Over the years I have made handmade post cards similar to the sketch above and sent them to one particular friend. He has a beaut collection and I am envious because I never made copies. Of late I have been neglecting him as I have just been too busy doing other things such as setting up this blog; sorry, John, I will try and send you a couple during this odyssey.
It was so pleasant at the Cooper’s Creek camp that we hung around, ‘swanning’ until late morning. When we did move it was to go just 11km into Windorah for a shower at the pub. The Western Star was familiar to us as we stayed there with our coach tours. Ian and Marilyn were our hosts at the time and they went to no end of trouble to smooth our way to Birdsville, the destination of most of the tours west of the Cooper. Fortunately for us they are back at the pub after being away for a while. Bev and I sat with them and reminisced about coach touring days and how things have changed in the bush.
The waterhole here is about nineteen kilometres long so there is plenty of scope for kayaking and fishing. Bev and I kayaked here after floods one year and experienced a bird feeding frenzy. Cormorants would dive down and grab a fish in its beak and when it broke the surface a pelican would grab the cormorant by the neck, crack it and swallow the fish. There were dead cormorants floating everywhere. I thought pelicans were peaceful creatures.
Prior to visiting Windorah today I never really thought about how many of the people I knew living in the bush have either died or been bundled off to retirement homes. When I quizzed Ian at the pub about identities I knew in the region, the answer was he/she died or he couldn’t cope so he was shipped off to a retirement village on the coast. It makes one think about one’s own immortality and the fact that the grim reaper is patiently standing close by. I hope he doesn’t want me before we finish this odyssey. The movie, ‘Bucket List’, is very pertinent to me as I feel there are things I want to do before kicking the bucket. I have a personal bucket list and a travel bucket list. On the personal list I have: perfecting my water colour painting skills, mastering Final Cut Pro (a film editing programme), learning to sing, doing more clay sculptures and being more creative with my writing. On the travel list I want to: spend time exploring the waterways of Tasmania in our catamaran, visit the countries listed in this present odyssey, drive across the USA and get to know America and its people and visit the Norman Rockwell Museum, live in England again and kayak/camp along the English canals.
One of the identities missing from Windorah today was the man with half a hand. He was always happy to entertain our Backtrack clients with his life stories. The circumstances relating to the loss of part of his hand are amusing now but I bet they were not so at the time. He was game enough to hold a beer can for someone who said he could shoot it out of his hand. The target shooter had a few too many under his belt and forgot he was using a shotgun. Another local who was a great advocate for informing city slickers about the ways of the bush and who owned a big mob of country to the west of Windorah, had gone to a retirement village. And Maureen, the washer lady at the Windorah pub has gone too. She always made sure everything was shipshape for my coach passengers. In her idle moments we shared a beer and she told me about how life was in the bush for women of her ilk. One Windorah identity still on the job is Merv, the blind mechanic. If you go through Windorah be sure to call and see him even though he will not see you. One person I didn’t get to see was Bob whom I met with when doing freelance work for ABC Radio. I interviewed him in relation to saving the Cooper from cotton growers. His efforts and those of the locals have so far kept the cotton out of the pristine Cooper Creek country. The morning he came into Windorah for the interview he said, ‘I had trouble keeping the Toyota on the road this morning. Coming across the bridge it almost bucked off into the Cooper’. I looked under the car and a steering tie rod had almost disconnected itself. Bob asked, ‘How serious is it? If it was a horse would I have to shoot it?’
Tomorrow we are heading for Birdsville on the Diamantina River.
We live in a remarkable world full of adventure and beauty. All the traveller needs to do is seek them with open eyes.