AFTER a long, lazy summer break, I can't say it's great to be back... but having had the opportunity to stop and take stock of life for a while, I'm more conscious than ever of how lucky we are to live in the Northern Rivers.
("Best address in the world," a friend of mine said recently).
As much of the country is being devastated by bushfires we have had hot days interspersed with cooling rains.
I have been swimming at beautiful, patrolled beaches and wild rainforested creeks. These things cost me nothing and will be memories treasured for years by me and my kids.
My eldest daughter and I even took a couple of surfing lessons. We were almost the only Australians in the group amongst the backpacker throng in Byron Bay. They come from all over the world to experience a bit of what we take for granted every day.
One of our surfing teachers had left a high-flying finance career in Switzerland to pursue his new career "bumming about in Byron Bay".
Here in the Northern Rivers we have access to great food, a vibrant and (mostly) tolerant community.
When I needed to see a doctor I was in within hours of phoning and had half of the fee refunded via Medicare before I'd even walked out the door.
That's why they call this the Lucky Country.
It's in my job description to listen to people whinge and moan about things they are not happy about and to try and highlight problems where they exist. But this week I couldn't help thinking "what have we got to complain about really?"
I am continually inspired by people like Vahideh Hosseini (see page 5) and the two women working with Aussies For Orphans (see page 4) trying to make life better for people living in places where they don't have such great medical services and beaches where merchant bankers want to live.
The Echo will of course continue to highlight issues and try and make our neck of the woods an even better place to live, but sometimes it's nice to smell the roses and realise how good we've got it.
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