Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

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Impressions of Moomba

I’m not one for excessive profanity, so please forgive me the profanity I am about to use in explaining my response to my first night here in Moomba.

Holy Fucking Shit!

I am in a sort of promised land. Some call it El Dorado, and in a way I suppose it is. Except instead of a city of gold, it is a city of black gold. Texas T (or is it Texas tea? I really don’t know). Some call it Cibola. I’m currently calling it home, having been here for all of six hours.

To start off with, the area. This is outback through and through. Less the type of area you think of when you imagine Australian outback. Not as red. Not as sandy. But scrubland desert still. Think New Mexico or the hills of rural Greece and Turkey. We are in the Cooper Basin. I don’t know if that means any more to anyone else than it does to me, for it means not much to me. But this is off the grid. Seven hundred kilometers north of Adelaide, or a two hour flight. This is the home of dingoes (which I have not seen but as I was typing this sentence just heard start howling off in the distance for the first time (hooray synchronicity)). This is the home of some pretty deadly snakes (also as of yet unseen). And the climate is great. Daytime is up around 30, a bit hot. Nighttime, right now, is perfect. Tee shirt and trousers. No breeze and yet the air doesn’t feel still.

The accommodation. My room is one of the larger ones. Not quite a double bed, television, mini-fridge, small desk, closet, and bathroom. It is part of a row of them in a brick longhouse. Fake wood paneling on the walls and tacky sheets on the bed. This is the kind of room I would be resigned to if I was paying low rates in middle America. But here, out in the desert, this is a victory. I’m not in a dorm. I’m not in a tent. I have my own little 3m x 4m world where I can hang not only my hat but my shirts.

The amenities. Dear god the amenities. Pool tables. Billiard tables. Ping pong tables. Dart boards. Exercise facility separate from the old gym with squash courts. Cinema (not sure the details on that one yet). Free laundry. Bar with four dollar beers and one dollar sodas. (Granted, beer and wine are all you can get, liquor is not allowed here.) A pool. A Jacuzzi. Yes, in the middle of the desert there is a pool and Jacuzzi. Why not? Vegas has a block long fountain.

All of this is shared by about 800 workers. And while you would think that so many people would make a place feel crowded, it seems fairly quiet. I can put myself in the smoker’s area of the bar and be surrounded by conversation, or I can sit on my porch and not see another person while typing this so far.

And the place is quiet. Granted, my ears are completely blocked right now from slight congestion turning into ear issues on the flight. But I can hear few sounds. Crickets or cicadas. The faint hum of the light above me. And the sound of rushing gases from the plant. It almost sounds like the ocean if you close your eyes. But if you close your eyes you can’t see the ten meter high tower of flame burning off excesses from the plant and lighting up the horizon with the glow of a small city.

I love it here already. And this is despite the congestion that won’t go away, the ears that have rendered me half deaf, my issues of confusion upon arrival, and the fact that I’m here to work. I love the city. I love the forests. I love the suburbs. But perhaps I really am a child of the desert. This quiet place feels like home. I must remember this when I grow weary of the limited options. I must remember this to stay sane out here.

2 comments on “Impressions of Moomba

  1. Roberta
    April 28, 2012

    I love that the desert feels like home to you. It is in your blood-the terrain that will recharge you and always call you back no matter where else you roam. And I especially love that I’ve been able to show you New Mexico, Greece, and Turkey to see the similarities.

  2. Cy
    April 29, 2012

    Very nice update! I know what you mean about being a child of the desert. By the way, “black gold” is also called “Texas tea”. Enjoy the joys of the desert! – Dad

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This entry was posted on April 28, 2012 by in Australia, South Australia (Adelaide).

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