Back from the dead and I brought something back with me
Saturday, September 26, 2009
A Series of Unfortunate Events
String - quite some time ago I promised to write a blog about a series of unfortunate events ( that for me ) felt very like a haunting / curse ( although I am sure there are many that would just deem the experiences a spate of bad luck.) What powerful forces lurk just beneath the surface of our so called rational - reasoning minds ? Being atemporal, archetypes exist outside of time. They are the very foundation and capstone of human experience - and it is through their lessons we learn we cannot live for ourselves alone. In the words of Herman Melville - Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results. We come to understand that the archetypes are a connecting link between psyche and earth, a union or bridge between mind and matter.
My family moved into a new house - it was Christmas Eve and my parents decided to combine Christmas celebrations with a house warming party. My mother woke Christmas morning feeling anxious and upset - she dreamt my father - sister and brother all died in a car accident - she also mentioned seeing an aborigine in her dream holding a boomerang and a spear but for the life of her could not relate that particular segment of her dream to any aspect of her waking life - yet exactly one week to the day after having the nightmare - a tragedy did in fact befall our family - striking at the very core of all we held dear.
As extended family gathered to usher in the New Year on the Western seaboard of Australia , my family gathered with friends in the East. Not long after midnight my uncle advised family and friends he would be taking a different route home that night in a bid to avoid the many heavily intoxicated drivers he anticipated would be congregating in the city to celebrate New Years Eve. So instead of taking the main artillery road through town he chose a quiet country route instead - unfortunately for my Auntie and cousins that heavily intoxicated driver my uncle seemed intent on avoiding had the same idea and inevitably they all met their fate regardless. His decision to take that particular road on that particular night still perplexes family to this day.
My Uncle - Auntie and cousin were all killed in that car accident leaving behind two girls - one thirteen - the other ten. My Grandmother and Grandfather decided to move into my Uncles house to look after the girls until more permanent care arrangements could be put in place. My father organised time off work and flew to Perth so he could finalise funeral arrangements but due to work commitments had to return home a short time later. Tragically not long after my father returned home my Grandfather suffered a massive stroke whilst climbing a ladder - fell and subsequently died . In March I contracted a mystery illness that only added to my families anxiety - I was constantly vomiting and lost a huge amount of weight - I was tired - listless - dizzy and often found myself short of breath - weeks later when I was still showing no signs of improvement the doctors at the clinic recommended additional testing - when the test results came back the doctor advised mum my blood count was out but because my symptoms were " non specific " were unable to give her a diagnosis at that time ( mum feared the worst and thought I had leukemia )
Dad organised time off work so our whole family could travel back to Perth together. Just prior to heading off my mother rang my Grandmother in the UK to advise her about Dad's plans and let her know we would more than likely remain in Perth until the court orders pertaining to the custody of my cousins were finalised. My Grandmother had huge forebodings about the trip and tried to talk mum out of going but we went regardless :) We were on the Sturt Highway somewhere between Hay and Mildura when a strong wind picked up - traffic slowed on both sides of the road as huge tumbleweeds driven by the wind were tossed aimlessly in all directions - as the storm intensified so too did the dust - to give you an idea of the size and scale of some of our dust storms I have added this video.
There's alot of shit in that there video lol
Finally we reached the Nullarbor Plain which is an area of flat, almost treeless, semi-arid country immediately north of the Great Australian Bight. The word Nullarbor is derived from the Latin nullus, "no", and arbor, "tree", and is pronounced NUL-ər-bor. It is the world's largest single piece of limestone, and occupies an area of about 200,000 km² (77,200 square miles). At its widest point, it stretches about 1,200 km from east to west between South Australia (SA) and Western Australia (WA).
Now to put this 3905 km expedition to Perth into perspective my parents still refer to it today as the " Trip through hell and back " very similar to a comment made by one of our famous explorers - Edward John Eyre - who described the Plain as "a hideous anomaly, a blot on the face of Nature, the sort of place one gets into in bad dreams", he became the first European to successfully make the crossing in 1841. ( But the truth is you can find beauty everywhere - if you just take the time to look :)
At least we found the climate on this trek across the Nullarbor tolerable - on previous occasions the scorching heat was absolutely unbearable. We did not have the luxury of air conditioning so hot wind was our only relief - that's why we always looked totally dishevelled lol whenever we stopped at a service station and got out to stretch our legs ( but then what sane person would attempt to cross the Nullarbor in December lol ). The prevailing climate in this region is typical of a desert, characterised by arid to semi-arid conditions, with maximum daytime temperatures of up to 48.5 °C (119.3 °F). Approximately 200 kms of the Nullarbor road ( The Eyre Highway ) had still not been sealed - which under normal circumstances would of slowed the average person down but not my dad ?? he continued on at the same speed irrespective of the small moon size craters ( potholes ) that lay dangerously in wait for a headstrong reckless driver ??
