Joined: Nov 2007
Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
Birtles vs Australia
Murphy’s Haystacks to Elliston
In which we see Big Birds, Escher steps, a Pier with old Love Letters,
and a Camel swimming Home.
After the fossilised alien spacecraft, there is a short backtrack to Port Kenny
where Birtles visits the seashore, meeting pelicans and gulls.
Bigger than your average sparrow.
Talia coastal caves are signposted with one of those unhelpful signs that tells
what, but not how far. It turns out to be a fair trek, but necessary - anything described
as a geological wonder is worth a few kilometers of gravel.
Getting to the caves involves a series of staircases reminiscent of an Escher painting …
The caves are cut by wave action into the shoreline.
Worth seeing - probably not quite geological wonders.
The views from the cliff tops, now they are wonders !
Elliston campground does not differentiate between powered and unpowered
sites. To this confirmed Socialist, it sounds splendidly egalitarian, smashing
the barriers between the high and the low, between the haves and the have-nots,
between the Voyager Majestic Supreme (with annex) and the leaky,
single person K-Mart tent.
In reality, it just means that everyone pays for a big, powered site whether it is
needed or not. The Voyager Majestic Supreme, with its annex and tow-truck,
spreads over forty square metres, runs three air conditioners, a wide screen
television, electric barbeque and a kitchen full of appliances. My tent uses no
electricity and including Birtles’ parking space, takes up less than four square metres.
For the caravanner, it is a deal to good to refuse.
For the tenter, it is a wee bit irksome to be subsidizing the rich.
Courage, comrades, the revolution will come!
In the kitchen/dining area it might very well have started in the form of fellow
tenters Ben and Linda. They look like they are in their mid-twenties, but from
all the places in which they have lived and worked, they must be somewhat older -
unless they started travelling when they were four. They have the TV on,
the fire is lit, a jug is boiling, empty stove elements are glowing, and the microwave
is rotating. "We had to pay for a powered site, so might as well use everything"
is Ben’s answer to capitalism’s exploitation of the working class.
Usually unpowered tent sites are far removed from the powered caravan area, but here
in this hotbed of non-differentiation, it’s all into together, so I set up next to a power point
and a lamp stand - might as well use everything, right?
Two matching Prados towing matching caravans arrive and park on either side of the tent.
Occupants get out and look hard at my setup. In the spirit of road-trip bonhomie I open
with that sure-fire gambit: "Howyagoin."
No-one expects hugs and kisses, just an echoed “Howyagoin” would do.
Instead, the wife of the eastern couple whines "Looks like we will just have to do, then."
A shrug of shoulders, crestfallen looks at husband and at the western couple,
"We'll just have to do, just have to do".
“Yep, we’ll just have to do”, the western male manfully agrees, and that settles it,
both couples will just have to do.
What they will have to do is not clear, but what I wish they would do is park in any of
the dozens of alternative sites as Westie is blocking the sun and Eastie’s door opens
onto what would be my back garden if I had one - right where the petunias would be.
More just making do, then Westie drives off, does a half-loop and parks in the same spot,
but facing the other direction. Eastie drives off, does a full loop and parks on the other
side of Westie, ending up facing the same direction. I’ve seen my first game of
musical chairs with caravans.
I can only think they were annoyed that they were not able to park either side of the light,
but if that was it, why they didn’t simply go to another light?
The mysteries of caravanning are beyond this simple tenter. At least there is no more
glaring … and my petunias are safe.
Sand patterns at Elliston
Elliston pier. I start to walk to the end of the pier at about 8:30pm. The pier lights are
dim and so far apart that, in the sections of inky blackness between them, it is hard to
trust that the pier will still be there under the next footfall. No moon, no sound other
than the lap of water on the piles. Halfway, I stop in a puddle of dim yellow in the middle
of a black universe, just the place to imagine tentacles reaching up out of the sea and
wrapping around my ankles. The walk back is a lot quicker - the horse world would
think of it as a trot. Tomorrow I will definitely go right to the end.
The tentacles will have gone by then.
Start packing at 6am, but everything is so wet that I decide to wait. Birtles is moved
close by the nearest caravan and gets a bit more of a warm-up than is necessary.
I walk the pier as the sun is rising, right to the bus-stop at the end.
No tentacles, and also no graffiti other than the initials MC and JR, carved into the
planking. M and J must have come equipped with a sharp chisel and hammer as
the wood is as hard and dense as railway sleepers.
Where they are now? Do they come back every so often to relive that night of frantic,
secretive chiseling? Or was Mike fated to die in WWI, their children to be lost to
childhood diseases, and Joyce to manage the farm as best she could until, at thirty-seven
and already worn out, she is fatally bitten by one of Australia’s Most Deadly?
By 9am things have dried out, Westie and Eastie are hovering about, eyeing my site
covetously, warming up the Prados and ready to relocate once my tent comes down.
As it must.
To be continued ….
BigZoner #096 (English Chapter)
"Keep brotherhood till die"