Robert said he heard his mate calling him from mid-north SA. So he and his wife packed up, and moved there. They bought a house for $90,000 opposite Robert’s mate’s garage. He told us about the murders in Terowie.
“Just like Snowtown”, he said, “Maybe worse. These victims were buried in a wall.” (any American reading this may like to Google “Snowtown murders, South Australia…chilling reading)
It was a warm Saturday night, around 8 o’clock when all the young ones are out partying, or having expensive dinners. Not in Terowie. There was one young one. We saw her sitting on the swing in the local, nicely kept, playground. This was in the afternoon, on the Saturday. We returned later and she was still there, swinging.
But the boys were out, with cans of West End, sitting on upturned buckets and some old car furniture, shooting the breeze with Robert’s mate. This was where and when we found them. We had just set up camp on the nearby railway siding. We were feeling quite pleased with ourselves, with our shady little spot, free, and our new bike rack.
Then we discovered one major puncture in one of our bikes. Bugger. We remembered passing this servo on the way in, so we walked along the main street till we found it. And there they were. Action in Main Street. Having nothing to lose we asked the mechanic (Robert’s mate) if he might have time to fix the hole.
He said, “No worries”.
Nice bloke. He was the only one working, among the boys and their West End cans. We returned later and joined the friendly banter. That’s when we learned of Robert’s life story, his mortgage, the murder and many other things. In the end the mechanic refused to charge us. Blimey. We felt a little humbled.
That is Terowie. A little town at the end of its life. In its hey-day there were 2000 folks living there; a town of lovely stone buildings, a bustling railway town, where broad gauge trains have to unload their passengers, their animals and their goods, and reload them onto narrow gauge trains, heading north. Now the town is sad. A few buildings; the blacksmith, the old post office, and the old general store have been converted into museums, but there’s no-one there.
And yet, it keeps on. A big “RV friendly town” sign welcomes you as you drive in. The toilets in the main street are kept clean by an unknown person, for the convenience of Grey Nomads, who camp at the railway siding for free. The mechanic, who is also the owner of the large Victorian hotel, used to offer counter meals. He recently decided to stop, because “the pub in the next town is also struggling, and there are not enough customers for us both”.
Why is this? There is a giant wind farm only 20 minutes south, with millions of dollars invested in hundreds of giant wind mills. Why is this not bringing some wealth into the area? Robert, who knows such things, told us that the money goes to NSW, and we don’t get any benefit as a state, certainly none as a town.
So there it is. We spent three days there; but it made quite an impression. The town has treasures, like absolute silence; what an unusual gift, and clear black skies where you see the colours of planets. It is enough. And if you’re wondering about the bodies in those walls, ask Robert. We have no idea.
Our Video – with kangaroos and real outback footage and heaps more – for first time internet users click on the white arrow in the image below – everyone else do the same.
Our first stop, real stop, not counting Elizabeth twenty-minutes from home was in Saddleworth, in the Gilbert Valley, approximately 100 kilometres north of Adelaide.
Wanting to be accurate I looked up Krispy Kreme store-locator. I am sure it is Elizabeth but I wanted to be sure. Perhaps their IT department needs to work on their location finder. It said the nearest one was in Missouri and Google provided a map to there which was most helpful.
Saddleworth is definitely a town that looked worth exploring. There is a caravan park there but we did not see a free site so we kept going.
We were having a bit of a bother with our Pajero which had an engine light warning. We had it looked at and some minor repair but ‘Billy’, our Pajero (our caravan is “Holiday”) was feeling a bit under the weather and the further we went the worst he felt. By the time the trip was over we could barely make it up a small hill even in first gear. Currently Billy is booked in for surgery next week and Holiday is at the caravan shop getting a review of her situation with some add-ons such as solar panel so we can go further afield and do more free camping. We did limp into Terowie, a town we had passed through several years earlier. I even bought a fridge magnet there. This time the town was very quiet and though the entrance sign boasted 150 residents, most of those have since gone and places are for sale at bargain prices. We looked at the post office that was for sale for $105,000 with land, four bedrooms, all modernized with beautiful floors – I want to be the mayor of Terowie and being a Leo is really all the qualifications I need to succeed and Narda could be the post master.
