Tag Archives: juju van

Betwixt and Between



Somewhere between the west and south


Somewhere in between time zones




Between getting somewhere and being nowhere




Between total strangers, travel acquaintances and friends

Between grids, roadhouses, servos, lookouts and one street towns

Kilometres pass, questionable meals are eaten, Phil Collins CDs and endless ice creams and postcards are purchased, road trains are overtaken, mate waves are reciprocated




But betwixt and between time and space passing

Nothing much happens




Other than the road bending, the sun setting and the wind picking up again


-Elspeth, in Ceduna, after the Nullarbor.

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Dolphins and Dead Emus in WA

In the next village us novice nomads are once again watched as we reverse the van 5 times and sit in fold out chairs with the bubble wrap still attached. Not that we sit in them much. We laze by a lagoon one day but our minds are slow to stop racing.

We rise early, leave the van and drive another hundred ks to Monkey Mia to see dolphins get fed. On the way we talk about the environment and how we’ve become disconnected. Mid sentence we hit an emu.

It’s not dead yet. It makes it to the side of the road and kicks at crows that know its time will come soon.

We watch a while then jump on our phones, calling rangers and wildlife rescue services hundreds of ks away who can’t help. We are told to call the Shire, but “you might not want to wait around to see what they do to it, love…”

We wait.

I’ve lived through Alice Springs mouse plagues and killed a kangaroo with my car in the Pilbara but Chris herds spiders outside. He wishes he had a shovel or an axe or knife or anything but a rock. We wait some more.

We watch that big bird lie still then kick and try to get up, then lie down again. We wait until the Shire man comes. He takes care of the situation with a crow bar. We drive on in silence.

On a dolphin chasing boat that afternoon we are still. We share small talk and chips with some nice Canadians. Chris stands scouring the horizon. I sit cross-legged in an attempt to meditate but fall to napping pretty quick.

We drive and talk and talk and drive and stop to eat and piss then drive and talk some more and laugh and sometimes sing. We do not cook a single meal and cruise around each night looking for ambient lighting and vegetables on the menu. He bounces on most of the bouncy pillows we find in place of trampolines and whenever we stop he walks or swims or finds a sand dune to run down. We talk, tease, discover and disagree and he sees me at my worst but somehow we get along.

We’re old friends.

We’re on holidays.

We’re on the road.

There are several times I secretly wish I could freeze time and just stop everything and stay, so I say out loud ‘Well if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’


Chris asleep at the delightfully calm Jurien Bay, where 4 out of 5 people on the jetty will say g'day

Chris asleep at the delightfully calm Jurien Bay, where 4 out of 5 people on the jetty will say g’day



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Leaving Roebourne

This time last week was my first day on the road.

About an hour past Karratha I realized had left Roebourne.

The community I’d worked with for the past two years and maybe only just started to feel a part of. I’d just driven outta there with a 1966 Viscount Ambassador in tow. On the way out I bumped into Allery and Marlene at the BP, who suggested that we call the van ‘Jinna buunu,’ which means ‘walkaround too much’ in Yindjibarndi. Is over 5,000 ks in 3 weeks too much?

About 100 ks down the road I realized that this is my life for the next three weeks. Driving from one chapter of my life to the next.

View from Mt Welcome, Roebourne/Ieramugadu, WA

View from Mt Welcome, Roebourne/Ieramugadu, WA

The night before leaving we had our first short film screening at Harding River Caravan Park on the banks of the Ngurin. The sun was low. I smashed a fire hydrant. It dinted the van and made a big noise. Everyone came out to have a gander, a jest and to offer help.  I’ve since learnt that you can’t even badly reverse park a van in a caravan park without everyone knowing about it, let alone completely removing a fire hydrant. In these little nomadic villages, everything is a public event to be watched and probably discussed again later.

A family with teenage daughters, some miners and a few kids came down to watch films projected onto the side of the van. Images of Roebourne kids dance across the van – dressed in teeth costumes riding quad bikes, or teaching Photoshop to Koreans or emerging from the Ngurin River: 

All week I’d been packing and ticking things off lists of things to do now, later or never. I didn’t run one last dance workshop or take a car full of kids to the beach, telling myself I’d go to the disco on Friday night and see all the kids at once. They’d all be there. We could dance. Maybe play musical bobs or make a circle dance or do the bloody heel n toe for the billionth time.

I packed up the screening stuff into the van and rocked up to the 50c Hall around 8pm. The fluro lights were on. My heart sank. The kids were gone. I knew where they’d be. I didn’t want to see them now. Not disparate on the streets at night where the mood changes within seconds and the anticipation and tension is thick.

I cried all the way home.




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