Ju Raku En, Toowoomba’s Japanese Garden, is located on the campus of the University of Southern Queensland. Lucky for Yvonne and I, her friend Tom volunteered to shuttle us around town for the day, and we were treated to some amazing views of the garden.
It was a bit disorienting to find this garden in the middle of Queensland. Who would’ve thought eh? Once we stepped foot inside the garden walls, I instantly felt peaceful and serene. I guess the garden’s mojo was doing its thing.
I enjoyed our stroll through the garden over little red bridges and through different foliage. There was even a section that was a bamboo forest. It was a fine day and families with young children sat under trees and had picnics. There was even a photo shoot of some kind going on at one end of the gardens.
I wish we could’ve stayed longer but the heat was rising by the time we made a complete circuit of the grounds. And the sun in Queensland burns! So we quickly hopped back into Tom’s car.
One of the best things about having friends overseas is being able to see and experience life as it’s lived by locals. Yvonne introduced me to so many of her friends and took me along to different activities she had. The woman is extremely active and participates in so many groups. I can only hope to be just as involved when I’m her age . . . but somehow I think that’s pretty unlikely as even at this age I had a difficult time just trying to keep up with her.
Back in 2011, I made a short detour to Toowoomba to meet up with Yvonne for the weekend. This time around, I had more time to spare and visited for a week. And what a whirlwind week it was!
I took an early flight out of Cairns to Brisbane, then booked a bus to Toowoomba. From the bus station, I jumped in a taxi and headed to Yvonne’s house. Her warm greeting and smiling face when I arrived were just as welcoming as I remembered!
We spent the afternoon and evening catching up. So much time had passed since we last saw each other, and in that time, so many things had happened. I probably talked her ear off about my experiences volunteering at Cassowary Coast Wildlife Shelter and Brindle Creek Sanctuary.
The following morning we took a trip up to Picnic Point and enjoyed the beautiful view and all the jacaranda trees in bloom. Everywhere you looked, purple flowers gently swayed in the wind. The temperature was mild and the company outstanding. What a way to begin my week in Toowoomba.
As my days at Brindle Creek Sanctuary come to an end, I cannot express how amazing this experience has been for me. Halina took me to a nearby lake, and we were lucky enough to see some local wildlife. We wandered around for a bit just taking it all in.
The solitude surrounding this lake and the sanctuary is refreshing. I never thought I’d come to enjoy a quiet life in the bush. I always considered myself a city person (well, as much of a city as can be found in Hawaii). But life out here is simple and maybe all that city hustle and bustle obscured who I am really meant to be? Maybe I’m one of those people who are one with nature?
Nah, that’s probably taking it a bit too far.
However, I do feel a sort of communion with the wildlife and thoroughly enjoy being among the animals. I dare say that I love their company more than the company of my kind. Is that horribly wrong? If given the choice and money was not an issue, I would give up everything to spend the rest of my days caring for them. It just feels right.
When I leave, I will definitely miss all the bubs, even the naughty ones. I’m not sure I will ever find the peace and harmony in my soul that I’ve found during my time with them. I can only hope that all of our lives continue to keep up the positive path we’re on and that our futures remain bright.
Sometimes I wonder how I can ever go back to “real life” after this, and it seems like an impossible feat. What makes it even harder is knowing that to some very lucky and special people, this is their everyday reality! Now, the trick is to somehow make it my own as well.
Like every busted-up relationship, it will take some time to recover from the loss once I leave Brindle Creek. I admit that I’m dreading the day that I no longer need to wake and feed hungry mouths. But I am reassured knowing they are in good hands, hands that will take care of them. But, who will be there to comfort me?