Going Round in Circles

Journal: 086

Trucking is always ‘going round in circles’ for the simple reason that you like to get home occasionally, though I suppose if you didn’t mind ‘boring’ you could just go out and back. The other reason for ‘going round in circles’ is that I keep thinking I’m getting on top of my blog reading and writing, and then I’m not.

The road above, 180 kms of (well maintained) dirt is emblematic of both. It is the road to a mine I was sent to after being sent mistakenly to another mine in a completely different direction 600 kms away; and it is the, or very close to the, route – there wouldn’t have been a road back then, just wheel tracks – taken by Katherine Susannah Prichard when she went to Turee Creek station, where she wrote Coonardoo.

I’ve written about this a few times. I’m always conscious of the books I’ve read which populate the roads I travel. This trip just past, I loaded at a mine on the coast north of Geraldton (let’s reference Lisa’s recent review of The Islands) came back to Geraldton (The Fringe Dwellers, The Merry Go-Round by the Sea) and headed west through Mullewa (False Claims of Colonial Thieves), following the now defunct Northern rail line (May Holman) through Mt Magnet, Sandstone (I could reference Daisy Bates all through here) to Leinster, 900 kms and a day later, where I was asked ‘Why are you there?’ (“Because you sent me written directions.”), and was redirected to a new mine, of which I had never heard, 260kms mostly dirt road north west of Meekatharra, itself 450 kms away and a third of that dirt (map).

Northern Line east of Mullewa

KSP wrote “I travelled four hundred miles beyond the end of the railway” and her son, Ric Throssell, added in his biography that by ‘end of the railway’ she meant Meekatharra, where the Northern line turns east to Wiluna (Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence). But as I have written, and discussed with Nathan Hobby, 400 miles takes you way beyond Turee Creek, 150 kms beyond present day Newman. I wonder if she actually took the train to Mullewa – there is a line north from Northam, outside Perth, and her husband’s home town – and was met by a truck from Turee Creek there. But that’s another story.

Assuming she trained to Meekatharra and went the last 300 km/200 miles from there by truck then the route they would have followed, the Ashburton Road, is the one I took to Abra Mine, about 50 kms south of Turee Creek.

To close that particular circle, I am currently reading Nathan’s new biography of KSP and am scheduled to have it read and written up by 6.00 am AEST next Wednesday. And tomorrow I have another trip.

It took me three hours, out of phone range the whole time, to follow that dirt road to Abra all the while wondering if there was a turnoff I had missed and when I came over the last rise and could hear chatter on the CB you can imagine my relief. Before I move on, wild camels are relatively common in the outback but you don’t often see them. I had to pull up while these three got themselves off the road.

For much of the trip I listened to State of Terror by Hilary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny. Penny is apparently a well known Canadian author of crime fiction set in Quebec. State of Terror is a mediocre thriller notable only for what it says about Clinton – that she as Secretary of State was a mixture of Wonder Woman and an Enid Blyton heroine (ie. no adults get in the way of solving the crime); that immediate past President Eric Dumb, sorry Dunn, was a Russian asset; that the US has moved so far to the right that left-over elements of the Dunn administration would be willing to set off a nuclear warhead in the White House; that the Russian Mafia was founded and is still headed by the Russian President, and so on.

AWWC April 2022

Fri 01ELMarie Pitt, Aust Women Poets and “sex-prejudice”
Wed 06Elizabeth LhuedeFinding Forgotten Authors: the case of “Eucalypta”
Fri 08ELMrs H E Russell, “Womanhood Suffrage”
Wed 13Bill HollowayMiles Franklin, My Career Goes Bung (review)
Fri 15ELMiles Franklin, Australian Writers Need Courage
Wed 20Nathan HobbyKatharine Susannah Prichard
Fri 22ELKatharine Susannah Prichard, Working Women of Note 1
Wed 27Whispering GumsLouisa Atkinson Pioneer Woman Journalist
Fri 29ELLouisa Atkinson, The Kurrajong Waterfalls

All the Friday posts are stories, or extracts from stories, written by the authors mentioned.


Recent audiobooks 

Christos Tsiolkas (M, Aus/Vic), Barracuda (2013)
Marina J Lostetter (F, USA), Activation Degradation (2021) – SF
Louise Erdrich (F, USA), The Plague of Doves (2008)
Abigail Wilson (F, USA), Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey (2020) – Regency Romance
Ian Rankin (M, Sco), Exit Music (2007) – Crime
John Banville (M, Ire), Snow (2005) – Crime/Hist.Fic.
Hilary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny (F, Can), State of Terror (2021) – Crime
Henning Mankell (M, Swe), Before the Frost (2002) – Crime
Terry Pratchett (M, Eng), Hogfather (1998) – SF/Fantasy

Currently Reading:

Doris Lessing (F, Eng), Shikasta (1981) – SF (Still! But I’m at the end)
Ada Cambridge (F, Aus/Vic), A Mere Chance (1882)
Nathan Hobby (M, Aus/WA), The Red Witch (2022)

28 thoughts on “Going Round in Circles

  1. Can I be pedantic – before I be anything else? I think you copy-pasted the AWW table and left March as the heading, while I know it is April. And, Louisa Erdrich should be Louise?

    Now, for the important stuff. Thoroughly enjoyed this post. First, I know what you mean about going round in circles re blog reading and writing (and all reading for me) though I rarely feel these days that I’m getting on top. I just get on top of bits, like catching up with one particular blogger.

    I also like the way you referenced works relevant to parts of your trip. I do love a literary road trip, but seem to focus less on that aspect of my road trips these days.

