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Place, Distance and Relationality: A month in Melbourne’s outer outer north

Exercise: Introduce yourself

Venue: Bendigo Library

Audience: Bendigo Writers’ Council (First meeting of 2021. No supper permitted due to covid regulations)

Date: 27/1/2021


“Well we’ve got to beat the heat!”

I’d say 6am should still be pretty cool…

“And the traffic!”

Yes the classic 6am rush the 25th of January is known for!


So we set off, me in Humphrey who can only be described as a “student’s car” filled with plants, and my parents in the rental van, up the Calder and arriving by 8:30 with no traffic. (It was already pretty hot)


My Tinder bio reads something along the lines of “Hi I’ve just moved to Bendigo after spending most of the last year in a sharehouse in Melbourne’s industrial South-East, so yes. I’d love a hug sometime soon. Also, my mum said that maybe I’d fall in love with someone in Bendigo so… prove her right I guess.

I tried growing mint but loved it so hard that it burnt itself to a crisp from the inside out and I have no idea how


A: Heeeyyyy xxxxx

Me: Hi there!

A: Why’d you move to Bendigo?

Me: Umm… good question…

A: Work?

Me: Kind of? I’ll be working a bit with a theatre company up here, but mostly

I’ll be writing and gardening I think.

A: Right.


Interests:

  • My plants

  • Queer theory

  • The way pandemics have influenced the Arts throughout history

  • The kids show, Bluey




A month and two days ago I was at a picnic for a friend who was moving to Perth to study at WAAPA. We joked that really, Perth was really just Melbourne’s West -quite far West, but basically still Melbourne. Similarly Bendigo became really just a suburb in Melbourne’s North… The outer outer north, 150km or so from the city…

Everyone I’ve spoken to here has asked me what part of Bendigo I’m in and they always respond with something along the lines of “Oh that’s a good spot to be in!” Walking distance from town and the lake and the hospitals. Close enough to everything that I didn’t really have to worry about what a 5km bubble looked like for 5 days.


I’ve been thinking a lot about place and distance lately. I was talking to my former housemate Ryan at one point and he realised that after this year, Melbourne would be the city he had lived in longest and said that perhaps it was nearly time for a change. I said yes! Change is great!

Then I remembered that Ryan has lived in cities all around the world and I have lived within quite a small bubble my whole life.

More accurately, I have lived within a triangle of approximately 42.75 square km




which has suddenly become a 667.65km^2 quadrilateral (assuming my dodgy maths is even remotely right).


I’ve been doing quite a bit of gardening in the last 7 months.

I had a thriving veggie garden at my last place that I built from scratch after researching the best soil combinations and forced anyone who would listen to suffer through my passionate descriptions of every single plant’s journey from a seed to a meal. Some of the plants made the journey up the Calder with me, and my collection has definitely grown a lot since moving.

Both me and my plants have been uprooted. Some of the plants are thriving, others not so much. My mint looked like it had completely died but now is suddenly doing great again after I hacked all of the dead parts off with kitchen scissors to prove that I wasn’t over loving it again (yes, this would have been the third mint plant I had killed…)

I spend quite a bit of time chatting with my plants, and have on more than one occasion referred to them as my children and definitely have far too much of an emotional connection to these plants but lately they’ve been making me think about community quite a bit.

I’ve just started my PhD, in part looking into theatre as a tool to help build communities and really the only community I have here so far is my plants. I realised that I don’t know how adults make friends… Pretty much all of my friends are either people that I met at uni or at school or maybe some from theatre who might only be friends with me because we were forced to exist in proximity to one another for so long. In my Honours study I started looking into posthuman studies and non human kinship -ideas that are still a bit too big for my brain to fully understand, but I’ve been really appreciating my non human community while we bury our roots into the soil together, figuring out what it means to exist in this place at this time.


Things I have done/been involved in/experienced in the month since moving:

  1. I unpacked my necessities, thinking I would be in this house for two months. I wanted it to be comfortable, but not to unpack more than I needed to. This included building a desk with shelves from ikea that is great for study and for sewing.

  2. Went to the Bendigo Writers’ Council

  3. Spent a week training at Arena Theatre Company in their Hidden Creatures Gallery. This was exactly what I needed in my second week in town. I met some incredible artists and got to be in a room with people!! Making art!!! For the first time in a year!!!

  4. Had some unexpected closure or if not closure, was able to put a book back in the shelf that has liked to spring open unexpectedly over the past few years.

  5. Looked at other places on domain and realestate.com

  6. Expressed interest in adopting a cat.

  7. Rehearsed a show, wrote a song and became a social media expert for a day.

  8. Went into lockdown.

  9. Wrote a 10 minute play about a lesbian ghost and a forest with hairy legs.

  10. Decided that I want to stay in this house for more than two months and expressed more interest in the cat. They haven’t responded to my email yet but I will be following up!!

  11. Started a PhD. Tried to figure out what that meant and tried to remember how to read and write. Did some really really dry inductions and then had some cool thoughts.

  12. Went to some zoom dinner conversations about clowning and bouffon that reminded me how important that world is to me. A few years ago a teacher told me “some people are actors and some people are clowns, Paris you are an actor” and it absolutely broke my heart, and these dinners helped fix a bit of that for me.

  13. Didn’t get to do theatre in Melbourne but did go and have a lovely picnic at my old place once lockdown ended.

  14. Got my first tattoo!!!

  15. Sung with a friend.

  16. Went for a walk.

  17. Breathed in eucalyptus trees and remembered that is important.

  18. Felt frustrated.

  19. Felt lonely.

  20. Felt grateful.

  21. Felt unfocussed.

  22. Felt… something that is not anxiety and is also not calm and that is busy but also not at all busy.

  23. Went to the writers’ group again.

  24. Planned a D&D session.

  25. Went to the library.

  26. Wrote this list.

  27. Wrote my shopping list.

  28. Saw that my first scholarship payment came through so I can go to the supermarket.

  29. Remembered that I’m at a library and I should probably find some books to borrow.

  30. Remembered how hard it is to find books to borrow at the library when you don’t have specific books that you want to find or even know what books you like to read.

  31. Realised that this list has hit 31 and that there were 31 days in the last month so probably I should stop writing this list.

  32. Remembered that I was reading a good book about trees but I lost it so maybe the library has that.

  33. I should have lunch.

  34. Oh boy my parking expires in two minutes...

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