Caravanning with Wep – Monday, 17th May 1937; Kurrajong to Collector

17th May Monday

Somewhere in the Arctic Circle north of Collector.

Left Kurrajong on Coronation Day May 12. (Wed) after ‘orrid Tuesday at pub. Spent time conversing with two hot-water engineers, one named Fitch, and disputing bosomy woman’s dissertation on the modern girl, her manifold sins and wickedness. Later alleged her to be a ‘bloody old fowl’ – not to her of course. Frank drove me home. Had a shaky trip home – fortified by two orange drinks. Struck Hassel & Co – caravan at spot opposite P.O. Kurrajong. He had a long talk at me and Jess. Couldn’t stand another prospect of public holiday peeping. – of bovine staring stupid eye dull-boring through the door & walls of Jenny. Myriad blunted gimlets drilling holes throughout our privacy. In the PUBLIC EYE!, came home.

Stayed at Brighton till Monday. Made fresh start – it had better be! What lousy painting I did at Kurrajong. Maybe I wanted something hotter, more acrid than those cool harmonies of blues & green. I’ve seen more of what I’m after today. Pungent bilious orange once-green, desiccated leaf colours, grey, symphonies of lilies, & spewed landscapes. And the dullest red I’ve ever seen hung to the bottoms of leaden clouds. Acid.

Gave lift to young fellow with huge Gladstone bag. Was walking to Sydney, but didn’t care which way he went. So returned with us to Goulburn whence he came 12 miles ago. Said he was aiming to get to the Tamworth Cup meeting tomorrow. God knows what for, I didn’t ask. Looked cold & had a red nose my shape but longer. Gave him good luck & 2/-. Said he could do with a feed. Believe him.

Am parked alongside the road, north of Collector, and boy, is it cold!

Caravanning with Wep – 2nd May 1937; Kurrajong to Mt. Victoria, Cox Valley & Lithgow then unplanned return to Sydney and back to Kurrajong

2nd May.

What a chronicle! A month gone and nothing entered.

Left Kurrajong after a hectic Saturday. Doug & Don (the chef) threw a party in our honour at Pumpkin Cottage on the Friday. The 5 gallon keg dethroned after a few hours hard at it. Met the behind scenes life of pub. Myrtle the fertile waitress lusty built, generous flesh, man-knowing painted face, possessing look of lewd pictures. Ethel, Don’s wife, crudity, not his class. Dirty jokes, two girl corpses. Vision of housekeeper appearing clad in irate dressing gown demanding cessation of activities. Needn’t have bothered herself the 5 was empty anyway.

Got away from the Hotel at 4:30 am (4th April) Sunday. Woke to find ourselves in bed in the caravan outside the bar. Blissfully unconscious where Lena had laid us to rest in a dim hiatus of alcoholic past. Woke to impervious demand by Jess that we should get going.  Stagger with sleep and angrily start off after god-damned strenuous cranking of engine. Jess stays in bed in the caravan and travels in sick comfort. She is not well. Dawn breaks somewhere near Bilpin. Drearily drive through a dank and dampish no-man’s land to Mt. Victoria. Jess getting hell from the old trouble. Passes out with strain in the corridor of hotel whilst on way to bath. 4/- for cleanliness; no wonder it’s next to Godliness!

