Sunday, July 29, 2007


A.D's thoughts on blogging, one year on. As published by the Australian Journalists' Association Scoop magazine, Winter 2007 edition. Photo of A.D courtesy of Demo Bob.

I began writing my blog, known to avid readers as the nerve, while stranded in the wilds of the Great Victoria Desert. Finding myself in the Blackstone Range, south of the Giles Meteorological Station, I cast about for something to do. I was in Papulankutja, a dry community with no alcohol, smoking, drugs, or petrol - and thus my options were limited. There was, however, broadband. So I got on, went to, and started a blog.

I was carrying with me a longhand journal filled with observations, gum leaves, printed ephemera, sketches and diatribes. But after my first electronic post, it dawned on me that while my blogging style was just as inimitably personal - solipsistic is perhaps more apt - as my private journalistic rants, there was one major difference.

The little button I pressed to upload my post. The little button that said, simply, “PUBLISH”.

And therein lay the magic. The power inherent in clicking that button was strangely addictive. I watched that vaguely miraculous little rotating wheel appear alongside the legend “PUBLISHING IN PROGRESS” and thought: that’s more like it.

It was in July of 2006 when the editor of Yarn magazine, former Rolling Stone journalist Barb, convinced me to start a blog. Yarn flew me to the Alice to cover the Beanie Festival. Why not, I thought? If I can play lawn bowls, I can surely write for a knitting magazine. I grabbed my Nikon and left. At the Alice’s famous Casa Nostra Italian restaurant (Casa Nostra being Italian for Nostril Castle, apparently so named for a local custom of consuming fettucine via the nostril) Barb regaled me with stories of writers who secured book contracts, after having innumerable offers thrust upon them, all as a result of writing blogs. Well, it got me thinking.

After the Beanie Fest I was nabbed and driven across the desert, down Aboriginal “business roads” not shown on any map, to photograph the spinifex papermaking in Papulankutja. And it was here I realised the innate portability of a blog. If I can blog here, I thought, I can blog anywhere. Later I would plug in at a net cafĂ© in Bangkok, publish my photographs, impressions on the military coup, and blog my thoughts on living the Thai life - all for the cost of a few baht. falls loosely within the ambit of what is termed the “social media”. MySpace, for instance, is a cross between a high school clique and One of the first places visited by journalists and police after a mass-murder/suicide, MySpace is popular with musicians, serial killers, and people into online dating. Apart from your favourite music and films, MySpace lists your age, marital status, star sign (oh, please), whether or not you want kids, and whether you prefer “dating” or a “serious relationship”. Thankfully, Blogger is less like personal pages for egomaniacal wannabes.

But one reason I blog is, admittedly, for precisely the kind of benefits the social media bring. A way to keep in touch with friends and associates, or, rather, a way to put myself out there for those friends and associates who may be interested. Don’t you sometimes feel writing unsolicited emails to friends is uncomfortably like spamming? And sometimes it is: personally, I can’t stand being included in those bulk emails alleged “friends” send with those attachments they find so endlessly amusing ... just stop it, ok?

But the main reason? Blogging is an easy way to publish creative work. With newspaper writing, particularly news writing, there is very little room for creativity in expression. With digital photography, most images languish on my hard drive, rarely to be printed. Uploading them to a blog, or to a Flickr site, makes them seem more real, more visible: more like a print.

To write a blog and get picked up by the mainstream media, or to garner a massive readership and thence a book contract, you need to find yourself a niche, and then go for it. You need to be highly specific in what you choose to write about. Unfortunately I am not yet that pragmatic, focussed, or obsessed.

The nerve is, ultimately, all about putting the me in meandering.

And the “comments” button underneath each post? Its true purpose is neatly summed up by Bette Midler’s character C.C. Bloom in Beaches: “But that’s enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think about me?”

