Headed into town, put some photos in to be developed, and found gas for the car after much to-ing and fro-ing between various servos that didn't carry LPG but were sure such-and-such did. Eventually by chance I found a large shop that sold gas heaters and ovens and had a LPG pump in the middle of their small car park. Cars backing out actually had to avoid running into it!
I then went to a skimpy bar for a raspberry lemonade. I know, I'm a sinful man, and my drinking habits will lead me to ruin. A friend who used to be a skimpy suggested I find a bar and be nice to the ladies. I had been going to find one the night before, but after wandering the town in search of a net cafe, had opted for sleep. Headed into the pub, and it was quiet. No sign of a revealingly clothed woman, so I ordered my raspberry lemonade and just chilled in the bar.
I like pubs. I like the atmosphere, the people, the feel. Especially in country pubs, where you get the lined, weathered faces of the sorts of characters that are vanishing from the new Australia. People who have struggled and survived all sorts of difficulties. It's kind of hard to take people seriously when they talk about how they're doing it tough on their farm, but you know for a fact they have a $10,000 plasma screen TV.
Eventually a female bartender wandered by in a bikini top with a black lycra thing over it, and tight black undies that showed off her bum. She was tall, busty and blonde, but that's ok, I liked the ankh she had tattooed on the small of her back. Didn't end up talking with her at all, she was far too much in demand by the louder patrons. I had another raspberry and wandered out to book my tour of Questa Casa, and find a net connection.
After doing my netly duties, I headed for Questa Casa, the oldest continually running brothel in Kalgoorlie. Carmel, the madam and owner of the brothel, was a beautifully spoken older woman from what sounded like British stock. There were eleven of us for the tour, eight women and three guys. Four of the women had Irish accents *happy sigh*
There's nothing I can say that will do justice to the tour. If you're passing through Kalgoorlie, it's on at 2pm and it's well worth going on. The first half is simply us all sitting in one of the rooms while Carmel gives the history of Kalgoorlie and how the brothels came about. The second half is her touring us through the building itself. The tour goes about an hour and a half in total and it's to Carmel's credit that it's fun and interesting from beginning to end. I was so entranced that I didn't take a single photo.
One of the stories Carmel told was of the lady who would bring in her client, gently undress him, and the start to wash his privates with the water from an old tin tub. She would do this slowly and lovingly, gently working over the chap, over and over again, until she felt he was about ready to pop. Then she'd stop and begin to wash herself while the client watched. She'd lather up her breasts, her belly, her privates, all so very slowly and gently, then she'd start over again.
By the end, she used to say that she had the gent so worked up that she only had to give his penis the lightest of touches and it was all over. And the guys were always happy. This was at a time when the brothel had all eleven stalls open and working, and the other girls couldn't understand why she went to so much trouble, it would be quicker and easier just to have sex with the guys. Her reasoning was that these were rough men, working hard jobs, and what they loved about her was in amongst all the harshness of their lives and the environment, here was something gentle and loving.
She would have guys lined up at the tree nearest her stall when many of the other girls weren't at all busy. And if the girls said they were free, the men would politely decline and wait patiently for the lady who gave them some care and attention, rather than just sex.
It really is a fabulous tour and the best summation I can give is this - I had planned on going on the tour of Langtree's just down the road, so I could compare historical and modern brothels. But after the Questa Casa tour, I decided not to, knowing that Langtree's couldn't help but suffer by comparison. So instead I headed off.
I wanted to get to Widgemooltha before sunset. It became more important to me as I drove. Eighteen years before Gunny, Jocko and I had driven through after listening to the radio play "It Came From Widgemooltha" on the cassette player in the van. We visited Gunny's friend, 'Jan of the Nullarbor' and had a photo taken with the roadsign for the town. The town itself was, from memory two, perhaps three, shops. I wanted to set the camera on self-timer to get another photo of myself with the sign, a little link to my departed friend.
As I approached the town, I saw a sign for a roadhouse offering food, lodging, etc. I thought it peculiar that such a small town had a roadhouse, then reasoned that it had been a long time and it would have grown. I drove in and the original shops were gone, in their place was the roadhouse. Such a shame. Another little Aussie town loses its individuality as its shops are eaten by yet another big company.
Then I realised that I had missed the town sign on the way in. That's ok, I'd hit the one on the way out. The sun had only just set, there was still enough ambient light to get the photo. I drove on... no sign. I chucked a uie (any suggestions for spelling on that one gratefully accepted) and headed back, through the town and out the other side. Widgemooltha had no standard roadsigns - the nearest was a sign put up by the roadhouse.
Feeling somewhat crushed and upset, I drove on.
I really didn't want to stop in Norseman. So I looked for rest stops on the way. tikiwanderer and hespa will know exactly what I mean when I say I didn't want to be camped near people. Eventually I found a stop with no one at it, pulled in and set up the tent. While setting it up, I'd decided not to sleep in it, but I thought it'd give me a place to re-sort the food box and write in peace, unmolested by small visitors.
My idea for a novel had been percolating away as I drove, I now knew how I wanted to start it. So over the next fifty minutes I got 800+ words of fiction done. Yay! It felt good to write again. At the same time, it was hard not too try and edit as I went. It's much more frustrating writing now. I put in the wrong words, or stuff up simple spellings. It takes a great effort of will not to edit as I write - if I did that I'd end up only doing about half what I got done. But it's a start. I don't know if I'll get any more done, though I'm hoping to do a little more tonight. We'll see.
