Author: admin

A Cold Swim on a Hot Day

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.

Image of a Bunyip.
An artist’s impression of a bunyip. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.




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.

Budgies on the North-West Highway.

A Close Encounter of the Avian Kind


Heavy dump truck on low loader
Yep, that’s me with a dump truck. Possibly a Cat 777 but I’m not sure. Notice the Aussie safety footwear!

Starting in late 2010 and up to the end of 2016 I worked as a wide-load pilot driver. This involved escorting oversize loads—mostly mining equipment—in and out of mining and construction sites all over Australia, though mainly in Western Australia.
In those six years, I clocked up well over a million kilometres.

I did almost no actual writing during this period. What I did do, however (and mostly without even realising it) was collect, in my own version of a Mind Palace, many of the characters who would later populate both my debut novel GOLD! and the spin-off short story The Ravine.

I worked with loads of interesting characters and witnessed some truly awesome sights during that time. One of the most memorable was the Budgie Incident.

I was driving south along the North-West Coastal Highway somewhere between Carnarvon and Geraldton, returning to Perth after spending a week escorting loads of rail from the Dampier port. I’d stopped in a truck bay to stretch my legs when without warning an enormous flock of budgerigars swooped from the sky. I’d been splashing my face with water and obviously, they’d picked up the scent.

They seemed totally unafraid of me and in minutes my vehicle and its bull bar were covered with these playful little birds. I tipped some water into a bowl and they swarmed over it, drinking their fill. After a few minutes, I even was able to coax one of them to perch on my finger. It was a truly amazing experience and even though I knew better I just couldn’t resist taking hold of it.
The bird (I can’t say I blamed it) screeched and sunk its beak into my finger. At the same time, it seemed the entire flock decided it was time to tear my face apart. Luckily, I was wearing wrap-around sunglasses.

budgie with a tiger's head
No, this is not the actual bird, but rather what it felt like! Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay

I immediately released the budgie and the flock took flight. They wheeled in circles for about a half-minute before deciding my water wasn’t worth the risk. They flew off and within a minute had disappeared into the shimmering haze, leaving me with a sore finger and a slight case of chagrin.

I told the story a few days later to a truckie and he said he had seen the same thing (minus the finger biting) on one or two occasions. Budgies, it seems, have few predators in the wild except for hawks, eagles, and the occasional feral cat. They don’t see humans as a threat any more than they do kangaroos or emus.
I hope I didn’t ruin that for my visitors that day.


Thanks for reading. Would you like to read more snippets like this? I’ve got a gazillion more tales I could share.

Leave a comment below if you feel the urge.

Cheers for now.


Jim—A Monologue.



G’day. My name’s Jim. This little lady here is the love of my life, Jess. She’s a sweetie, isn’t she? Sometimes I really wonder what I’d have done without her all these years. We never had any kids, but somehow it always seemed enough just to have each other. When we had the farm she worked alongside me every day. Nothing was too hard, or too much to ask.

It’s always amazed me how she does that though—watches TV, knits, and reads, all at the same time. But you ask her what was the last thing that happened on the screen and she’ll tell you word for word! Women, hey? They’re a strange breed. We’ve been together now for fifty-five years.

Well, that’s maybe not entirely true since I’m not actually here, not in body anyway. Yep, you guessed it, I’m the “Dearly Departed”. Deceased. Brown bread. Dead as a doornail!
She can’t see or hear me but somehow I just don’t know where else to go. I figure if I hang around maybe I can keep an eye on her. You know, steer her in the right direction if she needs to make any big decisions, Well that’s my story anyway and I’m stickin’ to it.

How did I die? Well, it’s a common enough story I guess: I’d been having a bit of trouble with the old waterworks for a while and no quack was going to be giving me the finger if you get my drift. Jess caught me in the dunny one day with tears in my eyes and she only had to see the slow drip, drip, trickle to know things weren’t exactly hunky-dory. She had me down to Doc Evans before you could say “prostate” and, well, I suppose you can guess the rest. Blood tests, scans, exploratory surgery, chemo, et cetera.

The really stupid thing—from my point of view—was that they said if we’d caught it just a couple of months earlier I’d probably still be alive! I tell you, folks, it doesn’t pay to try to be a hero where your health is concerned. 20 / 20 hindsight I think they call that. A wonderful thing—but totally bloody useless.

