So many huge metropolises in the outback of Western Australia are now just broken glass, a bit of tin and some shrubs. Ora Banda has been a bit more fortunate and in its current manifestation it is a beautiful stone building that is operating as a pub.
A pub in the middle of nowhere as it is a one hour 40 minute drive from Coolgardie and Coolgardie is in the nearly at the end of the Earth.
I was there on my way to the desert sculptures at Lake Ballard. This is a sculpture installation by Antony Gormley and consists of fifty one sculptures over an area of ten square kilometres. I wanted to “run the sculptures and this is what I eventually did.
I will explain how I got to Ora Banda and what happened.
Around the Coolgardie area there are many tourist attractions but they are spread over 1,000’s of desert miles.
The locals know the way to these places because that is part of their being, the places of their childhood holidays and memories.
They have not looked at their signage in a way that makes the slightest bit of sense to a visitor.
I thought that I was on my way to Lake Ballard and I was doing my best to go via Rowlands Lagoon, however with many a side road unmarked I ended up in Ora Banda.
I stopped at the pub because I decided to ask a local if I was on the right road to get to Lake Ballard.
I was planning to take the gravel road that didn’t take me via Menzies.
I like the isolation of dirt roads — the lack of traffic. I revel in the feeling of the slippery-slidey roll under the tyres as they spin and slide against the round stones so that if you don’t correct extremely gently you will be flipped and the car will simply spin, career out of control or tip over and slide on the roof for a while.
Meditation and focus at its best — a little slice of heaven.
Ora Banda pub is a beautiful stone building and as I walked towards it I wondered how it would smell. It didn’t disappoint because it smelt of alcohol and dust.
It didn’t have that terrible chemical smell of Perth hotels where they have used a bucket load of “products” that results in them smelling like public toilets.
The Ora Banda pub had that honest smell of sweat, dust and plonk.
It was dark inside in the way that old buildings are and it took some time for my eyes to adjust, and then I noticed that it was decorated with ancient photographs and quaint bits of history.
At the bar was a young man who looked Maori — and when I asked about the roads he said that he didn’t know a thing about the area and he motioned to the two women who were sitting at the far end of the long bar.
They only two patrons of the place at 11.30 AM — he said that they would know.
I walked down the bar to these women and I immediately had eye contact with a woman in her 30’s who had those sorts of 1980’s “Ita Buttrose” eyebrows that had been shaped so that she looked constantly surprised by life. She also had bottled jet-black hair with very pale skin. I started to ask her which road was the unsealed one that went directly to Lake Ballard.
The woman next to her simply took over—the surprised looking, black haired woman didn’t get a chance to speak.
This other woman was large in a brick shit house sort of way, not fat but huge — all muscle and tone. Her manner was butch and she walked over to me and hovered over me with a presence that seems to block out the rest of the world.
To me it was as though she had decided that I was someone who needed to be protected from my “delusional city slicker ideas “ and that I should not worry my “pretty little head” about driving on a gravel road.
Every query I had was answered with a protective “go to the left, there is bitumen” answer.
She had beautiful clear blue eyes and she eye balled me and twinkled them so that I knew that she was interested in protecting me.
Attraction energy has a sort of buzz and she was buzzing me with full force.
She kept telling me that the way that I wanted to go was simply too difficult, too many wash-a-ways, too much trouble for me. She even said that maybe my car would not make the journey!
My heart was smiling at this situation and with that feeling I quietly said that my car was designed to drive down roads…
I decided to retreat as I had learned that the gravel road I thought was the right way would get me to Lake Ballard.
I moved over towards the door and she followed me and hovered that huge energy over me and it felt that she was trying to trap my will to leave.
Her presence was so huge and overbearingly protective that I could have felt small and dependant.
Yes, I am small but I don’t ever feel small except when I can’t reach a top cupboard. I only feel small when it is a bonus such as sleeping in the back of my car.
I don’t feel small around people — that’s not an option.
As I was leaving she followed me and at the door were tourist maps on the wall.
She took a few of them out and explained to me the best way —which was the way I didn’t want to go— and as she did this her alcoholic breath made me a tad dizzy.
At this stage the black haired woman decided to eke her way back in to the conversation — she agreed with her friend.
I thanked them both and left and took the “wrong” gravel road and had a wonderful trip to Lake Ballard.