The Location for The Ravine?
Someone asked me recently if I’d used an actual location for the short story, The Ravine. The truth is: No, it’s not a real location but it is based on a gorge I visited once way back around 2013 or thereabouts.
A fellow pilot and I had just finished a three-day job escorting two Caterpillar 783 dump trucks to Solomon Mine, way out in the back blocks somewhere north of Mount Tom Price. It was an absolute scorcher of a day, as I remember, and there was a well-known gorge that we had passed several times previously (I can’t for the life of me recall the name) that we knew was a popular swimming hole with local FIFO workers. We both had jobs the following day out of Newman and didn’t need to rush back so we decided we’d go for a swim.
After climbing around a hundred metres down the rugged cliffs we reached the rock pool below. Seated in the shade of a river gum were a mine worker and his wife and two kids. Apparently, she lived in Port Hedland and whenever he had days off they’d make an outing of it and visit some local site or another. (I should add that most mine employees were Fly-In-Fly-Out workers who’d be on a plane back to the city within hours of knocking off.)
Anyway, my mate and I stripped to our undies and dove in. The shock I wrote about in The Ravine when Malcolm dived into that frigid water was exactly what we experienced! The air temperature must have been forty Celcius but the water seemed close to freezing.
After we lay in the shallows for a time and got used to it we actually enjoyed our swim but the water got colder as the depth increased. If we trod water our toes would go numb so we kept our bodies close to the surface.
The walls were almost perpendicular as I described them in the story. I’ve no idea how deep the water was but I reckon it went down a long, long way. And no—we didn’t see any bunyips or crocs.
So there you are; that’s where the inspiration for The Ravine came from.
I tried to find a photo but as I don’t recall the name of the gorge I had to settle for the above image, which I believe is actually the Finke Gorge in the Northern Territory.