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Bored, burnt and bonkers in Blowin' Bowen.

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 21 September 2009 | Views [1602] | Comments [3]

The 'Australia' shrine in the local bakery.

The 'Australia' shrine in the local bakery.

What drugs was I on when I thought of returning to Bowen? Anyone who reads my ramblings will be able to answer that question, but they won't win anything for their trouble. I drive around amazed that the fond memories I have of the place seem so far removed from the reality I see before me. With nothing positive to say about the work I did and not being an overt fan of the movie 'Australia', only the friends I made here could have influenced my desire to return. And glad I am that I am doing it for 3 long weeks rather than the months I planned to do.

What does Bowen actually have to big note itself? It has some sort of historical importance, but I, nor anyone I have ever met would really care too much about that. It has 'The Big Mango', culturally significant to some, a waste of fibreglass to most. The towns buildings are covered with murals depicting its history, but while competently executed, all of them fall short of being worth viewing on artistic merit alone. They all tell the story that the town was settled in the 1860's and absolutely nothing of importance happened until 'Australia' was filmed here. Tourist brochures claim it put Bowen on the international map, and I would agree if the map only depicted all the backwater shitholes that had nothing of local merit to commend themselves. If you're not into looking at historical murals, the only option open to you is to listen to the town folk speak of how they once met Hugh Jackman or Nicole Kidman. If you're unlucky enough, you'll also get assailed by a pile of photos to back up their claim of personal worth according to how closely they brushed up against fame.

Such worldly influence didn't have much lasting effect though, other than the shops that became shrines to what is, all in all, a pretty shit movie. One home grown hero thought that Broome must have been another country having never left the sunshine state to see for herself what existed beyond its borders. Bowen has some nice beaches no doubt, but its moniker of 'Blowin' Bowen' is hard not to acknowledge when each visit to the beach gives you a dry ex-foliation and free afro styling in no time at all. Not to mention the chill factor that shrivels your goodies the second you step out of the water. And with my sun fried skin peeling down to the bone, the white enamel paint I'm using rather than sunscreen is further keeping the warmth out.

So that wouldn't seem like it is leaving me much to do during the day. Rachel has had one day off in the 2 weeks I have been here meaning her company has been more of an encore than the main event. After a week camping by a stagnant creek near her hostel, conveniently located about 55 kms outside of Bowen, I needed something more permanent in case the neighbours took exception to my presence, or the mosquitoes planned a thousand generations on one weeks yield.

I've taken up residence in a caravan park near Queens beach to give myself a stable base of operations. Here I whittle away the days painting, writing, reading and staring vacantly into space like some of my grey nomad neighbours chasing adventure before dementia. The back of the van stays in permanent entertainment mode for the times when a quick game of bridge seems most befitting the occasion. That hasn't actually happened yet but at least the van is ready for when it does. A $12 2-man tent has become the nocturnal habitat to avoid constantly rearranging the seating. Thankfully Rachel and I stack ourselves vertically often enough to overlook the fact that 2 men could only fit in the tent if they were extremely short and anorexic.

Being a product of the pill-popping party generation, as all English I have met seem to be, Rachel long held a desire for us to 'get on it'. My 3 previous attempts at taking ecstasy had started and ended with me endlessly stroking the face of the person with me and believing that love REALLY was the answer with almost religious fervour.  Most things are available in Broome at such inflated prices that buying even a small amount has to go some way to stimulating the global economy.  3 pills made the trip across the country with me, which seemed rather harmless until the Cairns airport sniffer dog saw the opportunity to party, canine rave style, if it could only give my pockets a quick lick.

After 18 hours hung over with no food and a coffee so strong it was like liquid voltage, we did what the crack-whore canine was unable to do. Unsurprisingly, I went off the rails. Basically I paid $50 to have an anxiety attack. Every so often I would fall desperately in love with anything around me, but most of the time I was so shit-scared I just wanted to hug a teddy bear with almost religious fervour. Rachel was given very good reason not to plan any drug fuelled craziness around me unless she was practising to be a psychiatrist. So while the rest of the world uses caffeine, chocolate or crack to get through their day, I'll continue to pepper mine with cannabis infrequently enough to forget how exactly I ended up in Bowen again.

Tags: drugs, friends, misadventures



Dear Mr Harry
I'm one of your "grey haired neighbours" and dementia is setting in as i speak. So just to say thanks for a little beacon of light in the travel journal world.

I'm off to india soon, so there.
Good to read someone who can write "real funny"

Where's the index?

Barry (asset rich, otherwise poor.)

  barry-burton Sep 25, 2009 1:06 AM


You're an embarrassment to our generation.

  Simon Apr 20, 2014 6:23 AM


Whatever become of Homeless Harry ????

  Ten years orso later Apr 25, 2020 3:34 AM

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