As you know I’ve been traveling around Australia, and enjoying the gorgeous summer climes as I escape, albeit temporarily, the cold northern hemisphere start to winter.

One of the things that the last two weeks has reinforced has been the importance and longevity of friendships, or as we’d say here in Australia – “mateship”.

I was lucky enough to spend some time catching up with my best mate, Craig while I was in Ballarat, and as usual it felt like I’d just seen him earlier in the day as we picked up where we left off even though it was almost 12 months since we’d been together in person.

Fortuitously I also have three great mates, a couple who live in Perth, the first is Tino. Tino is a Canadian guy who I coached playing Aussie rules football in Toronto back in my playing and coaching days. He married an Australian woman from Perth and moved here many years ago, had a family and settled down.

Tino and I caught up when I was in Perth. He’s a Fremantle boy these days and he’s just brought himself a Pizza shop which is shortly to be renamed “Tino’s”…as you would!

As Tino was telling us about his new venture I was angling for a pizza to be named after me – “The Coach”. The infinitely awesome pizza and would be adorned with Chicken, bacon and pineapple with the option of a fried egg in the middle. Lol!!

I didn’t see Tino jumping at the idea, so no guarantees at this point. 🙂

Another great mate I met through football was Kerin, an Aussie guy from Perth who now lives in Toronto, yeah he did it the other way around when he married a Jodie an awesome Canadian girl and moved to Toronto.

Luckily for me he was back home visiting family with his wife when I caught up with Kerin and Tino over beers at the Little Creatures brewery in Fremantle last Sunday afternoon. Just awesome!

Then last night I caught up with Steve Bogdonov at his restaurant at Quinn’s Beach just north of Perth, again another of my mates from football – wow, who knew that playing and coaching the 1996 Downtown Dingos would be such a life changing event with such long lasting relationships. Very cool!

As always, “Boggo” (cos’ Aussies like to shorten everything including nicknames) as he’s affectionately called was the consummate host at his incredible restaurant Portofinos. If you go to Perth definitely venture north and enjoy both the beautiful sunset and ocean views while dining on the eclectic mediterranean delicacies he has on offer.

Earlier today I flew to Sydney for the next leg of my journey. Next was to catch up with another mate, Paul, or “Zisso” to his mates and who now lives here.

Originally from Perth, but has traveled and lived all over the world since those days, and has settled in Sydney after his worldly adventures. He is a kindred spirit in that he also loves to travel and explore the world.

Dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant close to my hotel in the Rocks area of Sydney, with pre-dinner drinks at the Munich Beer House first.

And still not done catching up with more friends…

Next person to visit is Roscoe who now lives just outside Newcastle on the New South Wales central coast. I taught with him back during my days in Darwin, we even played a season of Field Hockey together back in the day as well as Touch Rugby. He’s one of those rare individuals that can make me laugh no matter what. He’s always got a story or two to share that I will make you cry from laughter. Yeah, he’s that sort of mate!

My plan is to stay over with him and his family and catch up on my drive up from Sydney to Brisbane. Home cooked meal, a few beers and lots of stories from our years in Darwin.

In fact, Roscoe and his wife Jean were in Toronto last year and I was able to catch up with them there and enjoy dinner. So amazing to think after 30 years we’re still connected.

It’s interesting how you bond with some and not so much with others. Is it a shared set of values or a way of living life? Or is it dictated by circumstance and the time that you forged your initial bond. The common thread has been sports…clearly! 🙂

I suppose to a large degree you build a lot of trust in your teammates, respect their abilities and share a common goal, and in some cases shed a little blood, sweat and tears. These secret ingredients tend to bind you, and in many cases…forever.

I’ve been very fortunate to be able to visit and see a number of friends this trip. The unfortunate part is that I missed as many friends as I was able to see, just not enough time to visit with everyone and catch up. That just means that I will have to do this again…sooner rather than later. 🙂

So until next week.