That’s Queensland Shit!
September 13. Badgingarra. “That’s Queensland shit!” He sneered over his shoulder at me. He was hunched over the bar, cradling an EB (Emu Bitter). I’d committed the ultimate gaff of asking for XXXX Bitter, not a Western Australian beer. He smelled vaguely of lanolin, wool and other less pleasant sheepy smells, and he had no use for strangers who wore funny looking clothes and drank foreign beers. He must have held high status in the town, because nobody else dared speak to us. Funny, up in the outback, nobody cared what beer you drank and even unusual strangers like us were welcomed. I wonder if people in small towns here have enough friends; strangers are not really needed to liven things up, as seems to be the case in the outback. Maybe it is because everyone in the outback comes from somewhere else, people here might have deep roots less amenable to cross fertilization from outsiders. It is often the same in small towns in North America.
Back at the caravan park, the owner came by late to collect. He is a farmer. His brother moved to the Willamette Valley of Oregon, where I once lived, and to which I believe the local landscape bears a striking resemblance. We talked about wheat, canola and foot rot in sheep. Common ground. He made up for the shearer.
Tea At The Bindoon & Districts Agricultural Society
September 15. Bindoon. Camped on the local sports oval and went to the Bindoon & Districts Agricultural Society regular Friday steak night. Wonderful community feel, friendly people, farmers mostly. We watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. Quite wonderful I thought. The locals were however, very unhappy that Cathy Freeman, an Aboriginal, had been picked to light the torch. They don’t hide their racism around here. Otherwise nice folks. Glad we’re white. From Bindoon to Wanneroo, we went from country town to sprawling suburbia in the worst sense of the word. The traffic was scary too, but fairly polite. We found a very nice caravan park where we were interviewed by Sue who writes the newsletter. The park and the newsletter reminded us of Far Horizons Trailer Village where we winter in Tucson, Arizona. Sue is perhaps Claire’s age. She is living in the park and not working now due to some health issues. We talked for hours about our philosophy and our reasons for simplifying our lives and traveling. She saw us off in the morning and gave us a compliment, “You two have given me a lot to think about.” Good luck Sue.
September 17. Perth. At the suggestion of our tandem friends in Perth, we caught a wonderful high speed train the 40 kilometres into the city. Zippy was allowed on, with BOB in tow, despite their combined three metre length. The security guard and trainman were both very helpful. Wish it were like that in North America. Are you listening Via Rail and Amtrak? We were met at the station by John and Kathy Rumball and Paul and Vivien Webb who began our introduction to Perth’s bicycle paths. At John and Kathy’s condo we had coffee and cake and gratefully dropped off Zippy’s load; we are staying with them for a couple of nights. We were met there by another tandem couple, Wendy McIntyre and David Oakley, and we rode about 60 kilometres around the City. Along the way we picked up Trish and Les. Back at John and Kathy’s we all enjoyed tea. We talked touring all evening with John and Kathy who have toured in Vietnam, New Zealand, Tasmania and a year in Europe. We hope we can talk them into a tour of the U.S. and Canada someday
We will be in the Perth area for a few days catching up on bike repairs and seeing more of the city before heading south into the forested country. Sometime in early October we hope to be tackling the dread Nullarbor, a famously long and straight road across Western Australia and South Australia to Adelaide. We expect to be there by early November, hopefully before the winds shift to easterlies.