skulking ground

Follow our family of Cunning(ham) Foxes on our turbulent travels around Oz

Dust and Rust

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We picked up a hitchhiker in the middle of nowhere. A weathered old man named Mooka. He was 90km’s from the nearest town carrying an old stereo with no cord, a duffle bag and a juice bottle half filled with water. He stank of sweat and piss but we couldn’t leave him to the crows. He told stories all the way to Cloncurry. He walked 5km’s to the road from the station he was working at, he left because the bossman tried to kill him. One time his boss asked him to check the gate and when he was all the way out there the guy set the bush around him on fire. Mooka looks about 60, he talks with one eye open and has warts on his nose. This time the boss asked him to ride into town (90 kms away) on a horse, but Mooka said he couldn’t, so the boss got in his car and tried to run him over, he had to jump out of the way and got out of there as fast as he could. That’s how he was when we picked him up. We dropped him at a travel agent on the main street of Cloncurry, we were all headed to Mt Isa but 100km’s was about all we could take.

Then onwards through the wreckage of rusted junkyard rocks until Mt Isa. Dust and Rust for 200 km’s. A little out of town we see the first sign of “civilization”, a billboard of a backyard lab set up in a public toilet making ecstacy. How strange. The serenity of the outback, vast, open, endless with definitely no public toilets contrasted against this dirty abusive image. Could there be such issues out here? Are all the cow-people swapping more than just stories over the campfire? But, after spending a day in Mt Isa, I was tempted to start my own outback dunny lab, you need a serious hit of dopamine in that town. With Bob Katters smug mug plastered all over, a looming chimney stack that bellows smoke next to a children’s playground. But some people like the industrial cities, hard working families trying to pave their way through open cut mines. People seemed happy enough, but I just saw the potential health risks and wondered about the traditional land owners the Kalkadoon, how much they received from the riches of their land? But we were only there a day so what would I know.

Mt Isa got up my nose and stuck in my throat, I had to get out. So we headed to a free spot with a little shade and lots of rocks. Bodhi tried hard to push his trike through the gravel. He has never been so dirty. The red dirt sticks. An old couple introduced themselves then stayed for hours, pulled up their chairs and watched us work. Jacob was trying to put the Solar panel on the roof, and I was making a summer sleeping bag for Bodhi. Mine turned out good, Jacob’s not so.

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