Got to Cox’s river both feeling mighty low. Ate disinterestedly on re-fried pork chops surreptitiously parcelled out to us by Don the previous day. Scraps of chicken gnawed at on way to Mt. Vic. Sad, grey, sat-on, oyster patties, past all human aid unceremoniously consigned to garbage.  Slept fitfully the afternoon. Good painting here. Brown burnt rolling foot hills, lean silent ghosts of once trees stubbed on unshaven ridged earth. She-oak trimmed river gurgles on round rocked ford. Jess restlessly ill wants to go. Get to upper reaches of Cox valley between Rydal & Bowenfells. Am entranced with delicious cool mountain water. Gulp gallons & run with glass for Jess to taste – Curiously kick over fallen notice much faded injunction that “This water is unfit for human consumption.” Speeding vision of all the arses & privates of Lithgow emptying hurriedly into my glass. Ugh! But it did taste good. Jess very bad next morning. Pack up and leave trailer at Lithgow & come on to Sydney. 5 hours slow run. Took her over to Paddy. Left town on Thursday with Dawn and returned to Kurrajong with caravan. Arrived pub at 7:30pm after tiring trip along Bells Line Road. (Thursday 8th April.) Ran from blue water clarity beyond Hartley into great dark battlements belching shot of ice. Past Bell look backward under arch of dark, glimpsing reddened sun. Mists rising out of the blue depthless valley swirl flame like licking cliffs – Red lit. Am amidst a heatless mighty fire, the sky behind a blazing strip squeezed beneath a great warm bottomed rolling vapour dark. Sharp shafts of orange-lit trunks waving myriad bronze green flashing drip-dropping fingers against death purple-blue shadow depth. A great Ziegfield flashy stage lit by crazy aimless spot lights. Lights and darks where they have no damn right to be. Isolated, staring patches of highlight, serpent wiggling lines of coloured mist. All the colours of the mind in one mad finale before the curtain of night. Awesome in its colour psychology, its extravagance. In some vague way, terrifying. Filling the timid alien who has burst willy-nilly upon such recklessness with something akin to fear, relegating him in a great cold Hell! The car leaves hurriedly, the man, furtive, back-looking. Interloper! 30 miles of aloneness-fear, bad grades, slippery road, hail, mud, and unutterable dark. 30 times 30 miles. Cold wet.

They dropped a log on Toby. Dead as dead. Have got to know the Culvers. Often wondered what fearsome predatory brute lurked behind bunches of “No Trespassers.” Called over and made himself known to us, inviting us to bridge at “Fernmount” that night, Sunday. A florid pleasant chappy with rather inquiring habit of looking at you. Sometimes the rigid immobility of staring doll eyes. Cultured, first I’ve struck on the travels interested in art, not as a connoisseur but with curiosity as to the flap doodle of art, its jargon. English ex-navigator & curio up in these parts. Wife also English mannered. David, the son, a 9 year old adult. Father’s face and eyes. Eyes that seem as if expecting you to burst into a song-and-dance or turn into a pillar of salt, or something curious, or just something. A great big lovely chocolate cake for supper.

Invited over again after a few days to Bridge & Bottle party. Turned out no bridge, but much bottle & talk about ground here – abouts and possibilities thereof. Finally offered use of a portion of his ground up from Geoff’s. Quite keen on the prospect of us building a shack on it we could use for week-ends. J.D. has appointed himself official angler to play my enthusiasms re house erecting. A past master of the art.

The more I see of nature the more incredible I find it. Give me mountains for variety. Convinced that an artist could paint anything his errant fancy could devise and nature would not only duplicate it for him but show him as a feeble scribbling child mind.

Saw, during evening, the foothills below as billowing foam crested sea. Crest-capped long waves of earth breaking. Angry waters of land. Is there no end to the possibilities of this scene?

Went to the boat race with Frank Peck. Arrived as it was in progress. Heard it all most comfortably seated behind a pint of beer in the Nepean Hotel. Parked and made way towards river as the crowd broke and flung itself city wards in our teeth.

Getting to know pretty well everyone up here now.

Frank     Jack P.   Queen Anne (Miss Quinnan)

Daddy   Aub        Mr Simpson

Nana     Charlie  Lee Wilson

Lena      Jack H.  Don Donaldson

Bill          Bill Brown            Ede

Don        John D.                 Una

George Van Tright

Ken        David

Dick (skull phantom of the opera)

Ethel

Myrtle  Dorothy

Pat         Geoff

Doug     Mickey

Joe         Bill Walk

Jess has just finished knitting a bootie. Well! Well! How things do ’appen!

Caravanning with Wep – Wednesday, 31st March 1937; Kurrajong – “Have decided this is no diary. More a record of impressions..”

Wed. March 31st

April Fool’s Day tomorrow. Don’t forget it. Jess is after you my boy. Stick it in the old cerebellum! Have decided this is no diary. More a record of impressions, lacking the orderliness of day to day entries. Why anyway? What happens every day? Sum total that counts.

 Have been giving it rather a thrashing over Easter. Long standing habits plus novel interest in country outlook of country family pub proprietors.