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Six months after leaving Perth on the trek with Safari Bob, i'm still writing my way around the North West. Just got a call from Coral Coast mag wanting a restaurant review. Mmm, food. I had better write this one the day before payday. That's the day i usually have a slice of cheese for dinner. Doing a food review the day before payday is as close as i get to financial planning.

Still living hand to mouth.

Meanwhile, i've been abandoned by all those around me. My flatmate Mickey T is out at Mardathuna fixing the station roof, leaving me to my own devices. Devices like my new invention, the hands-free-burger-eating kit, which is coming along nicely thank-you-very-much. Got a call from ABC Radio this morning, wanting to talk to Mickey T about his tuna (see below). I thought of pretending to be him, and making all kinds of outrageous remarks, but in the end i thought i could never come close to the flagrant egregiousness of the real Mickey T in action. I gave them his number at Mardathuna. He will be on air tomorrow, talking tuna.

My son Alexei was up here for a week, hanging out with the freestyle motocross riders, but on Monday he got on the 4am bus and hightailed it back to Perth, back to the chemical factory, to resume manufacturing bug powder. He could be making $100k+ on the mines, but hey.

As they say, you can always tell a twenty-one year old. But you can't tell them much.

Meanwhile, Mz Mayhem left Las Vegas yesterday and should be back in the country by now. Mayhem claims she wants a job up here in Carnarvon. I suggest a job as our sports writer. Let's face it, that's how Hunter S. Thompson got started, and look where he ended up. Hmm, on second thoughts... i notice they are seeking a casual nurse at Dr Case's medical centre. Mayhem has extensive nursing experience. As a veterinary nurse, working with animals, sure - but hey, this is the North West.

"A casual nurse?" comes her text from Vegas. "Does casual mean removing my stilettos?"

So. I'm writing restaurant reviews now. Not really edgy, is it? Unless of course they have a bain marie.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Speaking on a mobile while driving might soon cost you $300.
Drinking a cup of coffee while driving will only cost you $3.

Just grab a cup from one of the many drive-through coffee shops in the big city. And if you're tired of dealing with emergency driving situations with a cup of boiling coffee in your lap - why not think about one of my new hands-free kits? The hose simply clips on to your bottom lip. Only $25 including p&p.

I am working on the hands-free burger-eating kit even as we speak.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Suddenly, Mickey T turns up with a 98cm Northern bluefin tuna. Which he caught from a kayak, for chrissakes. With a fly rod. We eat fresh sashimi as he fillets it. With Corona and lime, of course. Imagine! Getting towed around the ocean in a kayak by a tuna. For his next trick, he will troll lures whilst kitesurfing.


The sun has already set as i pull into the Junction. The sky to the east has turned eggshell blue, graduating down through orange and red to indigo at the horizon. Still just enough light to get the photo i need for the paper. I drive to the police station, photograph it from a low angle, through the wire gate. Work done, i go to the pub.

The pub is old, and pretty small. The usual bush paraphernalia stuck to corrugated tin walls. TV, raucous in the corner, Eagles battling Lions.

There is something quite zoological about sport.

A few blokes stand about with stubbies and yell at the TV. Behind the bar, an enormous beer gut curves upwards, clearly graphing the publican's beer consumption over the past few years.

I walk up to the bar. A few blokes turn to stare at me. In my Hawaiian shirt. Purple jacket. Glasses.

Faggot, one of them says into his beer.

Yeah what can i get yer, grumbles the publican. He takes a swig from his stubby, and wipes the back of his hand across his bearded face.
I count out my coins. Three dollars forty.
How much is a beer? i ask.
Four fifty.
You got an ATM here?
A wot.
Like, a teller machine?
He grunts, and motions me to follow him into the adjacent petrol station. He runs my card through the eftpos. I ask for twenty dollars. A couple of my newspapers are sitting on the counter. The headline reads "Gascoyne to get lots ... and lots". A story about new land releases in Carnarvon and Exmouth. What a stupid headline, i think to myself. Who writes this rubbish.

