17 Down Under:
17 DOWN UNDER. "A celebration of moderate grade climbing in Victoria". 184 pages. 285 images. Father & son team, Steve & John Morris, embark on a journey to climb and photograph 50 of the best rock climbs in Victoria, grade 17 & under. Inc bookmark $50.00
Chockstone Forum - General Discussion
General Climbing Discussion
|Treasures/trash from my old hard-drive
Ladies and gentlemen....the other day my old man sent my old computer (last used in 1995) to the
Mac graveyard but before doing so copied my old files onto a CD.So the other day i received a little
package. Suffice to say, I clearly had a lot more time on my hands in those days cos there were a
whole bunch of short stories, select guides to cliffs i can't remember climbing at, intros to guidebooks
that were never written....etc....
One of the stories from that period was GOD that was published in Crux 2 and there was another one
that i figure i may as well put up here (rather than needlessly using electrons on my PC).
Anyway, as it is written the link to climbing is tenuous - it was originally written for a Uni rag that had a
"theme of the month" on hitch-hiking. Climbing comes into it cos pretty much 80% of what is in the
story below happened on various low budget trips to Moonarie...all i've done is messed around with the
order of events - but mostly it actually happened!
PS - its pretty long so i'll cut it into a few different posts.
PPS: i was a kid when i wrote it so forgive the immature turns of phrase
The morning started well, I was picked up by a small bus that was giving a bunch of Austrian's a tour
of the Flinders. The driver said they were going through Hawker, so now all that stood between me and
home was nine hours on a bus—three to Hawker and the other six on a different bus back to Adelaide.
It was a relief to have the hitching over, not that I mind hitching, it's just that when you've already
spent weeks on the road and are dying to get home, the waiting—which, lets face it, is what you spend
most of your time doing—becomes unbearable. Besides, it was my twenty-first birthday in two days
and I had to be back for a party my friends were organising. This trip was meant to clear my head,
help me sort out what I was going to do with my life, everyone had their own idea of who I was, what I
should do, and trying to please them all as well as myself was driving me insane. Despite my good
intentions, all I got from the trip was a hangover, and about ten more opinions on how to live my life.
I got the feeling that the only reason the bus driver picked me up was to give the tourists the chance
to meet 'a real Aussie', to tell them how to make damper and where to find bush tucker. I may have
looked the part, but I'd go to hell before I would line the tourist industry's pocket by perpetuating the
Colonial fantasy. The driver was glaring at me in his rear vision mirror, imploring me to speak with at
least one of them—they were obviously a boring lot and hard to entertain. It was also obvious that
picking up hitch-hikers was 'against company policy' and by talking, I would prove my sanity and put
the driver at ease. Whether it was for evidence or entertainment I felt obliged to talk, it was stupid of
me to think that because this was a bus, the economics of accepting a ride would be different to any
I didn't want to talk, the guy next to me didn't want to talk, but I couldn't handle the driver's evil eye
any longer, and talking was the only was I could see myself getting rid of it. So slowly and
deliberately, as if I was ordering Chinese takeaway over the phone, I broke the ice,
"How long have you been in Australia?"
I waited for him to turn away from the window, hoping he was interesting enough not to make this
conversation the chore that I believed it was going to be. Nothing, just silence. I repeated the question.
He turned and looked at me vacantly, I could almost hear his brain grinding as he translated both my
question and his reply, and when he finished his eyes glimmered amiably, as he carefully pronounced,
"My name is Carl. I had been Australian three weeks. I spend one week in the Sydney. I liked the Blue
Mountains they are good. I have been Melbourne, it is good. Adelaide was hot and I have spent the
last three days in Port Augusta. I leave it in Wednesday."
Well, that just about covered all my ice breakers. Despite the accuracy of his judgements, I could tell
he was one of those people who only ever 'saw' a country through the opaque lens of a bus window.
He reminded me of a couple of tourists I saw at the SA Tourist Bureau a few weeks earlier, they were
asking about the Flinders, where to stay and what there is to see. The lady behind the counter pulled
out a brochure on Port Augusta and said,
"Stay here, this is the home of the School of the Air, a place where children go to school on radios."
Within two minutes they had booked their tickets to Port Augusta to see the radio in a tin shed.
With scarcely hidden sarcasm, I asked whether he had seen the School of the Air. Again he stunned
me with the boredom that seeped through his reply,
"Yes it is extremely fascinating. We do not have one in Sweden."