I don’t know exactly how long I was in hospital but I do know that it seemed every time I opened my eyes Jess was at my bedside. How she persuaded the staff to let her practically live there was beyond me but I guess as our house was pretty close and it’s a small country hospital they understood. Not that I was awake a whole lot, as they had me pretty doped up most of the time.
I opened my eyes one morning and found myself standing looking down at myself, laying in the bed. The doctor was checking for signs of life and Jess was weeping in the corner. Not knowing what else to do I walked home to wait for her—and so here I am. I wish I could let her know I was here though.


Charlie called by again today, and Jess talked him into stayin’ for dinner. Charlie and I were in the Army together. He’s been my best mate for as long as I can remember. Jess and I, and Charlie and Rose—his ex-wife—were a regular part of what passed for a social scene around here in the ’50s and ’60s. I always reckoned he had a soft spot for Jess back then, but he ended up marrying Rose a few months after we tied the knot. She left him after a couple of years and moved to the city to work in real estate. Charlie never remarried. In fact, he never seemed interested in anyone else so I guess Rose was his one true love after all. The three of us stayed close friends, and he was the only other regular visitor when I was in the hospital. He’s a true friend, is Charlie, and it’s good to know he’s keeping an eye on Jess too.


What a bloody catastrophe! Jess popped out to the garden yesterday to pick some tomatoes and tripped on a loose paver.
What a damn fool I am! I’d promised her for ages to fix that path, but just never got around to it. Now, thanks to my damn stupid neglect she’s laid up in hospital with a busted hip! To make matters worse it happened late on a Sunday and no-one was around to hear her calling out except for me. I stayed with her, of course, and even dashed up and down the street trying to attract someone’s attention but as you can guess I was about as much use as an ashtray on a Harley.

She lay in agony all night and it wasn’t until Pete the postie came at 9.00 am that she was finally discovered. By that time she was too weak to call out so I knew this was my last chance.
Pete was slipping a letter into our box, with me waving my arms and screaming uselessly at him, when in desperation I grabbed a couple of envelopes from his bag and waved them in his face before running around the back, with the illustrious Pete the Postie in hot pursuit, to drop the letters near where poor Jess was laying, half-conscious.
Don’t ask me how I did that, or what poor old Pete made of it, but it did the job. Pete called the ambulance and Jess was in casualty within a half hour.
So now it’s my turn to sit by a hospital bed and wait. She opened her eyes for a minute and I’m sure she smiled at me but I heard the doctor say that she’s still in a coma. One thing’s for sure—I’ll not be going anywhere so long as Jess is in this place.


She’s awake now, and in a bit of pain despite the medication. Charlie is here too. She told him she saw me by her bed that first day, but he agrees with the nurses that it was just the morphine. Can’t say I blame them, of course. Good old Charlie, I know he’ll keep an eye on her and get her anything she needs.


It’s been two months now, since Jess’ fall. Two months of pain, plaster, and persistence. She’s been in the Rehab Wing for three weeks, and Doc Evans has just told her she can go home today.
Charlie has been in every day, sometimes sitting here with me and watching her sleep. He gets that misty-eyed look at times, and I reckon his soft spot for Jess has well and truly resurfaced. She could do a lot worse, of course. Strange, though, you’d think I’d be a bit jealous but all I really want is for her to be happy.


Well, what a turn-up! Charlie brought her home from the hospital, stayed for dinner (which he cooked) and the next thing you know the bugger’s moved in! 
I’ve taken to going for long walks at night so as to give ‘em their privacy. They still don’t know I’m here of course, but some things you just don’t need to be privy to. 
Jess is coming along well. She still has a bit of a limp, but they say she’ll heal completely. 
Charlie has fixed the garden path and seems to relish being the man-about-the-house. He’s becoming quite the gardener too. I never saw that side of him before.


Jess was up early this morning and left the house a few hours ago. Charlie spent last night at Pete’s place. Pete is to be Best Man. The ceremony will be over by now I think.
Jess and Charlie will be spending a week on the coast, sort of a honeymoon you’d call it I guess. I hope it all goes well for them. One thing I do know is that they don’t need my company.
Somehow I couldn’t bring myself to tag along to the wedding, either. Anyway, there’s something I need to think about.
You see, I’ve had this feeling for a while now that I need to be somewhere—somewhere else. There’s a sort of light that seems to follow me around wherever I go and I get the urge to see what it is. I stood really close yesterday an’ I swear I saw my old Mum smiling back at me. There’s nothing to keep me here now, so maybe I’ll go and check it out.

Anyway, thanks for stoppin’ by. I guess I’ll be off. Say “Hi” to them for me when they get back, will you?