Caravanning with Wep – Saturday, 22nd May 1937; Collector to Jindabyne via Lake George, Canberra, Bredbo and Cooma

22nd May Sat.

Have been at Jindabyne since Wed. Met Jess’s ex-boss & party at Collector & received warmth per favour Rum. Country incredibly dry – rolling copper earthed hills crust broken exposing tired & dreary patina-ed rocks. Lake George, like all grass & colour “has-been”. Disordered litter of dead and near dead trees all jumbled in second-hand dealer profusion along the slopes resting down towards the flat reclining comfort of waterless, fenced & cattled George.

Drove straight through Canberra with nary an error. Am becoming really hot stuff on direction. Looked eagerly for snow on distance mountains – could still be looking. Bought villainous yellow pies at Queanbeyan and did eat & drink cold tea, the Thermos having departed this vale of tears between Collector & Q.

Once more over the road which I have sworn never to drive again. Still the same rocked, rutted, frozen, chopped river of land threaded through the hills. The same treeless dumpish hills. Hills which seen from the road, rear stark-edged discordantly against the unbelievably blue and hollow sky. Hills whose edges hold no promise of world beyond. Their ochreish scorched bodies stretched in never ending length. And all quite bald.

And out back homes! Cheerless scattered sheds. Rigid raiment cast on the face of the land higgldy-piggldy by the weary pioneer in utter exhaustion. Tired – utterly jaded – wilting houses of cards. Bare necessities – the sullen bitter exacting earth sucking all human substance – leaving him no surcease in which to adorn his body’s shell. Succubus!

Gave lift to a fellow at Bredbo. Wanted transport to Cooma, hating wait for train until 6a.m. following morning. Turned out to be licensee of Cooma Hotel.  Well! Well! Had rums on the house. Called on George Longmuir at Com. B. of Sydney. Had more rums & dinner at Dodd’s – more rum. Went with him and cos. Small a local chemist & erstwhile Kosciusko contemporary & John co-bank worker, to church bop. Met Vicar’s daughter. She was only the Vicar’s daughter but —! Repaired again to Dodd’s, thence to Greek or what have you café & supped. Left, 2:30am & slept on top of hill. Scrapped about a foot of frost off next morning. A bleeding cold morning. Left after thawing out.

Road something terrible. Like riding on one continuous strip of corrugated iron. Shook everything to bits. Wireless hasn’t worked since. The bloody …….!

Surveying a possible campsite

Arrived Jindabyne about 12. Have never realised what a cheerless place it was. Have always seen it through the roseate eyes of holiday merry making. Couldn’t find a blade of grass within a mile of the official centre. Finally wedged way onto only square of grass in district. Alongside Snowy River and amidst countless wild briars, all red-berried and leafless. Designated parking ground seems to be the local football area bordered with shallow creeks full of tins and broken crockery. No grass, colour key of this place is grey, endless and monotonous.

Houses scattered willy nilly on both sides of the river, fenceless, innocent of all grass. Briar strewn and poultry infested. Rubbish, garbage, broken fences, all manner of diverse junk, all however having one thing in common. Cheerless grey, not even gloomy, just a tired dirt tone – dust to dust.

And the romance of Man from Snowy River! Just grey and grey and grey. I’ve gone and made myself god-damned grey. Tired. Long past bed-time. Now 8:45 P.M.  Oho!

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!