Hello Australia. What am I doing here?

Hello Australia. What am I doing here?

I moved to Bali in 1999 and it’s been my home ever since. Well it was until the 4th April, 2021, when I flew to Australia. Covid 19 changed things worldwide and I wasn’t immune to its effects. More than a year without income, made the age pension in Australia very appealing. Arriving in Sydney, Australia on the 5th April, I went into quarantine. A week later I turned 66 and submitted my initial application for the pension. On the 19th April, I was released from quarantine and flew to my family on the Gold Coast. Over the next few weeks, my sister, Janet, drove me to dozens of appointments where I re-established my Australian residency and completed all the forms required for the age pension, Medicare and more. Australia loves paperwork.

It’s now late May, and I wait for my first pension payment. One day it will magically appear in my bank account. I’d love to think I could then return to Bali, but I’m advised I may have to stay in Australia for up to two years, before the pension can be taken overseas. Of course I’ll be trying to get back to Bali and my life there, well before 2023.

So here I am in Australia, with my heart still in Bali. I could mope about, bitching and moaning, but that’s not me. Instead I’m determined to make the most of my stay here and achieve heaps more than just getting the pension. Here are my goals for the next six months. Each week I’ll blog and let you know how I’m going.

Goal 1. Quit smoking. I’ve smoked for 50 years. Disgusting! I gave up before departing Bali and haven’t had a cigarette since. Cold turkey has worked.

Goal 2. Lose weight. I ate my way through Covid and by the time I came out of quarantine, I was 127kg. Janet, my sister, accepted the challenge to help me lose weight. My job is to stick to the program and relearn decent eating habits. Here’s how it’s going. 19/4/21 – 127kg. 18/5/21 – 119kg. In 4 weeks I’ve lost 8kg. It’s a start, but my goal weight is 85kg, so there’s a long way to go.

Yes! 127kg. Lots of weight to lose.

Goal 3. Exercise. My aim is to walk for 2 hours a day. For the last 3 days, I’ve managed 30 minutes daily. This will gradually increase.

My scenic walking track.

Goal 4. Maintain daily contact with Bali and Private Ubud Villas. This is easy and a labor of love. With a great management team on the ground in Bali, things continue to flow smoothly in my absence, but I like to feel needed and so contact team members daily.

Goal 5. Blog regularly. Here it is. I’ll blog every week and I aim to increase my subscribers from 200 to 2,000. You can help by passing my blog along to friends and by suggesting they subscribe.

Goal 6. Write daily. Depression stole my mojo for April and May, but I’m clawing it back and my goal is to rewrite my manuscript, “F#ck Me! What Next?” and to complete another manuscript titled, “Growing up gay.”

Goal 7. Find an agent or publishing house to represent me and my novel, “The Maiden Aunts.” This is a great story and I need to pull out all stops to have it traditionally published. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Goal 8. Catch up with family and friends. Many of my friends, I’ve not seen for twenty years or more, so now is the time to catch up.

Goal 9. Enjoy the multitude of amazing attractions Australia has to offer. In the four weeks I’ve been living on the Gold Coast, Janet and I have been to live music, The Tweed Regional Art Gallery, and the cinema. I’m spoiled for choices. Road trips, stays away with friends and writers’ meetings are also in the offering. I’ll share each new adventure in my weekly blog.

Hello Australia. I’m back and the best is yet to come. Stay tuned.

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17 thoughts on “Hello Australia. What am I doing here?”

  1. This is an absolutely wonderful post, Steve. Your goals sound so positive and as I read them, I think I will adopt several that you’ve listed for myself.
    Keep enjoying whatever you can every day and know that your spirit floats around Bali so you haven’t gone, you’re just traveling.

    1. A great read. Welcome back Steve but I totally understand how your heart is in Bali. We miss going there and having our Villa there and are in regular contact with Wayan and his family. You’ll be back before you know it … times flies so quickly.

  2. Great to hear you’re enjoying your stay in Oz Steve. I’m keeping in touch with Bali on a regular basis too. We’re all playing the waiting game to get back to our second home again.

    1. Hi Sue, It sure is a waiting game, but won’t we appreciate it when borders open again? Steve

  3. Dear Steve, I felt so uplifted by your wonderful spirit and how you are approaching this horrible pandemic, with even more positivity then ever. I of course, would never expect less, because in my eyes you have always been able to adjust to many a circumstance with gusto, positively, generosity and happiness.

    I also can feel an ache in your heart for those you adore and love so dearly in magnificent Bali but as Mandy so beautifully says above, “………your spirit floats around Bali, so you haven’t departed, just travelling”…………that really appeals to me!!!!!!

    1. Hi Gregory, Thanks for your kind words. The kindness shown to me by so many have made this difficult time as lot easier. Months will fly past and before I know it, I will once again be reunited with everyone and everything. Regards, Steve

  4. Whilst it’s a long way off, if you are still in Oz next August you must come to Montville for the ‘Over the Rangebow” Festival – it will be a totally fabulous week of … well … everything.

  5. Welcome back to Australia Steve. My wife Avril and I stayed with Ubud Villas several times over the years, It enabled us to find a strong connection with the area and many Balinese friends. We long to return alas, we too are stuck in Australia and not looking forward to Melbourne winter.
    From your perspective how is the Panestanan community coping? We have been able to send some money to a few of the dear families there. Interested in your view

    1. Hi Ron and Avril, I remember you well. Being back in Australia is a new experience for me as I have not been here for 17 years. I’m enjoying it, but miss Bali. People in Bali are really struggling, Penestanan as much as most. There is a lot more market gardening going on so people can put food on the table. The people with jobs are lucky, but most are unemployed. Drivers have no work and families who own villas and have huge loans, have no guests or long term guests paying the bare minimum. I have not earned money for more than a year and decided it was time to get back to Australia, claim the pension and get some casual work. I aim to return to Bali in the first quarter of 2022. I still run my business from here, but have a team of talented people managing the day to day operations back in Bali. Hope this additional info helps. Regards, Steve

      1. thank you Steve,
        I wish you health and comfort and a speedy journey through an Australian winter. Us folks in Melbourne may be heading into another lockdown!!! No chance of us heading back to Ubud anytime soon, so sad.

  6. Thanks Steve, I look forward to your continued Blogs and will forward to my friends who have met you in Penestanan.
    As the others have said, you have such a wonderful positive attitude to life that keeps you going. Kick depression for a 6!
    All my love, Gabrielle

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