It is with regret that I record the fact that Chandler, our 2009 swamp wallaby, is dead. She was a friendly thing, happy to pop into the house for a cup of coffee, a glass of wine (white, not red), a slice of bread or some cat food as the mood took her. She managed to pull off the remarkable trick of behaving like a pet in some respects whilst remaining, absolutely, a completely wild animal.
We don’t know for certain that she is dead, of course: there isn’t a pile of old wallaby corpses in the back paddock to confirm it, for example. But she hasn’t been seen around here for three weeks now, and for a wallaby that has been a daily visitor since early 2009, I’d say that was pretty conclusive. She’ll be missed because none of her relatives, who nevertheless still turn up nightly for something to eat, have quite acquired the desire to hop into the house. Their modus operandi is to snatch a slice of bread and hop away from the door a safe metre or two. Chandler never felt unsafe with us like that, as the photo on the left attests.
It is curious, perhaps, that at around the time Chandler stopped turning up, we made a rather momentous decision of our own: after twelve years’ residence here, we’re going to sell up and move somewhere closer to the center of Sydney. We more or less stumbled into this decision: we’d been planning to build a new garage and convert the existing one into a music library for me, but were wondering about whether doing so would add much value to the house. My cunning plan was to get an estate agent around to look at the place, as though we were planning to sell, and then casually ask him what he thought certain home improvements would add to sale price. He knocked us off balance by saying that we shouldn’t waste time doing anything to the house, because he could sell it right away for… some enormous sum of money that I am embarrassed to write here, so I won’t.
Suffice it to say that the eye-watering valuation persuaded us that the time to move had arrived. The neighbours have been getting a bit noisier every year; the building of 30,000 homes about 15 kilometres away has flooded our night sky with light and made galaxy-watching much harder than in times past; and recently council approved the construction of 300 new homes in a plot of land that’s only a kilometre away, over the river gorge… so noise and light pollution are just going to get worse. We haven’t fallen out of love with the place, but I fear that the place has started to develop away from us. The parting, when it comes, is probably something I’ll be glad of in a way: I would hate to stick around long enough to hate what is almost certain to become of it.
Moving back into the middle of Sydney (and we’re looking at places like Ultimo, Pitt St., George St. and Surry Hills, so pretty much within spitting distance of the central business district) is hard, of course, because the property price boom that does us such a favour when we come to sell does us absolutely no good whatsoever when we’re trying to buy! We have found some really nice apartments, only to find out that they start at something stupid, like AU$1.5 million: definitely out of our price range! When we find something we can actually afford, it is usually run-down and somewhat decrepit. We could move further afield, of course: prices start somewhere near sanity levels if you’re prepared to move 20 or more kilometres away from the CBD. But that rather defeats the purpose of the move: if we’re trying to cut our 2-hour each-way commute to trivial times, it’s the CBD or nothing really.
We have already had an offer for our place which we haven’t yet accepted; we’ve already been outbid when making offers on two different apartments we quite liked the look of. The deal isn’t yet done either way, therefore, and we might yet change our minds… but I suspect we’re both old and tired enough that we have really had it with 4 hours spent on commuting per day, and our minds will stay made up accordingly. Watch this space, I guess.
Meanwhile, Vale Chandler.
(And spot the photographer’s slippers reflected in her eye!)