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Showing posts from May, 2022


Three days later. It was a long drive and almost one o’clock in the afternoon when I got out of the car to open the lop-sided gate, which had to be lashed to a tree to stay open, onto the campground. The car crunched down a gravel slope and the steep track curved around and the bend opened up a view of the creek down below. The three stood like figures in a Frederick McCubbin painting; indeed, the soft mist gathering along the creek bed, even at this time in the afternoon, made life resemble art. The tents were flattened and there was a random scattering of bags that always says we're going home, but not yet. Breakfast out of cans had been recent. There had been no mishaps or starvation or death by thirst, but one of the three had a large bruise right between the eyes. Walked into a tree at night, he said. Later, after packing less luggage than they had brought into the same space but it not fitting, I drove off the valley floor and up around curves and over elevations and out of t

Way down east, part two.

So you drive away and abandon them. It's hard to leave three teenagers in a remote place without phone coverage. Even though you know it's actually good for them. It's the anxiety of the connected age.  There had been no flat ground, so I had helped them use stones from the creek bed to build a kind of hollow cairn in which to place their stove, which was a top-heavy unit consisting of a trivet perched over a gas burner and cylinder. Put a pot of water on that, and the serious burns unit is your next stop if you're not careful. It looked like it was designed to be tipped over. And they would have to boil water because there was no tap water. Of course, I had done the same thing decades ago. Lerderderg Gorge at age sixteen; with pipe tobacco and frightening tales at night of Deliverance-style murderers stalking the valley and carving sleeping campers in their tents. We frightened ourselves half to death. In retrospect it was all good fun. Another time we'd camped by

RIP Dennis Waterman.

Dennis Waterman, who died this week at 74, was the central character Terry McCann in British TV series Minder. I don't usually post about the deaths of actors, but Minder was my personal favourite television show of all, thanks to its intelligent cliché-free scripting, comic touches, sardonic overtones, gritty British cinematography and deft acting, unlike the ghastly face-pulling today's 'actors' carry on with. Minder's locale was seedy London with shady characters wearing suits as bright pastel colourful as the Jaguars, Capris, Volvos and Rovers they thrashed around the warehouse-lined streets of London. They'll be raising a glass at the Winchester Club tonight. Another one? Cheers, Dave.

Way down east.

And then that déjà vu feeling again when the sound of a soft rumbling like a distant earthquake that seemed to come from the sky but was low on the radio; one of those dreamlike trance tracks that run for seventeen minutes and involve a synthesiser recorded in a wheat silo with two overdubbed voice tracks mixed way down low. It is almost music and almost astral dust. The freeway out of Melbourne pointed east; an arrow on the map quivering around bypassed towns and heading for the mountains. We coasted along it easily, like a laden three-master under a stiff breeze. There were three teenagers on board and enough camping gear for three days. An hour and twenty minutes later we turned north at a town familiar to me from childhood days when I would get off the lazy ex-Melbourne train and be met on the platform by an aunt, my mother's younger brother's wife, who was a dumpy, non-nonsense farmer, and who would drive me in a gearbox-whining old Holden up this same road curving around