What happens when we relax? Part 2

Some quiet moments captured in Canberra at the ephemeral museum in vintage caravans ‘The Museum of the Long Weekend,’ produced by Australia’s leading arts and social change company Big hART.

 

Old memories were relived

Old memories were relived

Rocks were skimmed

Rocks were skimmed

Tales were told

Tales were told

Caravans were cubby houses and were explored

Caravans were cubby houses and were explored

New faces were met

New faces were met

Sunsets were observed and more rocks were skimmed

Sunsets were observed and more rocks were skimmed

Campfires were sat around

Campfires were sat around

Talents were shared, laughs were had, line dances were learnt, songs were sung and weddings occured

Talents were shared, laughs were had, line dances were learnt, songs were sung and weddings occurred

Caravans carried tales from faraway towns

Caravans carried tales from faraway towns

 

Check out more photos on the Museum of the Long Weekend Facebook Page , check out the rest of the blog (more entries below) and keep in touch with Big hART on their Facebook Page.

 

 

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What happens when we relax?

After a big weekend in Canberra, the caravans have continued on their journeys back to all corners of the country, but here’s some of what happened on holiday:

We lay by the water and maybe whispered sweet nothings

We lay by the water and maybe whispered sweet nothings

 

We sung the Macerena (in Spanish) in a karaoke caravan...

We sung the Macerena (in Spanish) in a karaoke caravan…

We probably made toast at some point

We probably made toast at some point

We sat down and leaned back

We sat down and leaned back

We stood around and spoke about cars

We stood around and spoke about cars

We crocheted and taught a new stitch

We crocheted and taught a new stitch

We read the paper and consulted the form guide

We read the paper and consulted the form guide

We found a good spot for an afternoon nap

We found a good spot for an afternoon nap

 

Check out more photos on the Museum of the Long Weekend Facebook Page , check out the rest of the blog (more entries below) and keep in touch with Big hART on their Facebook Page.

 

 

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Meet the Caravans Part 2

We’ve all made it to Canberra now! We can’t wait to meet you all from 6.30pm tomorrow (Friday) night at Grevillea Park on the bank of Lake Burley Griffen in Canberra! If you can’t make it down, here are a few more vans and humans for you to get to know:
'Spunky' the 1957 Pheonix with Dennis & Sandra from Geelong. They've been working with artist Damien on an audio installation using old radios like the one below!

‘Spunky’ the 1957 Pheonix with Dennis & Sandra from Geelong. They’ve been working with artist Damien on an audio installation using old radios like the one below!

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Narrelle & Len and their 1963 Olympic Riviera. Len's travelled to Uluru 3 times with the same car, the same camera and the same wife!

Narrelle & Len and their 1963 Olympic Riviera. Len’s travelled to Uluru 3 times with the same car, the same camera and the same wife!

 

This is John & Julies first trip in their 1962 Sunliner! They've come all the way from Toowoomba, QLD!

This is John & Julies first trip in their 1962 Sunliner! They’ve come all the way from Toowoomba, QLD!

 

Lyn from South Maclane near Brisbane saved this 1955 homemade van from being chucked out! She drove all the way to Katanning in WA to pick it up! It's called 'Morticia' because of the steel coffin handles!

Lyn from South Maclane near Brisbane saved this 1955 homemade van from being chucked out! She drove all the way to Katanning in WA to pick it up! It’s called ‘Morticia’ because of the steel coffin handles!

 

Judy and Ken from Canberra sit in the light and airy 'Freda', a 1969 Franklin Freeway. It sure is an upgrade from their handmade Teardrop!

Judy and Ken from Canberra sit in the light and airy ‘Freda’, a 1969 Franklin Freeway. It sure is an upgrade from their handmade Teardrop!

 

'Frankie' the 1974 Franklin with Esther the dog & Margie & Chris from Adelaide. They're not grey nomads, they're BBONFAs (Baby Boomers Of No Fixed Address)!

‘Frankie’ the 1974 Franklin with Esther the dog & Margie & Chris from Adelaide. They’re not grey nomads, they’re BBONFAs (Baby Boomers Of No Fixed Address)!

 

Ray & Sandra from Woollongong with 'Cassie', a 1965 Viscount Druralvan named after Rays mother, who had 10 kids. Drural is the type of aluminium used to make planes!

