Friday, October 31, 2008

matt in ballarat

A few weeks ago, we took the train out to visit my cousin Matt in his adopted home, Ballarat, for the weekend. The train ride itself was delightful, about 1.5 hours of fields and more fields, culminating in a semi-urban town a bit bigger than Northampton in the middle of it all.

Ballarat sprang up during the Australian gold rush, and its former glory is evident in the Victorian architecture everywhere, and the tourist industry (which we mostly ignored) makes sure you don’t forget it. While the residential sections of the town are ridiculously British with their brick walls and little front gardens, the flora and landscape situate it squarely in the southern hemisphere.

But we weren’t there to see the town: we were there to see Matt. Matt is wonderful, and a wonderful host, feeding us well and making us feel right at home. We walked around, ate, played with his housemate’s dogs, and visited his office. Matt’s a lawyer/barrister, and here in Australia that means he has to wear a silly wig sometimes in court. He was patient enough to show me his wig and put it on, but not quite enough to let me take his picture thusly adorned.

My favorite part of the weekend was driving out to a nearby town to meet his boss, a great guy named Jeremy and relax on his patio in the sun, and then taking a walk up a nearby hill. The ridge provided a great view of the area, including fluorescent canola fields and gum trees galore. And sheep industriously breaking out of their paddocks. And the wattle is in full bloom. Yellows and ashy greens all around. The area outside of Ballarat reminded me a lot of home: a very Australian version of home, an impression amplified by the company of two of my favorite people in the world. I hope to get to spend a lot more time in Ballarat.

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