We were staying at the Eulo Queen hotel, a combination campground, hostel and cabin style accom as well as restaurant and 3 tap bar (VB, XXXX and Carlton Mid). I was dreaming in the early morning that my dad was camped just around the corner from us and I saw him walking back from the shower in a towel and called out – that’s what woke me up. I lay in the single lower bunk I’d slept in for a few minutes longer, then realized that for the first time on the trip I might be up early enough to see the sun rise. On a Sunday, no less, I can’t sleep in and on this trip I’ve been cold in the early hours.
I stepped out onto the little cabin patio and saw the sky aglow in pastel pinks and blues in the West, and a brightening yellow in the East. The nearby gums and phone wires were heavy with galahs, sitting in twos and fours, bouncing and balancing with their wings outstretched. When they turned towards the sun, they glowed with an intense tangerine light that seemed hyper real, and it occurred to me that in the same way that the bats bring the night in the City, perhaps the galahs bring the morning in out here. It was quiet, in the fact that the noises of the city were absent, in that small sounds travelled further, a man coughing from the cab of a heavy-working ute that was pulling a palatial caravan, the flocks of birds – parrots, galahs and tens and twenty other small birds that I don’t know the names of – that flew over in conversation. Four cars pulled up across the road, had conversations, about what, we couldn’t tell. Tamaryn speculated that they might have been on their way to church and wondered if church lives on in smaller towns as an excuse to get together, check on each other, sing, dress up, drink tea. We made the morning coffee – turns out we’re starting to get used to old Griddler’s best blend – and Tamaryn turned the tortillas into something edible. We finished off with a desert cracker, adding some of the Mulberry preserves we’d brought from Eudlo to Eulo. We agreed that the pear was the favourite, but we were moving onto the mulberry having glumly finished the pear in our roadside stop the day before.
The afternoon before when we’d arrived in town we’d taken a short stroll up the street – for a short stroll was really all that could be taken, past the pub, with the restored cream coloured (Holden? ) ute out front, a general store promising Telstra reception, an old wooden hall of exactly the sort we were looking for, the Police station, to the Art Gallery in the old post office. Two guys with beers were settled in on mismatched old plastic chairs, in a grassy side yard where opal displays were set up in buckets, and a wood-sided fire pit looked ready for the night. The street was paved, part of the highway, with red dirt that glowed in the setting sun in the same way the galahs glowed of a morning, swelling with importance and settling into its place as the largest presence in the landscape. I had a postcard from St George that I’d forgotten to put in the box, and we wanted to have a look at the opals in the shop anyway, so we toddled up the steps and met Mick, who was elated after having his biggest day of sales ever – 3 paintings from a local artist sold to a couple from the Coast who’d hemmed and hawed, gone away, thought about it, then come back and made his day. The paintings were beautiful, symmetrical, Indigenous style with modern colours and sequined additions as highlights, graceful brolgas or storks, fish caught mid-tail flick. Groupings of fossils behind glass were very reasonably for million year old pieces of the Earth – $70 for a fish or leaf pattern marked into dark rock, white plastic buckets of meteor pieces, opal jewelry, glass jewelry, honey, date topping, date jam, fig jam. Tamaryn tried on a bee covered apron she fancied as a dress and then we went for a look outside where the guys with the beers were.
Simon and Ian, they were, and Simon got to telling us about Ian’s business, Artesian Mud Baths. We’d read a little about them before we’d come but had been put off by a candid picture of a couple of guys in budgie smugglers covered in a light grey paste, standing arm in arm and squinting in the glare of what looked like a Eulo day that had reached boiling point.