• Kim M Horwood

The Hammo-7 go to Noosa


The Hammo-7 go to Noosa.

It sounds like an epic adventure—like ‘Harold and Kumar go to White Castle’, ‘The Bad News Bears go to Japan’, ‘Abbott and Costello go to Mars’, or ‘Frankie Goes to Hollywood’. Okay, maybe not ‘Frankie Goes to Hollywood’. Frankie was less an adventure and more a trip back to Friday nights at the Wintergarden Tavern, drinking Black Russians and dancing with mullets that made Billy-Ray’s look like a college-cut.

Equally as trippy is the trailer for ‘Abbott and Costello go to Mars’, with a storyline that goes something like this… “…their misguided missile lands them on the manless planet Venus, amid acres and acres of man-hungry girls…”

The Hammo-7 would have survived a ‘manless planet’ so long as no chickies (man-hungry or not) ever called us “Hun” or “Lovely” again, because that makes me want to rise out of my menopausal mud swamp and blast them with my hot-flush gamma-rays. But Noosa was not Venus. It also was not all white sand, white linen, and white Audi’s, like I thought.

For this trip, the Hammo-7 became a six-pack, the sixth sense, six deadly sins, six bombs, awesome sixsome, in sixness and in health, six in the city. Okay, maybe not six in the city, but six in a coastal town.

BC had to stay home for harvesting. This is definitely not a metaphor, but for real life (as Bluey would say), so we were on our own: Chatty, Frenchy, Sparky, Scaredy, Doc, and the Skipper.

There were seventeen pieces of luggage between six for our 3-night jaunt to Noosa. Doc resisted the urge to pack eleven pairs of shoes, but Frenchy packed fourteen outfits because you just never know when a beach breeze will turn into a scene out of Twister.

We arrived in three carloads, from every corner of Brisbane – leaving in our wake, packed houses, mad houses, boarding houses, paid jobs, home jobs, new jobs, graduations, habituations, and situations.

The coven was gathering, our arms loaded with ingredients for the cauldron—not eye of newt, toe of frog, or wool of bat, but crackers, cheese, margaritas, and Moet. Our mission, to set our souls on fire with sunsets, seafood, and cocktails. We already knew the best soul cleansing came from being together, so we added the Skipper’s newest Bucket List Adventure to our itinerary—horse riding on the beach.

We checked into Peppers Resort with its stunning décor, views, and open-plan everything, including the bathrooms which prompted my toilet warning broadcasts, ‘I’m going to the loo downstairs, so nobody come into bedroom two’.

We had a ‘Love Noosa Lunch’ at View Restaurant by the culinary mastermind Matt Golinski, before settling into sunset at The Boathouse and ‘Let’s get Nauti’ greetings in hot pink neon.

Chatty became ChattaNoosa Choo Choo, striking up conversations with every Uber driver that came our way. She is usually the reason we laugh with people we will never meet again—there is something energising about that.

If only Chatty’s energy was enough to push through the nervous energy over our horse-riding adventure the following morning. Unbridled nerves about climbing onto the backs of bridled animals, large enough to pull wagons, plow fields and muster beasts, had half of us retreating for a bush wee when we arrived at Noosa Northshore.

We dutifully signed indemnities and were fitted with unflattering skull caps before meeting our steeds.

Frenchy was on Duke, Sparky on Sandy, Skipper on Toby, Chatty on Lilly, Doc on Monty, and I was introduced to Moose—a gentleman with whiskers on his chin and tired brown eyes. Moose was a creature of habit who knew the trail, tried and true, so he preferred to take the lead—we were perfectly suited.

While Moose’s eyes were saying, “Stick with me, I know the way,” that nagging voice inside my head was yelling, “Holy shit it’s high up here! What if you fall?”

And if you know me, you will know my Mum told me to name that voice and tell her to shut up.

“Shut ya gob Darlene – I’m riding the favourite and we’re in winning position!”

The Noosa-6 (aka Hammo-7) were good at following instructions, so from our mounting block it was, hold the saddle here, put your left foot there, throw your right leg over, keep the reigns down.

It had been a while since some of us had intentionally ‘thrown a leg over’ but we did it like pro’s—professionals that is.

As our steeds moseyed from the bush to the beach, our senses were singing hello to waves, blinding sunshine, brilliant sky, salt on skin, and the company of each other as spectators to a noisy ocean. My soul had arms spread wide, face to the sky, eyes closed, inhaling the day. I imagined I was Meg Ryan, riding her bike in that scene from City of Angels, but we all know how that ended and I wasn’t about to be sobbing in my cinema seat again. Besides, I’m a little-less Meg Ryan and a little-more Darryl Kerrigan, ‘Ah, the serenity’.

