Wednesday, January 17, 2007


007 arrives in style. The ABC radio announcer counts down to midnight on the radio inside the cab. Safari Bob stops the truck, and we break out the single malt scotch, lying on the still-warm bitumen of the North West Coastal Highway. We estimate we are a couple of clicks south of the mighty Murchison. It's pretty quiet out here. I have seen no headlights, other than our own, for over an hour. And the stars! I gaze upwards in wonder. There must be hundreds of them, i think.

Safari Bob goes easy on the scotch before we climb back on board and cover the few remaining kilometres to the Murchison bridge, our overnight stop by the river. Bob is a changed man since the Donstar castigated him for turning up drunk at her house one time last year. He comes back to Jo19's in Harley Street, his tail between his legs, figuratively speaking. "She told me off for being drunk and irresponsible," he says. Yeah, well, you looked pretty pissed when you left here earlier, i say. He lifts his bleary head. "I was here earlier?"

But all this changes overnight. The DTs pass, and Safari Bob becomes the clean-shaven, immaculately presented, fine upstanding pillar of the community you see before you today in the freshly-pressed polyester suit. I believe it was the ukelele that finally saved him. It was a lifeline. His salvation. The ukelele, and Jesus. Bob just needed to reach out for help, and he finally reached for that red ukelele and the spiritual song book.

Oh Lordy, pick a bale of cotton.

Safari Bob's hands are now so steady, he will sweep all before him at the Shark Bay Pistol Club. Meanwhile, we press on through the stifling, relentless heat. Safari Bob's self-proclaimed mission is to deliver me, my bicycle, and my red suitcase to the Gascoyne River delta.

And it is there, amongst the dusty red floodwaters of the delta, that i will be reborn.

O Lordy, pick a bale a day.

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