Was he serious or not, was he just pretending to have liked seeing the School of the Air, being polite
or was he a person with very low expectations when it comes to entertainment? This was a problem I
had to sort out, at least it would help me pass the time.
"What is there?" I probed, "Did you actually enjoy it?"
"It is where the place a school. Students listen teacher on radio. It is the best fun."
"Well remind me who not to look up for a good time when I go to Germany,"
I mumbled under my breath as he stuttered his reply. The driver glared at me, he obviously wasn't
impressed with my rudeness. I thought I had better say something fast to lessen the damage,
"Mmm yes, it is fascinating," unfortunately I couldn't stop there and after a pause added,
"Why someone would travel half way around the world to see a radio in a tin box. Don't cars have
stereos in Europe?"
By this stage the driver was getting seriously agitated, but I was beyond caring and besides, Carl had
no idea what I was talking about.
I was beginning to enjoy this so when Carl turned to me and said,
"I have seen lot of kangaroo. Not emus however,"
"Well that's because at this time of year with all the rain, the rainbow serpent goes hunting for emus,
so the ones that are left are probably hiding."
I scarcely had time to finish because the driver had pulled over and told me that this was where they
left the main road.
"But you said you were going to Hawker," I objected.
"Did I, I meant near Hawker."
"You can't leave me here there's nothing for thirty kilometres."
"Look, we are just going to see 'Arkaroo rock', and will be coming back this way in about three hours. If
you haven't got a lift by then we can take you to Hawker."
I wasn't sure whether he was being honest or trying to get rid of me, but I didn't want to spend the next
three hours listening to 'Carls wacky adventures Down Under' so I happily got off.
As the bus drove down the dirt track to Arkaroo rock I began to feel isolated; there was nothing out
here apart from heat, dust and spinifex. By the time the dust had settled I was feeling scared, how I
wished for a tree to sit under. The heat was intolerable and there wasn't even the slightest breeze. I
was completely unprepared for this, I didn't have a hat, water or any food, and the silence made me
nervous. The only landmark I could attach myself to was a rock, it was less than six inches off the
ground—not as comforting as a tree, but it was better than sitting in the dust. I sat alone in my world
of silence, dust and heat, until my trance was interrupted by the music made by a car as it emerged
over the horizon. I jumped up from my rock and tried to look as 'un-psycho' as possible, which was
harder than you might imagine out there, in the middle of nowhere. The driver didn't even look at me as
he sped past, and after the blue box had melted into the mirage, it was if the intrusion never happened.
As I watched it disappear, I realised the absurdity of my situation—hitching on these back roads was
hard enough, but without a decent landmark, preferably man-made, to attach yourself to, it was
impossible. All I had was a piece of 550 million year old late-Precambrian quartzite, the same rock as
those in which the earliest evidence of organised life has been found. So my only hope for a ride was
that a passing geologist would stop and look for a fossil jelly-fish, everyone else would be thinking,
"What the hell is he doing out here? Where's his car? What did he stop to look at? He must be crazy,
someone must have kicked him out."
Once the dull roar from the passing beacon of civilisation had completely faded, I noticed a ringing
noise; a melodic hum kind of like a tuning fork. The noise was an unwelcome intruder in my world of
silence, dust and heat—where did it fit in? I couldn't tell if it was loud or soft, soothing or harsh or even
if it was real or imagined. Out here where the crunch of my boots echoed in my mind for hours, this
noise or more precisely, what to think of it, put my world in turmoil. Before I could get too carried
away, my mental exertions were interrupted by
There were three cars in the next four hours, none of them even slowed down. My pleading went
completely unnoticed; the drivers were in another dimension and had no idea of the desperation that
lay behind my forced smiles and extended thumb. It was getting dark and I had decided to jump in
front of the next car, both to prove my existence and plead with them to take me to Hawker. Even if
they wouldn't give me a lift I could ask them to tell the police to come and get me. It was seven
o'clock, and I hadn't eaten or drunk anything for eleven hours, I thought I would die if I had to spend
the night there. I heard a car, a gold Corona, and was about to step in the middle of the road to stop it
at all costs, but there was no need, it was already slowing down. Like a dream we exchanged a few
words and before I had time to think I was sitting in a car next to a hippy on my way to Hawker. After
the crushing blows my ego had taken that day, it was reassuring to know that I was not alone, there
was someone out there who shared at least a little of my language, someone who understood the
meaning behind my signs. I was saved, I was not alone.
