Dragan’s back

Journal: 021

Beechworth mudmap2

Last trip – I’m doing one trip a fortnight out of Perth to the east coast – Mum and my cousin Kay were in Toowoomba visiting Mum’s sister, I got two trailers to Toowoomba, unloaded, took a 24 hour break, got a room in their motel, had a pleasant time. This trip I had deliveries in Wodonga and Canberra. Great, I’d finally get to meet Sue, the famous Whispering Gums.

I let her know I was on my way (as a comment on one of her posts, I think).

Sue: Just a quick response. Meeting you somewhere for a cuppa Monday early, mid or even late afternoon should be easy …

Nothing is easy with Dragan. On Friday, I’d left Thursday, he books me to load out of Tolls, Sydney on Monday night, never mind that I’m due one 24 hour break a week. Tolls collect freight all day, we drop our trailers in the streets nearby, and during the night they tow them inside and load them. Then phone us after midnight to say they’re ready.

I update Sue.

Sue: I’m guessing the DRAGON’S (haha) change in plans for you mean we are not going to catch up this time?

I get to Wodonga midday Sunday, to the BP truckstop 15 km south. My paperwork is addressed to “name to be supplied”, 245 Beechworth Rd, Wodonga. Dana, Dragan’s sister, has sent me a text with the mud map above. I can’t read it, on my phone or on my laptop. I get Dragan to come into work. After a dozen phone calls we establish (a) he should have warned the client of my ETA on Friday; (b) it looks like the delivery address is back to front, should read Wodonga Rd, Beechworth (map). I finally get on to the client direct and he tells me to come before it gets dark and he’ll try and get a tractor with forklift attachments. Doesn’t that sound promising!

Beechworth’s not far away but it’s in the Great Divide. So, into the mountains we go, picturesque and exciting! I pull up on the edge of town and Darryl comes out in his ute to guide me. I follow him a short way, he jumps out, gesturing to a narrow gateway into a bush block on the far side of a drain. I swerve around the end of the drain, between the gateposts, drop more than a metre at 45 degrees, find a space to park between the trees (yellow and grey box he tells me). If it rains I’ll need a bulldozer to tow me out. We pull back the curtains but it’s too late to unload.

Up at 5am next (Mon) morning, get all the straps off, the gates stacked under the trailer etc. Eventually an old guy turns up with a tractor with hay bale tines. My load is fireproof sandwich panels that by the end of this week will have been assembled into a house. The old guy makes a meal of getting them off. The tractor has to drive up onto home workshop ramps to reach the highest packs, and of course he drops one that isn’t balanced properly. No harm done. Job done. I find a way to back up and turn around, make a very limited run at the jump-up out the gate, and I’m away. Hook up my front trailer again, head north up the Hume.

Me: ‘Wodonga’ turned out to be a bush block in the mountains near Beechworth, I’ve been having “interesting ” times. Still hours from Canberra, no hope of making Sydney in time to load, but that doesn’t mean Dragan won’t make me try.

Sue: That’s OK … I assume we’ll hear about Beechworth/Wodonga in a Journal post??

‘Canberra’ of course means Queanbeyan. Between Google maps, a real map and advice from the (next) client I find my way around Canberra (map) and get my delivery done. It’s now after 5.00 pm.
I text Dragan in hope, but apparently Tolls is still on. I give up on the “Alternative Heavy Vehicle Route” out for a simpler route through Canberra.
Me: On my way. Dragan still has plans. Heading out via Ipswich St, Monaro hwy.

Sue: Such a shame … Fyshwick would be very doable for me. Good luck.

Three hours later I pull up outside Tolls, Eastern Creek, drop my trailers in the street as requested, go round to the truckstop. But wait, there’s more …

Me: Dropped trailers Tolls 8.30. Went round to BP for shower and was just having a quiet browse before going to sleep when Dragan messaged to say (a) load was off till tomorrow; and (b) another driver would be doing it anyway. So all that rushing for nothing, as usual … Might be easier if your next trip, after the Mallee, is to Perth.

I see Sue has just responded to a comment, so I guess she is still up. She replies, wishing me well.

Interestingly, there is no mention of Indigenous people on the Beechworth tourism sites nor in their wikipedia entry. I have found a detailed post (here) Where were Aboriginal people during the Beechworth gold rush? (decimated by settlers as you might expect – Giving more weight to my belief that it was unforgiveable of Peter Carey to exclude local Aboriginals from his True History of the Kelly Gang). The same blog in a different post (here) names the locals as the Yeddonba. The map I used for Joseph Hawson’s Journal gave the language name Waveroo to this area, more research needed!


Recent audiobooks

Edna O’Brien (F, Ire), The Country Girls (1960)
Margaret Atwood (F,Can), Alias Grace (1996)
Linwood Barclay (M, USA), A Noise Downstairs (2018)
Leena Lehtolainen (F, Fin), Before I Go (2000)

Currently reading

Dale Spender, Mothers of the Novel. No I’m not but I have it with me, and half a dozen others, notably Eleanor Dark’s Waterway .

Stuff on the Internet

Mrs B’s Book Reviews has reviewed Seven Little Australians (here). A reminder, to me as well as you, that my AWW Gen2 week (13-19 Jan, 2019) is fast approaching.

