Rocks & Red Clay

I might have mentioned it before, but one thing I really enjoy when travelling is that you really never know what is going to happen next.

Even if you plan as good as you can, organize permits and buy maps, one moment you can be camping out in the bush with your bike, the next you could be cooking for millionaires..

It happens.

The thing is; I do not cook. Every body who knows me, knows that my culinary exploits usually end in disaster. I only just manage to boil pasta and open a tin of tuna… And here I found myself. Preparing dinner for ‘important’ people.

But let me tell you how I got there.

I’d left my bicycle and gear to hitchhike the 300km back to Menzies for a 5-day job… I was lucky enough to get a lift with a couple on their holidays. So along the way we stopped off at every site or spot of interest that was along the ‘Golden Quest Discovery Trail’.  And when we weren’t stopping to take a picture of the view/ a mine/ a hill, I made myself comfortable on the couch in the back of the camper van, talk about travelling in style!

All people I talk to (especially the one who never tried) always try to convince me hitch hiking is dangerous. I don’t think it is. The girl who picked me up next didn’t think so either. But when I thanked her for not murdering and hiding me in the bush she reminded me we still had 10km to go… But she was, like all people who’ve helped me out along the way, good as gold.

Back in Menzies, a big truck was waiting to take me the remaining 125km to camp.

Hobbling along on the dirt, music playing up high in the cab while the sun was setting and the endless road stretches ahead I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

We arrived at the ‘Camp’ that soon would turn into ‘home’.

But I didn’t know this yet.

This ‘home’ came with a family too! And a fairly multi-cultural one at that.

We’ ve got an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotchman. It’s no joke. It is very funny at times though… Then there are people from Bulgaria, Tanzania, China and Indonesia. Even one Australian!

I reckon it was a great idea to pick a bunch of people from different places in the world, put them out in the bush together and see what happens… Sort of ‘big brother’ except that no one is watching.

It would be a good show though! Where else would you dress-up with drillers, bake special-shaped cookies with geologist or watch Tanzanians dance on Slim Dusty…

But, not to forget, it is a job. I help the Geologist here with processing core. It means I look at rocks. It also involves a lot of driving through the bush in big 4WD-vehicles and lifting bags of samples. It is great! I’m finally getting some muscles in my arms 🙂 I get to write things like; ‘Felsic porphyry ortho clase’ No idea what it means. But it sounds interesting… right?

And I got my own room, my 1st own room since leaving Ireland 3,5 years ago… I even planted flowers in a pot and bought a gnome. ‘Cause home is where the gnome is’…

The 5-day job turned into two weeks and from that into 2 months…. Who knows when I will leave.

In my 3rd week here the board came to visit. This is how I got to prepare dinner for millionaires… We haven’t got a cook yet. And since I’m still here and everybody is still alive I reckon my efforts weren’t all too disastrous.

I now work 3 weeks and get 1 week off. My first break started great! I had to travel from camp to Kalgoorlie together with the crowd I’d just been cooking for. We had a small bus and stopped off at the mining hall of fame where we looked at (some more) rocks. And the super pit… At the airport, after checking in we went through the ‘special door’ where you find the big cushy seats and free drinks! So yeah. Lounging before boarding. Just sooo ‘me’…

I haven’t completely abandoned my dear Multicycle… On breaks I still get the change to get out there and explore. Or so I thought.

I got to Kalgoorlie and set off west. I had a mission. I’ve seen the name of a rock on my map and since I don’t see enough rocks at work yet I though I go and see some more. The only way to avoid the highway was going along the railway.

According to the lady in the information centre I couldn’t do this… This is a silly, silly, thing to say, I remember someone years ago telling me I couldn’t cycle to Australia. You’ve seen what came from that 😉

So after a couple of nights at my friend’s place (I even have friends! It’s getting real homely) I set off along the tracks and with not much difficulty found my way out of town.

