Omnibus: Day Two

crystal brook writing
Rocky ‘Riters Group

Day Two: 8 March 2016  

It was a pretty confused start when I went to Avis for the hire car only to remember mid conversation that I needed to go to Budget and I was already running late. Then there were the inevitable credit card issues, which meant that I had to make some calls before I could pick up my Toyota sedan.

I got away by 9am and joined everyone else on Main North Road. I pressed a button on the stereo and the radio played ten seconds of Bluegrass, before turning to another station, then another. It went like this until I got past Clare, where it settled on Australian country and western. There was a song about baby boomers selling up and traveling the country in a Kombi van. It sounded like a beautiful thing to end up doing.

I felt like I should be travelling in my old Commodore for full authenticity. The new Toyota doesn’t have the bass notes, but it does have working air conditioning, which I ran all the way. It was blue skies and dry grass and dust and speed traps I didn’t budget for.

In my haste at car rental place I forgot to pick up a “SatNav” but I was pretty confident it wouldn’t be an issue. I’ve never used one before. I like maps and I had one on the passenger seat. The idea was to drive north and rely on gut instinct and road signs.

By 11am I was lost and had the pleasure of being somewhere I’d never been before. You rarely get lost as an adult. But when you don’t have anything to fear because you have a tank full of fuel and plenty of time, it’s pleasurable, like a micro holiday. I went in to a hotel and asked if I was near Crystal Brook. I was less than an hour away crystal brook hotelso I sat in the shade and had a drink.

I met a guy who told me stories about his dad getting lost on purpose so he didn’t have to come home. This guy was country straight from central casting. He was born in Alice Springs but it ‘was too hectic for him’ so he went south and stopped before it got too built up. He would – at a push – go into Crystal Brook. He told me these stories and then proudly proclaimed that he couldn’t read or write. I hadn’t told him what I was here for. I hadn’t blown on about the itinerant storyteller and the illiterate writer and Jack tales. On my exit I did suggest he came to the workshop but it was hot and he had beer and he was thinking about getting lost rather than going home.

I found Crystal Brook with twenty minutes to spare and walked the town twice in that time. It’s a beautiful place where the library is the front to a large performance space with dressing rooms and a sculptured ceiling. In the past it must have hosted major performances. I was in a side room with the air conditioning heaving and six participants.

The participants were a part of the Rocky Rivers ‘Riters group, and all as open minded and enthusiastic as I could have wished for. The first workshop flew by and I invited them to attend tomorrow in Port Pirie because I felt like I has only just scratched their surfaces. There was brave, honest and original writing and I was reminded again how much I love my job. We tackled an instant poem together and I think we did rather well in twenty minutes. I at least feel confident enough to include it here. – David


As long as there is no shift, no drift

We can return, shuffle to fit and slot back in


This is actually your home, where you came from

You are ten or eleven years old.

Dad’s whistle competes with the canaries

You have come with very little

So that little is considered and you take particular care

It doesn’t matter when

It doesn’t matter where


The windmill turns

The electric motor burns

And I’m tuned to it all night long

It’s so much better than a nightingale song

The mice under the floorboards the sweet smell

Because you know they are dead

There are spirits here

It is a home you will share

It doesn’t matter when

It doesn’t matter where


You are getting older

The stories have their weight

You are home

It doesn’t matter when

It doesn’t matter where.



This is a SA Writers Centre project that will take place on the traditional lands of a number of Aboriginal nations in South Australia. We acknowledge Aboriginal people’s ongoing relationship and spiritual connection with the land, and pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

Supported by Arts South Australia’s Community Arts and Cultural Development project fund

Arts sa


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