bilateral kellerberrin

May 26, 2005

The Right Side of the Tracks

Filed under: keller dailies,walks — Lucas @ 10:24 am

For the first time ever in Kellerberrin, I was up before eight. When Glen dropped off his nail gun shortly after seven, and I was awake and dressed, waiting for him. What was I going to do now? I couldn’t go back to bed. I decided to go for a walk. So here it is: my expedition to The Right Side of the Tracks.

right side of the tracks

I headed east down Massingham Street. I was planning to take the “East Crossing.” By now it was about 7.30am, and a big orange bus pulled up in the train station car park. Loads of teenagers in school uniforms were milling around, and they reluctantly filed into the bus.

This, apparently, is the bus which takes Keller kids to the highschool in Merredin, where they can complete year 11 and 12. Merredin is about 60ish kilometres east. It’s a long day: on the bus at half seven, not back in Keller til after four.

I took a left and crossed over to the Right Side of the Tracks. I don’t really know why this is the Right Side. All I know is that if there are tracks, you have to have a Wrong Side. Ipso facto, the other side is the Right Side, right?

Almost immediately I stumbled upon the Kellerberrin Museum. I hadn’t really known there even was one. It’s an old stone building perched on a neatly trimmed lawn filled with old tractors and even a few bits of welded-rusty-machinery art. There was no sign up about opening hours.

I backtracked and continued up Bedford Street. Cunderdin also has a street of this name. Why was this Bedford fellow so important to the wheatbelt?

I cut a left onto James Street, and passed the Catholic church and parish centre, where the Notre Dame students had held their exciting ProblemBasedLearning sessions. On the opposite side of the road was the Police Station and next to it, the Kellerberrin Court House. How often are cases heard in this court house? Are Keller citizens called upon for Jury Duty? It would be hard to find an impartial Jury in a town this size…

The Court House had a big steel bin outside. I went over and had a look. Just an old sandwich wrapper. No sign of recent use, but that doesn’t mean anything: the bins could have just been cleared.

I began to look at ant hills on the ground. At this early hour, they produced long shadows which emphasised their hill-ness. By now, I was meandering. I had no plan and no direction to follow. I let the ant hills lead me right into Moore Street and left into Gregory. That’s when I spotted School Street.

I turned left into School. I’d been there before: it’s where Neville and Chris have their wonderful garden, where I dug for worms among the spinaches. I stopped to take a photo. A dog started barking at me so I moved on quickly.

A right turn back onto James, and then another right onto Hinckley. I was following the ants again.

At the end of the street, after it passes Connelly, Hinckley becomes a dirt road. All of a sudden the “suburbs” finish and a field opens up: you can see The Hill. I turned right down an even smaller dirt track and bumped into Dennis Alcock.

Dennis was way down in his back lot, sifting through bricks and tiles. He said that in the late 1960s, when the earthquake hit Meckering, he ordered up a lot of tiles. He expected that they’d be needed to repair the rooves of houses which had been damaged. The problem was, the builders who fixed the rooves ordered up their own tiles from Perth. So Dennis has been stuck with this stockpile ever since. I suggested that maybe in the future an IASKA artist might do a tile project, and then he’ll be able to shift the lot.

I liked standing in the sunshine and chatting with Dennis. He is living and working on the same piece of land his father bought in the late 1940s when they first came to Australia. Well, he shouldn’t really be working any more. Dennis is supposed to have retired late last year. But the building supplies company he has run for ages still has some stock, and people (like me) call him up from time to time to get some chipboard or gyprock.

I continued on my way. By now I was getting hungry, and I set my head for home. I made a beeline for the pedestrian railway crossing, and then crossed over Massingham Street courtesy of Chris, the school crossing lady. Peter McCabe was standing in the crisp sun shooting the breeze with her. Peter said that he’s an early riser, he’s rarely out of bed after 5.30am.

Peter and Chris talked about the relative merits of “getting a trade.” In this case, Chris and Neville’s son had wanted to be a diesel mechanic, but it’s a long, and low-paid period of training before you get a proper job. Instead, like his father, he got a job at the Water Authority, up in Merredin. He lives up there, and comes home on weekends. Chris said it’s been hard getting his clothes clean and dry for him over the weekend lately, what with the rainy weather and all.

Three kids, maybe 9 years old, crossed at the crossing. One was on a bike, the other two walked. They looked very reluctant to get to school, dragging their heels and deferring the moment of arrival. Chris said they are the same every morning. Her theory is that they actually take a perverse pleasure in making traffic stop, especially big trucks. That’s why they walk so slow.

I said my goodbyes to Peter and Chris and popped home. It was about half past eight. I noticed the butcher was already open. I came inside and made coffee and toast. I had “got the jump” on the day, and I felt very pleased with myself.

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