The radio was blaring 'Yothu Yindi'. The guy asked if I minded the music being up so loud, despite my
headache and aversion to Yothu Yindi, I was determined not to make the same mistake I made on the
bus, so I lied,
"No. I love it. It makes such a change after the silence out there."
Then after a long nervous pause I added,
"Let me tell you, I cannot wait to go to the Hawker pub and get myself a beer and a counter meal."
What could be more diplomatic than that, I was almost pleased with my ability to make congenial
conversation after everything I had been through earlier in the day. The only good point about having
the music up so loud was at least I wouldn't have to talk, and I thought that would at least save me
from putting my foot in it again. How wrong I was, sometimes no matter how innocent what you say is
someone will take offence. It was just my luck that that someone was sitting right next to me.
"I can't eat there," the driver said, "there is nothing vegetarian. I cannot believe that people can be so
ignorant as to not have anything vegetarian on their menu. You look like the kind of person that would
be a vegetarian. Well are you?"
After all I had been through, the aggression in his voice almost brought me to tears, I didn't want this
conversation and I tried my best to smooth things over. I agreed with him that it was ignorant of
country pubs not to cater for vegetarians and although I did on occasions eat meat, I generally only
ate fish. This, however, was not good enough for him; he turned down the music, looked me straight in
the eye and scoffed,
"You either are an ally to the liberation of fellow creatures or not. You, obviously, are not. As I see it I
don't want to cause you pain and suffering, I hope you don't want to cause me pain and suffering, so
why should we inflict pain and suffering on other creatures."
The way I was feeling he was being pretty presumptuous, dishing out some pain and suffering, or 'pain
and sufferwing' as he said, was getting pretty high on my priority list. However I kept control, and was
about to say,
"Put like that I think I will become vegetarian,"
but I didn't get the chance, about ten seconds later there was a terrible screech and thud—a kangaroo
had jumped out in front of us and we drove straight into it.
What else could go wrong today, at least now I was only twenty kilometres from Hawker, I could walk
it in two hours. The roo was kicking about in the middle of the road and the hippy was running around
like a madman, screaming,
"Oh my god. Oh my god. I cannot believe this, look at it, look at its pain, we have to put it out of its
misery. Oh my god. What can I kill it with."
I suggested a rock, but the biggest rock we could find was half the size of a fist and this brought on a
fresh bout of hysterics,
"What! I can't kill it with this. Look at the pain. I can't do it. I can't do it. Oh my god. Oh my god. I can't
kill it with a rock this size. We have to kill it. I can't do it. Oh my god."
I couldn't bear to watch this any longer, so I told the gibbering hippy that I'd take care of skippy while
he had a look at the car. There was a tyre lever in the back of the car, and I started taking out my
frustration on the roo's head, it stopped moving after about two hits—I gave it thirty more to make
sure. The hippy called from behind the car where he was hiding and wanted to know, 'if I was sure it
was dead'. There was no doubt—and I was about to say yes, but when he added,
"This is the darkest day of my life. I don't know how I can live knowing the pain I have caused,"
a terrible violence came over me. After all, my day had been pretty dark and I honestly thought,
"Better to take it out on skippy, than do something I regret."
I really wanted to be cracking the hippy's skull. I must have bashed it about fifty more times, and only
stopped when I heard the car start. Despite having a completely smashed radiator, the car went—so
escorted by a cloud of steam, I made my belated entrance into Hawker.
It was ten o'clock when we arrived, my bus left at four in the afternoon and there wasn't another one for
three days. However, that was a different problem and all I wanted was something to drink and a place
to sleep. There was no way the car would go any further without repairs, so it looked as if we were
stuck with each other for the night. I introduced myself, and after a lot of thought he said,
"Uuumm...Just call me Robert...Yeah Robert."
Even though his reply was a bit suspicious, I wasn't in the mood for games and couldn't care less what
his name was, as long as I had something to call him. The cheapest place to stay was the caravan
park; it was $25 for one person and $35 for two. I only had $35 and a bus ticket, Robert said he didn't
have anything, so I offered to pay for both of us—he did after all save my life. There was no way I
could afford to spend all my money, so I made him hide in the back of the car while I paid for the van.