We were alone at the free-camping along the rail-line the first night and the second night there were four others. The area was so large that everyone was very spread out and we did not have any contact which is fine with me but Narda likes to meet people and get stories such as above. I just want to be in a quiet place to write a novel or another version of my memoirs. (you can read my original version of ‘Leaving Australia’ @ http://neuage.org/e-books/
We chose this town in part due to the flatness of it. After six-weeks recently in Holland and riding every day – even in the snow (this was January – February 2017) we were up for riding more. Our house in Adelaide is in a bit of a hilly area so we rode heaps – though there was not far to go; one end of town to the other – well there is five-minutes of our life gone. We did ride around the ‘suburbs’ which took another fifteen-minutes. This is a photographer’s dream place. I did not get anywhere near the amount of photos a ‘real’ photographer would have gotten. There are four or five old churches on one street, not Main Street, a couple old pubs and lots of buildings.
This was an important train stop between Adelaide and the North. One of their main claims to fame here is that General Douglas MacArthur paid a visit here with his family after WW II. For Australians MacArthur was some military dude for the USA, a five-star general – which is a lot, who was quite important during the time he was important.
We decided to go to a place called ‘World’s End Reserve halfway back to Adelaide. Due to a combination of not getting internet where we were and our GPS, which hates us (I have spoken of this in a previous blog) we got hopelessly lost on a gravel road and never did find the place.
We got to Eudunda, found some free camping spot: changed gas bottles, started cooking, smelt gas, panicked, drove home, got home two-hours later, and realised how good life is, once again.
Leaving Australia again… end of 2016 edition.
Packing. We seem to be always packing. In a couple of days, the next trip begins for Narda and me: leaving Adelaide to get the international flight to Honolulu. I lived there in the past. 1. In 1969 I arrived with my girlfriend and her one-year old daughter, Desiree (my friend on Facebook now). We ran into a friend from my hippie days in California one day then next I knew he, Randy, got us into a religious cult order which I got stuck in for more than a decade before my escape. A couple of those years in Hawaii. 2. The next time I was in Hawaii was in 1980. Randy still in Hawaii said I could do an astrological radio show so I packed and left my home in Baltimore and went to Hawaii. In 1980 someone whom I had met in Sydney, who visited me in Baltimore, who was now pregnant because of that visit arrived, pregnant, in Hawaii. Sacha was born in January, 1981. The girl and I got married and we changed our name to Neuage because we did not like each other’s surnames. The girl, Sacha, and me moved to Adelaide, South Australia in 1981. 3. The next time I was in Hawaii was in 1985 with Sacha, now age four, and his brother, Leigh, age two and the ex was back in Australia, spewing about something or the other. 4. The last time I was in Hawaii was in 2002 with wife number two but really wife number one, if you know what I mean. We have been to heaps of places these past fourteen years, including living in New York for nine of those years and China for three.
After Hawaii, we are in D.C. for six weeks. December to January 2017 will be an interesting time to be in the States and especially D.C. because of that trump person getting elected by who-knows-who. During that time we will visit Randy for a week in Oregon, my sister in Albany, New York, who I did not know existed until I was 48-years-old and whom I have seen twice before in my life. We will visit other folks we met while living in New York as well as a friend of my adopted brother, Robert, who has written a book on him. I have known Marta since the mid-1960s. I will also see who I believe was my first girlfriend from the mid-1960s too. So, this is a bit of a journey forward through the past.
After the States, we will spend a month in the Netherlands near Utrecht where Narda was born. Then a month in Cambodia and a few weeks in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, Thailand.
