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  • Writer's pictureBeverley Skurulis

Barradale Roadhouse Part 2.

Updated: Oct 21


Here I am again still situated at Barradale Roadhouse which was approximately 300 klms North of Carnarvon on the North West Coastal Highway Western Australia where I was employed as a waitress. The position soon became boring after often working 7 days a week on different shifts.

The North West coastal Highway sealed road at that time ended not far before the roadhouse so going North was pretty hard. Road trains would get stuck in the pindan mud after the rains and cars were abandoned broken down on the side of the highway.

Barradale Roadhouse 1969
Barradale Roadhouse 1967

Sometimes on a Sunday the priest from Exmouth Gulf would land out the front of the roadhouse and take me for a flight over sheep and cattle stations, red dirt, old broken down windmills, water tanks, rusted out car bodies, and fences as far as the eye could see. Landing on their runway to say hello and take the station owners some mail or goods from the roadhouse that had been dropped off by the trucks going north. All these things I went on to paint in my early works.

After a month or two I had become quite friendly with several truck and bus drivers and I was fed up again, so thinking I knew the truck driver well enough I jumped a road train to move further North. Night came and after fighting off the road train driver (by the way he was on his way to Broome because his wife was having a baby). You go figure, I thought I was safe.

Deciding to sleep on the back of his truck away from him, on my own.

The next day we arrived in Port Hedland so I jumped down from the truck and walked the streets looking for a job, finally getting a house maids position making beds doing laundry setting tables and doing dishes. That was my first experience with those bloody North West flying cockroaches, I hate them. I don't mind snakes or mice I love goannas but I hate cockroaches. The boarding house I cleaned had hundreds of roaches scurrying in and out of anywhere they thought they could hide, mostly drowning themselves in the slops in the bottom of a stubbie or can of beer.

I cleaned rooms for hard working men who did long hours and came home sweaty smelly and covered in red dust. The washing machines and everything that came out of them was also red. Hanging your clothes on the line and taking them off with red lines from the clothesline wires. This was my first taste of the real Pilbara and I loved the life style. Parties and lots of late nights I won't say anymore incase I might incriminate myself.

In between all this commotion I always found a pencil and a sketch book, drawing the old stilted houses, the stilts were distinctively capped with larger-diameter discs at the top, to prevent vermin and pests from entering the structures by climbing them, that didn't make any difference to those flying cockroaches.

I loved to draw the aboriginal children they had so much joy in them and they loved to show off. This was the start to my drawing life and my art career. Selling a sketch or two which gave me my next get away money.

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