A Friend Assaulted – and Bouncing Back

July 10, 2009

yunta-seige290.jpgRemember Miss Betty? That remarkable woman in her seventies who runs a remote sheep station in South Australia. We met her in this blog a few weeks ago when I was in Quorn. Well, she has been at the centre of a siege which has been making the news here (to which I should have been paying more attention). Frank called through and alerted me to the fact that the elderly victim being referred to was none other than “Miss Betty, the magnificent, feisty and independent station owner who some say is in her seventies – though you would never guess it.  Fortunately she got the best of her attacker, escaped, called the police and the attacker, well, … you can read about it here. She is, as you would expect, being very matter of fact about it all. Can’t understand what all the police fuss is about concerning the mess left in her house.  She may not thank me for letting this slip but this is such a beautiful insight – she insisted that the police not remove her socks from the scene for forensic examination. It’s darn cold out here you know! You go a long way to find people of her calibre. When you do, hang onto them.

A Quorn Meal

May 18, 2009

quorn-cafe290.jpgSoft pink waist coats and mole grey jackets suggest something refined and gentle. The galah is anything but, especially when when it is jinking up the street with five its mates, showing off clever manoeuvres like teenage boys in their new cars. But they are the only signs and raucous sounds of life for a full eight minutes on this mild sunny day in the middle of the street.  We sit and make small talk and in the long pauses there is only silence. On the stroke of the ninth a plastic clatter of split curtains and a tray appears with our coffee and juice. And some cream dolloped on the caramel slice. Read more

Quorn Dogs

May 16, 2009

betty290.jpg“You on channel Miss Betty?”
The silence out of the radio is accompaniment for the empty horizon. “You on channel Miss Betty?”
Nothing. The microphone is dropped back into the console and we drive on, dust erupting and billowing behind us, saltbush blurring beside us.
This expedition started with a sit in the sun on the veranda lazy “what do you want to do today?” and became decisive and focused at the prospect of driving through ghost towns and exploring empty ruins – on the way to meet “Miss Betty.” Joy Betty in fact.
Run out on a straight dirt road for mile after mile leaving a Space Shuttle plume of dirt that will not settle in the still air. Bore down on a spectacular serrated, purple ridge, cut across it and be met with another flat plain with a cream slash of a road scored across it. Aim for the next serrated ridge on the horizon. Repeat often, until each flat and each rise takes you across the Adelaide/Sydney highway and into the stony ranges in which “Miss Betty” lives. Read more

In Fields of Quorn

May 15, 2009

franko_richard290.jpgLast weekend I watched my brother play with his son and thought “Thirty years apart is far too long”. There is pain in the realisation that it has been so long. Years never recovered. Years not shared. All valuable and constructive in their own way, and all filled with light and drama and satisfaction and accomplishment. But still echoing with the emptiness of that separation, even though its an echo that is only now reverberating. We caught glimpses of each other over the years, for the briefest of moments. A swing though Devon here, a quick trip to Canberra or Sydney there. Read more

Echoes of Empire

May 13, 2009

303flash290.jpgAs much as I despise the culture of obsequious kowtowing to “the Empire” there are some icons that connect me to it in a more positive yet strange way.  Some are old history books. Biggles stories are another connection – they formed up some perspectives as a ten year old which seem  humourous now. Winston Churchill’s various memoirs. And the Lee Enfield .303. On reflection they are all inputs from my childhood. (The negative reaction came later in my studies of archives for my Masters but that is another story). Read more

Holy Gutter!

May 13, 2009

frank_gutter2901.jpgAs we walk up to an old stone Quorn church built in 1880…

“Owyer goin Ron?”
“Really well for an old bloke.”
“Nah, you ain’t old, just slow moving. Meet my brother. He is here to help repair this guttering.”
“Oh yeah? Where are you from?”
“Sydney?! To repair the gutter.”
“All the way.”
“Well, I’ll be. Whatya reckon we need to do Franko?” Read more

Quorn. Quorn?

May 11, 2009

quorn-railway290.jpgPronounced “corn”. No, I did not know that either. A dot on the arid landscape in South Australia ( 32°20’46.93″S 138° 2’23.85″E). I walk around the streets wondering what keeps people here. Maybe the clue lies with Gary and his wife who sit in the late autumn sun and sing out a cheery “owyergoing mate?” as I walk up the street. “Not bad, not bad, owgergoing?” They grin and swing a bit on their porch swing and tell me its a grand day. There must be something in the water. The streets are as neat as a pin, yards are tidy and the local cop has little to distract him apart from rowdy boys getting home from the pub in the early hours of the morning. Everyone wants a chat. We don’t just buy petrol. We have a long chat with the guy on the other side of the bowser about dogs, maps, neighbours and kids. After being in Sydney for so long I find myself wanting to finish the transaction and “get on with it”.  For these people the transaction is not complete unless there is a long conversation involved. It takes a day before I realise I am champing at the bit and need to slow down. Therein lies the appeal of this place. I could easily come back here. Indeed I must.