I thought it was fate. But deep down I know it was you. You do things like that. Dear mir­a­cle worker. Dear match­maker. Dear dream weaver. Dear Oz.

You have given me so much. For­give me. I take it all back. That time I said I would leave you. I swear, heart and soul, I will never move to New­found­land to write the ship­ping news.

The Bris­bane-based jour­nal­ist is a staff writer at The Week­end Aus­tralian Mag­a­zine. He’s the win­ner of two Walk­ley Awards and four Kennedy Awards for ex­cel­lence in NSW jour­nal­ism. His de­but novel, Boy Swal­lowsUni­verse, was re­leased last June and his lat­estbook, By Sea & Stars: The Story of the First Fleet, is out now.

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