By picking me up, Robert not only saved my life, but also reaffirmed my fading belief that humans can
communicate without being misunderstood. If that brought me down to earth, the lady at reception put
me in orbit again. She gave me the weirdest looks, it was if she served me not for business—even
though she obviously needed it—but to get me out of her sight and as soon as I left the office I heard
her bolt the door behind me. Earlier in the day, actions such as hers would have worried me, made me
feel misunderstood, but at the moment nothing could distract me from my need for water. I raced to
the van and fumbled with the keys, I was so excited that I dropped them, but after I found them,
opened the door and got a glass of water in my hand, I almost cried with joy. All I needed now was
some beer, and I would be in heaven. Robert didn't want to go, so I went to the pub by myself.
As I entered the pub everyone went silent and stared at me, I was feeling spaced out from being in the
sun all day and the attention made me nervous. Something had to be said, but I couldn't think straight;
after a few long seconds I managed to communicate,
"Do you sell beer here?"
This did nothing to break the silence, it felt silent as the road despite the jukebox playing in the corner.
In what seemed like ten minutes, the barman carefully replied,
"Yes....It's a pub."
The pressure was getting to me, there was a bottle of VB sitting on the bar, it was all the help I
"Can I have a six pack of VB," I yelled.
Everything I said seemed so loud compared to the silence, I had no idea whether I yelled, whispered
or thought my last statement, but the bartender bent under the bar and produced a six pack, so we
must have shared something in common. I gave him my ten dollars and he put eight dollars change
next to the six pack on the bar. I knew something was wrong, I should have been given less change,
but I couldn't think fast enough to take advantage of this windfall. It wasn't to be honest, but to prove
to myself that we held common expectations with regard to this exchange, that I made this attempt at
communication with the bar tender creature,
"Shouldn't you have given me less change."
He responded by taking six dollars from the pile of money on the bar, pointing at the door and
"f--- off...Go...And don't come back."
I didn't want to stay and learn any more of his customs, so I obeyed.
The feeling of alienation that had troubled me all day had returned, what did I do to make people treat
me like this? On the way back to the van I stopped at the toilet block, I looked in the mirror and saw a
tableau of despair, where the rest of the world could only see a 'weirdo'. My face was completely
sunburnt, my lips were cracked and had white crusty stuff dribbling from the corners, the blood from
my grazed chin had been smeared all over my face and there were clumps of bloody kangaroo fur in
my hair. Kangaroo blood had splashed all over my hands, up my arms and through my jeans, my
hands had big pussy welts on them and there were traces of nail polish on my fingernails—the legacy
of a drunken night with my friends in Darwin. On my back was a piece of paper attached with sticky
tape, on it was written 'Dumkoft'.
The rest of the night was relaxing; we sat in the van, drank beer and talked. Robert turned out to be a
nice guy and actually apologised for being aggressive in the car. He told his views on animal liberation,
environmental issues and aboriginal land rights—most of what he said seemed reasonable, but I got
the impression he was trying to remember what someone else had told him or something that he had
read. Nevertheless, I was impressed by his confidence, and in spite of a vague sense of unease
whenever he made some of his bolder claims, I found it easier to agree with everything he said. For
the first time in years, I went to bed feeling at peace with the world, it was such a change to the
alienation that had been plaguing me all day. I fell asleep almost instantly, and before I knew it—it was
Robert was gone, I looked outside, the car was still there so I waited to see if I could get a lift to
Adelaide with him. There was no way I was going to hitch any more, the next bus to Adelaide wasn't
for two days, and if I couldn't go with him my birthday party would have to be cancelled. Apart from
that I only had two dollars left, and staying in Hawker meant I would have to ring my parents and beg
them to put some money in my bank account. They didn't know I was hitching, and would have offered
to pay for a bus all the way back from Darwin if they knew I was going to hitch—but if I learned one
thing from my time away it was that I was never going to give my parents any more ammunition to
attack me with. Every time you ask them for something, they give immediately and 'unconditionally',
until they decide to give you some advice on how to live your life, and then all the favours and loans
that they promised never to mention again, come crashing back at you, as reasons why you are not
capable taking care of yourself, and why you must, are obliged to take their advice. I thought Robert
must have been having a shower or seeing if he could get his car repaired, and after half an hour I
went looking for him. It seemed strange that he would leave his car behind, but when I noticed that the
only valuable thing I had, my camera, was missing, I knew something was wrong. All that was left of it
was a roll of film on Robert's bed.
