Most of my fellow USA teachers who had been given posts in Melbourne and the surrounding suburbs were off trying to find accommodation and transport during the day, while I was off discovering the City. For some reason I just knew that I would be OK.
I was told by the Minster of Education that my Headmaster of my new high school in Rainbow was driving down personally to pick me up, and take me to my new home. I thanked the Minister, and asked him to pass on my thanks to my new Headmaster . I told the Minister that I liked the title - Headmaster - it sounded so British! He often just looked at me, smiled and shook his head.
On the big day, those of us left in the hostel were saying our good-byes to the friends we had shared this experience with, as they left to begin their journey. I nervously waited for my Headmaster to arrive, and then - he suddenly was there.
He was a sturdy looking man, with a bit of 'pepper coloured hair', I think that is the polite way of saying he was beginning to have some gray areas.....he was a bit gruff, but as friendly to a total stranger that he could be! I was just happy to have contact, and know that I was on my way to my next adventure! We put my things in his car, and because the Australian Consulate back in the States told me that I needed to be prepared for anything, due to my pale complexion and fair hair, I perhaps over-packed a bit---but I was moving to another country! I also carried my trusty Smith-Corona typewriter with me, in her black coloured hard metal case - a present from my parents for my 16th birthday, and my trusty companion. We had written a lot of stuff together!
It was going to be about a 4 hour trip to get to Rainbow, maybe longer if traffic was any indication. To tell you the truth, other than Chicago and LA, I had never seen a City as large as Melbourne, and they all drove on a crazy side of the road here--I kept trying to dodge on-coming traffic as we made our way through the city to the major highway North that would take us to my new home. I was excited! And what do I do when I'm excited? You got me! I talk!
"Oh, Mr Barr! This is really great! I can't believe how you just drove through all of that traffic and you didn't even flinch--I had my eyes closed quite a lot of the time!"
"Yes, well, one gets used to it."
"Really? Don't think I ever will. I don't think I will have to worry about it in Rainbow will, I? Not as big a city?"
Mr Barr, looking at me, briefly taking his eyes from the road, sort of chuckled and then responded: " No. Not as big a city. More like a town, a village, a small area, but full of people who have been waiting for your arrival."
"Really? They know about me already?"
"Well, as a small school, on a minimal budget we only get allocated so many staff, and you plus 2 other first year teachers will be joining us this year. In fact, we have arranged a house in Rainbow for all of you to live in, as you settle in".
"Really? I'm a bit surprised, but happy that you have done this. I was a bit worried about how I would live. But a house--that's a good thing, right?"
"Uh, yes. Right."
I felt happy. I sat quietly for a while only asking the occasional question, as I watched the ever changing scenery pass by my side car window. I wanted to see Koalas hanging from trees as we drove, but convinced myself that they weren't monkeys after all, and the Kangaroos must just be shy, because I hadn't seen even one yet!
After a quick nap-(car riding does that to me), we started to drive through more bush covered areas with less and less traffic. The road became more narrow, and eventually we arrived in Rainbow. As we entered the outskirts of the town, I noticed the vast fields of land (paddocks as they are called), they had just been harvested of their wheat crop. In other 'paddocks' , there were scattered white, creamy coloured flocks of sheep grazing on what ever green or growth they could find. I knew I had a lot to learn. I had never seen sheep before. (I would eventually learn to know every crook and cranny of those strange, woolie animals!)
We then suddenly arrived in Rainbow!
I discovered after a while, that every town and City in Australia has a War Memorial, often dedicated to the ANZAC'S (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). As we drove down the main street of Rainbow, past the only town's butcher shop with painted windows of sheep and cows, and a genuine tree stump on top of a sawdust floor, which served as a cutting board for butchering the meat to one's desire, I also noticed that not only were there no traffic lights, but there weren't even any stop signs. " I guess everyone here just knows when to stop and when to go again", I sort of mumbled out loud. Mr Barr, smiled to himself, and said that he would take me to my new home in a few moments. We continued driving along the main street so that I could look around.
It sure was different from what I had expected--but in a way--sort of charming--comfortable like. I was beginning to relax a bit -- the butcher shop had made me smile. There was just such a difference from where I had just come from to where I was now....not a bad difference - just a difference.
I had arrived! I would be meeting my new housemates soon, and see where I would be living. It was all in front of me! No time for tired exhaustion now, I had a lot to see yet.....