THE OUTBACK AND SO FORTH – Tuesday, 6 March

I’m up, after a bewildering sleep, intent on securing flat whites and banana bread, i.e. consciousness. A short drive away is a café that opens at 7:30am. They owe their great renown to their collection of completed Lego mega-creations. And, Jesus, here come the flies! These fucking insects have been absolutely relentless since we left Fremantle. They are such a nuisance/plague: they’ll follow you right into the car, which will then result in reckless acceleration, useless hand-flapping, and hollering through lowered windows. We have some time to kill before the Space Museum opens at ten, so we go looking for One Mile Jetty. We assume it to be obvious. Heedless exploratory feints almost send me barreling down a boat ramp much to Alice’s alarm and amusement. She turns and points, “Dad. I can see the jetty.” It’s closed due to ‘structural problems’, but, hey, over there’s a short boardwalk loop though a mangrove ‘forest.’ Fuckin’ flies worship us. We might be their gods.

We follow a young German couple with their young boy into the Space and Technology Museum just as the doors open. Carnarvon was the location of a Satellite Earth Station, built to track the Apollo moon landing. Ali and I are captivated. Look at all the cool stuff! There’s a whole room of dusty electronics, oscilloscopes, and components sporting extraordinary tubes and on the wall, photos of local space shenanigans – parade floats, costume parties, fishing trips – from the 60s. It’s very un-slick and DIY, but the enthusiasm and affection here are contagious. Feet first, Ali and I clamber into a mock-up of an Apollo capsule for a dramatized lift-off. It’s ridiculous, lying there, but great. She strikes up an animated sci-fi fanboy conversation with one of the docents my age. My daughter has unerring nerd-dar. One super-cool touch – the museum has a house cat named Buzz.

We hit the fucking road. A sidetrip to The Blowholes has to be eliminated due to time. Passing a roadhouse, we realize we may never see another, backtrack and eat burgers. Epic weather fills the sky as we progress up the peninsula to Exmouth. Great beehives of clouds and, far off, black sheets of rain. Termite mounds have become a prominent feature of the landscape, person-height columns of red soil spaced every hundred yards or so for as far as the eye can see. The Mantarays Beach Resort is just that; a fancy seaside hotel with flies. We’ve been given a set of rooms with dodgy aircon, which doesn’t prevent Alice from napping or me from writing this while doing a load of darks. When we explain the situation to the front desk, we get an upgrade to the second floor (expanded view). Dinner is good. The two of us are psyching up for snorkeling tomorrow. I don’t think buoyancy will be an issue.

 

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