Setting Out

Journal: 050


I’m setting out on this post with no clear idea of where it will end up. It’s Sunday 6.46 am and in a few hours I am setting out on another trip to Melbourne (from Perth WA if you’re new here). Yesterday I was planning to go half empty but a truck came up on Loadshift, I tendered my usual price, within 15 minutes I had the job, within 3 hours the truck was loaded and back in the yard (my mate’s back paddock).

Today, I’ll run that trailer ‘up the hill’ to the assembly area on the highway south, go back for the other two, and head down to Esperance, 800 km away on the south coast, to load scrap steel. Then it’s off across the Nullarbor, to the northern outskirts of Adelaide, then for the first time as a road train in my old home state, across the north west corner of Victoria and down the river, on the NSW side, to Echuca (map). Break up, run one trailer into Melbourne, then the other two to Wodonga where the steel is remade in an electric arc furnace. Which should put me empty in Melbourne Friday too late to load out.

Sue (WG), who is flat out getting her elderly parents settled in new nursing accommodation (I think at 90 and 100 it’s safe to say elderly), says I should cherish my mother while I have her, so I guess it’s out to mum’s for the weekend.

If you follow Whispering Gums, and doesn’t everyone, you’ll see she’s running a series called Bill Curates, which is me choosing representative posts from her back catalogue – I’ve made my way so far from May to June 2009 – picking out items to repost. Lots of fun for very little effort. A good way, as Karen/Booker Talk suggested in her excellent A to Z of Blogging, of revisiting material not seen by most of her followers, and a good way too of keeping Whispering Gums ticking over while Sue is so busy.

I have to write Journals because I read so little, even when I have “days off”, which mostly involves moving trucks and trailers from one spot to another to get them repaired or serviced or new tyres, or a paint job and new guards (mudguards) as with the trailer immediately behind my ute in the picture above, white and light blue is going to be my new colour scheme, not to mention keeping my bookwork up to date, though none of that explains why I read only a few pages in the evening, catch up on the news, solve a killer sudoku and am fast asleep by 10pm.

Remember, four months ago, when ‘the news’ was that the Australian government was doing nothing about climate change, then bushfires across half the continent made even the Liberal Party aware that climate change was here now, and just when we thought something might happen Covid-19 wiped everything else off the front pages and the Morrison (and Trump) governments took the opportunity to begin sabotaging every remaining climate initiative they could think of, and now the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police has wiped Covid-19 off the front pages, except for the relatives of 110,000 people killed by Trump’s willful negligence, but of course it couldn’t happen here. Except it does.

“there’s no need to import things happening in other countries here to Australia. I mean, Australia is a fair country … I mean, Australia is not the United States.” [Prime Minister Morrison]

African Americans make up 12% of the adult population, but 33% of the US prison population; in Australia the ratio for Indigenous people is 3% of the population and 29% of the prisoners. [Greg Jericho, Guardian Australia, 7 June 2020]

Do the maths. Black Australians are FOUR times more likely to be jailed than Black Americans and TEN times more likely to be jailed than white Australians.

Since 1991 and the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, 432 Indigenous people in prison or in the hands of police have died and not one person has been convicted of any offence in connection with those deaths.

That is the Australia we live in, whether we set out to achieve it or not, an Australia founded on the murder of its original inhabitants, as I have attempted to document, and in which those murders continue today, unpunished.


Remember: Indigenous Literature Week (July 5-12, 2020) on ANZLitlovers


Recent audiobooks 

Stephanie Laurens (F, Aus), Four in Hand (1993) – Romance
as far as I can tell, Laurens has lived in England for a long time, but she does have some reviews on the Australian Women Writers Challenge database. I should contribute another.
Janet Evanovich (F, USA), Seven Up (2001) – Crime
Camilla Lackberg (F, Swe), The Lost Boy (2013) – Crime
Anne McCaffery (F, USA), Damia (1992) – SF
Susan Choi (F, USA), The Foreign Student (1998)
Blake Crouch (M, USA), Good Behaviour (2016) – DNF
Belinda Alexandra (F, Aus), Silver Wattle (2007) – DNF

Currently reading

Patrick White, The Cockatoos
Majorie Barnard, Miles Franklin
Flannery O’Connor, Complete Stories
Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower (I just bought it, I hope I start reading it)


20 thoughts on “Setting Out

  1. The kms you clock up Bill are absolutely mind-boggling to me.

    In recent weeks I have had to turn off the news – yes, perhaps burying my head in the sand but I was finding it overwhelming. And with the Floyd protests/riots – frightening (that’s not me fearing for my safety, it’s me fearing the damage that the complete nitwits in charge of ‘the world’ are doing, and how long it will take to repair if that’s at all possible – probably not with climate change).


    • I’ve had periods where I blocked out the news, and I still turn off the radio if a politician starts speaking, but I’m afraid I’m revelling in the decline and fall of the Republican empire in America.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I was pleased that the author of my big book on the history of the oceans I just read was very firm on explorers etc not “discovering” Australia, etc. but rediscovering and decrying their treatment of the people who were already there. As he should have done, of course, but might not have done.


    • I agree with you of course. There has always been the assumption in white histories that places didn’t exist until Europeans discovered them. Even now Indigenous histories are ignored. Just this month Rio Tinto, with the permission of a Right federal government and a Labor state government, blew up a sacred site which had been in continuous usage for 46,000 years.


