“Souls are waiting for you in Australia.”
That was the response from my psychic when, in 1997, I asked him – pleaded with him – to tell me whether I should act on what seemed to be a completely insane impulse to move from my home in Los Angeles to Australia. His statement didn’t context for me at the time, but I never forgot it, and before too long, its prescience became crystal clear, as clear as the waters in the Great Barrier Reef.
Giro is the name of a 37,000 acre cattle station near Gloucester, Australia – about 150 miles outside of Sydney. In the 1960s, Giro Station was owned by Randolph Galt, an American “Indiana Jones type”, who, at this particular juncture in his life, took a shine to being an Australian cattle rancher. His wife was Anne Baxter, a prominent American actress.
In the summer of 1969, my brother David – who was 14 at the time – and his best friend Michael Shumway, were jackaroos, or cowboys, on Giro Station. Michael’s dad, Doug Shumway, my dad’s best friend and fraternity brother, was Randolph Galt’s cousin. Somehow or other, the opportunity presented itself to send these two California boys to spend the summer on an Australian ranch, herding cattle and shearing sheep. I was not quite 6 years old that summer and didn’t pay much attention to the fact that my brother was in Australia, but I do remember that our two families, the Martins and the Shumways, went to Hawaii to meet the boys on their return at the end of the summer.
That was the first of what would be many trips to Hawaii. I remember swimming with my brothers and sister from the Halekulani down to the Royal Hawaiian, where our parents were having mai-tais on the terrace. I remember we rented dune buggies one night and we all jammed into them, tearing around Honolulu, parents driving, arms and legs poking out of the open sides of the car, howling and having a ball. I remember my mom had matching Hawaiian dresses made for my sister and me. I remember going to Mr Shumway’s great aunt & uncle’s estate in the Manoa Valley, Agnes & Carter Galt were their names. They were much older but they were steeped in Hawaiian lore, having lived there for decades. Their house was palatial with lots of stone work and oversized, elegant sitting rooms with wide, expansive windows to catch the breezes. They had an enormous backyard and stream running through it, and what resembled a zip line slicing down the back of the property along the stream, which was in fact, for the dog to run and get exercise. We loved that!
For the next 28 years, I really didn’t give any thought to my brother’s summer in Australia. Then in 1995, David died unexpectedly and far too soon. He was 39. Even worse, his death came on the heels of my father’s sudden passing, almost three weeks earlier to the day. Double whammy resulting in a forced evaluation of my life against the backdrop of losing these men who meant everything to me. My mortality loomed over me like a spectre. The loss served as a punch-in-the-gut reminder that I had better get on with the business of living, and safe choices weren’t going to be an option.
I knew I had to make serious changes in my life, not the least of which, was ending my marriage. For reasons that I couldn’t possibly understand, Australia kept popping up as a possible new home, and my focus began to go south, as in south pacific. In the spirit of full disclosure, for a time, New Zealand was looking like a better bet. I developed business reasons to spend weeks in both countries, working on this, speaking about that, yet I was torn. Do I move to New Zealand or to Australia? So, as one does in LA, I consulted my psychic. And that’s when I first heard that pronouncement, “Souls are waiting for you in Australia.”
I moved to Sydney in August of 1997, wide-eyed, alone and definitely still in shock. And as it turns out, the man who picked me up at the airport when I arrived in emotional tatters, who, at the time, was my boss, became my best friend and soul mate, and is now my husband 20 years later, Stuart. Pretty soon, I realized he was the soul that my psychic spoke about. Until one night out to dinner in the first few months I arrived in Australia. The waiter bore an uncanny resemblance to my brother, David. At least, that’s what I thought. Probably more likely, memories were beginning to surface, and at that moment, I remembered that David had worked as a jackaroo outside of Sydney one summer when I was little. And it all hit me. The psychic referred to souls. As in plural. I was supposed to be there. David had been there waiting for me. And Stuart was there now, helping me heal and ensuring I would always return. That evening, I broke apart. All the grief came tumbling out.
After a year of living in Sydney, I returned back to Los Angeles, with my then, soon-to-be Aussie husband firmly in tow. It was a necessary return back to reality, but a painful one. Sydney provided me with a beautiful, warm cocoon in which to grieve. And we vowed that once Cooper, my son, graduated from highschool, we would pack up our lives in LA and move back down to Australia. To that place where souls waited for me. And we did return, 16 summers later. Which is a story for another day.