All the convoys have converged on Cowra! We’re open to the public at 5pm so come and say hello at Cowra Van Park! Before we head off to Canberra tomorrow, we thought we’d introduce ourselves!
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.
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…”
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.’
I’ve been on the road for a week now.
In one week we have snorkelled with Manta Rays, met dolphins, lost a wallet, sung, said too much, opened up, thrown a tantrum, stargazed and giggled, traded advice for play fight pinches, driven 2129 kilometres, found a wallet and killed an emu.
Old mate Chris flew in from Canberra right into the heart of the mining boom, emerging wide eyed from the sea of high vis at Karratha airport. I’d forgotten to tell him that his holiday was gunna be a part of this big museum thing and that we (mostly he) would be towing 750 kgs worth of vintage caravan behind us the whole way to Perth…
After a screening, the next morning we (mostly I) packed the van and farted around. Once on the road we quickly slipped into roles. Roebourne way, the men bring the guns and chop the wood out bush, the women prepare the food. In our car, the man holds the keys and doesn’t stop until Nanutarra Roadhouse/Geraldton/whatever destination is at least 100 ks away. The woman loses the keys and wants to stop for toilets or food or photographs.
On that first day we drove over 600 kilometres to Coral Bay. Chris tallied responses to the mate wave – the old two fingers off the steering wheel that can excuse the slowest of drivers.
We talk about Roebourne, about who we are, progress, family, capitalism, faith in art and karma and Lennon.
We listen to Paul Kelly, Crowded House, America, Dylan and Springsteen but driving through the darkness it was singing stuff like this at the top of our lungs that really got us there:
That first morning the caravan park was in full swing by the time I got back from my morning jog along the beach. The village awoke with the sun. Gaggles of kids rode bikes, made plans, jumped on bouncy pillows, kicked footies and toddled too far from their tall humans. A couple my age walked passed with skinny jeans and takeaway coffees. I guess hipsters holiday too, it’s not all grey nomads and families.
“There’s a lot of neighbours here,” a small child said.
We lie in the sun for a while, then splash out on a snorkeling tour and hang out with some majestic Manta Rays, marveling at that whole other world that exists down there – landscapes and fish where there’s so much unknown.
That night a couple of kids cuddle under blankets at another screening. I don’t bother shouting over the freezing wind about the project, just let the films bewilder and enchant on their own.
The wind makes me uneasy and kids unsettled.
We’re always driving or doing, ticking things off the ‘stuff to see’ list- after all, we could die tomorrow.
We knock off another couple of hundred ks to Hamelin Station.
It’s still windy but at least we are almost alone.
That night we looked at stars and opened hearts and the universe expanded and contracted but basically stayed the same.
Greetings from the Pilbara!
Over here where the desert meets the sea we’ve been busy covering the walls of our caravan with beautiful portraits and collecting stories on film. Our yet-to-be-named caravan sets off Saturday on an epic journey of over 5,000 kilometres, screening films and sharing stories in caravan parks along the way!
We’ll be at the Harding River Caravan Park this Friday at 6pm, then at Bayview Coral Bay Caravan Park on Sunday 29th.
Before we head off, here’s some photos of what we’ve been doing so far:
We pulled up on the main street in Roebourne, between the shop and the Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi Foundation…
… and invited people like Gary from Ngarda Radio to come and share their holiday stories. That’s Tyson from Weerianna Street Media filming and Cav on sound poking his head through.
Tracy told us about NEARLY catching a goanna while on a road trip
Then we went decided to have a long weekend on a Wednesday, and went out bush for a cook up with Allery and her family.
Alec arrived at dusk to share stories and Johnny Cakes.
Aileen showed me and Maxie how to chop the roots for good firewood out at East Harding River.
Photography by Martina Lang. Words by Elspeth.