Zephlyn Neilsen reflects on the meaning of home and growing up in rural Victoria.
My mother once told me that as a young child I would say to her, Mommy, I don't like it here. I want to go home.
But we were home. And for that, she had no response.
Is home a physical place, or is it something more intangible-- a feeling, a place from the past?
My life as a child consisted of long, sun-soaked days spent running around in cut-off denim shorts and crunching dry couch grass under bare feet.
The road we lived on petered out a few blocks after our sandy drive, and the land returned to the tumbling anarchy of bushland. All around me, I could feel the salty water of our creek and the bush, vibrating, beckoning, offering the unknown, offering so much more than the land of people.
I would ride my horse through the long grass, hot sun beating down and the flies buzzing around our heads. For relief from the heat, we would gallop along the inlet's sandy shore, ending with a plunge into the brown, still water, me swinging from her tail.
She loved to swim-- Starry. I didn't name her. She belonged to my uncle next door. He was a dodgy bookmaker, and that's not the half of it.
This wasn't some turquoise Gold Coast beach, but the gritty, muddy waters of the mangrove lands where the fish as well as the mosquitoes bred.
The first fish I ever caught from Saltwater Creek was an eel. This wide, salty water was dark and never revealed its considerable depths. My mother was always afraid that some old, crusty shark had found its way over the sandbar and was heading for her brown-skinned babies.
It was from her that I learned that home isn't always where you might expect to find it, and that sometimes in life, you've got to make your own.