Ray & Sandra from Woollongong with ‘Cassie’, a 1965 Viscount Druralvan named after Rays mother, who had 10 kids. Drural is the type of aluminium used to make planes!

 

We’ve got plenty more people for you to meet, we’ll post the photos in the coming days. See you at Grevillea Park tomorrow night, or over the weekend from 10-12 or 2-4!

Meet the Caravans (and their human friends) Part 1

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!

Jennison Jeff with his 1953 Jennison Pathfinder. It was built by his grandfather, who started building vans commercially in 1930!

Jennison Jeff with his 1953 Jennison Pathfinder. It was built by his grandfather, who started building vans commercially in 1930!

 

Kylie, Archie & Olivia with 'Bubbles' the Bondwood from Adelaide Hills, filled with childhood games!

Kylie, Archie & Olivia with ‘Bubbles’ the Bondwood from Adelaide Hills, filled with childhood games!

 

Greg & Marion from Melton, Victoria, with 'Junee' the 1962 Wanda, named after Gregs mother.

Greg & Marion from Melton, Victoria, with ‘Junee’ the 1962 Wanda, named after Gregs mother.

 

Allan and Irene from Sydney with their Sunliner, born in 1959 and still cruzin!

Allan and Irene from Sydney with their Sunliner, born in 1959 and still cruzin!

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An excerpt from the book their daughter made about their 40 years of caravan adventures!

 

Les & Eve from Adelaide with their late 50s Fiesta. They've owned about 8 vans in their lifetime!

Les & Eve from Adelaide with their late 50s Fiesta. They’ve owned about 8 vans in their lifetime!

 

Laraine & Ralph with their Coronet 1968 Champion. They've owned it for 30 years!

Laraine & Ralph with their Coronet 1968 Champion. They’ve owned it for 30 years!

 

The 1956 Chesney 'The Pacemaker' from Wittlesea, Victoria. It has horsehair cushions and hand painted curtains (see below)!

The 1956 Chesney ‘The Pacemaker’ from Wittlesea, Victoria. It has horsehair cushions and hand painted curtains (see below)!

Beautiful hand painted curtains in The Pacemaker

 

Steve & Maree inside 'Lizzy' the 1966 Viscount Duralvan. It's like a forrest in there!

Steve & Maree inside ‘Lizzy’ the 1966 Viscount Duralvan. It’s like a forrest in there!

 

 

 

 

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Hay Hay it’s Saturday

Hay

The Tasmanian convoy is currently situated in Hay, on the very flat Hay plains. Driving around the streets of Hay a friendly competition ensues about using the town’s name in a pun, eg ‘Let’s make Hay while the sun shines’, ‘Hay (Hay) you (you) get offa my cloud’ with the eventual winner being ‘Hay Hay it’s Saturday’ (because it is actually a saturday).

We drove to Hay from Deniliquin across some remarkably unremarkable landscape, apart from the odd interruption from free range cows wandering across the road. There was however, the occasional sign advertising viewing platforms for ‘The Long Paddock’. Thinking this was some kind of exciting tourist attraction we speculated about what this wondrous ‘Long Paddock’ could be- eventually deducing that it was indeed just one, very long paddock.

We have noticed since crossing the border that the caravan park clientele in NSW are decidedly well dressed, not letting restricted access to showers and laundry facilities dampen their style. We have called them the ‘Park Glitterati’, identifiable by their gold jewellery and pastel attire.

The best op shop purchase from the last couple of days comes in the form of a one piece jumpsuit in fuchsia and aqua and the most disturbing culinary discovery in the form of a Red Bull and fruit smoothie. The current soundtrack in our car is stirring renditions of classic rock/pop power duets including ‘Under Pressure’ with alternating Bowie/Mercury lead vocals, George Michael versus Elton John in ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me’ and the Kenny/Dolly tour-de-force ‘Islands in the Stream’.

Our site in Hay is on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. While pretty to look at, the banks of the river prove treacherous. One member of the convoy is nearly sucked deep into the soft mud on the riverside, with ankle and a good stretch of lower leg consumed by the thick green-brown goo. It feels wonderfully cool and refreshing before drying to a crackly grey crust like elephant skin.

