Tuesday, March 25, 2008
BACK TO THE LAKE ©
Tasmania could be a really wet place at times and my stint there was just one of those times. That evening it rained inches of rain. It rained so hard all the show tents got flooded out. Before I realized it, the water had seeped up through the ground and flooded mi blankets and soaked through mi suitcase. All mi clothes were as damp as hell and had to be hung out on a fence to dry along with mi couple of wool blankets.
This little episode did not do too much to enhance my feelings about showground life. I was very grateful to the rain though, 'cause it made my decision to leave the showground much more firmer. As soon as the Tazi circuit was over we went back over to the Aussie mainland on the same ferry.
The Chad Morgan Show stopped at a small town on the outskirts of Melbourne for a couple of days. Whilst we were over in Tazi I had made quite good friends with the Maori Troubadours who were following the same circuit. They were all pretty good, easy-going blokes. Of an evening time they would cook up a large iron pot of their favorite food, which was known as 'pooha and pork bones'. There was always plenty to spare and they were kind enough to invite me to dinner almost every evening. It sure beat the hell out of the garbage showground food.
One evening after dinner one of the boys said, "Ah well Yorky, this is our last showground for a while mate."
"What d'ya mean? Where ya off to?"
"We've had the showground scene, eh. We're all off back up to Queensland where it's warmer, eh."
"Which way are ya going?"
"Straight up north," said the driver. "We're gonna take the inland roads, eh."
"Will ya be going past a town called Lake Cargelligo in New South Wales?"
"I dunno. Let's get the maps out and see, eh."
We spread out a large map of New South out on the ground and I looked for the Lake.
"There it is. It's not too far from Griffith and West Wyalong."
"Ah, West Wyalong. We go through that place on our way, eh."
My heart was now starting to quicken as I asked, "Can I get a ride up there with ya, if ya got enough room?"
"Can't see why not. The rest of the boys are flying up North from Melbourne so you can do a bit of relief-driving for me if ya like, eh."
I was never sure whether the Maoris were telling me or asking me a question, because at the end of each sentence they would always say, 'eh!' or 'eh boy!'
That evening I quit the Chad Morgan Show. I drew the small amount of money I had coming to me. Then I took mi gear to the Maoris' tent and helped them pack up their show. As soon as everything was packed away tightly, we hit the road for Melbourne.
I was really cramped in the front cab of the truck but once we dropped off the rest of the boys outside a house which belonged to one of their sisters, we settled down and relaxed, ready for the long haul North.
It was a pretty quiet trip up North, after the driver had told me all about the North and South Island of New Zealand, and as arranged, I drove the truck when he got tired. Although I didn't even have a car license, my bush-driving skills came in pretty handy as I maneuvered the big, flattop along the highway. At long last we arrived at West Wyalong. The Maori driver gave me a few dollars to get me back to the Lake because by now, I was broke down to the bones of mi arse.
He dropped me off at an all-night petrol station that was on the main West Wyalong/Lake road. We said our goodbyes' and he disappeared up the highway in the red truck while I sat on mi suitcase outside the all-nighter waiting to hitch a ride. There were plenty of cars and trucks that used the all-nighter but none were going in my direction. At about 10 in the morning, a dusty Ute pulled in and filled up with Petrol. "Ya heading towards Lake Cargelligo, mate?" I asked.
"Sure am cobber."
"Can I get a lift?'
"Shit yeah! Toss ya gear in the back, sport."
I entertained the Jackeroo all the way to the Lake with stories about the Showgrounds. He was on his way to a place called Rankin Springs, so he dropped me off right outside the Dagos' shop, in the main street.
Was I ever glad to see Lake Cargelligo again. I picked up mi Port and trumpet case and headed straight in to see Jimmy Xmas. A new Dago was behind the counter when I got inside, so I said, "Jimmy Xmas around mate?'
"He's out fetching the soft-a drink in."
"Watch mi cases mate, I'll go out and see him."
"Not-a-worries mate." He said.
Jimmy Xmas was loading a new batch of orange drinks out of the large cooler when he saw me, "Yorky, ya bastard! Wher-a have ya bin?" I haven't-a seen ya for a long time-a?"
"I've been on the Showgrounds Jimmy.It's too rough a life for me so I came back to the Lake."
"You make-a da big money Yorky?"
"Ya must be fucking joking Jimmy. I'm fucking broke except for a buck-fifty."
"You want-a job?"
"You serv-a the table. It'll be good-a for business. You speak-a da good English and the people they like-a you."
"How much pay, Jimmy?"
"I pay-a da twelve dollar a week plus-a da tucker plus-a one pack-a the cigarettes a day. Six days-a a week, 10 in the morning till 12 at night and I throw-a in a da room. Not-a the bad, eh?", he said with a grin.
"Not bad at all Jimmy. 10 in the morning till 12 at night, six days a week, fags, tucker and a room? When do I start?"
"Right-a fucking now? You take-a dis four crate of soft-a drink inside to George, den you come-a back out-a for more."
"I want a shower and put mi cases in the room after that, all right Jimmy?"
"All right-a ya bastard." He said.