Well, i say.
Yer that journalist from the Guardian, aren't you, the publican says.
I stare at the paper, and its stupid headline. Yes i am, i say with a sigh.
He pulls out his wallet.
Look, i don't often do this, he says. Looking around to make sure no-one is watching, he pulls out a twenty, and presses it into my hand. Here, get yerself a beer. He looks around furtively, puts his wallet back, nods to me and leaves.

What a curious man, i think. I walk back around to the bar.

The blokes are screaming at the TV.
Fuckin kick it! yells a man in a beanie. Fuckin kick it! That's what it's designed for, dickhead!
He wears a blue and yellow shirt with Rio Tinto embroidered above the breast pocket.
Fuckin kick it, says the man next to him.
The publican is back behind the bar.
Now, what can i get yer, he grumbles through his beard.
I'll have a beer thanks.
He drags out a stubby, pops the lid, presses it into a foam stubby holder, and thrusts it across the bar. I pay him. With his own money.
Oh, come on! That's gotta be a free! yells Mr Tinto.
I look up, startled. He is pointing in the direction of the TV. He is fairly drunk. He turns to the man on the stool next to him. The man nods.
Gotta be a free, he agrees.
Mr Tinto turns back to the screen. Christ! Pick it fuckin up! Pick it up, yer fuckin tool! Playing like a fuckin bunch of fuckin pansies!
Bunch of fuckin pansies, says the bloke next to him, taking a swig of his beer.
Suddenly someone kicks a goal.
Yeah! yells Mr Tinto. Fuckin yeah!
He raises a drunken arm to high-five the man next to him. He misses, and smacks the man right in the face.
Yeah! says the man.

A skinny, pale couple walk into the bar. The bar falls silent. The half dozen blokes, and the publican, turn to stare at them. The man has elasticized loops sticking out of his pants at the cuffs and pockets, and wears a backpack. The pants have a zip just below the knee, which turns them into shorts. Tricky dacks. His wife wears a similar pair of pants. They both have small, oval-shaped, rimless glasses.

They converse quietly in Dutch, reading the chalkboard menu above the bar. It alleges that food can be bought on the premises. You'll be lucky, i think to myself.

The publican heaves his massive bulk in front of them, hands on the bar.
What can i get yer, he grumbles.
The Dutchman orders two steak and chips, in faltering English. I look up at the blackboard. That will set them back sixty dollars.

You might have a bit of a wait, says the publican.
Excuse me?
The publican makes a great show of looking heavenward, then leans forward.
You ... might ... have ... a ... bit ... of ... a ... wait, he says loudly.
He marks out long intervals with his hand along the bar.
It ... might ... take ... some ... time, he shouts.
Oh, says the Dutchman. We don't mind.
Christ, says the publican, looking around the bar in mute appeal, as if wondering what he has done to deserve customers who walk in asking for food.
Fuckin drongos! shouts Mr Tinto. Play on! What you fuckin standing around for?
I presume he is shouting at the TV, although it is not entirely clear.
Fuckin drongos, says the man next to him.

The publican leans on the corrugated iron wall and shouts out through the back door. Get some chips out the freezer! An two steaks!
He takes a swig from his stubby and turns to me.
You right?

Who says you can't get quality service in this country these days.

Fifty k's out, i take a random back track, drive a while before finding a turnoff, a gully really, and stop by a shallow creek. I kill the lights and step out. A whole galaxy peels away above me into inky blackness. The stars. The infinite vastness of it all. It makes me feel small and insignificant. I stare upwards into it, until i get sick of feeling small and insignificant. I get enough of that dealing with my bank.

I switch the headlights back on and collect some wood. There appears to be no kindling. All the spinifex and bush is green. I find something in the glovebox that says "Datsun Sunny: Owners Manual".

I would hate to be caught with any evidence that i ever owned a Datsun Sunny. I use it to light the fire.