Friday, January 26, 2007

THROWING MUD AT THE GOLD-DIGGERS

After flooding my second story apartment unit at the Lodge, i decide it is time to move on. Taxis in Carnarvon being what they are (well, take a look for yourself) i find it simpler to throw all my belongings over the fence into Mickey T's backyard, and move in there. Pipes, the laconic diesel fitter, is moving to his new job in Queensland, so Mickey T's granny flat will soon be available. Meanwhile i'm in the sweatbox out the back. Pipes and i get to talking about working in different places, and the Goldfields in particular. The Kalgoorlie goldfields is where Mistress Callista's axe-murdering boyfriend has his prospect. Gold prospectors, we are both agreed, are a suspicious and murderous lot.

I tell Pipes about the time i set out in my green '66 Lite Stout up the back tracks to from Kalgoorlie to Sandstone. Out past Ora Banda, through Carbine Station, Riverina, then way up through that rough bit of quartz country between the salt lakes, Lake Ballard and Lake Barlee.

Around Snake Hill Road i stop to take some photographs. A man bursts out of a shack, pointing a shotgun at my head. What are you doing here, he wants to know. Taking photographs, i say, waving my Nikon. You're after my columns, aren't you, the grizzled, gun wielding lunatic says. I have absolutely no idea what he is talking about. Doric? Ionic? Roman? Columns, it turns out, are 44-gallon drums of gold ore dissolved in cyanide. A pile of red 44's stands on my right. There's nothing round here to take pictures of, the prospector says, walking slowly toward me, gun still raised. Oh, i don't know, i say. I think the countryside is lovely this time of year. All that red, rusted corrugated iron. And the wildflowers!

He hesitates, lowering his weapon so it absently targets my knees. Do you really think so? he asks. Oh, yes, i say. He lowers the weapon to the ground. Yeah, i think so too, says the man with the shotgun. I think this country is just beautiful. I've got some fabulous photographs inside. Come on, i'll show you.

Yeah, says Pipes. They're all fucking crazy. I turn up to this gold mining camp one time, right, on a job, in a yellow and black truck with "CAT" written all over it. I'm carrying a big fuck-off toolbox with a "CAT" sticker on it and I've got "CAT" emblazoned across my hat and "CAT" written all over my shirt. And this guy comes out at me with a rifle, asking me what the hell i think i'm doing. Uh, did you call Cat for a diesel mechanic? Yeah, this guy says, still pointing the rifle at me.

I nod. Yep, i say. We drink our Cooper's.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are truly a rare, creative genius. I love that photo of the two boys covered in mud, Lady Stardust n I did the same thing this weekend, it was most invigorating lol!
Mayhem