and throws a handful of nails down onto the counter.
"Can you put me up for the night," he says.
Well, let me tell you, being nailed to a couple of boards is nothin' compared with the struggles and humiliations we suffer in Kalbarri, digging out the bogged truck, surrounded by idiots, in a town literally crawling with drugged and drunken New Year's Eve revellers. Literally crawling. And i don't mean "literally" in the sense in which it is usually deployed, i.e. figuratively. I mean -
"I've got a good feeling about Kalbarri." Safari Bob interrupts my thoughts with a brief parody of our earlier optimism, as we dig out the back wheels of the truck with planks of wood. Yeah, yeah, i say.
The day begins with such promise. Safari Bob's ukelele playing steadily improves. Then he clears up the mystery bugging me since Lake Indoon: how do those big fish get into those freshwater lakes in the middle of nowhere? "Birds," he explains. "Birds fly them in from the sea and drop them. It's what's known in biology as a symbiotic relationship." Who would have thought? We throw together a makeshift lunch overlooking the mouth of the Irwin at Dongara, and it's the best thing since sliced bread. In fact, it's so good, it incorporates sliced bread. We drive up the Nangetty-Walkaway road, right through the centre of the wind farm. Flower power writ large. Very large. You know the tips of those blades travel at 220km/h? Wind farms are much like those fish farms the birds set up, i'm thinking. Fish need birds like the wind needs a clothesline ...
A swim at Ellendale Pool washes away the road grime and sordid filth of Knobby Head. Climbing the cliff face, i ask a man floating on an inner tube, decked out in sunglasses, suncream, and baseball cap, if the water is deep enough for diving. "You find the bottom and you'd be the first," he proclaims. "It's bottomless." Bottomless? "Yep. Goes down forever. They've tried to find the bottom with rope and weights, but they can't." I stand on the warm ledge, struggling to comprehend. Bottomless. This pretty, but otherwise fairly innocuous rock pool east of Geraldton, is actually infinitely deep? My goodness. Break out the Discovery Channel! Just imagine. One could sink an infinite number of Ford Galaxies end-to-end into its chill waters, and still never plumb its mysterious depths. I raise my hands slowly to a point above my head, as if trying to draw out these conceptual difficulties. Its almost ... unfathomable, i think, and leap off the ledge into the infinite.
Red ukeleles. Birds and fish, working together to populate beautiful lakes. Clean, green, limitless energy. Lazy, bottomless rock pools. Endless beer at the Geraldton Hotel, watching pretty girls blow up inflatable toys in the beer garden. Ah, isn't life grand? A supplies run to Utakarra, beer and veal schnitzel, then it's on, on, up past Port Gregory, past the Hutt River Province, a cheery wave to the loyal, wooly subjects of Prince Leonard, a race along the spectacular cliffs to Kalbarri, scooting along ahead of the weather.
Those were the days, i think, as i try reversing the truck out of another fine mess we've gotten ourselves into. Once again the wheels grip momentarily before spinning and digging another hole on the opposite side to the last. We take up our planks to continue our sorrowful labour. Rain appears to be coming up in the increasing gale. We have no accomodation. There are police roadblocks along the foreshore. We are beset by hunger, thirst, blisters, and, God forbid, clothes with dirt on them. "Yep, I got a good feeling about this place," mutters Safari Bob, as he drags a heavy piece of chain into place underneath one of the truck wheels.