  3. Great post Bill. Australian history studies used to be woeful; with an overload of European history with a cursory ‘white-washed’, lopsided class or two on this country’s past. Thanks for quoting those population/prisoner figures from the Guardian. I still cannot believe that so many Australians continue to sweep these glaring inequalities under the carpet of their privilege.
    Safe travels.


    • Yes, that 432 number is, rightly, everywhere now, though I’m sure half the population still believe they “deserved” it. Am I right in thinking you have been in Canada? They seem very quiet about their First Nations people. Is that because they have got somewhere equitable?


  4. Greetings my friend, it’s always good to hear that work is keeping you busy:)
    When you have a spare moment, could you please text or email me your contact details, I have had a crisis with my desktop and no longer have your address &c unless The Offspring can perform a miracle and get my Outlook data back. (Serves me right for not backing it up in an old-fashioned address book).
    And the same plea goes out to friends reading this. All I ever kept in my phone was my friends’ mobile numbers because I hate the way Apps harvest stuff and pass it on. So I am well and truly bereft…


  5. I have always wanted to do a cross country trip across America or Australia. I actually feel a bit jealous of those who travel the roads so much. My favourite thing. I will remember Indigenous Lit Week. I have a book or two here I could get stuck into. Your comments on the state of the world are so apt. It just doesn’t quit. I’m still reeling over Trump’s comments about George Flynn having a happy day because their unemployment rate dropped. If he gets elected again I really am going to get a caravan and park it somewhere for the next four years and not move. A truck load of books, my dog, maybe my husband for part of the year and isolation supreme. Lol. Safe travels. Enjoy your books.


    • Trump retaining or attempting to retain power would lead almost inevitably to insurrection IMO. But out here in the desert you do have the option of remaining in blissful ignorance (unless of course you’re unlucky enough to be in the next Maralinga).

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Parable of the Sower is an interesting book that feels like it could be a zombie novel, but it’s really not. I know there are more in the series (a trilogy, perhaps?) but you can get away with reading only the first one; I did. I looked at your map and am impressed that you drive so far and wonder if it’s a nice drive with the ocean if view, or if you’re too far off the coast. I imagine being near the water does help with some of the heat. At least, that’s how it is around Michigan; the coast is often 10 degrees F cooler than inland.

    That quote from PM Morrison is so painfully dense, it’s hard to know what to think. I mean, it’s like when Trump and his officials say there’s no such thing as systemic racism. How can anyone believe that?


  7. For a while the road runs along the top of the cliffs and you can look out over the Southern Ocean, but most of the time it’s just desert scrub and the ocean might be a thousand miles away. The ocean probably moderates the temperature a little but when the summer northerly blows out of the inland it gets pretty damn hot.

    My Mother’s generation, and the Right subscribe to the old values, liked to believe that Britain settled Australia without bloodshed and that all would be well if the Blacks would just get jobs like white folks. Not all the facts in the world are going to convince them otherwise.


  8. I’m listening to the audiobook of that Octavia Butler right now, actually: it’s part of a duology I believe, and it got a lot of press after the 2016 U.S. election because Butler incorporates walled settlements in her story. If it’s the first of her books you’re reading, I’d say you’re in for a treat. I also really enjoyed Kindred and Fledgling, although it was her proper sci-fi that got me into her in the first place.

    As for your question, in the comments above, about the native peoples living within the borders of what’s currently called Canada…there has been an exceptional amount of strife for their communities this year. With the federal police invading a sovereign indigenous territory near the west coast, protests across the land (and arrests and media facing challenges with coverage, etc.) not long before Covid-19 had a similar effect on the headlines that you’ve noticed in your corner of the world. The current government did have a lot of un-doing to look after, having taken over from a Trump-like leader, to be fair…but it hasn’t made much progress on key issues for indigenous folks, who face the same systemic racism that’s being so vigorously protested now. Thank you for posting the stat’s from Australia. Here, we tend to think of things being “better” there too.


    • I’ve read Butler in the past, but not for a while. She does have another ‘Parable’ one, and there’s maybe one other for a trilogy – I’ll do my research when I read the book. Soon!

      My impression, reading other blogs is that we in Australia take more notice of Indigenous issues and writing. We are behind Canada and maybe even the US in the area of land rights and treaties (there is no treaty) which is why I wondered if Indigenous problems are regarded as ‘in the past’ in North America.


  9. Oh Bil, I’m still trying to catch up with posts I missed, but didn’t realise how far back I missed posts. I see this was posted two days after Mum was transferred into the hospice and five days before she died, so I now know why I missed this one.

    This is a good post. I love your “do the maths” comment. ScoMo was way too smug at that time re US versus us, and I hope he has learnt from the response that we can’t be that smug. (Just as, in fact, we can’t be smug about our aged care which, interestingly, can learn quite a lot from the USA.)

    And, it’s scary to think that back when you wrote this the US had 110K deaths and now they are nearly double that.

    (I’m amused that I’ve just emailed you about visiting your mum!!)


    • Don’t beat yourself up. I’ve read your Murmurations twice, and I can’t think what to say. And now I’ll be driving and loading/unloading till well into next weekend. (Now I’m going to be self conscious about what I do, eventually write).


      • What, I’ve stumped you?! I’m not sure whether that’s a feather in my cap or that the post is so boring there’s nothing worth commenting on.

        My next review which I hope to post in the middle of the week may have something to stir you! Then again …

        Liked by 1 person

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