I got stuck up in Kalgoorlie longer than I thought (or hoped) and started to write this on my little Samsung tablet in the lunch room in the evenings but the difficulties defeated me. The Samsung is good for reading the paper but not much else. I’ve been thinking of graduating to a Microsoft Surface Pro with the rubber keyboard, I like Windows 8 and have a Windows phone, but I baulk at the cost, 5 or 6 times what I paid for the Samsung Galaxy.
Kalgoorlie in winter is the pits, the clay soil turns to mud at the slightest rain and the wind cuts like ice through all the layers of your clothing, and I had lots of layers, especially at night, shirts and jumpers, a quilted jacket and a beanie pulled down over my ears under my (obligatory) helmet. The photo above is of the road into one of the mines. The trees here look pretty scrubby but Kal actually marks the centre of the world’s largest remaining temperate forest, stretching 1,000 km unbroken from north of Perth in a great arc to the Great Australian Bight east of Esperance. York, salmon and wandoo gums predominate apparently. The salmon gums stand out, tall and graceful with distinctive pink bark.
Andrew Forrest complained that mine names in the Pilbara were getting too prosaic, a reference to BHP’s Area C and Orebody mines probably, and named the iron ore mine which propelled him to billionairehood Cloudbreak (it’s adjacent to Roy Hill which came up in an earlier post), but in the Goldfields mines are numerous and variously named. This past 10 days I have been delivering to Jaguar, Carosue Dam, Frog’s Leg, Athena, Lanfranchi (and Higginsville, but that would spoil my narrative).
Luckily I had picked up a good selection of audio books before leaving, the best of them And the Mountains Echoed (2013) by Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner). It’s basically the story of a girl Pari, meaning fairy, born into a peasant family in the mountains of Afghanistan in the 1950s, who ends up living in Paris, and is told as a number of loosely connected stories over 9 chapters, a bit like Tim Winton’s The Turning. The stories are interesting and well written but the novel is very upbeat, set as it is in a war zone, and I was concerned that the author may have been an outsider with an agenda, but according to his Wikipedia profile he is Afghani born, resident now and educated in the US as a doctor, and has returned a number of times as a relief worker. He is quoted as saying “I hope a day will come when we write about Afghanistan, where we can speak about Afghanistan in a context outside of the wars and the struggles of the last 30 years. In some way I think this book is an attempt to do that.
I took some real books with me as well, and managed to knock off the books I nominated to Jane Rawson for the Just Read readathon. Getting to the end of Les Miserables has taken me nearly a year and even Allan Wearne’s The Nightmarkets had been on the go since Xmas. I like Wearne and will eventually attempt a review, or maybe an overview, but not now. Books get knocked around in the truck so I took a couple of SF paperbacks instead of the latest glossy Gibson hardback – The Sea’s Furthest End, Damien Broderick (1993) classic space opera and Jane Rawson’s A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists (2013) – I looked after it Jane, honestly I did. I will add my review to the others directly.