skulking ground

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


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Gilding the Lillies

“To adorn unnecessarily something that is already beautiful”

I’m in the sun a lot. Living out of my Toyota Hiace doesn’t give you much option. The sun swelters you out of the tin can by around 8.30am. So inevitably I was at the GP the other day, attending to the usual Aussie skin cancer scare, when I saw the measurements in front of me – part Saline solution, part Botulinium Toxin.

I was tempted to say, ‘Doc, while you’re there stitching up that hole in my head maybe you could add a little less furrow to my brow?’

A little less worry in this worried mind.

This toxin, commonly known as Botox to it’s adoring fans, has become so easily accessible that it is funded by the government in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme available for the right price at the local 24-hour Medical Centre. Botox has many genuine medicinal benefits but it’s the issue of vanity that I’m most disinterested in. In response to all those Women in their 20’s reaching for their Medicare cards and puckering their duck face desires all over Facebook.

It makes me cringe – oh wait that would give me wrinkles. It makes me stare straight-faced into the distance with rage.  It’s like watching bad daytime television. But wait there’s more. It’s not just Botox used as a flavor enhancer. Women of all ages are stuffing and puffing, lifting and shifting their birthrights, transforming themselves into Hollywood holographs to appear as extras in the latest horror film. Real Housewives of Hell!

This flawless feline face has become fashionable, an uncontrolled social experiment. Like cane toads in Queensland, pouty lips are popping up and down the East Coast everywhere. From Port Douglas to Portland, rich old ladies adorned with crocodile clutches and turkey gobbles stay taut in the glinting sun. Or sit outside Sababba on Hall St in Bondi with a saucy Algerian and watch the fake tans go by. It’s a fun game of spot the surgical procedure. A little butt filler here. A little (or a lot) of breast augmentation there, women floating out to sea, buoyant in their new double D’s.

Why do all these beautiful young (and old) women need to dissect and inject? Cover over in shimmering bronzer what was already a unique and distinguished flower? Have we climbed so far into the looking glass that we can’t get out? Like the prominent Lily, we are all made with different markings and come in a variety of shapes and colours. The bees lose their way if the flowers are in hiding.

I’m sure we don’t need half the crap we buy. I’m sure we don’t need to look better in photos just to have them liked by some guy you once met at a party. But make-up is addictive – you get used to the way you look with it on, feel better about yourself, people comment and pretty soon you can’t go outside without a little black kohl and mascara. You begin to feel ugly without it. Time drives on and gravity catches up in the fast lane. A life well-lived needs more concealing. So the needle replaces the brush, the scalpel cuts the skin, and all the wax statues of Madam Tussauds are suddenly wandering the streets in a permanent state of shock, eating the brains of confused adolescents.

The beauty industry is a multi-billion-dollar monster business fueled by the insecurities of men and women, constantly harassed by highly stylised and inaccurate images of the most exquisite flowers. The masses search for eternal youth, wanting to fill their crucible, spreading aborted fetus on their faces in the pursuit of pollination. Undermining the simple resplendent beauty of nature, without the need of artificial colours and/or preservatives. It’s our society’s perception of beauty that needs to change, not the individual.

But what do I know?

I’m just a saggy boobed, baggy-eyed hippy who lives out of her car and smells like celery.


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How things change

We moved from Coolbellup,  spent some time at a Caravan park on the beach with a friend from Sydney. Ten days of seaside relaxation, living back in the van, cooking in the camp kitchen, commuting to work by bus. Everyone thinks we’re gypsies, I like that we are. Now we’re living at the Great Danes house. Residing in the West wing of Fort Ives for a month or so, driving a Mitsubishi Triton and splitting ourselves between 2 King size beds. It’s luxury. It’s air-con. It’s 10 minutes from work, to the beach and Freo. It’s  great to have rich friends.

Another day, another beach

Another day, another beach

Rats can tread water for 3 days straight. They used the duck bath as a lap pool and ate the insides out of tomatoes a day before ripe. We went back to Coolbellup for a visit, had a meal with the people whose lives we borrowed for a month. We would’ve had a catch up sooner only Oscar broke down on the roundabout outside the international airport after picking the tired buggers up. We’d only just gotten past the first sentence of niceties when rrrrr… engines fail, the old pike puttered to a stop. The guys caught a cab home while me and Bodes waited for the Road Side Assist. Alls well on the van front and after about 4 weeks after that incident we finally finished that conversation. Turns out their trip was good. Their plants and animals are still alive and Jacob let slip that their house is haunted. It was the first I knew too.

It’s a good morning when your not hung over. The cocks have crowed their war cries for another year leaving empty buckets of fried chicken in the gutters of their throbbing heads. Aussie. Boom. Aussie. Boom. Aussie. Boom. We walked the dog, threw a ball back and forth in a park while drunk drivers skidded round street bends and bumped over roundabouts. It was a quiet night at home, in someone else’s home, more like a mansion, cold granite  pillars and tiled floors sandwiched between Scottish accents that sang the Men at Work anthem and played drinking games where  you spit in each others faces. We watched a movie, some bodies on the screen, mouths moving, saying something, I didn’t care what, our bodies Sunday night tangled on the couch. I was happy. Oh, how things change.


