Monday, November 19, 2012

You Need Never Leave Your Home

Recently on Radio National's Download This Show, they were talking about that internet giant who began selling books and has now branched out into home shopping. So, folk can buy their fortnight's essentials and have it delivered to their door. They don't need to go mix with the rabble for anything. Food? Water? Toilet paper? Hell, just work all day, go home and relax in the home theatre. (Now ... that is weird. Is it just me, or is the 'home theatre' incorporated into every Australian McMansion just really, really strange?) I quite like leaving my home to buy food and entertainment. It's part of my hunter gatherer impulse. Apparently having a house in Gemini means that I just love arguing with my family about politics and philosophy but sooner or later, I may find they've relegated me to another home. (Cue the hunter gatherer thing.)

I suppose the irony is that while I was listening to RN's 'you will never have to leave your home again', I was driving the 150 kilometres out to Pallinup to catch fish that I would drive back to Albany and put on a truck to Perth, to be auctioned at the markets and sent back to the supermarkets in my home town.

While out at Pallinup I decided to take a drive east to my Kundip shack. I needed to drop off a load of wood and planned on having some lunch, a read and a little sleep in the lovely bed I'd built, to get back in time to set nets with Old Salt.

Turning off at the Jerry roadhouse is always like stepping off a jetty for me. At that point, I'm leaving and civilisation drops away. Radio reception dies and the road stretches into a few hundred kilometres of paddocks and bitumen.

I passed a red scooter, loaded up with fishing buoys, sleeping bags, backpacks and tents on the roadtrain highway, the rider looking grimly ahead. As I flew by the scooter, I was thinking, man, that is brave. Crazy brave. I began thinking about the two people I know who have ridden bicycles across the country, how unexpectedly urbane they are in their present lives considering their adventures. I thought this scooter rider must have been one of those Japanese blokes; sunburnt, strident, tenacious.

When I arrived at my shack, I walked around the place as I always do. Someone had lit a fire there.

Other folk had decided to move in.

That last photograph is not that great. It's a 'snap and run' shot. Black bees have moved into my shack. They've built four or five hives in the place. Honey and pollen were running down the windows. I was truly outraged! But the honey comb, oh boy, that stuff smells so yummy.
So, how to tell the bees to leave? Politely?

I drove back to Pallinup and talked to the other fishermen. They've had shacks around this coast for generations. Unruly said, "Talk to Grievous' Bro. He loves bees."
Grievous' Bro walked into the camp. It turns out he's a bit ambivalent about bees.
"Get some flea bombs. Pour diesel over the hives," was his advice. "We got back to our herring shack one year and there were twelve beehives in there. Diesel is the only way to deal with them. You've just gotta kill them."

I'm quite devastated that my shack has been commandeered by bees. On the road back to Pallinup that day I was feeling cranky and needing the close comfort of a pest control confidant. It turned out there was an entirely different epiphany lurking. I pulled into the Jerry roadhouse and the red scooter I'd seen before my aparian odyssey was parked out the front. This bike was a crazy mix of visionary/fisher/traveller. Then I saw the South Australian plates.

I walked in and bought a coffee credit. Apart from the smiling Irish attendant, there was only one other person in the place. She was little, tousled, young. She looked tired. She had her ears hooked to her lap top. She sat at a table at the far side of the room. I waved at her and she took out her earbuds.

"Did you just ride that scooter across the Nullabor?"
She nodded. "Yes. Yes, I did."
She looked like she was about fifteen. I stared at her. She stared back. Both of us were quiet.
Finally I blurted, "I am so fucking impressed."
Shy, awed, I pressed the 'flat white' button on the machine, made a coffee and then I left for Pallinup.


  1. Best ever, had me to the last word.

  2. Yes, truly captivating.

    Can't you get an apiarist to take the bees? Don't they do that sort of thing and keep the bees to add to their collection?

    And I too would be very upset but that's the harsh natural rule of homes: if you don't occupy them someone (or something) else will.

    1. It seems to be very difficult to find someone who will take them away MF. And they are angry black bees too! You are so right about that natural law but I'd prefer frogs as tenants.

  3. That is so awesome!
    And yes, the whole home theatre thing is totally weird

  4. Great story - crossing the Nullabor on a scooter? - the mind boggles at the madness of it. It equally boggles at the thought of home theatres - whatever happened to multi function spaces?

    And to the bees - long time ago I used to keep bees - in your case I would suit up, smoke them (it quiets them down), cut off the combs and drop them in a box and take them away after dark - but that doesn't help you ... you could try dusting them with borax powder when they are quiet(but you need to be covered from head to foot - black bees tend to be angry bees). Borax powder is less likely to stir them up than a poison spray - it just takes a few days to kill them - they have to ingest it.

  5. Thank you so much Janine. You make it sound so easy!
    What about smoking them, at night, then the borax powder?

  6. It's easy when they are quiet, murderous when they are angry. Yes after dark, they will all be there, and it's colder so they are slower too, just no lights as they make a beeline (sorry about that!)for any light. We used a smoker to smoke them, I don't know what you'd use instead, but it may not be necessary at night - it just helps - (they think there is a bushfire nearby). Just be well covered, including a head veil and gloves - and be prepared to get out in a hurry.