And the latest issue of Australian Literary Studies (here):

“Helena Kadmos’ essay, ‘Re-Imagining Indigenous Australia through the Short Story:  Heat and Light by Ellen van Neerven’, presents a welcome discussion of van Neerven’s acclaimed collection.

Jonathan Dunk examines the use of the short story form by Henry Lawson and John Kinsella.

In addition, reviews of the edited collection Teaching Australian and New Zealand Literature (by Dougal McNeill) and David Game’s D. H. Lawrence’s Australia (by Barbara Holloway – no relation).


14 thoughts on “Dragan’s back

  1. I know it’s not funny being mucked about like this, but you make it sound that way:)

    Hmm, I tried to read that article by Dunk but found it indigestible.

    And am squabbling on Twitter re comments in that article about teaching OZ and NZ Lit, that says Australians don’t read KiwiLit. What rot, there’s 81 reviews on my blog alone, and one of my Twitter followers refutes it too; her bookgroup has two Kiwi titles running this year for a start. Not to mention that holier-than-thou implication that their multicultural authors i.e. Maoris are more ‘visible’: I think that having Alexis Wright and Kim Scott winning the MF, Wright winning the Stella, and Samuel Wagan Watson winning the Patrick White Award, never mind other high profile writers like Anita Heiss, Clare Coleman, Marie Munkara, Bruce Pascoe and Melissa Lucashenko, makes Indigenous writers visible, not to mention all the writers of diverse ethnic background who are prominent in OzLit! There are 80 of those listed on the Diversity page on my blog, and that’s not counting the ones of UK descent.
    (Of course, we can always do better, but that’s not the point. Sledging (ooh looka me using a sporting term!) over our literature is poor form, IMO.)


    • If I didn’t see the funny side I’d leave. All the drivers laugh about and are frustrated by Dragan in equal measures, but they mostly stay.

      Sad that the kiwis think their indigenous are better than our indigenous, but perhaps that “Australians don’t read NZ Lit.” was a clue that you were entering a less than rational space.

      The van Neerven article, which was my principal interest, is academic but worth reading I think. I’ll go and have a look at Dunk.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, one over-egged comment from one academic does not represent the opinion of all Kiwis, I am sure. I bet they enjoy a *friendly* rivalry as much as we do. But it certainly was the wrong day for me to read it; I have just joined the NZ Book Council as a supporter, and I received a really nice welcome from the administrator who does memberships:)
        PS Did I tell you we are *finally, finally* going to the Auckland Lit Fest next year? We just have to untangle the dates around The Spouse’s graduation ceremony: we might have to miss one day of the festival if the Monash dates conflict.


      • Well, congratulations to the spouse, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy your trip. Milly has a standing offer from me to drive her around NZ but at the moment she’s slowly building up to a big South America trip.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Enjoyed this post Bill, but am still sad we missed each other. Ipswich St – though maybe that was just your route out – is only 15 mins drive from my place.

    But, oh dear, reversing that address is terrible and too slack. People make mistakes I now, but that doesn’t look wonderfully professional.

    As for True history of the Kelly Gang, I have always been uncertain about your position here given Carey was writing in Kelly’s voice. I didn’t know what Kelly knew of indigenous people in his area. But, now I know. He was well aware of, for example black trackers, as this article for example, explains, https://www.smh.com.au/national/tracking-down-a-just-reward-20000330-gdfncv.html so your argument is a fair one. Did Carey know this? I suppose he should have. So, from a moral point of view, I think you have a point, but from an artistic one I think it could depend on what Carey was wanting to say. (I am going to be addressing the presence of indigenous Australians in my next review, in fact, so watch out for it. I hope to post it tomorrow or Thursday.)


    • Frustrating, now I’m just sitting here. But on the other hand I respect that Sam and Dragan get a lot of work from Tolls which pays well and is strictly depot to depot. The last I’ve heard, from Shaun the “other driver”, is that we’ll be keeping our own trailers after all.

      Carey included “Black trackers” brought down from Qld, but zero local Indigenous and I, as you know, think that was wrong. The Kelly gang in the bush would have mixed with Indigenous people all the time, in the mountains between Glenrowan and Beechworth and along the river, Yorta Yorta country. Carey didn’t have to “speak for them”, just make it clear they were there, they were people, and they weren’t invisible.


      • I don’t think Mr Gums would handle your flexible working arrangement with the equanimity you seem to!

        Ah, I didn’t remember that about the Qld backtrackers – so long since I read the book.


      • The big difficulty and sometimes embarrassment is expecting people to be flexible around me.

        Ten years since I’ve read it too, but I wrote about for uni so I’m pretty sure I have my facts right. Touches wood.


  3. Seems like everyone is reading Atwood right now. I don’t know if you follow Naomi at her blog, Consumed by Ink, but she’s doing a read-along for any Atwood right now. You might want to check her out and share your review once you’ve written it.

    That’s too bad that you missed Sue. Just recently she started visiting my blog, and I can’t wait to get to know more about her.


    • This morning I’m halfway home. I hadn’t really thought about writing up alias Grace but it’s time I checked out Naomi’s blog, so I might at the weekend. You’ll enjoy interacting with Sue (Whispering Gums), she’s been a constant support ever since I started.


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