As we wait for parts to arrive to repair our wounded car, we are exploring the tiny inland villages and today drove on to Taylor’s Arm (population 49) and found a great spot on a green park opposite the Pub with No Beer. After a good afternoon walk through what there is of the town and chatting with a couple of interesting locals, we wandered across the road for a pub dinner and some people watching.
Didn’t win the meat raffle, but Joe, the guy running it, said with a grin on his face, that they never let outsiders win.
After a pleasant awakening to raucous kookaburras we set off for an early pre-breakfast walk on a narrow dirt road that meandered through lush dewy fields of cows with their babies and one very proud well-endowed daddy. The morning was still and bright and rang with birdsong and the echoing mooing, and it was a very happy 5km walk. I admit to enjoying the earthy aroma of fresh cow dung. It’s a country sort of smell, and added positively to my morning.
A waving figure appeared on the hill before us, and it was Joe from last night. “Come on over’, he said, and we spent the next hour chatting with him as he proudly showed us around his farm, where he grew all manner of things, just because he loves ‘messing around’ in his garden. Macadamias, pecans, pineapples, mangoes, bananas, kiwi fruit, avocado, pumpkins, chillies, coffee, corn, garlic, lemons, cucumbers, blueberries, sugar cane, tomatoes, mandarins and parsley! He gave us a hatful of produce to take home.
Then we heard his story. His father died when he was three and his mother remarried ‘a brute’ who gave him a terrible and painful childhood. Joe didn’t go to high school, and went to 4 different primary schools. Joe fought in Malaysia during the war and came back with PTSD. He married and had some children (all born at home). I asked him about his wife, and he said “she didn’t like me much, but she liked everybody else, so I asked her to leave. Then there was another woman for a while but when she drank red wine she would beat me up so she had to go too. I just like being on me own. Ya know, all the kids used to spend all weekend at me river ‘ere, swimmin’ and catchin’ tadpoles and runnin’ around, but then they got them phone things and they don’t come any more. Always on that Spacetime thing or whatever it is”.
Joe is 81, and used to rent his house for three pounds a week, and then he bought it for 940 pounds. He said that was a lot of money for a house. But he got 300 acres of land with it, so it sounded like a good deal to me. He has some cows too, but likes his vegetables better than the cows. Such a lovely bloke and made our morning sweeter and more entertaining.
Later we set off on a drive into Bellbrook, where we visited the simple boyhood home of Slim Dusty, who first sang his famous song in the pub where we ate last night. It was a long drive on difficult undulating dirt roads, but it was just delightful. This day has been a real treasure!