    Good luck with finishing The Red Witch. I have two already-commenced books to finish (one because I forgot to take in to Melbourne on my last trip so started something else, so now have to get back to it) before I can start it. Whether I start it next will depend on timing as I have reading to do for Jane Austen, and then it will probably be reading group again. Where does time go.

    Are you really glad to be on the road again?


    • Please do (be pedantic). I’ve fixed those two, thanks. Have you noticed you can’t (or I can’t anyway) copy two blocks at once. Makes copying large sections of text a pain.

      Spending nights without internet really puts me behind reading other bloggers. And yes, you have an Uluru one in amongst them. Oh, and also last night’s MM.

      WA is so small, population and novel wise, that I keep driving backwards and forwards through the same books. Though getting so close to Coonardoo was unexpected. The country is atrocious, just broken rocks over sand. Poor sheep! (all gone now – probably none north of the Wheatbelt).

      The Red Witch is going to test me. And yes I am always glad to be on the road. There’s time enough to retire to my desk.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Penny’s series has recently been adapted to TV so I expect she’ll be even more widely known now. I suspect the television adaptation will be as character-driven as the mysteries (definitely not the page turner variety)!


  2. Another great post Bill, and what amazing country, though I’m sure I couldn’t cope there in the heat of summer. I would like all the empty space though – suburbia tends to make me claustrophobic after a while. I love the way you connect the books you have read to your travels, it helps bring them alive.

    I would agree about plenty of time to sit at your desk – a friend of a friend has sold her house at age 65 and headed off around Australia with just the company of her dog – I’m all for doing something like that, you’re a long time dead!


    • I forgot Neville Shute’s Beyond the Black Stump which is also set in the outback inland and north of Geraldton. It’s lovely being out in the bush, and I’m often sorry I’m insulated from it all in my cab instead of walking along behind a bullock team.But yes,it has only just stopped being very hot.

      Good on your friend, we’ll all be 80 soon enough.


  3. Another great post, and I learn something new every day – I had no idea that there even were camels in Australia, let alone that they were fairly common. I have always thought of them as an Arabian and North African animal.


    • Apparently Australia has more camels than any other country. We export them to the Middle East.


    • What Neil said. This is a very accommodating country to feral animals. I think the camels in Lawrence of Arabia came from Australia. We originally imported them because they were the best pack animal out in the desert. We imported ‘Afghans’ as well to manage them.


      • May! I was a young man when this was written. Canada is welcome to our feral camels, goats, water buffalo, cows, pigs, horses, donkeys, rabbits, foxes and deer. Not to mention dogs and cats who think our ground dwelling birds and marsupials are a picnic.


  4. Really interesting, thank you! I am in a constant cycle of getting behind with my blog reading at the moment! Little catch-ups don’t really work. Then again, I’m getting a good few hits on my posts days and days after publishing them, so maybe we’re all behind!


  5. I was going to note that Lou of Lou Lou Reads is a fan of Hogfather, so if you review it, you’ll know you have one fan already! Everything in Australia looks dusty and sharp, even the flowers. I must confess, I felt secondhand terror at you being out of cell service for three hours and not knowing where you are going. I mean, when I was in Michigan I always thought that if I got lost I could just drive until I hit water or Indiana and then figure out where I was. In Australia, you would surely run out of gas first.


    • There are places in Australia where you can get on a dirt road and drive for 1,000 km without coming across any bitumen. This is not one of them, I think if I had gone west instead of mostly north I would have reached the coastal highway after a day or so. Nevertheless, I was worried enough to make it clear to Milly and to Anthony, whom I carry for, that I expected them to start a search if I hadn’t called in by that night.
      I have a week’s drinking water with me and I’d stay with the truck if I got lost or bogged (and the worst of the summer is over). A couple of drivers in the last decade have ignored one or both of those precautions and died. So it’s not a situation to take lightly.
      When I got back, Anthony told me one of his drivers had left from Telfer, a mine in the north itself 400 kms from the nearest town, and had been heading across country for two days towards the NT border, ie. a very long way into the Great Sandy Desert, carrying spare fuel and a satellite phone. He told me if it works out I might get the next trip.


      • That is some nightmare fuel that the right actor, director, and scriptwriter could capitalize on. In the U.S. there are some places where you fill up your car’s gas tank even if it’s a little low because you’ll never make it to another station if you don’t. I just can’t see doing that for fun, vacation, whatever.


      • There is a film, The Back of Beyond’, made in 1954 about a truck driver delivering supplies to Birdsville, one of Australia’s most remote towns.

        ‘this film …, “clearly suggest[s] that the true image of Australia is, and always has been, the image of Man against Nature”.’ How Australian Legend is that!


  6. 1.I had no idea there were camels in Australia. Huh. How did I not know that?
    2. The red roads in your first photo makes me think of Prince Edward Island!
    3. Louise Penny is SO popular here. Her books are almost never on the shelf at the library.
    4. I am also forever behind on my blog reading and writing. I just have to accept that this will probably never change. I love visiting my blogging buddies, but I just run out of time!


    • Naomi, I came here to check something out and here’s you, stranded at the bottom and unreplied to. Sorry! I’ve been up so many dirt roads recently (and I assume my left door seal leaks as I’ve had to take out all the spare clothes in the cupboard on that side and re-wash them), that I’ve been paying insufficient attention to my blogging responsibilities.
      What makes Prince Edward Is red? It’s hard to think of red soil as damp and maybe even fertile (isn’t that A of GG’s island?). You’ll be pleased I’ve been reading, and just posted on, another Canadian.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t mind waiting – I know how it goes! 🙂
        Yes, PEI is Anne’s island. It’s red because of the extra iron in the soil that rusts when exposed to the air. Is it the same there?

        Ooo… Will check that out!


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