Yesterday was spent catching up with some friends from our Shay Gap days in the mid 1980’s. It is so typical and kinda silly that when you meet up with people you haven’t seen for over 25 years, you say, “oh you haven’t changed a bit” which is a big fat lie. You know that you have rounded out and that that lovely complexion is not so lovely any more and you sure hope like all hell that the same has happened to them. Yeap, we are all old wrinklies now with some of us having limps whilst some have the most wicked of baggage that you could ever imagine.
In the evening we made our way by bus up to a suburb on the north side of the river to catch up with Libby and Gerry. We spent our last year up in Shay Gap with these guys and our paths have crossed a few times over the past number of years. When we were heading overseas in 1991 for our Gap Year, as all Kiwis and Aussies do, we asked Gerry and Libby if they would look after our cat called Horse whilst we were away. We were given Horse as a kitten when we were living in Shay Gap and she had come with us to Bathurst and then Sydney. She turned from a desert cat into an alley cat. Libby and Gerry were living west of Sydney at that stage in a country town called Orange.
After depositing Horse on them, we took off. Whilst we were away overseas, Gerry was sent to a place called Telfer where they mined gold and which was four hours further east into the Great Sandy Desert from Shay Gap. So Horse ended up being taken back to where she came from. Gerry recited the tale of when he went to pick up Horse from the small prop plane at the Telfer airport he could hear her howling above the sound of the props!!! From then on, she earned the name Pegasus, the flying horse.
It was a wonderful evening and like a lot of our friends from our early days as a couple, are friends for life no matter where any of us have ended up. It feels pretty scary when all our friends are talking about their kids having finished uni or into their careers and that they are expectantly awaiting grandchildren.
So modus operandi today was for Al, Jen and we to head out to Kalgoorlie where it all started at the Kalgoorlie School of Mines back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. It was decided that Di would catch the Prospector train from Perth out there for a number of reasons. The intention was to drive to Kal via Wave Rock which Al knew would mean an ungravelled, corrugated bumpy road. Al is a geologist and knows the southern area of Western Australia like the back of his hand. Hence Di took the easy way out.
God it was so damn early. We didn’t get home until 11.30pm and then Fras had to be up at 4.30am as it was decided they needed to be on the road by 5.00am as they had a 700k trip ahead of them. Di meantime, needed to be at the train station by 6.45am so she decided just to get on with it and arose with everyone else.
It was a little difficult for Di to get pictures from the moving train but she did get a photo of the salt pans just west of Kalgoorlie. Hardly exciting but then the country side of Australia can be rather monotone in its consistency.
There was sporadic contact between the two travelling parties and Jen just had to send Di a photo of this reptilian creepy crawlie which she knew would make Di squeal and hurt her ribs! For those of you who are not aware – New Zealand has no killer 🐍 🕷 🐸, Stone 🐟 and the other myriad of disgustingly venomous animals and hence the Aussies love to wind them up. Di’s retort is THE ALL BLACKS!!!
No one is quite sure what kind of snake it is, though they are suggesting it might be a python. Pythons are non-venomous but they can give you a healthy bite – oh, just bloody wonderful!!! If anyone from Oz can identify this creptile, please let us know.
So Di got into Kal about 2.30pm and Potsie met her at the train station and took her to the hotel where she settled in and awaited the arrival of the rest of the troops.
Now we go to the journey of Al, Jen and Fraser. The first port of call for them after they left Perth, was York which is the oldest inland town in Western Australia. It has some real corker buildings. The money for these magnificent buildings came from the gold rush of the 1890’s.
Corner pub in York.
York Town Hall.
Next it was on to Wave Rock – photo will explain quite easily how it got its name.
Wave Rock is a spectacular example of what geomorphologists call a “flared slope”. A flared slope is a concave-upward or -inward bedrock surface that is typically found around the base of inselbergs, bornhardts, and granitic boulders and also on their higher slopes. Flared slopes like Wave Rock are particularly well developed in granitic landforms of south-western and southern Australia.
It was then back on the road to Kal.
Western Australia is well known for the red dust which gets into absolutely everything and there is the story that when we moved from Shay Gap to Bathurst which is over east, just west of Sydney (hopefully this makes sense) we had to throw all our linen, pillows and all soft furnishings in the rubbish. When you live in the red dust you don’t notice how it infiltrates everything. Even cars are not immune from it.
Big Al, the geo who is really Mr Softy.
Next stop was Coolgardie. Will go into history of the gold fields in the next few days – it is like the Yukon Gold Rush all over again.
Al and Jen having a coffee break. Note how dirty the car was getting as there was a fair bit of water still around from the spring rains.
Four k’s out of Kal, Potsie has his yard. He has been accumulating his mining machinery for the last 30 years which he uses on his gold mine leases.
Potsie and Jen.
Al and Potsie.
When Fras was doing his Mining Engineering degree he became unmotivated so opted to take a year off in the middle of his studies and work underground as a bogger driver. He also wanted a year off being a poor student.
These boggers work off compressed air and have a shovel on the front. You would scoop up the dirt into the tub then take it down to a conveyor where it went off to be crushed and sorted. After a year doing that, Fraser convinced himself that it was a good idea to go back to his studies and finish off his degree.
Potsie has his own horse and is known to ride down Hannan Street which is the main drag in Kal, tie up the horse outside a pub and go in for a cold one. Some of the publicans have carrots behind the bar for his horse. This particular horse is called Rex. The cops make him put one of those iridescent yellow triangles on the arse end of the horse so that it would stand out on the roads.
We all headed out to dinner to a local pub and whilst Al, Jen and Di headed home, Potsie and Fras went off on a walking tour around the streets of Kal reminiscing about the old days. This involved dropping into a few bars on the way!!