Sunday, July 04, 2004

Marble Bar Cup day

I left the camp about nine thirty, heading for the town of Marble bar, only about forty kilometres away as the crow flies, but by road well over a hundred and twenty kilometres. Pleasant drive down the fifty kilometre dirt road to the highway, saw only a few birds on the way, some galahs and cockies, a magnificent wedge tailed eagle sitting in a dead tree and a couple of the weird looking (and acting) bush turkeys, as I came close to the sealed highway I saw a couple of vehicles whiz by. I pulled up at the bitumen, in case there were any more vehicles coming and a silver car zoomed by, looks like everyone is heading for the races at Marble Bar I thought. I headed down the highway listening to a tape I had made, mostly Australian country or folk music and as I drove a few vehicles passed me, I was doing the limit (110), and a few vehicles raced by me, mostly silver cars and a few four wheel drives, nothing came the other way.

I arrived in Marble Bar about eleven, drove straight by the race track, as there was not much happening there, and into the town mainly to buy some cigarettes and a carton of iced coffee, pulled into the Post Office, come garage, come general store, bought a few bits and pieces but they didn’t sell cigarettes. This garage is right opposite the pub, and the pub was crowded, and was really hopping, with people everywhere and loud music. I never went into the pub but just up the road was Levers store, they sold cigarettes so I went in there, the bloke who runs the store is an old character who does all sorts of things in the town, looks after the electrical generator, the water supply and the towns airport (a dirt strip and an old shed). I got yarning to him and an old Aboriginal who was down from the Kimberly with the band at the pub. The elderly Aboriginal (about my age) was dressed in the mode of the Kimberly stockman, a huge Akubra (the Australia answer to the Stetson) a cowboy shirt, moleskin trousers and RM Williams riding boots, and looked like something from a Roy Rogers fillum. Now the old fellow in the shop (much older than me) used to push a grader around the area, and was grading a road near where my camp is, and picked up an old plaque from a grave on his blade (William Breen, 1924, North Pole) he found the grave and tidied it up, and as he was working his grader, he got to thinking of all the lonely graves in the bush and decided to ask about, and make an inventory of them, before all the old timers were gone. Over the years he has collected the whereabouts of about a hundred wayside graves and there is a monument opposite his shop with all the names (where known) and locations of the remains and what they died from, some are just nick names and some just say things like still born child or white miner. There are quite a few Afghans (anyone who worked with camels was called an Afghan) and a few Malay pearl divers who drowned or were taken with the bends, and are buried on the eighty mile beach, a couple of Chinese cooks are there and a few women who had not long arrived from England and just could not take the heat, there was a smattering of spearings by Aboriginals as well, including Dr Vines, who was out at a station to deliver a baby, when some Aboriginals attacked, he was speared by mistake, he died and the woman delivered a healthy boy.

I spent a fair time yarning with the shopkeeper and reading the monument, then drove up to the roadhouse, had a spot of lunch and then drove out to the race course, I will write about that later today and try and put it up for tomorrow.

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