The plan was easy. Ride along the track untill I hit Southern Cross (300km) and then turn right.

There was a little bit of a drizzle I hadn’t expected. I’m still shocked each time I see rain in Australia. In my mind this is wrong. It’s a hot dry country and so it should be. That is why I do not carry any rain gear.

The 1st day was dry…

The 2nd night I build camp at an abandoned station where I pitched my tent in an empty room, while Shane rolled out his swag in another.

Shane had passed me earlier that day. He stopped, wondering what I was doing. At this stage I was wondering the same thing since the sky had grown darker and darker the past few hours. He told me he worked on the railway and would meet me later at the station. So we had a nice evening of cooking, listening to music and making shadow-puppets on the wall.

I was rather happy my tent was pitched inside because that night the wind picked up and it rained like I hadn’t seen it before… Also, I had recently discovered a pole has gone missing. This doesn’t make a tent any stronger.

Shane was away early in the morning, but not after giving me his phone nr ‘just in case’…

By the time I left I realized that was very lucky indeed since after pushing my bike about 200 meters from the homestead I noticed I wasn’t going anywhere. The dirt road had turned to mud overnight. And not just mud, thick gooey red clay clogged up my wheels and I couldn’t move forwards or back…

So I rang Shane and he came to the rescue. Like a knight in a white railway-vehicle to safe a damsel in distress. Or well, me. Actually.

So I found myself in the smallest private train I ever been in on my way back to Kalgoorlie, back to Paul’s place where in the meantime more people I worked with on the farm had arrived…

They laughed.

And then took me to the neighbours where with the joys of alcohol, a karaoke-machine and a lot of people from New Zealand we had a rather pleasant evening ’till the wine kicked in and I choose not to remember the rest of that night.

Only a couple of days later while walking into a random pub for a quiet sunday-afternoon beverage we happened to run into the same crowd and few hours later I found myself in a country-club, being swung around by pensioners who just commemorated the Vietnam war. And enjoying another great line-dancing display. It happened to be exactly the same as the one I witnessed 4 months ago at the Nullarbor Muster! It was another memorable night that ended in the kebab-shop… And with me on the front page of the Kalgoorlie miner….

No! Nothing bad… truly!

Oh, here; You can see for yourself 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Rocks & Red Clay

  1. Hi Mirjam,
    Great to read your new chapter tonight…..never a dull moment for you.
    Glad to hear you are still travelling well.
    I haven’t seen the other two grannies for awhile. Unfortunately Gerry couldn’t go on the cruise with Isabel as she had to stay and care for her mum. They should be home soon.
    Life for me has continued to be busy – with three funerals, a few 70th & 80th birthdays, a 50th anniversary sheep field day, the annual Katg Stud ram sale and a 100th birthday on Saturday!
    I had an email from your dad along with some pics re your new nephew! Great! I’ve put the news in the next GSA so if you let me have your address I will post you a copy.
    Catch you later,
    Cheers,
    Shirley – the youngest granny!

  2. Hoi Mirjam,

    Wel wel wel, weer een geweldig verhaal. Een deel had je natuurlijk al verteld, maar het gaat echt leven op het moment dat je de bijbehorende plaatjes ziet, en die zijn weer fantastisch. En wat een klei-zooi..! Geen wonder dat je daar niet door kwam. Zag net op m’n werk dat je een nieuw stuk had en heb het net thuis gelezen. Leuk!
    Succes verder met het werk en een knuffel uit Apeldoorn!

    pap.

  3. Hoi Mir,

    weer erg leuk om te lezen en te zien hoe het gaat. Onvoorstelbaar gewoon wat je aan het doen ben aan die andere kant terwijl hier alles steeds langzamer gaat en er weer een wiegje te wachten staat. Nog een maand 🙂 Verder alles goed, Stella heeft haar eerste loopfiets dus wie weet komt ze je straks achterna.

    Liefs Karin

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