Our serenity was about to end with a thud. Well actually, a ‘fa-doomp’.

Moose and I had taken the lead, but something had gone awry in the sea breeze behind us. I wanted to turn and see but Moose stood defiantly, deciding there was ‘nothing to see here’. I tried to coax him into a left or right turn, but I think Moose was part mule. He was not even the slightest bit curious, when Monty suddenly zoomed past us, his bridle flailing in the sea breeze, his saddle empty.

Moose’s stubbornness had my head twisting Exorcist-style to see Doc on the sand, rolling to her side, and trying to get to her feet before Monty circled our group again. Essentially, Doc was ‘Meg Ryan’. On the road. After the truck.

It’s this part of my story that will go down in history as legendary.

According to witness statements, Monty shied, spooked by tumbleweed on the beach. Doc’s right foot slid from the stirrup, so she hung sideways, like an Apache ducking gunfire from Buffalo Bill. Monty didn’t know he was under fire, so the shock made him rear-up, not all the way but enough to dump Doc on the sand, butt first.

If I had been involved in a gunfire dumping, I would not be getting back on that horse. But Doc did. That’s what makes this story legendary.

Doc was not about to lay on that road and give up like Meg Ryan. She got up, washed off a cut finger, and stood Apache-proud beside Monty. Like Darryl Kerrigan, Doc shaped our vibe, our constitution, becoming the queen of our castle, as she threw her leg over Monty like it was their third date.

I was so proud of Doc, my chin wobbled. I was not the only one.

Our morning horse-ride had begun as the brainchild of our Skipper, but it became inspired by Doc’s courage and determination.

Despite Chatty’s attempts to get Lilly to trot that morning, the rest of us were happy with an easy amble. After an hour on horseback, our butts had numbed but our spirits sparkled.

Doc probably wished her butt was numb because hours after our horse-riding adventure ended, she developed a contusion that morphed from a water colour to a scary ink blot.

Over our 4-day weekend, we hardly touched the cauldron, but drank plenty of potions, spending our hours eating, shopping, laughing, caffeinating, and looking after each other. Frenchy and Chatty walked to a lookout one morning but were smart enough not to invite me, considering last time I almost died. Frenchy returned with granola and lactose-free milk, which had me gushing, ‘you really are the best friends ever’.

While I complained like my throat was cut if I didn’t eat as soon as I woke, Doc did not complain once about her bruised butt. Even though we were concerned, she kept saying she was fine. But not in the same way we tell our husbands we’re ‘fine’, but ‘fine’ in a genuine way.

Our horse-riding adventure done and dusted; the next highlight of the Skipper’s carefully planned itinerary was Sunday’s Bottomless Lunch at Miss Moneypenny's. The food and service were magnificent, our only disappointment was the advertised ‘live entertainment’. He was certainly ‘live’, I saw his eyes move, but he played DJ doof-doof on repeat, not a single Fleetwood Mac or Cold Chisel in his repertoire.

Our mission was to set our souls on fire but a good fire needs fuel. Cocktails!

We may have tried every cocktail twice before we thought it would be fun to face-time our husbands. It started with just one, but our pack mentality was deep-rooted and as each husband answered our calls, we shrieked like surprised hyenas. It was not our usual thing but then lots of things were not our usual that day. We all threw caution to the wind like it was scarf from Thelma and Louise. We were loud, squealing, making videos of each other, and guzzling drinks, like teenagers at Schoolies.

It was an afternoon of reveals. Pieces of us never to be repeated, like being on Oprah’s couch for seven hours. It was the longest lunch we’d ever had.

Despite the potions consumed by the coven during our ‘Hammo-7 Go to Noosa’ jaunt, nobody got hexed, I didn’t lose my Nanny McPhee chin hairs, and Doc’s butt bruise did not mend. Two days after our return, an x-ray confirmed a hairline fracture of her pelvis. Doc and her story will remain legendary.

In the words of Powderfinger, these days turned out nothing like we’d plannedsoon enough it comes, the slowly creeping hand of time.

Eventually our time with each other ends.

We’re about celebrating being alive – we have raised kids, dogs, and garden beds, we have run households, football teams, and family business. We are survivors, warriors, women of wisdom, courage, and pride. We eat humility for brunch and with age, it’s added to our waistlines, but we wear it with class and grace. We coach one another to step outside our norms and help each other to feel good about getting older.

We need these days to refill the silos inside, where mothers keep their fill of persistence, love, momentum, and patience.

Together, we are a gift to ourselves.


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