It’s my last trip to Merredin this year. It’s one of the longer drives I do on a regular basis. The preparation starts early and the routine is well established. I get a good night’s sleep, my bags are packed, Norah Jones to take me out of the city and vintage Jimmy Barnes turned up loud of course, to bring out my inner misspent youth on empty roads shared with road trains.The water pipe that runs from Mundaring Weir in Perth to Kalgoorlie, a distance of over 500 kms has been supplying water to the Goldfields for over a hundred years. Driving alongside it or watching it meander through fields gives me pause for reflection. The building of this infrastructure would have been gruelling work in heat with minimal comforts by those who may have yearned to be prospecting for gold instead. Little would they have known, their contribution is a lasting legacy since 1896. It is also ever present company, for solitary travellers, like me.I’ll aim to arrive just before sunset. It’s always a challenge to get to the town before it is too dark. I dislike overtaking slow traffic on this road. At this time of year, I expect oversized farming machinery and drivers, all wanting to get to wherever, five minutes earlier. I usually stop at a rest stop alongside paddocks between Kellerberrin and Merredin and enjoy a few minutes of quiet. Always different, it’s a highlight for me just before destination.Whether it is light or dark, the painted silos announce I’m either entering or leaving town. I love them. They are the bright and beautifully thought out art by Kyle Hughes-Odgers, his canvas, 12 storeys high.I hope to stop for a few minutes at Merredin Peak, where the foundations of the Military Hospital are still visible. Transported from Palestine in 1942, it was a hive of activity for those recovering from war and those who cared for them. It is a place of paradox, historically and contemporary. From the ravages of war, they came here for the peace, to heal. Ironically, in this place of peace, one remembers war.
I, too, often visit this place for a few moments of quiet, well, it’s not always quiet but it is when the raucous red tail black cockatoo leave the area. One morning I found this tiny magpie lark chick, sensing a bigger world, with eyes still shut. I do the same when the freight train rumbles into town around 6 am, sending vibrations through my bed, and travels deliciously, along the length of my spine.
After this trip it will be the South-West, then back to the north east Wheatbelt; a week of driving so I need to care for myself with paced work.
The working year will soon be over but for now … it’s business as usual.
Until next time
a dawn bird