There has also been a nightly tradition of storytelling around the fire or BBQ. Themes have included The Murray River, Swimming and tonight’s theme- Fire. We are slowly learning about each other and these tidbits help, as memories, anecdotes and shy revelations are offered forth to the circle. We are having a nice time.

Border Crossing

Murray

 

 

Thursday October tenth sees our fair caravaners depart Castlemaine and head inland to Echuca. Our night in Castlemaine passed fairly uneventfully with quiet activities such as caravan decorating, reading and writing. Though the peacefulness was interrupted somewhat by a large scary sounding animal we eventually deduced was a irate possum, not some sort of man-eating, bush-dwelling monster as was first suspected.

The cafe stop over in Bendigo yields coffee and cupcakes and the op shop in Rochester bestows us with a somewhat impractical banana holder modelled on a very specifically shaped banana.

As we drive into Echuca we realise if you say Echuca repeatedly but without the ‘E’ it sounds like a train noise ie. ‘chuca-chuca. ‘chuca-chuca, ‘chuca-chuca’ and so on. We spend a good ten minutes making this noise without any diminished amusement at our clever discovery.

The sing-along soundtrack in our car today comprises of Paul Simon, Paul Kelly and The Police. There are less flamboyant dance moves and more introspective folk moments but the vibe is still tight as we roll past the flattening landscape towards the border.

When we get to Echuca we go off road and find a spot by the Mighty Murray to camp for the night. There is no electricity or running water or nearby toilets… but the excellent views more than make up for any lack of modern conveniences.

A very pleasant night is passed by the campfire as tales are shared, red wine is passed and the sun sets over the river.

Betwixt and Between

 

 

Somewhere between the west and south

 

Somewhere in between time zones

 

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Between getting somewhere and being nowhere

 

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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

 

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But betwixt and between time and space passing

Nothing much happens

 

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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

 

-Elspeth

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The Victorian convoy arrives in Castlemaine

long weekend 2

 

 

Wednesday October ninth sees our intrepid caravaners depart Melbourne on a blustery spring morning. Venturing forth from the suburban depths of Coburg and out onto the Calder freeway we speed towards the green bush and yellow hills of the Macedon ranges.

The sing-along soundtrack in our car comprises of Fleetwood Mac, Tina Turner and The Kinks and the van wobbles occasionally as hands depart the steering wheel to execute sweet synchronised dance moves. There are three vans in our convoy thus far, The Fossicker, The Crusader and Rebecca. We cause quite a stir with the locals as we pull into Kyneton for mid-morning refreshments and the purchasing of kitchen implements.

After a slight mechanical hitch is solved (one of the vans wheels wasn’t quite attached properly) it’s onto the leafy hamlet of Castlemaine, which will be our resting place for the night. Several members of the team quickly and efficiently obliterate the town’s op shops, moving with military-like precision amongst the 2 dollar bargain bins. One caravaner emerges with a bizarre relic of kitsch 80’s Australiana, involving a well known pink ostrich puppet from a well known weekend centric variety show. Said ostrich is depicted in a compromising and slightly disturbing pose on the front of what can only be described a children’s night gown. Needless to say it is snapped up immediately.

We set up camp and get ready for an afternoon tea and viewing session for local caravan enthusiasts, catered by the excellent and formidable ladies of the CWA. We promptly stuff ourselves with scones, jam and cream and chat to the lovely people who came to see the vans, hearing stories of long ago holidays and current caravan dwelling. One lady lived in a vintage van as her granny flat was being built, much to the consternation and horror of her grown up children. Another tells a tale of being five years old and travelling to the beach, only to discover an entire jar of honey had spilt all over the caravan on the interim journey.

As we struggle to consume the mountain of orange cake and egg and lettuce sandwiches the CWA ladies have come armed with, the light fades on our pond-side picnic. It is the first properly balmy evening of the year and locals and travellers alike drift away to enjoy the dwindling strains of rosy twilight.

Manta Rays, Mate Waves and Whitney

 

I’ve been on the road for a week now.

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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.

 

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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.

 

Kids in Coral Bay watch short films about kids from Roebourne, like this guy, who launched an interactive comic in South Korea... See the full film here: https://vimeo.com/52725073

Kids in Coral Bay watch short films about kids from Roebourne, like this guy, who launched an interactive comic in South Korea… See the full film here: https://vimeo.com/52725073

 

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.

 

 

-Elspeth

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