In fact I am sure this is exactly what a side-view snapshot of our car would of looked like at various times during our nerve-racking attempt to cross that unfinished segment of road ;) We had some bumpy landings ;) which brings to mind The Royal Flying Doctor Service which on occassion uses the highway to make a landing - there are relevant signs and markings on the bitumen along the 'runways'. Landings are always heralded by personnel located on the road itself - police, roadhouse staff or others seconded for the purpose.
At one point on the journey between 50 - 100 aborigines were standing in small groups along the roadside - as our vehicle approached some of the groups formed a semicircle that spanned the width of the road dad really had no choice but to stop ;) As various groups of adults and children approached the vehicle I noticed some of the men carrying spears and boomerangs - it was business as usual for these desert dwellers as they asked dad in a warm - friendly manner if he was interested in buying some of their merchandise - it took us all by surprise when dad pulled out a wad of cash and bought a couple of boomerangs and other assorted artifacts - but I think he really appreciated the amount of time they spent explaining what the various symbols on the artifacts represented .
I just want to point out the connection here with the aborigines and my mothers dream.
I later found out the Indigenous group that we met up with were more than likely the Anangu people of the Western desert group (Pitjantjatjara / Yankunytjatjara) who were the traditional owners of the coastal lands and desert regions surrounding the Nullarbor. Wirangu occupied the land east of the Head of Bight and the Mirning clans occupied the coast west to Eucla. Kokata, Antakarinja and Ngalea occupied lands to the north and north-east. Today, Anangu are widely dispersed and many live in local population centres. Traditional groups were persuasively removed from their lands and settled on missions after the Government gained control of the lands and pastoralists took up leases from the late 1800’s. Further dislocation occurred during the 1950’s when groups occupying the Maralinga Tjarutja lands were evicted as authorities acquired the land for conducting the now infamous Maralinga atomic bomb tests but many were never even notified about the testing - officials at the time maintained it was too difficult to locate all of them because they were semi nomadic.
Most of the inhabited areas of the Nullarbor Plain can be found in a series of small settlements located along the Eyre Highway that provide services to travellers, mostly spaced between one and two hundred kilometres apart. Dad refused to pay the exorbitant prices the motel owners were asking for a room - so he would pull over on the side of the road for a few hours - get some shuteye and then head off again. The drive from Ceduna to Perth was pretty unadventurous - the only real concern on that road was the wildlife which could on occasion be particularly troublesome at night.
There are a number of large areas of Australia that have been given back to the Aboriginal people – mostly unproductive desert areas - a token effort on the part of the Australian government. A number of important sites, like Uluru and Kakadu, are now Aboriginal lands, but are leased back to the government for use as National Parks; however, most areas aren't leased, and you can't go into them without a permit. One such place, Yalata, is crossed by the Eyre Highway (the road across the Nullarbor) and as long as you stick to the highway, you don't need a permit. The communities on reclaimed Aboriginal land, like Yalata, ban alcohol from the area, as the whole point of the community is to live as they used to, in harmony with the land.
As soon as we arrived in Perth dad booked the car in for a service and some repair work - the car had quite a major oil leak. Mum made an appointment for me with my grandmothers doctor - who not only did a blood test but also insisted on taking a urine sample - when the test came back - it clearly showed I was suffering from viral Nephritis ( we finally had a diagnosis ) . We only stayed in Perth for a month - my father had a huge argument with my grandmother and we left the next day. The mechanics assured dad the oil leak had been rectified ?? We had a relatively uneventful trip till we passed Kalgoorlie then the oil trouble started again ( in earnest ) - The only settlements between Norseman and Ceduna, some 1200km to the east, are roadhouses and Aboriginal settlements, dad was fixated on making it to Ceduna - totally preoccupied with his own troubles he drove straight passed a red car which had its bonnet up - a sure sign the driver was having trouble with his vehicle and because the Nullarbor is SO ISOLATED there are rules UNWRITTEN LAWS :- 0 and as fate would have it we did find out later the driver of that vehicle cursed dad for not stopping - called him " A bloody bastard " ! lol
Rule NO 1 : ALWAYS stop if a fellow traveller looks like they are having car trouble.
Rule NO 2 : The Waving Rule, the idea being , because the desert is so empty, you wave at oncoming traffic in a show of solidarity and unity.
Rule NO 3 : If your car breaks down you stack rocks to create a rock mound - this lets other travellers know how long you were waiting before help arrived ;)
Stone mounds were dotted right along the Eyre Highway some so big they gave the impression people waited days before they were finally rescued ? Another common sight that would constantly crop up on the side of the highway were odd pieces of furniture and abandoned vehicles. Lasting eyesores in the non corroding air.
