Feeling The Heat (Darwin)
16,000km and Gumdrop had made it. Despite all of the calamities I’d attracted out on the road, my mighty Falcon had kept his side of the bargain and got us to Darwin in one piece. A pang of sadness hit me as I drove for the first time down Darwin’s Mitchell St. I knew Gumdrop was losing some of his enthusiasm for our meanderings, and quite a lot of bright green engine coolant come to think of it as well. Darwin, I had decided would be the end of the road for us, I would hand Gumdrop over to a deserving recipient, and with the impressive wad of cash I would surely receive for the car that never stops, I would continue around the West Coast on a bus. This plan, I had decided, was flawless, apart from one unfortunate flaw – it was The Build Up to the wet season and Darwin was particularly deserted. Of the few hardy souls remaining, not a single one was in the slightest bit interested in buying a car. Bugger. My predicament was compounded by the fact that I had absolutely no money left. I could hardly afford to eat, let alone keep Gumdrop on the road for the 5000km to Perth. The solution however, became quickly obvious – panic and take the first available job in town. And so it was, that the week before Christmas, with temperatures of 34 degrees and humidity hitting 90%, I began working as a labourer loading large metal fence sections into a 300 degree furnace.
I turned up to meet Pete the foreman, and whilst I tried desperately to remember what real work was like, he took me down to the shop floor to meet the lads.
“So, what was yer name again mate?” asked Pete
“No, no its M…”
“G’day lads, this is Muck from England” announced Pete enthusiastically.
The Savannah Powdercoaters of Darwin however, proved a very likeable bunch and took me and my strange voice straight under their wing. My shortcomings at lifting heavy metal fence sections into and out of a furnace became quickly apparent, but Shaun, Jeff, Ronnie and The One That Never Spoke, smiled, laughed and treated me like I’d been their mate for years. The furnace was even acclimatising me to the heat outside and by day 2 I was buzzing around driving the forklift (clearly they hadn’t inspected Gumdrop’s condition in the car park). Long days they were, but fun and with genuinely good people all around me. Soon enough though, the horn sounded and it was Christmas. I left with hopes of coming back one day, and with instructions to bring photos of England with me if I ever did. Merry Christmas good men. I’d earned enough money for a few Christmas beers, and the petrol to get to Perth. Time to seek out the 3 musketeers.