SUMMER IN MUDGEE | The Castle

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions people make in their lives. There are so many questions to ask. Is it in a good school district? Are the rates affordable? Is there asbestos? Can we afford it? Is this the town I really want to live in? I asked many of these questions when I purchased my home in Mudgee in 2014. However, there was one question I didn’t think to ask: Is the home in the path of an airport?

With the rebirth of Fly Pelican in 2015, I soon learned the answer to that.

YES. Yes, my home is in the path of an airport.

When I say that my house is ‘in the path of the airport,’ I mean my galvanised metal roof and porch light might as well be beacons for aircraft to know when to put down their landing gear. Planes soar over my home daily, leaving my walls rattling and towering gum trees blowing in the wind while my kids look up to the sky and see the underbellies of planes that are close enough to block out daylight and blow away their carefully constructed forts.

Have you seen the movie The Castle?

It’s like that, but in Mudgee. Trying to remain positive about the neighbouring landing strip, my husband and I proudly host dinner parties on our alfresco dining area and try to casually brace our guests for the bright headlights of the planes that come flying in just before dessert is served. While friends frantically grasp their napkins and tame their windblown hair, all we can do is jokingly ask, “How’s the serenity?”

Evidently – not that serene. Mudgee has been having a rough year. First, it rained. A lot. Next came the freak storm that took down an enormous amount of trees, freshly stood house frames and innocent trampolines. Once the town finally picked up its last broken branch in Lawson Park, a heatwave brought 45-degree weather. (Seriously, are we done yet?) No. Now everything is on fire.

People are losing homes and livestock. Animals are dying. Fire fighters are working round the clock. The devastating damage is even trumping the disaster that is Trumpland aka the United States. To be honest it’s hard to process everything that is going on. Fire truck sirens are blazing, my Facebook newsfeed is filled with information about mines being evacuated, road closures, images of embers raining down on front porches and pictures of kangaroos with bandages on their feet.

Surprisingly, something is making me feel better about our current situation: The planes.

Every three to five minutes, planes carrying fire retardant are flying back and forth over my house. Some might find this annoying, but I find it comforting and reassuring.  The loud engines remind me that horrible things can happen in a flash and to not take life for granted. They also remind me that our community is unbelievable.

In times of chaos and sadness, the Mid-Western region relentlessly works together to help each other. Whether you’ve collected food for volunteer fire fighters, donated money to victims or piloted a plane for hours on end, you’re incredible. Maybe you’re a pharmacist and helped shocked victims pay for their medication. Maybe you sent a kind message on Facebook offering hope and peace to someone who’s lost their home. Or maybe you just closed your eyes and said a prayer for our beautiful, yet vulnerable region. Regardless, you’ve restored my faith in humanity and I thank you.

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