We only travelled for another hour - then the engine seized up - so that was that - I remember feeling really scared - stuck in the middle of no-where - not a car or truck in sight. In an effort to distract me and my sister - dad suggested we start building our own mound. The rocks were not exactly plentiful lol so I was quite relieved two hours later when a truck appeared on the horizon and as fate would have it carrying the red car on top of his load . The trucker was laughing when he pulled over to the side of the road - sitting next to him was the driver of the red car - who jokingly gave dad a piece of his mind as they both got down from the truck - but on hearing dad's tales of woe ended up feeling quite sorry for him - the trucker kindly offered him a tow all the way to Ceduna. This was a truly amazing gesture :)
Dad received bad news when we arrived in Ceduna - it was going to take up to 6 weeks to have a new engine delivered from Perth. The owner of the service station said - one of his mechanics - a Kiwi ( New Zealander for those not in the know ) was in Australia on a surfing holiday ? Surfing in Ceduna dad queried whilst looking at the flat lifeless expanse around him lol but apparently there are places between Ceduna and Fowlers bay that are legend amongst board riders. Cactus Beach, a rough twenty kilometres south of Penong, is probably the best known of all of them and apparently it is quite common to see the sun-bleached wave hermits camped amongst the dunes behind the breakers. Anyway apparently this Kiwi otherwise known as Bjorn was planning a trip back to the Eastern Seaboard of Australia and said dad was more than welcome to travel with him. I could not believe it when I saw this guy he truly was a Beach God lol blonde hair - toned and tanned - add to that a kind - easy going personality ;) even though I was young and not in the slightest bit interested in guys - I found myself totally mesmermised by his qualities ;)
Apparently he had purchased an old run down car from another victim on the Eyre Highway - car woes were obviously a common story in the outback and being a mechanic had it purring like a kitten in no time ;) Dad ended up selling his beautiful European car ( his pride and joy ) to the owner of the service station for a pittance. Bjorn secured his surfboard to the roof of the car with a rope - I can't remember why but for some reason that prevented us from using the back doors - so the only way to exit was by climbing over the front seat lol We were travelling on that dreaded unsealed section of the Eyre Highway when we hit a large pothole - which ripped some of the exhaust off - the noise was deafening and as a result started drawing alot of unwanted attention :) It was late in the evening when police pulled us over in Port Augusta - they asked alot of questions about " THE CAR " and told dad they did not want him driving again until the exhaust was fixed. Dad purchased a map from a service station on the outskirts of the city and ended up taking a back road through wooded hill country in order that he could exit the town without drawing too much attention to himself. Some states have fruit and vegetable quarantine checks as you cross interstate borders - to make sure people are not carrying any fresh fruit, vegetables or wool - it was at one of these quarantine stations that dad and Bjorn were questioned about " THE CAR " yet again. " When and where did Bjorn purchase the car ?" - " What was the name of the previous owner of the car ?" - " How did we come to be travelling with Bjorn ?" " Where were we all headed ?" Now I know what you are thinking - because we were thinking the same thing - this car seemed to be taking on a life of it's own. lol
The exhaust fumes were making us all very sick - particularly me - by the time we reached the outskirts of my home town I had to ask dad to stop several times. We were only 20 minutes away from our house when a blue light flashed and a siren sounded - as a police car pulled in behind us. Once again the focus of questioning seemed to be on " The Car " although they did not detain us for long - because me and my sister jumped the front seat and were out on the grassed area within minutes dry retching - the police officers turned to dad and told him " Look don't worry just get those kids home ". Bjorn stayed with us for a few weeks then headed up to Sydney to catch a flight to New Zealand. Whilst dad was cleaning the car with the sole purpose of selling it he found two bullets and a bullet hole in the vehicle ? We never did find out if/what mystery lay behind this discovery - if any at all - was this discovery the reason we were constantly being harrassed by police or was it just the fact we looked like a group of hoons in a beat up old car lol ?
Now I want to finish with a weird synchronicity that occurred many years later that tied in with this event. Some of my work colleagues were talking about a group psychic party they had organised with a very well respected local psychic / medium. They were all amazed at her insight and accuracy - it sounded so exciting I decided to organise a party myself - so I invited my mother and some close personal friends over. Whilst doing mums reading the psychic went into quite a deep trance - she told mum she sensed the presence of a man who was desperately trying to convey a message to her - she then started sniffing and said she could smell chlorine / steam associated with this person but mum just could not connect the dots - in an attempt to help mum try and make a better connection with this deceased person - she said he was showing her a picture of an older woman that had a history of ongoing eye problems and a small black and white dog . Still nothing.
The next day mum was in the process of moving a bookcase when a book fell to the floor - as she bent down to pick it up an old black and white photo fell out. She was quite astounded because she had never seen this picture before it was obviously one of dads - It was a photo of my Grandfather standing in front of a great big industrial sized boiler ( steam / chlorine )and that's when the penny dropped - all of a sudden the psychic's impressions finally made sense. The woman that had problems with her vision was my grandmother - she suffered terribly with cataracts and had ironically been in hospital having one removed just prior to my Uncle's car accident. Soon after my grandfather died my cousins dog died as well - all these events happened within a few short months of each other. Unfortunately because my mother kept telling the psychic she could not visualise who this deceased person was the psychic dismissed those impressions and started picking up on what I later perceived were probably less important ones.