Tag Archives: Australia

Living with the Beast

Western Australian summer is a beast. For months it slumbers, its great curved back a docile silhouette against the greys and greens and bobbing florals. Then it awakens and scrapes its claws across the land in a blaze of heat.

  • The water in garden hoses scalds and the cold tap in the shower runs warm.
  • Lawns crunch and prickle bare feet.
  • Thick metal necklaces become burning collars. Steering wheels and doorhandles and car seats scorch hands and thighs.
  • Pedestrians at traffic lights shelter beneath buildings, metres from the kerb, waiting to cross.
  • Paddocks stretch into the distance: rolling, fuzzed and tawny; rustling with bleached crop stubble; closely-capped in the pitch black of char or flat, bare and crazed with cracks. And, above them, the deep, rich sky.
  • Urban buildings glitter and oncoming vehicles are globs of eye-watering golden light.
  • The only clouds are the tiny tufts of cumulus stirred up at the ocean’s edge by the reach and retreat of the waves. People come in their hordes for the cleansing and lightening peculiar to swimming in the ocean.
  • The air is an invisible wall, high and hard and hot. It batters and stings…and waits for a spark.
  • Fire alerts on the radio warn residents who have remained to fight for their suburban homes not to venture out because the heat will kill them before they even see the twenty-metre flames.

sheep at dawn

But sometimes the beast slinks into its cave and only its switching tail shows that it breathes yet and will strike again.

  • The Fremantle and Albany doctors drift across the land signalling the end of the working day. People dare a drink of red instead of cooling white and know that tonight they will turn off the fan and pull up the bedsheet.
  • A storm’s first drops spatter and the world smells of dust.
  • The earth is made nubile by the honeyed light of evening.

Australian shed and tree

Australia, evening light

Eventually, the beast curls up again, a monument to the season. We used to think it immovable, impervious to us, but now our proddings rouse it earlier. It stalks for longer. And we have become its prey.

Australia, evening light

Anchovy Ahoy! Part Two

Weeks after the departure of the ss Great Britain from the UK, the fair maid Clare, wandering by a (muddy) Western Australian shore, sighted this raft.

miniature wooden raft

Clearly it was the handiwork of a shipwrecked tin of anchovies (those knots bear all the hallmarks of a deft tab).

But the anchovies had gone! Continue reading

What Are We Leaving?

“Why are we leaving?”

The BB’s question was, this time, spurred by a conversation about the logistics of getting our goods moved from Australia to England.

As any mover will know, the timing of such a project is fraught. If your household effects go too early, you have to sleep on the floor of your empty house like a cave person; or acquire, then dispose of, sleeping apparatus; or commute to work from distant friends or family; or find a hotel. Going before your goods, is bravery or foolishness as you entrust the removal and everything else to others.

beer, Old Speckled Hen, English ale

When confronted with the what-are-we-doing question, I have a variety of responses. Continue reading

Sir Porridge’s Epic Journey…Day Five

After his fall yesterday evening in Norseman, Sir Porridge, AK, was lured this morning by other, more stable, conveyances.

tin camel, Norseman, Australia

See him up there on the hump?

Being of a scientific bent, he also wanted to check the claim that the roads were indeed large enough to accommodate the turning of a camel train.  A couple of men sitting in cars in the middle of the road were the only witnesses that it is indeed so. (The camels seemed pleased about the change of scenery.) Continue reading

Sir Porridge’s Epic Journey…Day Four

Still full of vim after his days of hard travel, Sir Porridge, AK, was up early for a bracing sit and portrait on the Ceduna jetty.

jetty, Ceduna Continue reading

Sir Porridge’s Epic Journey…Day Three

It was a day of large birds.

To we humans (I do not make that assumption lightly, dear reader), this:

Australia, country, landscape,

is nothing more than a small rectangular representation of South Australia, but to Sir Porridge, AK, it is a landscape teeming with danger. That nonchalant pile of feathers (beneath the tree at left) is, to his trained eye, a blaring signal.  Wedgetail eagles, that most glorious and terrible of predators, are about. A gloss of bronze, a snap of leathery claw, and it’s curtains to you (if you’re meaty enough). Arguably, Sir P is not, but who’s to say whether he might not be the ideal eyrie-upholstery?

Trepidation makes Sir P’s eyes keen, allowing him to zoom beyond human sight.

Australia, country, landscape, photograph, eagle

Australia, country, landscape, photograph,

The faint stalks of wind turbines on a distant ridge gladdened the knight. They make sense in a country bearing more than the average brunt of global warming.

Australia, country, landscape, wind turbines

Visiting the (remnants of) relatives:

Australia, country, rural, landscape, crop

Australia, country, landscape, crop

Further on, the inky black of grazing cattle punctuated round, pale-yellow hills.

Australia, country, landscape, bush, scrub

The tiny mining town, Iron Knob, looks like it’s been dropped into the scrub from a great height. The scattered buildings, with churches just about outnumbering houses, appear held together with bits of wire and four by two.

Iron Knob, Australia, mining town, main street, emu sign

With little call to apprehend jay-walking emus, the police station is given over to other pursuits.

Iron Knob, Australia, police station, church, mining town

As the pink and grey galah in Kimba casts its beady, greedy eye over the landscape, Sir Porridge huddles ironically between its cereal-grabbing claws although one must, in all honesty, acknowledge that those claws have a certain inertia which pretty much guarantees his safety.

big galah, giant galah, pink and grey galah

It’s been long and slow, and our intrepid traveller has kindly created work for road repair teams across a number of shires, but he has purportedly (check the sign in the photo above) made it halfway across.

Australia, tractor, coloured tractor, Kimba, half way ,

He’s there on the metal seat, struggling to see over the engine.

It should be noted that halfway is actually still to come on the knight’s route since he travelled more directly from Sydney to east of Adelaide.

Australia, Kimba, half way, map,

Ceduna, home of 4000 people and the October oyster festival, welcomed Sir Porridge (as one would expect). By the time he left, there were rumours of plans for an oatmeal festival.

Ceduna, Australia, jetty, pier

Although this spot beneath the jetty was a pleasing place from which to observe the sunset, he moved to higher ground for the night due to obvious conflicts with the tide.

seagull, dusk

Sir Porridge’s Epic Journey…Day Two

The signs were unambiguous.

Australia, border quarantine, fruit fly, sign

The fines escalated as the distance to the New South Wales – Victoria border decreased.Australia, border quarantine, fruit fly, sign

We breathed a collective sigh of relief upon seeing that Sir Porridge, AK, was safely off the hit list. Continue reading