It’s been over a week since the tour ended but the blog is not complete till we mention all the amazing places and things we’ve done and seen. Since returning to the real world, we blew up the vacuum cleaner, trashed our respective houses full of trinkets, souvenirs, dirty clothes and typewriters that need maintenance, and tried to shake our badly timed body clocks. Sorting through the trash heap that became the back seat and boot of the car, it was discovered that Dr Jerm lost one of his Macbeths, and I lost my 187 brand knee pads, making future falls while playing roller derby an unpleasant experience.
After writing out this blog entry, again around 1000 works, I accidently deleted the entire thing, or lost it. So expect this blog to be a little smaller than usual. Anyone that has spent a decent few hours writing something and have it deleted will know the second time you do it, it comes out short and sweet, and really, I’m sure you didn’t have the time or interest to read all thousand words anyway.
Packing up the Longreach experience and heading onto Blackall, we were met with a sight I wasn’t, and still aren’t ready for. So, so many dead kangaroos on the road. Just as my eyes began to adjust to seeing whole bodies, or maybe just bits splattered around, my heard sank. It was a family of boars bloated on the side of the road. Mumma boar, daddy boar and babby boar. I’m guessing someone shot them for sport. My gentle vegan soul just couldn’t and can’t handle it.
Returning to civilisation, we went to the newsagency to meet Bonny to pick-up keys for the memorial hall. It was scorching heat, but by the time we had set up we’d enticed a local group of young skater boys, or should I say scooter boys from the skate (scoot?) park next door. You wouldn’t believe that coming from Longreach, which, by demographics had more people and places, that Blackall had such a pimped out Hall. Thanks to funding from ‘gritty places’, the hall had been completely done up.
I met Victoria Nugget for the first time after meeting online,(thanks to my first day on Twitter – sweet right?) She’s a young gal who runs the weekly newspaper for Blackall all by herself. Going to all the events, taking photos, writing and editing articles and layout and distribution. A hell of a job, but it shows the further out you go, the more opportunities or experiences you allow yourself, regardless of age or experience. Something I love about small towns. The workshop had a pretty diverse group. Mainly scooter boys, an awesome dude called ‘Frosty’, Victoria and Bonnie. After the BBQ and workshop wrapped up we were treated to a town tour from Victoria, taking in some of the local pubs, and of course, the main street. We took it all in ready for the next day…
A rostered day off. There weren’t many on the tour between driving days and workshop days, or promotion and setting up days, but this was a full rostered day off. Of course being opportunists that we are, and thanks to a town and local sights map provided at our accommodation (more on that in a sec), we headed out for the day, ready for the real Blackall experience.
The first stop was the Opal shop, run by none other than a true blue fair dinkum ozzie. As well as all manner of precious rocks, the shop also features his old warn and found akubra hat collection. We chatted for a good while about his missus, local stuff and being in the outback. We had met the first of many Blackall characters.
Following the map took us up one street that had not only the local dump, but the Woolscour, and cemetery also. The dump shop was an open area of refuse, with something burning in the distance, real outback style. The Woolscour, well, we drove round it and left… not really our thing. But the cemetery… it housed the grave of local legend Jackie Howe, who is remembered in Australian history as the legendary fastest sheep shearer.
Being as hot as it was, and cramming in as much into the day as possible we also got photos (from within the car – lazy lot we are!) or the many monuments including the very, very cool big Rolly Polly (a massive empty sphere made of old fencing barbed wire). You’d hate for that thing to go rolling through your pasture.
Going to the most run down looking pub on the outskirts of town for a drink and a squiz proved to be a pretty tense encounter. Yes, the pub housed the most hilarious collection of ‘saws’ objects, including the Ring Saw, the Chain Saw, the Rick Saw, the Sea Saw and more, it also housed what has now been added to the big things list: the Big Racist. I’m not going to repeat the altercation, but it was pretty terrible, big racist style. For some haggard leathered old dude who had been an electrician in indigenous communities, and was currently enjoying a pretty cheap beer on their land, he certainly had a lot of nasty things to say. I avoided retaliating much because I was sitting next to the guy and quite certain he was going to punch me out. The guy sitting next to him also backed him up, which was even harder to comprehend. Needless to say we didn’t stay long, before retreating to the local swimming hole, equipped with a super-hot natural spring. It was so relaxing we could barely get out.
Returning to our accommodation, the amazing Blackall Living Arts Centre, a complex that can house a dozen or so artists in residence placements at a time, and comes with individual apartment rooms as well as an industrial kitchen. We were greeted by a few ladies having a chat in the communal (and shaded) outdoors area. The space runs in a bit of a square, with rooms on each side and the outdoors area in the middle. And so it turned out the women were in fact the major of the town Jan and the cleaner. Its not every day you share your accommodation with the major of a town. Even more endearing was her striking similarities to the much loved old major of Toowoomba; Di Thorley. Both were / are passionate about the arts and community in their town and take pride in what they have and can offer to others.
I hope in the very near future to come back to Blackall, check out the much talked about Shockwave festival, and spend some quality time at the centre.
It was time to move on, and Roma was waiting for us. The dead animals on the road saga continued, but, at least there were lots of live emus to be seen on this stretch. LIVE emu’s. We stopped through Augathella, home of the Big Meat Ant, a lovely librarian, and famous traditional folk song ‘Brisbane Ladies’.
In Roma, we planned two workshops over two days. Meeting with the ladies at DISCO, we soon realised DISCO was a big part of this town, with many of the younger kids proudly wearing their caps. We went to the skate park to round up some youngins, and realised all they wanted was to graffiti their skatepark, or rather, for someone else too. They seemed too scared of something (the man?) to do it. Roma was actually a lot bigger than I expected, and we stayed in accommodation above a local pub.
Dropping off books to Golders (who have taken copies of Bizoo in the past) and the Book n Bean Coffee shop, our first workshop surprisingly ended up being made up of their collective children, who loved the chance to play with the typewriters, ink sets and other resources, and funnily enough, work in front of the giant fans. Dr Jerm ran a bit of a music workshop for one guy who came along especially keen to find out about to put on a gig for their band. We were graciously invited to dinner with the Golders family, which is a big deal.
The next day, thanks to harassing the local skate (again, I think scoot park is more appropriate) park boys we had an energetic and short attention spanned group. They loved the gocco and worked in short bursts. But zine making didn’t really suit them, they were there for a street art workshop, so a street art workshop it became. Can you guess the stencils that got made? You’d be right if you were thinking they were of scooters. And proud, mind you. With a few more muso dudes rocking up, Dr Jerm ran another music workshop in the corner.
Life on the road has been a huge adventure, with so many new faces, places and people to meet, take out and be taken out to gigs, dinners, drinks, exhibitions and more. Through the workshops we’ve met young kids, school dropouts, teachers, musicians, journalists, skate kids and everything in between. We’ve also met all sorts of characters along the journey from stopping off in what’s become the op-shop and dump shop tour, of sorts. All manner of kitchy junk, aquariums, stuffed toys, books and mags have been acquired. The most noticeable item from the op shops has been our typewriter collection jumping that started at two. We’ll let you know how many we’ve found when we release the tally board, but needless to say the workshops have only gotten better.
The final blog coming covers the final workshop and place on the tour, Dalby. It also releases the much anticipated final on the road tally board!
Smells Like Zines