The Journey So Far...
some pictures and a bit of narrative showing the route I’ve taken to get to where I am now.
Stage 1 – Perth to Port Hedland. Distance: 2,177 km. Driving time: 24 hours
The start of it all…
I set off from Perth on August 11th, 2021, towing a small camper trailer behind my 2008 Toyota Hilux. I had arranged with Perth film maker Peter Renzullo to film videos the following day at Lake Ballard, the home of Anthony Gormley’s extraordinary installations. We were planning to use the location as a backdrop for some of the songs from my CD, “retro”.
Good friend Will Miles and I drove up the night before and stayed in a motel, then picked Peter up from the airport early the next morning. The three of us drove out to Lake Ballard where we camped for the night and filmed footage for a number of videos. The following day we returned to Kalgoorlie where I put Peter and Will on the train back to Perth, and waved them a fond goodbye. The whole plan to film the videos had been conceived, organised, and executed in 2 weeks. It was an amazing bit of work that we pulled together in short order and I felt privileged to work with those guys.
From Kalgoorlie I headed to the Eastern Goldfields to check out some family history. My paternal grandmother was born in a town named Malcolm in 1902, once a rail siding servicing a small gold mining town between Leonora and Kookynie. While I was able to find the location and the rail line, there is nothing there anymore showing the slightest sign of a once bustling community. Another ephemeral gold mining town that came and went with the boom and the fever.
I continued on to Wiluna in a similar vein, chasing stories I heard about the family as a boy. On Mum’s side, two of her Aunties were known in the mining community during the 70s as proprietors of the Club Hotel in Wiluna. Perhaps infamous would be a the best way to describe them. When I worked in the goldfields during the boom of the 80s I heard stories of their exploits around campfires as legends of the earlier times.
Wiluna is now a dry shire. The council bought the old Club Hotel in 2019 and use it for their administrative offices. it is well maintained and a stately old building. There is nowhere to buy grog in the shire of Wiluna, though I believe the freight supplies do a roaring trade with Dan Murphy’s.
The shire workers were unable to help me locate any information about Helen and Dorothy but I later went to the medical centre and met an old aboriginal fellow who used to work for them. he introduced me to another couple of fellows who knew my Aunties and we had a bit of a chat and a laugh, recalling a couple of the characters from “the old days”.
I next headed up to Newman and stayed a night visiting a friend, and then continued onto Port Hedland to stay with another mate, the big Panda himself, for a few nights.
Stage 2 – Port Hedland to Alice Springs, via Darwin. Distance: 3,926 km. Driving time: 41 hours
While stage one of the journey was mostly on familiar ground, stage two took me into new territory. Before the start of this journey I had never driven further north than Marble Bar, so once I left good mate Simon Murphy behind in Port Hedland I was well and truly on new country.
There had been a flood of caravaners and grey nomads heading south amidst the side tipping ore carriers and road trains as I drove north from Newman to Port Hedland. The exodus from the end of the dry season and the forthcoming build up to the wet by holiday makers and retired road life-styler’s gave truth to the stories I had heard of the north being flooded itself by new road warriors of the covid era. Many people who would normally travel overseas had bought caravans and were “on the road” in outback Australia. I’m glad I missed the busy season.