Both Narda and I will blog during this trip and share the past, present, and perhaps the future of life on this little journey.
After completing five e-books in the past two years living in Adelaide I am looking forward to going out and getting new material. My e-books are at: http://neuage.org/e-books/
I was going to write a blog at least once a week; perhaps daily. It was a fine goal, right up there with I was going to work on one of my novels, poems, paintings or children stories a little bit every day, especially the ones I started back in the 1970s, then the one I did in the 1980s and surely I would add to the finished ones of the 1990s and my favourite, “Leaving Australia” that was completed five years ago. That one, all 550 pages, I printed and bound two copies of; one for my son in Melbourne and one for me. When Sacha came to visit a month ago I asked him if he had read the one I gave him four years ago and he said he was going to read it on his trip to Dalian but it was too heavy to carry with his other stuff; something about traveling lightly. Good golly. But surely a blog, added to if not daily at least weekly would be easy. Then as usual life got in the way and I just noticed I had not written anything since Chinese New Years almost four months ago. I have put up many youtube videos in that time from our wanders in Thailand, and various places in China but to write…. It is school – I work so much on lesson plans and projects that I never write anything for myself.
So I will just jot down notes about yesterday as it was a bit of a typical this-is-China day.
It started way to early, Saturday the 19th of May. I was awake at 3 AM, worried about something; our renters moving out of one of our houses – the one in NYC, or was it my Flash class that my overly-driven Korean students are determined to get a perfect score and the more challenging I make the content even getting them to learn ActionScript coding, the more determined they are to outdo me, or was it that I got an email about re-roofing our house in upstate NY; the Victorian house with a slate roof – not cheap, or our upcoming little trip: to Beijing and getting to Atlanta a week after Narda as I have to stay back and do some IT stuff @ school then taking a driving holiday around the deep south and going to New Orleans for a week – my old stomping grounds in the late 1960s and early 1970s when I was a street artist in Jackson Square, then back to Beijing and on to Australia for July and then back to work here in Dalian – though I was not worried about the road-trip but that we may have to fly to New York because of having to deal with renters or roofs or some other fun-not stuff. I was worried that I was getting more grey hair – though people tell me that at a few months nearer to 65 than I wish to be, the fact I have little grey hair now is a fact to celebrate and not moan about having a few grey hairs is not what I want to see. I look in the mirror and say who is that old fart?
Back to yesterday. Maybe I did fall asleep for a while but I was awake at five and got up because I was scheduled to chaperone our middle-school overnight lock-in. I managed to get out of any overnight duty and was slotted into the 6 – 10 AM section. The children were already running around, some having slept less than a couple of hours. They were doing their overnight in the gym and surrounding rooms so I did my early morning weights routine and played some basketball with them and herded about 60 middle schoolers off to the school and to breakfast. (We live a two minute walk to the gym and another one minute walk to school so our work and home life is all muddled together and many of the children live here too as their parents work for the big companies nearby: Intel, Goodyear, VW – stuff like that). So yes the morning shift was easy – though I was sleepy. It was the rest of the day…
A couple of our teachers were celebrating their 40 anniversary together and wanted to have a shared celebration at Discoveryland. Discoveryland is a Disneyland Chinese copy. It is also a ten-minute bike ride away. We live rather remotely but not far away is the national resorts of Golden Pebble Beach (our morning walks before school) and forested areas and the big tourist thingy of Discoveryland. We had never been inside, because the idea of being in a place like that was quite repulsive. So we ride over, tie up our bikes, pay the 170 RMB (about $25 US) to go in and though it is supposed to be the largest adventure park in China and one of the largest in Asia it was the most budget thing I had seen. It is not Disneyland – though in some fake Chinese manner it is quite similar. The food places were all Chinese and quite bad. I managed to get a vegetarian meal but Narda took one bite of her alleged meat ball and could not eat any more. We noticed someone had thrown up at the next table and a crew came in to clean up but it pretty much summed up the place. I found it interesting that inside their large medieval castle there was a cathedral and the cathedral was actually the start of the ghost-house tour and there were bats flying around the stained glass windows. I suppose it is the Chinese concept of religion as superstition and they wanted to be clear about it. We did not want to go on any rides though some of the teachers we went with got in line for the roller-coaster and two hours later they were still in the same line. We walked around, Narda bought a dress – always the way to make a great day better and we hopped on our bikes and headed home leaving the rest of the people we went in with to enjoy Discoveryland without us. The downside? Yes, I get to go there next week with our whole upper school, a kind of end-of-year event. How exciting. Maybe I will take my camera – this was the first time I had not taken videos or stills in years which tells even more how much I enjoyed myself.