He had been gone over an hour—irrespective of what he had been doing it couldn't have taken that
long, and now that my camera was missing, I knew it was at my expense. Sick of being trodden on, I
decided to go and tell the police. I went to find the police station, but there was no need, because
when I stepped outside I saw that the lady from reception was already talking to them. Before I could
do anything, they had already approached and started firing questions at me. The fatter of the two
puffed out his chest, stood about two feet from me and bellowed,
"Is this your car?"
I didn't know what to say, the lady from reception was still with them and I didn't want to confess to
cheating on my bill.
"Uumm...Well sort of," I stammered.
"Well I think it damn well sort of isn't, sonny boy. This car was 'sort of' reported stolen from Wilpena
yesterday evening. And a youth with long hair was 'sort of' seen stealing it."
I told them what happened, and they didn't believe me. I was taken to the station, questioned and held
—hitching alone in the outback doesn't give you too many easily checked alibis. What was worse, the
owner of the car from Wilpena came and said,
"I think that's him."
My only hope was to get the driver of the tourist bus to confirm my alibi. The fat cop said he knew the
tour group I was talking about, and went
So that's how I became an 'adult', I spent my twenty-first birthday fixing a stupid sign, while four cops
sat on the bonnet of their car drinking beer and throwing their empties at me. A few days earlier I would
have been completely demoralised by such an experience, but now that I was part of a cause, all my
experiences had a context and most of all, a significance. On the bus back home, I thought about
what had happened to me, I had been transformed and was more independent, but into what? From
what? Finally, I had a set of beliefs that could separate me from my parents and everything they stood
for, but I still wasn't happy. Before I was alone, now I was anonymous. Even though Robert had stolen
my camera, I wasn't angry with him, he probably needed it more than me, and besides there is nothing
I wouldn't have given for a ride at 'Arkaroo Rock'. In a way, the gesture of leaving my film behind was
one of the nicest things that had happened to me on the whole trip, and ironically was why I put my
misgivings about Robert's values behind me, and decided to become more like him.
I spent the next few days recovering and trying to avoid the regular ear-bashings from my parents. I
felt like an alien to them, but now that I knew how to categorise them and what they stood for, I felt
stronger and took their abuse a lot easier. A few days later I got the film developed. Most of the
photos were what I expected, stupid party shots taken in Darwin, but the last two weren't taken by me,
I think of them as the final message from the sign, the final reminder of the lessons it taught me.
Whether my interpretations were accurate or not, they were enough to turn me away from the herd,
enough to make me feel that it is better to be alienated from the world, rather than alienated from
yourself. One was of me asleep in the caravan, the other was exactly the same as the first, but there
was a naked male torso jerking off over my head.
talent! great story. thoroughly enjoyed.
f---ing fantastic dude, thanks for posting!
That was absolutely brilliant!!
That was a brilliant read Stuart, but I think you should add some visuals to your story. Why don't you post those final pics taken on your camera?
One was of me asleep in the caravan, the other was exactly the
>same as the first, but there
>was a naked male torso jerking off over my head.
curiously enough this passage has a spooky resemblence to what qute a few chicks have experienced with the Slimey one...
Thanks for sharing the pain sweetie!
A thoroughly enjoyable read.
Thanks for posting it.
I shall create a link in the Short Stories thread to it for posterity.
On 23/07/2007 simey wrote:
> Why don't you post those final pics taken on your camera?
ask and ye shall receive....warning the image in the link below is quite disturbing
Har Har Har. You funny.
On 23/07/2007 Eduardo Slabofvic wrote:
>Har Har Har. You funny.
The funniest thing is that it's Slimeon's black book you have clenched between your cheeks. Just one more stain amongst the stains!
Long time no hear.... good times, good times!
forgot to tell all the good people on chockstone about the third photo of me with your toothbrush up me....
On 23/07/2007 n00bpwn3r wrote:
>The funniest thing is that it's Slimeon's black book you have clenched
>between your cheeks. Just one more stain amongst the stains!
It was just the A to K volume.
Bravo, what a great read! I can especially relate as my wife and I hitch hiked the whole way around Australia in 2009, which included meeting some interesting characters when we were trying to get out of Moonarie back to Hawker. You've made me want to go get my journal out and read my notes about them again.
There are 18 messages in this topic.
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