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Lady Banana Loves You

We made it to Perth. It’s been so long since I’ve written, I think I already wrote that. It’s been so long I’ve forgotten how to write. Feels a little forced on the page. Like a stockbroker on speed I’m talking shit. Good movie. The half I downloaded was anyway, for some reason whenever I download a movie I always seem to miss the ending out, which is annoying for everyone, except me because I already know the ending, it’s not there. The half I saw was good, reminded me of my early days as an 18 year old at the ASX, not quite as many hookers, but almost.

We’ve been in Perth maybe 3 weeks, saw through Christmas and New Year with gritted teeth. I’m a cynic when it comes to obligatory holidays, but it was actually really nice, like everyone else too much food and booze and belly ache till next year. We’ve been house sitting a cute little brick hut in suburban hell called Coolbellup with the ducks and the vege’s and the incontinent dog. It’s a nice change living someone else’s life. But dogs are hard work, they’re so needy we’ve decided against one. One of Jacob’s best mates lives around the corner, he’s a bit like a Great Dane puppy, all legs, endless energy, always chasing after some kind of ball. When he’s on his swing, back from the mines we cram the weeks into days, squeazing every milisecond into life, beach, parks, food and ball games. When he goes back to work our lazy bones sigh for a minute or two and catch their breath. Another crazy character that Jake knows is a deep sea diver and a mad spear fisherman, he was on the cover of SpearFishing Australia (or something like that) with a Spanish Mackerel he caught that was the same size as his alter ego… HUGE! I’ve always thought it would be better if the fish had guns too, much fairer fight. Anyway the guy caught the biggest Crays I’ve ever seen and we feasted like CEO’s on a million dollar yacht.

So far Fremantle has lived up to the hype, happy hippies cloaking the city in colour. Cool kids, sipping cold pressed coffees in shifting chintz and chambray on the Cappuccino Strip. An air of im-port-ance that sweats grease and smog, heaving shipping containers from yard to sea to somewhere. The city feels alive, not as much pomp as the Eastern states but it’s still a tween. There are so many places to take Bodhi, parks and playgrounds, markets, calm beaches and riverbanks with city views. I am getting attached, for the first time since we started, I wouldn’t mind if we stopped. I’ve got a job in a busy little cafe that’s funding the trip over the Nullabor and Jake’s doing the stay at home Dad thing. It’s only been 2 days and he’s bitten off all his nails and is starting to get a bald patch on top.

If you want to get to know a place, catch the bus.
Preferably with Nina Simone, everyone looks better in the reverb of soul.
Half-smoked cigarettes stink stale in yesterdays clothes.
The elderly straddle walking sticks and seats, guarding them with oversized bi-focals.
Loud lads screech to themselves about drink and benders and tits and fenders.
Young girls squeeze tight in dolls clothes, remind me of teenage summers when music and loud lads were on my mind. It’s getting harder to relate.


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Out of shape

I haven’t been writing much lately, I’ve been too busy knitting a techni-colour baby blanket for one of my best friends who is about to give birth. I guess it’s a representation of motherhood, out of shape, miss matched multi-coloured, bumpy patches, soft and warm.

a little out of shape

a little out of shape

There’s a few free camp spots on the way to Perth, some right on the water, no toilets just sandy soil to dig a hole. It’s been two weeks now since we’ve had a shower. Bodhi threw my brush into a bush somewhere and now I’m as matted as a pet Poolie, (ragamuffin dogs with loud bites.) We’ve washed in serene seas and some strangled by weed. We visited the limestone peaks of the Pinnacles poking through desert sand, made some wonderful friends who brewed their own wine and passata and brought plenty of both with them to share. The wine was busy, fizzing and fermenting being passed between couples from campsite to campsite. They shared everything, unloaded their stock piles, their lemon tarts and Indian spices, their Vietnamese tea and polenta. They even shared their kayak let us paddle around calm waters for the day. They live south of Perth and we promised to visit them on our way through.


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Painters and decorators

Geraldton is a big country town, about 40,000 people. We filled up on supplies, water and fuel and headed to Coronation Beach for about a week. We’ve been to plenty of spots where we could have stayed longer but the budget is a frayed shoestring and we have to hit it to Perth. Besides we’re kind of looking forward to an actual bed, one where Jacobs legs can fit the whole length. We have a house sitting gig for a month south of Fremantle in a place with 5 ducks, an aquaponic vegie garden and an elderly incontinent dog with terrets. It’s a perfect patch to kick up our cracked heels and call home. The walls of the van are gripping vice tight and the sides of sleep need to stretch.

We’ve had a lot of time to think and plan and change our minds again. We’re at a beach that is a windsurfers mecca, though I didn’t realise the sport carried over from the 80’s but people from all over the world seem to love it. They lug big boards and poles and plastic sheets and cargo to fly out onto the sea and back again, turning around and doing this over and over and over for hours a day, 6 weeks of the year if the wind allows.

We met Sue an artist, who doesn’t windsurf, who paints better than photos. She’s been doing it for around 20 years and can paint a pelican on a canvas smaller than a silk purse. She paints boab nuts, and underwater worlds and she painted a scene of the three of us walking in Bush bay on a turtle shell Jacob found there. Her husband was a painter too, the house plastering and decorating kind but he got lead poisoning and now all his cells are dying. He has no mind for numbers or problems or things that worry, he’s just happy to sit back, drinking dandelion tea and watch pinecone shingleback lizards eat bush berries in the thickets. Simple pleasures.