As I flew back into Brisbane from Christmas holidays in the UK, a couple of days ago, I couldn't help but recall our arrival in Australia three years ago, almost to the day. Then we were heading for a new life, and have since had a huge adventure. On Sunday night our plane approached from the west and followed the Brisbane River right past our apartment. The Story Bridge twinkled and other familiar landmarks made it feel like coming home.
In terms of what may or may not have been happening in Oz, the last three weeks seem like a long time. Australia has continued to heat up. By last weekend parts of Tasmania were burning, and today bush fires reached 'catastrophic' levels throughout New South Wales in 40+ degrees and strong winds. There's huge heat in the continental interior fuelled by low humidity. Birdsville is a small town in Queensland's southwest, in the so-called Channel Country. We flew over this area on Sunday afternoon: from 10,000 metres it was difficult to imagine a more inhospitable terrain. The town is currently set for a record-breaking run of 45-degree days.
It's South East Queensland's turn to get hot tomorrow. The Queensland bush fire season is usually past by December, but there was a smokey sunset and there's a strong smell of wood burning as I write.
The last three years have flown by. As well as exploring the stunning landscape, it has been fascinating to observe what makes Australian society tick. This has been made easier by the same language (allegedly), and the fact that so many institutions and customs are just like those of the old country. I'm still learning and have as much desire to do so as I ever did. This year is Federal election year, as it was in 2010; there are more places than ever on my to-visit list; and environmental monitoring is ever more important. So 2013 holds great promise, and there is much to do.
This post was last edited on 9 January 2013