Melbourne experienced an earth tremor last night. It wasn’t a biggy and only lasted a few seconds but it was enough to shake the house, enough to notice. The epicentre was approx 100 k south west of Melbourne, but within seconds of the tremor, reports were coming in from all parts of Melbourne…the wonders of the internet.

Within minutes, friends from all over the country were emailing to see if we were alright. The emails continued and several people revealed experiences of earth tremor/quakes from other times in their life. I learnt who had lived overseas in earthquake-prone countries and it generated discussion about various experiences.

I lived in PNG as a child, high in the hills on Bougainville Island. Earth tremors, or gurias, were common there. We lived in a narrow valley and the first signs of an approaching guria was aural. A rumble would build warning that the guria was approaching. We’d stop mid sentence, reach for unsecure treasures and wait. If we were in the kitchen, we’d reach out arms to hold closed the high cupboard doors. The floor would begin to shake. We’d wait as the shaking built then subsided taking the rumble with it. We’d replace the treasures and resume conversation. Hardly a mention was made of the guria, they’d become commonplace and unnoteworthy.

Occasionally the gurias would build into grown up earthquakes but not often. The houses we lived in had been constructed to withstand earthquakes and cyclones and in the time we were there, that’s what they did. I remember both with excitement rather than fear. The naivety of childhood, where consequences are the province of others.