So I am buggered and decide to take a nap at 3. Narda was a bit concerned as she was given a couple of tickets to the “Dalian Korean Youth Orchestra’ concert. As some of her students were in the group parents had given her tickets to attend this ‘special event’. Luckily, she was going with another person and I was going to be left to take a nap. At 3.15 the friend said she was ill and could not go. At 3.20 Narda rang our driver and said to cancel the car to Kaifaqu and everything seemed great. At 3.40 the driver rang and said he was downstairs waiting – we have had no communication problems in the past but Narda was sure that the driver understood ‘cancel’ ‘no car’ no no no. Narda doesn’t want to go alone and then I am up and dressed in five minutes and we are hurdling toward our concert at 3.45 that is to start at 4 and Kaifaqu is half an hour away except for the way most people drive they manage to cut the time down heaps. It only took us 20 minutes. We have learned not to look out the front window because it is too scary the way people weave and cut and beep horns and rarely use blinkers. One thing Narda noticed at a traffic light was a person laying on the grassy part between streets. He wasn’t moving and there were a couple of cars stopped but no one was looking after him. We realized he was dead. In China if someone causes an accident and injures someone it is up to the accident causing person to look after the injured for the rest of their life. It is better if the person dies as they only have to do the funeral. Also, and we saw this our first week here with a person who fell or was knocked off his motorbike and lay dead in the road and was still there hours later, it is up to the family to come and collect the person. Bottom line, don’t get killed in China.
So we got into the concert fifteen minutes late but no one had started – like most things we see in China, this was quite chaotic and we just sat in the first empty seats we found instead of finding our actual seats which seemed to cause confusion around us. In China we have noticed, people talk all the time no matter the setting and as someone up front was introducing or saying something everyone around us just kept chatting like there was no one on the stage. The thing started at 4.35 and got off to a bit of a shaky start. At one point a child behind me, being restless and as bored as us, started kicking the seat in front of him, which was mine. I turned around and said ‘will you stop kicking my chair it is very annoying’ in nice clear English without realizing that these people probably had no idea what the words were but the content was obvious as the mother hit the kid and yelled a whole stream of foreign words at him. He didn’t kick my seat anymore.
We managed to slip out at intermission and decided to attend a movie, something we had not done in China. At the Cinema we found that the new movie (we think it is new) “Avengers” was playing. As we have gotten adapt with pointing and head nodding and shaking we saw it was in English and it was 3-D and we got free popcorn and soda all for 55 RMB (about $9) and it was starting right then and there. The theatre and large screen were better than what we had seen in NYC and the seats were large and comfortable. The last time we had been to a movie in Asia was in India and we walked out after half an hour because the movie was so stupid and violent.
We got a taxi home – I carry my business card with me that has our home in Chinese so we get around easily, and that was our day.
Last weekend we spent the weekend, two-nights, at the 5-star Kempinski Hotel in downtown Dalian overlooking Labor Park http://dalian.neuage.us/LaborPark.html. And previous to that we have been to Thailand for spring break and Beijing and just exploring here on the weekends. Maybe the next blog will be from a one-star motel in Alabama as we go off to see the real-America.