Chardonnay

I think I look great in yellow, by far the happiest of colours, I’ve never seen a sad looking person in yellow.

I might be getting a bit worn and tattered, but I think I still make the grade, I don’t feel inadequate in any situation, though I think the younger ones gleam a little brighter, I’ve just got more experience.

Can’t say that I haven’t done a lot, I’ve been around Australia three times now, and the gleam in my eyes shows that I’ve loved my life.

When I was young I never thought I’d fall in with such a good group of people. I never thought then that friends were more important than getting the job done. But they are, and my experiences have taught me that, because I never had family.

Laughingly, I hadn’t missed a thing. The times these guys have made me laugh, and said ‘if friends were flowers they’d still pick me’. People who can’t understand how deep our friendships run seem to think, and sometimes say, that it’s time to move on. But I don’t believe it gets any bigger and better than this.

The trouble we’d get ourselves into! Like the first time, Ann, Cheryl and her young son and I had gone away together.

We’d been in Brisbane and on a whim, Ann had suggested Tasmania, it had taken only a day to organize everything to pack and check the oil and water, and we were on our way.

We’d taken the ferry across Bass Straight, and not too happy, I’d stayed below, while they frolicked on the bow in the sunset. But when we arrived in the early morn, chilled by how south we were, we’d parked up at the nearest beach and slept together in the sand. The penguins had awoken us in the dawn light.

Days later Ann and Cheryl’s fascination with Huon Pine, brought us to a six foot fence beside a wood mill. Without the budget to afford the exorbitant tourist prices they sold the prime cuts of wood for, they had decided to raid the mill where they cut it.
They left the keys and Tyler with me and Cheryl had instructed him to scream if he saw anyone, at 21 months old, he was young but Ty understood.

It wasn’t long before they erupted from the mill, a big circle of pine under each arm, running crazy and laughing, chased by two Rottweilers and trying to throw these heavy disks of wood like they were Frisbees over the fence. Ann’s rebounded, so Cheryl swung hers like a discus, grabbing it with both hands and going round and round to get the height and force, she succeeded and started climbing over the fence, Ann grabbed hers and just pulled the mesh fence out of the ground and kicked hers under and rolled through after it. Cheryl had just jumped down when the dogs, driven by their impetus collided with the fence. What dumb dogs! I would’ve stopped. Ann was pulling a tent peg from the back of the car and a hammer to close the bit of the fence she’d pulled up, so the dogs wouldn’t get out. Ty was still screaming those infant lungs dry as we rolled on the ground in fits of laughter and adrenalin, we’d celebrated by going to a restaurant and ate lobster in our pyjama’s.

Tasmania had been one of the best trips, our antics and luck still fresh.

We’d arrived in Port Arthur just after the massacre and they were a people deeply in mourning, not one hotel or guesthouse or camping ground was open and it was growing dark. We opted for asking a few farmers if we could camp on their properties, our third try brought us great luck. This farmer and his wife had a scouts camp out the back, complete with cover, somewhere to cook and flying foxes down to the river, we set up camp and played and ate – we even got Tyler on the flying fox by himself. Though the winds ripped up a tantrum that night, near folding our tent in half, and we woke wetter than if we’d slept in the river, we’d had a great time.

In Wineglass Bay we’d camped in the National Park and, the ranger was going to fine us for having a fire, but we’d already used the coals by digging them into the ground to cook up our vegetables and lamb roast, and after we’d shared our hungi, a maori culinary delight with him, he’d let us off with a warning.

Lune river is the most southerly point in Australia and we were wrapped up against the elements cooking pizza in the wood-fire kiln and having stewed apple piggy back races with the other travellers in the hostel. We were so drunk we’d  even made a midnight run to the hot springs, seven of them hanging out of windows and bathing in the moonlight to warm the icy bodies.

Ann came out of that night worse for wear, she’d been so used to sleeping with me that Cheryl said she’d sat bolt upright and wound down the window before leaning out and throwing up violently. Only to find when she woke, that she was in a dormitory full of people and had given the carpet pigments it never knew it was capable of.

Ah, those were the days.

Later, Ann, her boyfriend Luke and I had moved to Cairns in Far North Queensland and on the way back had camped the east coast of Australia. It was on this trip I saw my first cassowary, this prehistoric flightless bird was one of my greatest moments. We’d seen the ‘big’ everythings, the big banana, big pineapple, big mango, the big merino.

There had been Western Australia in there too. When I’d gotten sick on the Nullarbour Plain, and the man shaking his head as he washed his hands, said he was surprised I’d gotten that far.

I suppose each experience has left it’s scratches and scars, I’m not as fit as I used to be, I find those hills pretty hard. But I run on love- as Ann always says- I guess that’s why she’s saved up all that money to put a new motor in me, instead of buying something new.

I’ll find it strange too, now that shes’ replacing the panel where I’d taken on that big red roo in Canberra, and won. When she fixes those dings from those naughty squatty poles that she just didn’t see. When she sprays those key marks left by someone who said he loved her, but I never thought he did, I use to stall when he got in the car. I didn’t like him, he didn’t like us. Maybe even she’ll get the hail damage done, but I don’t mind if she doesn’t. We are all the sum of our parts.

‘You’ll be as good as new, Chardy’ Ann says, and I believe her, I’m doing alright I think for an 18 year old Ford Laser Hatchback, with no suspension, that has been around the country thrice. Cos I run on love, not petrol and I’m yellow.

-By Carmen Major

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