Climbed out of the tent, and given the relative silence as I had worked, was happy that I wouldn't get eaten by mozzies. There wasn't one anywhere, and I wasn't bothered at any point during the night.
I lay there with my glasses on, staring up into the night sky, waiting for shooting stars. In a clear sky you can always find them, you just have to be patient. I was, and over the next hour I saw close to two dozen, ranging from faint quick blink-and-you-miss-it scratches, to a couple of long, sweeping arcs. While I'm not terribly superstitious, I love the idea of wishing on a falling star, it has a beautifully romantic appeal.
I had one wish for myself, to actually get a good or sale-able (preferably both) novel finished, the rest of the stars I named for various friends. Who knows, maybe one of their wishes will come true. Regardless of the odds that a chunk of falling rock disintegrating in the atmosphere could give a watcher the ability to manipulate fate, chance, or reality, it gave me great pleasure to 'gift' the wishes.
Awoke the next morning, packed the tent, and drove the other fifty kilometres into Norseman. I wanted to get in there quickly, in the hope of catching the Post Office before it closed and maybe finding a net connection.
The Post Office was closed, the Teleservice was closed, and when I tried to ring Sharon, it turned out that the phone would transmit my voice. But I did get to buy a book from a shop in the town. It's one of the books for a evil scheme shazgirl and I have planned.
On the way out of town I stopped to pick up a hitch-hiker with a tire. His name was Leon, and he'd had two blow-outs on his trip so far, so he'd had to race into Norseman to get a replacement tire before noon. He was a Perth aboriginal, now working in a Ceduna shelter for indiginous people with alcohol or drug problems. Don't envy him that job, it's a big problem and only appears to be getting worse.
His 4WD was about 55km out of town, and I was driving slowly, so we had time for a good yak. We talked about people, about community, about the land. Unsurprisingly, our attitudes were pretty much an exact match on all three - you do what you can to help or improve things. You help people not so they'll be indebted to you, but so that maybe one day they'll help someone else. You do things for the community for the same reason, so that it's there for others. You look after the land so that it can look after others in the future.
On the way I passed the "Water" sign that I had seen on many other occasions. On the trip with Hespa, I'd met a chap who said it was a great camping spot, so I made a note to turn back and check it out once I'd dropped Leon off. Leon seemed both amused and appreciative that I would turn back to check out a patch of bush that might be nice.
Got to his car and yep, that tire had decided that a mere puncture wasn't enough, it had chosen to make a statement on the state of the current Australian political system, and disintergrate. I stayed with Leon, his wife Raylene, and their daughter whose name I failed to catch, until I was sure everything was fine. When they moved off, I followed, since we were now heading the same way, west.
It was a weird feeling. It actually feels more natural to me to be heading west than it does east. I really like W.A. and Perth, they feel more like home to me than anywhere to date in the eastern states. I know Shaz doesn't mind the idea of living in W.A., so who knows, maybe one day.
Leon paused at the water sign to point to it and wave me off, I flashed my lights and waved back, and turned off. I've found a new place near Norseman to camp! It is a lovely area, with large granite rocks where the water collects in pools. If I'd known about it the night before, I might have been tempted to continue on.
I headed off again to Fraser Range sheep station, where I set up my tent at around 2 o'clock. That was an adventure in itself, high winds trying to turn both the groundsheet and the tent into kites. Had to use pegs to hold the groundsheet in place, same again for the tent, before I could even consider putting it up. Thank goodness for the inventor of dome tents - I'd have been flat out trying to get my old pole tent up in that wind. Needless to say, this was one of the times where everything was pegged very firmly down.
I had been doing really well all day, when suddenly my balance stormed out, slamming the door behind it, and I got really, really tired. I had a quick shower, then laid in the tent for a while, before eventually getting moving again before all the light was gone.
I like checking out the old shearing shed, and generally having a bit of a wander. So glad I got photos of the shed last time, though, when I did the trip with Karno. There were some children's toys and shearing tools in there that were absent this time around, and they made for some gorgeous pics.
There were people around. Plenty of other campers and folks staying the night in the cabins. All good folks, but I have been so far removed from being a people person on this trip, I just find everyone too much to bear. Actually, that's not true, Leon and his family felt good, I probably could have been around them for an extended period without hassle. Most other people feel like sandpaper on my nerves just for existing, even if they aren't anywhere near me.
I wandered about, took some photos, and generally kept my distance from the beings that were too bright and shiny. When I did chat to people, I talked happily and enjoyed trading travel stories, but I was still happiest to be on my own. I really am a hermit at heart.
Also discovered that I have the ability to be totally unbothered by kids running around shouting, screaming, shooting each other, and generally being boisterous while I'm trying to read. That should come in handy down the track, though admittedly none of them were saying "Daddy look at me!"
I do like Fraser Range, but in some ways it was a mistake to stay here. I passed a rest stop on the way that looked like it lead deeper into the natural surroundings. Next time I may check that out and see if it's a spot to camp.
Tried to write again, but only got about 30 words written in 15 minutes. Baby steps. And time to sleep like a babe...
...in a sexy negligee after a pillow fight.