Wednesday, March 23, 2005


On my blog, over to the right, below Google News (why do I have Google News on my weblog?) it says Send Me an Email.

Some time ago, filegirl pointed out to me that I had the incorrect email address. But I corrected the address only in Comments - the line that shows your email address - and omitted to correct it in the Send Me an Email link. Sometimes I can be very stupid. Other times, I'm reasonably clever. This was one of the stupid times.

To anyone who has tried to send me an email over the last year and a half, I apologise. Now you can email me and I will receive it and reply to it.

I'd hate to be thought unresponsive.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Friday, March 18, 2005

Wednesday January 19 1972. 

Then suddenly it was over.

The car and the caravan trundled back across Victoria, along the craggy, dramatic shipwreck coast, through windy Warrnambool, past Terang and all the green potato fields, through Camperdown and past the mysterious floating islands. Then Colac. Then Geelong. Towns passed faster and faster. Slow down. I wanted this journey to last forever. But we didn't slow down. It's always faster on the return journey.

Then Melbourne emerged on the horizon like a lost city in the summer haze.

It came closer. We rode silently along the highway into town. Then it was all heat and cars and noise and smog and familiarity.


I woke up next morning in my own bed. Everything was in its place as if I'd been there all the time. The picture on the wall. The coathanger on the wardrobe door handle. The sun streaming through the gap in the old curtains.

It was like the distant desert and the raging ocean and the vast, endless expanses didn't exist any more.

Maybe they didn't.

I lay there for a while. I could hear birds trilling their usual morning song and making pecking noises on the branch of the myrtle tree outside my window. A motorcycle went past.

Maybe I dreamed the whole trip.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Monday January 17 1972. 

The home stretch. Out of Adelaide, heading for the Victorian border and home to Melbourne.

But now, one last side trip. We'll travel around the coast instead of taking the direct route.

Turning right at Murray Bridge, we headed along the coast to Robe.

The Coorong. Oh my. What a place. If anywhere in Australia has that mystical aboriginal sense of place, this does.

The desert had been a staggering experience but this was something else again.

We stayed at Robe overnight, a picturebook fishing town right at the bottom of the Coorong.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

They could have just read my blog. 

In my 1972 travel diary, I have mentioned a number of times the Dutch sailors visiting the Western Australian coast in the seventeenth century.

Now a Dutch book dealer has paid almost $1.25 million for two rare books documenting Dutch exploration of Western Australia in the 1700s. Willem de Vlamingh wrote the Journaal Voyagie about the early exploration of the West Australian coast in 1701.

Well, I guess he didn't have a blog.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Saturday January 15 1972. 

Out of Norseman and back into the Nullarbor proper to crawl slowly - like a fly across a suburb and just as insignificant - along the backbone of this huge continent.

It had seemed to take days of swimming in the clean water of the Indian Ocean to get the dust out of my system once we had reached Perth weeks ago. On the way over, we were breathing it and it was inside our clothes. When I undressed in the camp ground showers, dust dropped to the floor.

Now the dreaded dust is swirling around us again, fine enough to permeate the car just as if it were a convertible. We may as well just roll the windows down. Sometimes we have to because of the heat.

The return journey always seems faster than the outward journey. The towns we had encountered just weeks ago approached and receded just as quickly. Caiguna. Eucla (the nymph). And Madura (the big spider).

It's only mid-Januray and my cousin is starting to talk about going back to school.

I refused to even think about school.


On the car radio:

I rode my bicycle past your window last night
I roller-skated to your door at daylight

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Friday January 14 1972. 

A flat tyre, a dead battery, a leaking petrol tank and a lost hubcap.

That's not too bad for a couple of thousand miles, much of it on dirt road.

I had been sensing a vague aroma of burning rubber for a day or two. Nothing definite, just really faint.

Then, today, on the road - not a very good one - north out of Esperance, the smell became quite strong. Kind of a burning smell. But what? Uncle stopped the car, got out and checked out what it could have been. Couldn't find anything. What could you do? He decided to keep going and have it checked at the next town.

We proceeded. The smell died away for a while.

Then it came back. Then it got stronger. Then there was smoke in the car.

Uncle pulled over, alarmed. Fire drill - first thing to do, unhitch the caravan. Done. Now, search for the source of the smoke and the burning smell. Still no luck. It seemed to be coming from the rear of the car rather than the dashboard. We took everything out of the back of the car.

Just then, along the road came a white VW Beetle. It pulled up right behind us. It was two American guys - Ray and Ken - we had met on the road on the way over to Perth, had stayed in the same caravan parks. They were touring Australia and were travelling back to the east coast the same way we were going.

Ray and Ken got out.

'What's wrong?'

'Nothing much, we're just on fire!'

'Oh, that's all right, then!'

Sometimes, people just totally get other people's humour and the conversation is like stand-up comedy in the weirdest setting. Like, here we are in the middle of fucking nowhere and we're joking to complete strangers about being on fire.

'Would you like a loan of our extinguisher or would you prefer your car just burn to the ground? I mean, it is a bit old.'

Uncle thought just a little too long before answering.

Then he said, 'I'm sure it's about to go up in flames, but it's just that I can't see where the fire is coming from, and I'd need to know that before I waste the contents of your extinguisher.'

'Well that's very considerate of you,' Ray replied, but it might have been Ken. It was 1972. I might have forgotten. I might be getting them mixed up.

Then he (or Ken) said, 'What about if we go on into the next town and see if we can get a mechanic to come and check it out. If we can't find one, we'll come back anyway and work something else out.'

'That's too kind of you,' replied Uncle. 'If you see a roaring blaze on the horizon, you'll know it's too late.'

Off they went in their VW Beetle, chugging like only a VW Beetle can chug. What a noise, a kind of silvery shuddering growl that only VWs can make.

The next town was ten miles further on. A mechanic was back within an hour in his breakdown truck, just in case. (But what about the van, how do you tow that?)

We didn't need towing. He found the fault - a wire, to the rear of the car, under the carpet in the luggage area, had overheated and was smoking. A small fire risk, but only if we had kept driving for a lot longer. He repaired the wire and replaced its fuse with one of a lower amperage.

We pulled into Norseman caravan park around seven o'clock. We had completed the south-west circle and returned to the great T-intersection of Western Australia, approaching from the south.

After tea, two guys knocked on the door of the 'van.

'Hey, you didn't burn down after all!'

We had a few beers. Cheers and thank you, Ray and Ken.

(And if anyone knows anyone, name of Ray or Ken - age about mid-twenties - who was travelling around Australia in a white VW Bug in 1972 - say hello.)


On the car radio:

Joy - Apollo 100 (no lyrics - instrumental)

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

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