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.
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.