Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Marble Bar Races Part Two

Once I had a spot of lunch, it was only some tea and a toasted cheese sandwich, I drove to the racecourse, paid me entrance fee, $16:00 including a program, parked the wagon and strolled past the stables and past the Bookies area up to the race viewing area, this is just a bit of a grassy bank, with a few buildings and toilets. There were few people there at this stage, some sand had recently been put down around the course and the grader had finished smoothing it out, there was a water truck spraying the course, now this is important, because depending on how much water he puts down depends wether the going is soft, firm or heavy.

There were a few people there, one bloke I knew from my days loading trucks at Coobina, he was a big ginger haired and bearded man named Andy, we had a bit of a yarn, mostly concerned with trucks and truckies we both knew just to pas the time till more people came and the races started. Along came one of the blokes from Bamboo and I went over to chat with him. The situation was, that you had to buy tickets for drinks at one end of the building, the tickets were two dollars each and it was one ticket for water, two tickets for beer, three tickets for a UDL (a premixed can of spirits) and five or six for a bottle of wine or champagne (be dodgy champagne for twelve bucks a bottle, more likely fizzy plonk), I bought a few tickets and got myself a can of rum and cola, and Simon and myself started to talk, mainly about the other punters that were arriving. A group of station folk came along, you could tell they were from a station because of the way they dressed, the guys wore jeans or moleskins, with great big Akubra hats on (Ozzy equivalent of a Stetson, but of course better) and either a cowboy shirt or a blue singlet, the girls wore Jeans or moleskins (tighter than the blokes) even bigger Akubras and either a cowboy (or Girl) shirt or sort of female equivalent of the singlet or tank top, I noticed some wore red kerchiefs around their neck as well, very noticeable were a small girl about five foot tall, and built like a brick shithouse, with the tightest jeans, a sort of tank top that laced up the back showing a huge amount of her back on which was tattooed a series of stars, she topped this of with a white Akubra (most wore sort of sandy coloured ones) and she had on what must have been RM Williams elastic sided stockmens boots, she was walking along with a bloke who was well over six foot tall, probably closer to seven, with arms like Popeye, wearing jeans, blue singlet, a dark Akubra and riding boots, he was looking down at this girl as she looked up to him and it was rather comical to see this pair communicating with each other.

It is really strange to see the ringers in from the stations, they all wear these huge hats, and big colourful shirts, it seems the dirtier and more battered the hat is the better they like them, some are decorated with cattle ear tags and other paraphernalia, and to look at them you are sure that they must have been handed down from generation to generation, but are mostly fairly new but have been worked on to look old and interesting. Most of the ringers are only in their twenties and soon graduate to driving trucks and graders when they get older and need more money and a more settled life, but that hat will stay with them for life, sometimes only brought out for show at country race meetings and the country festivals that take place around this time of the year in the Pilbara.

The races started, a few more of the mine workers from Bamboo turned up, they are not as easy to recognise as the station folk, just wearing jeans, work boots, and ordinary shirts and baseball caps, a lot of the townsfolk showed up at this time, the men wearing casual gear and mostly with Akubra type hats but of a smaller style than the ringers, and mostly kept in good condition, and the women wearing in the most part nice dresses and colourful hats, the young ones of course all wear similar gear and look like a mob of Brittany Spears clones, nice to look at with them low slung jeans and high slung shirts with half a yard of belly hanging out, but boring as hell.

I had a couple of drinks and watched the races and the people there, everybody seemed to enjoy themselves and the atmosphere was great, I never had a bet, because I have better things to do with my money, there was a place there selling sausages in them long rolls and I had a couple of them and a cup of tea for my afternoon snack and headed off after the cup had been run and headed back to my camp, getting there just as the sun dipped below the hills. I followed another vehicle into my camp, it turned out to be a French prospector, named Jean Francoise (Jeff for short), who used to live in Nullagine but now stays in Broome, we had a yarn and a bit of a feed, he promised to send me a couple of Pigram Brothers CDs as they are easy to get in Broome and he carried on to the area of the North Shaw about twenty kilometres down the track to the south, he had been given permission (he said) by my boss, to prospect there, and seemed to know all the right names, I offered him a bed for the night but he said he preferred to camp out.

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