Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Wednesday January 12 1972. 

Denmark was magnificent but the marvels continued as we crawled along the south coast, caravan in tow.

Still more ancient forests towered above. We were like a motorised beetle creeping along a bush track. It was cool in the shade but the sun burned fiercely when we emerged now and then from the canopy.

Albany is the oldest European settlement in Western Australia. It is a beautiful nineteenth century town nestled under Mt Clarence and overlooking King George Sound, one of the largest natural harbours of any city in the world, with a surface area of 35 square miles and an entrance five miles wide. Albany is an old whaling town with a fascinating history which you shouldn't read if you love whales.

These days the whales frolic and breech in the blue waters that in days gone by would have been red with their blood. (Days gone by - what am I talking about? The whaling station was still operating in 1972. It closed down some years after and was turned into a whaling museum.)

Later, as we travelled around the coast, I imagined living in the early nineteenth century with only horses for transport. Rail may arguably have been a greater advance to people - especially those in far-flung places - in those days than the motor vehicle was to those of the twentieth century.

Ravensthorpe was where we stopped for the night, finally out of the forested south, slowly moving back towards the desert. Ravensthorpe is a sleepy town in a great flat plain, sheep and wheat-growing territory. Such a marked contrast to the forests from which we had emerged.

Cousin and I walked around the town, cutting through the schoolgrounds. The school, of course, was closed for the long summer break. Christmas decorations were yellowing in the windows. An unemptied rubbish bin sat by the gate. Someone had left their coat hanging over a railing where it remained undisturbed.

The sun went down just like this.


On the car radio:

I want to live, I want to give
I've been a miner for a heart of gold
it's these expressions I never give
that keep me searching for a heart of gold


I've been to Hollywood, I've been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold
I've been in my mind, it's such a fine line
that keeps me searching for a heart of gold

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

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