Long Road



Long Road

There is a stretch of road between Carnarvon and Broome that is called the North West Coastal Highway. This road is one of two roads that link the North West of Western Australia to Perth. The North West Coastal Highway runs west too east and has been the lifeline of the North West coastal towns for over 100 years. Only fully bitumised in the late 1970’s it has been the route for a majority of the materials and structures used to build the many towns and mine sites. Long Road is the story of a truck driver I once met early one morning at Nanutarra Roadhouse he told me about his life and how he had been driving the road for over 40 years.

 

Going Home

It’s now nearly twenty years since I lived in the Pilbara and in more recent times I have been a frequent visitor. There was a time when I would board a plane in Perth and just about knew everyone on the flight, now I struggle to know one person. Every visit I notice more and more changes and cannot help but think back to how things used to be. My old town has now become multicultural with nationalities represented from all over the world creating a diverse culture that was once very Australian. Regardless of the changes it will always be a special place for me.

 

Spinifex Child

For thousands of years’ young aboriginal boys have been disappearing into the Spinifex and playing with nature. It has been there, where they have learnt by experimentation how to catch birds, goanna’s, snakes and kangaroos, such learning has helped them to prepare for their tribal initiation - a ritualistic process overseen by their tribal elders that transforms them from a boy to a man.  Once the process is completed the young men remain in the outback until the wounds inflicted during the initiation are healed. On their return they can now assume the rights of a man which includes being able to look into the setting sun, something that was not permitted as a boy. This is the story of a Spinifex Child.

 

Dampier Days

The coastal Dampier township was established by Hamersley Iron in the early 1970’s. It was then a vibrant place where the children of the then Hamersley workers enjoyed playing in an environment that was totally different to the towns they had left elsewhere in Australia. Many people who grew up in Dampier and are now scattered all over Australia will be able to relate to words of this song.

 

Somebody

Once flying back to Perth from Karratha and I overheard a woman telling another woman that she was leaving her husband. She described in great detail the reasons she was leaving, I listened intently and when I got home I opened my notebook and at the top of a page wrote the words ‘Somebody’s Going Home’ – I did not know her name she was ‘Somebody’. The rest of the words soon followed.

 

Boom Town Ghost Town

Over the last thirty years the Pilbara region of Western Australia, has experienced the effect of major resource companies to either close their doors overnight or drastically reduce operations. We have seen thriving communities being reduced to turmoil by a decision they had no say in. Some resilient communities manage to survive and experience the good times again but there is always a price to pay. The Pilbara resource industries has for over fifty years offered many West Australians the chance to make good money so they could finance their dreams. For many not fortunate enough to be housed in company camps or accommodation they have to commit to paying high rents or mortgages on basic housing. When the work stops overnight they are left alone with no income and financial commitments that are hard to escape from. Boom Town, Ghost Town sums it all up.

 

How I Long

Many FIFO workers are employed to work long rosters that can see them being away from their families for extended periods. For many of the workers being away for long periods puts a lot of strain on their relationships and daily communication with loved ones is an important part of their lives. This song shares the thoughts of one such FIFO worker who misses his girlfriend.

 

Under the Milky Way

For many people who have spent any length of time living in the Pilbara they will always remember the incredible night skies. The experience of camping in a remote creek and sitting back and watching the endless number of stars slowly moving across the sky will remain with me forever. This classic song originally performed by the Church always brings back those memories of the beautiful Pilbara night sky.

 

Rocking on the ROM

Back in the 1990’s I spent a considerable amount of time working around the many mine sites in Australia and became familiar with the acronym ROM (Run of Mine) which referred to the high part of a mine where ore was put into a crusher. Someone once told me that in the early mining days it was not uncommon for mine workers to have a few beers on the ROM pad at the end of each shift. A few years ago I met up with an old miner who told me how he celebrated his twenty first birthday on a ROM pad in Newman and the words he said to me “We were rocking on the ROM” became the inspiration for this song.

 

Forever We Will Run

It was in 1967 when Aussie Rules Football was first played in Vung Tau, Vietnam. The Australian forces based outside Vung Tau played games amongst the various units every Sunday afternoon. Between 1967 and 1972 nine premierships were played. Nowadays the legacy of those early games are reflected in an ANZAC Friendship Match, that every year is played in Vung Tau and features the Vietnam Swans playing against another team from the AFL Asia league. The game is growing in importance as the timing allows those visitors who travel to Vietnam for the game to also attend the Long Tan Memorial service. This song is the story of Aussie Rules in Vietnam and also reflects the healing between the nations.

 

Warlu Way

This Warlu Way was the name given to a tourist route goes from Exmouth via the Karijini National Park to Broome and was represented by the graphic of a snake (Warlu). There are over seventy signs erected in 2008 throughout the North West showing tourist the route. This song was written to promote the ‘Warlu Way’ tourism project and has been added to the ‘Long Road’ CD as many people were not aware of it.


Sample Mesa Band music above.

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