Brian Buzzard the Bush Balladeer dropped by our campsite to ask if we liked country music. He looked a little wild, as only the older Aussies can, so I gave him a ‘Yeah, well it’s not my favourite’ so as not to seem overly duped. He invited us to hear him sing, and after he left we decided that he looked relatively harmless, so we did just that.

We had driven about four hours to get to this particular campsite, about 300 clicks north of Perth. The camper van we rented turned out to be even better than advertised, almost brand new with all the cooking utensils, pots and pans, and cupboard space we could possibly use. It did not, however, come with insurance, but a quick call to American Express took care of that. Back in June I had signed up for a platinum card with Amex which came with complimentary insurance coverage on rental vehicles. I figured the annual fee would be well worth it if we ever had to rent a vehicle over here, and they confirmed my request with a phone call. Feeling smart and happy we headed to the nearest mall to stock up on supplies.
It looked like the mall in Cambridge Jon and Nic took us to when we arrived back in Canada. The layout and even the stores were almost identical. The people though were not. Aussies are an odd looking lot. The older ones are weathered and decidedly shifty looking. They look like they had sat too long staring into the sun while the sand etched their faces. The middle-ages one were invariably overweight, looking distraught and burdened. The only ‘normal’ looking ones were the teenagers, bright and engaged, like kids almost everywhere are.

We had a little trouble getting out of town, but once on the highway we made good time, only stopping in Cervantes for gas and a decent map. The map showed us how to get to the Pinnacles, something we had read about in the Rough Guide book. We took the detour to have look. Years ago there was a limestone cave on this barren point, with stalactites dripping and stalagmites growing under them. The cave and the stalactites eroded away under the steady south-westerly winds leaving only the stalagmites, like a terra cotta army, planted among the sand dunes. It was eerie and odd, like much of what we had seen in Australia.

We were both beat by the time we arrived at Jurien Bay. Not much sleep on the plane and a lot of driving over unknown terrain had worn us out. Fortunately, due to Pam’s excellent planning, we not only knew where we were going, but had the place booked and fully paid for in advance. So yes we were happy to go and listen to a little local music. And local it was. Aside from the two Johnny Cash songs – Brian didn’t know any Canadian folk singers, so that was as close as he could get – all the rest were Australian folksongs, as local and indigenous as the flora we had driven through that day. There were songs about the strangeness of the land, its animals and its people, and there were songs about beer, lots of those, but there were not many songs about love, strangely enough. I couldn’t help thinking that Aussies were a lonely lot. Brian certainly was. We were glad that we went and gave him a little company for the evening, and happy to retire to the orderly warmth of the camper.

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