Thursday, 30 June 2011


Chess brought me to Cairns.

Before choosing to move to the tropical far north, I already had half a mind to spend a summer in Cairns rafting the Barron and the Tully, after which I'd go back to Japan for more of that on the Yoshino River. And I knew there was a small Japanese community in Cairns, which made it a little more attractive.

But chess was the clincher. The catalyst. Without my little chess business, I may never have come to Cairns, and... well, who knows where we'd all be now.

The actual now is a bit different to the nows I had imagined back in 2006. Husband. Father. Public servant. Mortgagee. I don't remember any of those being high on my list. But there they are and I wouldn't have it any other way. Largely thanks to chess.

Well, I guess I would happily exchange the mortgage for outright ownership of our soon-to-be house. Nevertheless, since buying a block of land out at Redlynch back in November and proceeding down the road to building a house, we've had a great time learning the ropes of investing in a place to call our own. All going well, earth will be turned and concrete poured by the end of June.

Which brings me back to chess, because the end of the financial year will not only see our house starting. It will also see my chess business finishing.

It's not in a state of financial crisis - after all, once you've bought a few chess boards and other bits and pieces, it doesn't cost very much to maintain a chess coaching business. It does, however, take a good deal of effort and dedication, like any small business, and it has the added challenge of requiring someone who can play chess and teach children. Harder to find than you might think! I used to be able to do it all myself, but I'm not able to commit the needed time to it any more, especially now that I have a family and a full-time career with quarantine. So it's time to move on. Thanks, chess, it's been good.

It's no small part of this decision that my work with quarantine is getting busier. My days as a part-timer on the shift team at Cairns Airport are almost a distant memory. I've been working full-time with the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy for 18 months now. In that time, the exposure I've gained to broad biosecurity issues and projects has led to an opportunity to join a national team dealing with biosecurity information management. I'll be taking up this new position as of July.

It doesn't mean we have to move to Canberra, thankfully. That'd be a bit chilly at this time of year, not to mention putting a bit of a dampener on our plans to build a house. I'll be working from Cairns for the foreseeable future. Still, the pull of Canberra might one day prove to be an irresistible force.

There are worse places than Canberra to raise a family. I've only been there a couple of times, but I like it, it's a beautiful city. It is, however, about 3000km further away from Japan than Cairns. And it's a very expensive place to live, thanks to all those highly paid public servants. And it's cold. Brrrrr. Give me the endless summer any day!

Speaking of summer, we'll be leaving this not-quite-winter for the northern summer in August. Which is, of course, dancing and rafting season in the land of sudachis, whirlpools and dancing fools. Our boy Ryo will get his first real taste of Awa Odori. And it'll be my first dance down the streets of Tokushima since our wedding two years ago. Yep, it's going to be a cracker. I hope yours is, too.