I came to this area via Ireland. As I had lived in Victoria it was a long way round to get here - but I made it.
Having our son, daughter and grandchildren living here and a great climate, then the offer of an ideal job was an offer I couldn't refuse.
Well, it was working at Headspace with young people with wellbeing concerns. Perfect!
My first day at Headspace began on April Fools' Day 2019... perhaps not a very good omen to start with but, as it turned out, it is a wonderful place to work and the job is, as I hoped, perfect for me.
To avoid confusion, I'm not actually Irish, my partner is.
I'm an Aussie.
When I first met him, I tried to impress him with all the good things about Australia.
But he's a resolute vegetarian and so on our grand tour of 'The BIG things' that Australia is proud of, I had to take into consideration my partner's love for all animals.
He was once seen wearing a T-shirt at the Swan River with the inscription, 'Even Mozzies Have Feelings'.
His T-shirt received quizzical looks from the locals. The Irish do have a unique sense of humour! I think he might even be a Buddhist. Eventually I managed to lose the T-shirt.
Anyway, we started the grand tour with the BIG ORANGE in Harvey. I avoided the next closest BIG thing, the BIG RAM at Wagin and the BIG CHOOK in Moonbi and the BIG BULL in Rockhampton.
We contented ourselves with such sights as Bilpin's BIG FRUIT BOWL (boring!) and the BIG PEANUT in Atherton Parklands (scintillating?).
For some reason he was particularly impressed with the BIG POTATO in Robertson NSW. I'm not sure why? He said they don't have anything like that in Ireland.
Despite not having any BIG things in Ireland, there are many similarities between Australia and Ireland.
One of the major issues both countries share is people are increasingly feeling alone.
I found that, though the Irish have a reputation of being friendly people, many there grow up without developing or indeed keeping in contact with close friends and subsequently feel isolated.
In my work in the mental health field, both in Ireland and in Australia, I've seen the results of people having no close relationships or true friendships.
Having close friends is not a luxury, it is a necessity, essential for our wellbeing.
However, for many people making new friends is not always easy.
On a personal level I recognize for me to be happy, I need friends with whom I can share a common interest.
Since coming to work in Margaret River and Busselton, I've got that common interest in gardening with people in the Busselton Community Garden where I managed to get a plot.
I'm also part of the Mindful Margaret River Alliance which satisfies my passion for mental health wellbeing and getting to know local people who share my interests and values.
In the past I have needed courage and, to some extent still need it, in meeting and developing new relationships, particularly as I've moved around so much.
At the last count I've lived in 23 different places, so keeping in contact with friends I've made has not always been easy.
However, Margaret River and Busselton are the places I intend sharing my time and where I am developing long-term friendships.
This place is now my home.
I believe, we as humans, are social critters and so being with others, sharing a common humanity is very important.
The friendships I have made so far have resulted in enriching and fulfilling my life as well as giving me a sense of belonging.
It would be good to make meeting your new best friend your next BIG THING.
No doubt it might even be more fun than sharing a long ride to see the BIG POTATO, but don't tell my partner I said that!
MINDFUL Margaret River is an alliance of professionals, agencies, community members and the AMR Shire working to promote health & wellbeing.
MAUREEN Jubb-Shanley is a mental health nurse who moved to the region two and a half years ago although often, over the last 20 years, visiting and staying in Margaret River to spend time with her family.
Maureen is passionate about mental health and wellbeing and in particular youth mental health. This passion has led her to join the Mindful Margaret River Alliance as part of the Professional Liaison Team.
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