It's not you, it's me

We’re currently in Katherine in the Northern Territory and this week I have learnt two things:

  1. That Australia is a very big place with not that many people in it.
  2. I am still terrible at remembering names and faces.

When you’re travelling Australia with a caravan in tow and you’re in the northern part of the country during winter peak season, it’s easy to be blown away by just how many people are doing the same thing as you. Everywhere we look there are grey nomads and other families travelling this beautiful country of ours. Every caravan park we stay at is full. Every free camp is packed out. It seems to be that everyone has had the same idea as us.

But then we stop in the one place for more than a week and I realise there aren’t as many people as doing this epic trip around the country as I think, because I keep bumping into the same people.

There are plenty of families we keep crossing paths with who we met early on in our travels in NSW or QLD. A lovely little family from Adelaide kept finding us in different spots all the way up the East Coast. We met another family at Yeppoon in Queensland and saw them again at Alice Springs and Uluru. This week Jarrah had a playdate with a friend he made over two months ago at a caravan park in Cairns. There’s lots of travelling families, but also very few. I will always remember the families we’ve met in our travels as our kids connect with each other and we tend to chat about all the things we have in common. It’s the grey nomads I have trouble remembering.

We’ve stayed in countless different campsites across a 6000km stretch of Australian Highway across almost 5 months of the year. We’ve met hundreds of retired grey-haired couples in caravans who are travelling the country and in my mind they’re beginning to blur together. This week alone I’ve had four different people approach me smiling and telling me we camped in the same place at the same time a few weeks ago, or maybe months ago, somewhere in Australia. I recognise these people’s faces but I couldn’t tell you a single other thing about them.

What’s the problem then, you ask? The problem is that it gets a little awkward because these people remember us. They remember where we’re going. They remember where we’ve come from. Some even remember the names of our kids. Because, whilst they’re just another grey haired couple in a shiny white caravan driving a silver or white 4WD, we’re those dreadlocked hippie-looking characters in the caravan with ‘Tree & Pixie’ plastered on it with the cute but loud baby/toddler and the three year old who NEVER ever stops talking. So I guess we kind of stand out.

Those conversations are always awkward. Where the person I’m talking to knows everything about my life and I know nothing about theirs. And it’s not just now that it happens, it’s been happening most of my life. I’ve always had a terrible memory for names, I’m pretty bad at listening and I’ve always dressed a little weird. I don’t really know why people remember me, but they always do.

So, to all the grey nomads out there I keep bumping into and not recognising, I’m sorry. It’s not you, it’s me. Next time I’ll try a little harder to listen when you tell me your name and where you’re from, because we may just meet again down the road, in this big (but small) country of ours.

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