LIFE GOES ON AND ON AND ON.
I’ve been in Australia for almost 5 months now. The time has gone slowly. The time has flown. Yes, both are correct. Everyday, I miss Bali, my friends and life there, but I came to Australia to make some money and recharge my life and my internal battery. I’m doing this. Here are my achievements.
I’ve lost 19kg. in nineteen week. Amazing!!!
I now walk for over 2 hours every day.
I’m a non smoker.
I breathe more easily and have heaps of energy.
I’m double vaccinated with Pfizer.
I’m on the age pension which I’ll soon surrender when I resume teaching.
My teacher registration has come through and I begin teaching Grade 1 and 2 at Badu Island Campus of Tagai College in the Torres Strait on the 13th September.
“Come to Australia. You’ll be safe from Covid 19,” they said.
Back in April when I arrived in Australia, there was an occasional positive Covid 19 case, usually in one of the quarantine hotels, but the community remained covid free. Mask wearing, social distancing and other restrictions were not require. All of this changed about 11 weeks ago when Covid Cases emerged in Sydney and spread like wildfire. State borders across Australia have been closed to try and contain the spread of Covid and some states have gone into lock down. Queensland remains largely covid free, but everyone is on their guard.
Australia is not free of Covid. It is not a safe haven, but nowhere is. Leaders and health experts say that we need to get vaccinated. I’m happy to comply and have already been double vaccinated. I’ll get a booster when available. My preference is to remain alive and get to enjoy life when things return to some sort of normal.
Living with Covid, seems to be our future. I hope we can all survive this.
Vale Barry Staib – 2/11/1951 – 4/8/2021
My great friend Barry Staib passed away on the 4th August, 2021. He had been struggling with debilitating health issues for the past six years. I arrived back in Australia in April, and I was lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks staying with Barry on Bribie Island. We spent hours recounting past great adventures. I also spent a morning with him when he was moved into palliative care, just a few days before he passed.
Below is the eulogy I presented at Barry’s cremation service.
We have lost a great friend, but thousands of wonderful memories of Barry’s friendship remain with each of us.
I first met Barry 45 years ago. I was 21 and had finished my first year of teaching at Karumba. Barry had completed his first year as principal at Birdsville State School. We were both in Brisbane for a conference at the beginning of the Christmas holidays. At the time, I was unaware that as employees of Education Queensland, our paths would frequently intersect.
Five years later, I was studying the Graduate Diploma in Aboriginal Education at James Cook Uni in Townsville, when Barry dropped in to chat to our group and share his expertise on working in Aboriginal communities. Our friendship developed. I moved to Boigu Island and then Saibai Island in the Torres Strait and Barry moved to Bamaga around this time. We became neighbours and colleagues as well as great friends. Eventually I moved to Thursday Island as a curriculum writer and Barry moved there as an inspector of schools. That’s when he became my boss as well as a trusted friend.
I later moved to Lockhart River as principal and Barry was my district director, boss and friend. Visits from Barry were always welcome. He took time to get to know all staff members as well as key people in the community, and we all welcomed his visits. I spoke to other principals and Barry operated the same in their school communities. He mentored us, encouraged us to prosper and gave us support when we struggled. He encouraged women, and indigenous people to apply for promotional positions and always supported them to succeed. Everyone liked Barry. I worked at Lockhart for 8 years and frequently stayed at his place in Cairns, when I came south on holidays. We also did a couple of overseas vacations together.
In 1999, I resigned from Education Queensland and moved to Bali to live a creative life. Barry understood my need to try something new and he became a frequent holiday visitor and supporter. All of my Indonesian friends became firm friends with him as well. Within a few years, he wanted his own piece of Paradise, and over the next year or so we built him Villa Baliku. He loved his villa and delighted in sharing it with friends and family whenever they visited.
Every morning when he was staying at his villa, I’d join him for breakfast and we’d discuss life in general. We spent other times together, but Barry had diverse interests and he formed friends with the Jazz crowd and often joined them for night out at jazz venues.
In 2007 Barry, June, a friend of ours and I were planning a holiday to Vietnam, but I’d met Bayu, my partner and it was time for me to not only cancel my holiday plans, but also admit to Barry that I was gay. I remember being nervous telling Barry, fearing this admission would end our friendship. What a fool I was. Barry was not surprised and as supportive as he’d always been.
The other day, I asked Bayu what he remembered most about Barry and he said, “Everytime we met he put his hand on my shoulder when he talked to me. This is what my father used to do.” Barry was into hugging and making human contact, in the nicest possible way.
Barry’s last 6 years have been a struggle, but he showed amazing strength. I’m glad Barbara and Paul bought Barry on one last trip to Bali a couple of years ago. Carlie and Lesley came over and took him home. Friends flocked into Villa Baliku to catch up with a man they all loved. In the last couple of months, I was lucky to have caught up with Barry a few times. His life was difficult, but we shared many fond memories.
Now he is gone. He has touched thousands of people with his kindness, friendship and love. He is missed.
And back in Bali.
I ring home to Bali at least twice a day and catch up on the latest news. Most of our staff and friends are now fully vaccinated, but I am chasing a few of them to get done.
All of our villas remain rented long term by expats. The amount they pay, rarely covers costs, but it is best for the villas to be occupied to avoid theft and also to give work to our staff.
We continue distributing our monthly food packages to our staff and their families. These are greatly appreciated. If you would like to donate to this program, please deposit money into either of the accounts detailed below.
BANK ACCOUNT INFORMATION:
Stephen J. Castley
Account Number: 1079018
Bank: Queensland Teachers Mutual Bank
BSB Number: 804 002.
Account Name – PT Dewa Krishna Seni.
Company address – Jalan Raya Penestanan, Penestanan, Ubud Bali.
Account Number US$: 8000.453.64340
Account Number RP: 8000.229.04400
Account Number Aus$ 8000.454.07650
Bank: BANK CIMB NIAGA, Jalan Teuku Umar No 4-5, DENPASAR, BALI, 80113, INDONESIA
Swift code – BNIAIDJA