I heard a silent snigger, like I had drawn the shortest straw, whenever I told people my next trip was to Paraburdoo. Some 1500 km north of Perth, it is deep in mining country, with a population of around 1600 people, most of them work in the mines. Despite all my travel, I have never been here. Not knowing what to expect, I held my breath flying out to the unknown.
As we left the familiar city coast, we veered north, away from the ocean, and soon over the most spectacular landscape. I had no idea this area is so beautiful. The land looks like it has been sculpted by water, with ranges and gorges as far as the eye could see.
I naively expected a regional airport but could not resist a smile when we taxied up to a small demountable building, proudly labelled, Paraburdoo Airport. We picked up our luggage from an open luggage trolley. I dragged my suitcase across red dust to the car rental office, small and cool. The cars here are made for a life that is hardy. I stepped into the car expecting it to reflect the life of drivers here but it was surprising clean. So far, so good!
I headed into the townsite, cradled by ranges. More surprises! As the sun set, the ranges lit up in the most gorgeous muted light. The transformation of harsh red into pastels was watching a painting in progress. The main street in town was lined with palms. Palms! It gave a semblance of main street. At the end of a street was the Catholic Church, a suburban home where locals worship.
I circled my motel. A multi-purpose building it would seem. The restaurant was closed, as was the drive-in bottle shop. On the other side the bar, that also housed the TAB (the official gambling agency) was open. Customers had parked their cars and headed indoor to cool. It was a warm 29 degrees celsius. I gathered up courage and walked in to pick up my key to the motel room. Despite the years, I’m still getting used to unconventional check ins! My room was simple but spotless.
I took a short drive to the only shop, hoping to find something edible to eat, but before getting there, I stopped by the side of the road, to take in the incongruity that makes this place so appealing to the locals. And, to my right, found a mulla mulla bush in full flower. Then, I exhaled.
Until next time
a dawn bird