Now we are well and truly settled in Albany, a number of things have become clear – we should have done it years ago, the weather is even better than we knew it was, and we never want to shift again.
We know a number of families moving house right and we have counselled them to take great care, because moving house not only brings out the worst in people, it can be dangerous to personal health and wellbeing.
It’s not a good start, for example, when the truck arrives to collect your stuff for the big move and the driver admits he hates shifting. My wife, our driver said, has made us shift five times and every time we shift we almost kill each other and that’s not the worst of it because she’s a Docker’s supporter and I’m with the Eagles.
Here’s the full tale.
Before the move I was in the bush and had to drive like hell to get back in time to load the truck. When I got home I discovered I was not as well advanced with my personal packing as I thought and so stayed up well past midnight packing books I was sure I would never read again, files I couldn’t remember the contents of and computer equipment that became obsolete just after Kevin Rudd started shaving.
Anyway, up first thing in the morning for the truck, no time for breakfast and hard at it long enough to realise that not everything would fit it the available carriers: the truck, the back of my station wagon, my mate’s half truck plus two-ton trailer and my wife’s sedan.
But, as is the way, when you have to leave you have to leave and so we left.
On the way I decided to take the long route through Bridgetown and pick up a spare gas heater from my brother the beef breeder. My sister-in-law, forever sensible and well meaning, suggested I stay overnight and rest. No way, I insisted, must be there with the sparrow to help unload the truck. I am a man and must push on for fear of letting down the truck-men.
I didn’t make it, because 45ks out of Manjimup, on the Muir Highway, a kangaroo, after a shocking week on the stock market, decided it could go on no longer and threw itself in front of my car. Not only did it take its own life, it took the life of my car.
There we were, kangaroo, car and me, stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing to show for it but a busted radiator, busted bonnet, busted body and busted ego.
Luckily a car soon arrived on the scene but as he slowed he looked and what he saw was clearly a demented man in filthy clothes, with dishevelled hair and wild eyes. He planted his foot and left me standing.
I thought, hang on, this is my country, people know me, so when the next car slowed I yelled out: Hey, Jon Doust here. I’ve hit a roo. The occupant, a decent and local man responded: Dousty, what the hell have you done now?
And that’s how I arrived in Albany, looking like a rat flying out of some kind of hell.