A diary entry from my trip to northern Western Australia
19th November 2020
We left at 7am exactly. By we, I mean Pete (my housemate), Jay, and me. I packed up the last of my bags. I made a coffee and then, as I said, we left.
We drove north until there was no city, only tall eucalyptus trees. Shortly after, there was coastal shrubbery. Then there was that for 500km.
At some point along this stretch, we passed a coastal shantytown. A new development was there and on the road was an advertisement that said, “You Could Live Here.” That is like, I thought, showing someone a mouldy banana and saying, ‘You could eat this.”
Our first stop was at a town that was basically a small high street with more taverns than shops. At the end, on the corner, there was a cafe called, "The Sheering Cafe." We walked inside. At the counter, a lady in big dirty blue jeans said, “Hi honey. The wait for food is 30 minutes. Just to let you know.”
Pete, Jay and I looked at each other and said, “Okay.”
After waiting 45 minutes, Pete said, “Should we ask about the food?”
“Wait another minute,” Jay said. “When you start thinking the food isn’t coming out, the food usually comes out.”
Then the food came out.
The two ladies held a number of plates. One of them said, “Who ordered the pie.”
“I did,” I said.
“The carnivore,” the other woman said. Then, for some reason, they both erupted in laughter.
For the night, we turned into a caravan park. At reception Jay picked up a brochure and looked up to the lady behind the desk. She pointed to the brochure and said, “What’s the historical tip?”
“Oh, you must go,” she said. “It’s up and around the back here.” She pointed in front of her, to the door and then she pointed to the right.
“Sounds lovely,” Jay said.
“Yeah.” She smiled. “If you have a chance, please go check it out.”
To get to the campsite, we drove along a dried-up river bed with stumpy eucalyptus trees sparsely peppered around the flat, dessert-ey loam. Apart from that, there was nothing, save from the historical tip, of course, and natural hot springs. I found out about the springs when we were setting up our tent and the man camping next to us said, “They’ve got hot springs here, you know. They pump water up from the ground.”
Doesn’t sound that natural then, I thought.
“They’ve only recently filled them back up, too,” He went on. “They’ve got minerals in them that are therapeutic and all that shit.”
“Yeah,” his wife said. “Very therapeutic, apparently.”
“And there’s iron in it,” the man went on. “So it comes up from the pipes clean. But when you leave it out it turns red. The iron reacts with the oxygen. So it turns red.”
After we set up the tent we checked out the historical tip. For no particular reason, we short cut the normal way there and we had to sneak through a barbed wire fence and mud parts and Jay ruined her Birkenstocks.
At the tip, overlooking a horde of rusted junk, I said, “Is this it?”
“Looks like it,” Pete said.
Pete’s dad, Paul, was also there. Paul said, “Look, there’s a ‘67 FB Holden.” There were some other pretty cool cars, according to Paul. But the rest of the tip was stuff from the 90s or even more recent, which made it more of a tip than a historical tip.
I’m not bagging the tip. I liked it. But only in the barren north, I thought, can a junkyard become a genuine tourist attraction. The sun was setting now. We walked back, ate dinner, went to bed.
. . .
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