9 May ’02
While heading to Sydney for the weekly P&O website meeting – gravel truck, early morning.
I’ve been planning to stop and photograph the line of trucks that head in to the Bungendore Sands quarry just out of town. Some early mornings there are two or three waiting at the gate on the road, which is obviously locked overnight. I’ve seen drivers asleep in their cabs, at around 6.30am. Then there is a stream both ways along the narrow dirt road and they thunder back into Bungendore and split off in various directions.
The gravel and sands of Lake George are a big part of the economy of the area, and the trucks that carry them away, a significant part of the road traffic and wear and tear on the roads. The drivers are usually courteous and pull over going up and down the hills were you can pass, but on most of the road they push the speed limit like everyone else. I felt I had to complain about one driver who was terrorising an old guy in a ute who had cut in in front of him. The truck tailgated him across the Molongolo river flat and into Queanbeyan. I rang the company and gave his registration. They were concerned but I never heard what happened.
It was a day of ‘significant’ moments, observed from the car.
I was behind a white ute that was sitting on 100 coming into Lake Bathurst and I slowed at the 60 sign but the ute continued at speed. As I rounded the next corner I saw the road covered with white flying feathers and a splattered chook being picked up by a tall young man with a look of pain on his face. The chook looked like one of those joke rubber hens with painted on blood and an elongated neck. The man crossed the road just in front of me, the early yellow sunlight on him against the dark road.
I almost stopped, thinking that ‘I should photograph this’ but I couldn’t see how I’d handle it. I drove out of town and sped up, and immediately had to swerve to avoid running over a dead fox. It was young, obviously had been healthy and it lay with it’s face toward me, eyes open, black tipped ears sharp in the light. Again the photographer slowed but didn’t stop. I came up behind the ute on the flat and overtook it. As I pulled alongside I slowed and looked hard at the driver. It was a middle aged woman, short, heavy, sitting low in the seat. She had a tough, country sun tanned pudgy face that didn’t turn towards me but stared ahead as if drugged.
As I went through Goulburn there was a big fat kid with two soft bags, one of them the large, square, blue and pink striped woven plastic kind, with handles. The kind that people travelling cheap always seem to use around the world. He lifted a long rucksack out of a Woolworth’s shopping trolley and gave the trolley a kick with his foot and sent it into the gutter where it tipped over. He stepped around it and crossed with his bags to the railway station.
Coming home I sat in traffic in the Eastern Distributor tunnel as everyone suddenly put their stop lights on. As far as I could see there was red, reflected off cars and chrome and the tiled walls. In the traffic jam I juggled the camera and did manage to photograph that.
The descent into hell will be like that I reckon. There’s no reason why the road won’t be crowded.
And when we get there it will be like a coin laundromat late at night, with fluorescent lights and the suffocating warm air with the smell of soap powder and loneliness.