Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I'm feeling a bit under the weather this morning. Strange expression, don't you think? I mean, aren't we all under the weather? To be over the weather, you would have to be somewhere above the stratosphere...

"Just drink a big glass of Toughen The Fuck Up," says Colby. This is the Colby cure-all. Cuts, abrasions, broken limbs - all ailments can be fixed with a big glass of Toughen The Fuck Up. "And let's kill us some fish." We push the tinny off the pontoon and roar off down Oyster Creek. Mayhem wants to try her hand at fishing.

Having been in Carnarvon for a couple of weeks, Mayhem has realised the limited extent of recreational possibilities available in this frontier western town. There is not much of a party scene. No nightclubs. The cafes here are full of tourists, rather than bohemians. We have no keys to any photographic studios. And, sadly no car as yet - only the Work Vehicle for assignments - the legendary $200 Datto having being sold to pay for motorcycle parts. So any suggestion made to Mayhem that involves the slightest possibility of recreational pursuits receives a standard answer. You want to do a marine radio course? "Oh! All right." You want to go scuba diving in Exmouth? "Oh! All right." You want to hang out of a helicopter and shoot a desert race? "Oh! All right." She is imperturbable and agreeable to most suggestions - an eminently admirable trait in an attractive young lady. Whether it be doing circle work on claypans at high speed amidst the shattered and rusting bodies of previous rollovers, or getting drunk with a bunch of rednecks whilst playing with pistols and high-powered rifles, or rescuing wild dogs, or - scary indeed - traveling up the North West Cape in a convoy of grey nomads - Mayhem seems to be up for anything.

But, like all those blessed with true genius and a penchant for trouble, she has her idiosyncrasies. You want to go camp at Mardathuna Station, out by the Kennedy Range National Park, i say. "Oh! Why would anyone want to do that?" Umm, because it's fun? Tourists come from all over the world to holiday on outback sheep stations, i say. Her eyes widen. "They do not!" she says with vehement finality. Nothing i can say will sway her from this conviction. Riding dirt bikes, shooting things, eating homestead cooking, drinking rum, sleeping on swags by a campfire under the stars - it's fun. "No, no," says Mayhem. Camping on a sheep station is seemingly the epitome of nihilistic madness.

So we head out for a spot of fishing. Fishing, of course, is a way of drinking beer. We berth alongside a muddy mangrove bank to grab some oysters, to go with the beer. As i take a swig of beer, Colby puts down his beer and pulls out an inappropriately huge knife. He prises open an oyster naturale. He passes it to Mayhem. "O! All right!" she says, and gulps it down. Under her NY cap, with her incredible porcelain skin, she looks to have dropped into a totally alien landscape. Which, of course, she has. From Manhattan to the Mangroves, via Melbourne.

Colby has agreed to take us fishing only reluctantly. "Fishing is for pussies," he declaims. Colby's logic is that of a relentless killing machine. Unless you're pinging wild goats and throwing them on your bonnet, or freediving amongst sharks, speargun in hand, hunting ludicrously large marine creatures, it is simply not worthwhile going about the business of food gathering. In fact, it is scarcely worth getting out of bed, unless you are going to have a beer and then kill something large and tasty.

"We should get us some turtle," he surmises, navigating the tinny through the shallow waters of a creek mouth. "Look, there goes a ray." Eating fish and chips at Coral Bay a couple of weeks ago, Mayhem told me that the alleged "scallops" you buy at fish and chip shops are all made from manta rays. "They cut their fins into circles with a cake cutter," she says. This mental image, for reasons i cannot quite fathom, sends me into paroxysms of laughter.

Colby's previous job was swimming with sharks in a big fuck-off aquarium in Hillarys. There he would hand-feed the sharks. "Great for pulling the chicks," Colby says, nodding. "The number of offers i got for headjobs from teenage girls, in my wetsuit out the back of the tank, well you just wouldn't fucking credit it." But Colby's tastes, it seems, run mainly to fish. His iPod is crammed with photos of him lovingly clutching a freshly-killed, glistening marine creature to his nether regions, smiling with orgiastic pleasure to camera. How can he describe the pleasure to be gotten from spearing marine creatures? "It's sexual," he says simply. However, it should be noted that Colby says that about most things. "That was sexual," he will say, after eating barbecued lamb chops. Looking at a particularly well-laid out edition of the local paper: "That is just sexual." My motorcycle, apparently, is sexual.

The beer goes down well. Casting out mulies does not go down so well, they keep landing on the creek bank. Our aim is off. We send Mayhem out to detangle them.

Friday, September 07, 2007


Art Director and Mayhem, that indefatigable journalistic team (and yes, that is us on the avatar, the profile pic) are back together, this time reporting from the frontier towns of the Gascoyne. Even as we speak, Mz Mayhem is journeying north, trusty Leica in hand, on a caravan safari into the wilds of Shothole Canyon and Turquoise Bay, deep into the unforgiving territory of the North West Cape. There she will hook up with a TV production crew and presenter Tania Kernaghan, the (apparently) well-known country singer, to document the inaugural Warlu Way safari, from Exmouth to Broome. Mayhem will cover the Exmouth component. Exmouth, endearingly referred to by our new flatmate, the blunt, sexist, foulmouthed, crocodilehunteresque freediver Colby, as Sexmouth. But more on Colby and his exploits later...

After returning from a three-month U.S. sojourn, Mayhem has this week taken up her new position as journalist, roving and reporting and apprenticed to the Art Director. Turning up at the paper brandishing a degree in journalism, she has been dropped in at the deep end - quite literally - flung into shark-infested waters off the Blowholes for a Coral Coast Happenings magazine assignment. And she has the scars to prove it, after a brief encounter with razor sharp corals at Point Quobba. But let us begin at the beginning.

Dugites are kind of like venomous snakes. Always willing to go to any lengths for a story, even lengths of deadly dugite, i stop the vehicle on the roadway shortly before we reach our destination at Point Quobba. The road, i notice, is alive with reptilian life forms. A thorny devil is sunning himself in the middle of the road. A dugite is stretched out nearby. Former wildlife rescue volunteer Mayhem springs into action, rescuing the thorny devil, preventing him from becoming lizard jerky on the Blowholes road.

My god, Art Director, isn't he beautiful! she exclaims. Can i keep him? I'll call him Spike.
Umm, i think the Department of Environment and Conservation might have something to say about that. You can't just grab creatures from the wild and keep them. It's like picking wildflowers. Against the law, you know.
You can't pick wildflowers?
Umm, no.
But you can trample all over them, or drive across them in a four-wheel-drive?
Umm, yes, i think that's okay.
And somebody could run over Spike! Look at him, oh, he is so cute! Ouch!

I persuade her to let Spike go, and we walk back down the bitumen to where the dugite lays, stunned, in the middle of the road. I pick it up by the tail. This is the surest way to determine whether a snake is venomous. Non-venomous snakes can't bend around and bite you on the hand. The snake looks a little worse for wear. As Mayhem and i are playing with it, a four-wheel-drive stops and a couple of English tourists jump out to look at the snake.

You should have seen the thorny devil, Mayhem says. He was so cute.
Oh, where is he? asks the female tourist.
Over there, about where you parked your car, i say.
Oh no! Poor Spike! Mayhem says.

We give the venomous snake to the tourists, and press on with our assignment. Coral Coast Happenings want a profile on the tourist destination.

Swimsuit shots, Mayhem. We must have swimsuit shots...